Courtesy Reuters

After the Ottawa Conference

IN November 1930 an Imperial Conference was held in London. The discussion was mainly on economic relations within the Empire, and Mr. Bennett, who had just become Prime Minister of Canada, urged strongly on the Labor Government, which was fully pledged to free trade, the advisability of inter-Empire preferences. "I offer to the Mother Country," he said, "and to all other parts of the Empire, a preference in the Canadian market in exchange for a like preference in theirs based upon the addition of a ten per centum increase in prevailing general tariffs or upon tariffs yet to be created. In the universal acceptance of this offer and in like proposals and acceptances by all other parts of the Empire we attain to the ideal of Empire preference."

For the Prime Minister of a Dominion to suggest to the British Government a policy which directly contravened their well-known principles was a daring thing to do, and it brought down on Mr. Bennett's head much criticism from august quarters. The London Economist's comment was: "Mr. Bennett says in effect -- 'Revolutionize your fiscal policy, put duties on primary foodstuffs imported from foreign countries in order to admit under preferential rates larger quantities of Canadian wheat, and we will give your manufactured goods -- not lower duties but a preference conditioned by the further raising of our own tariff barriers against the world.'" This leading journal went on to chide Mr. Bennett for the lack of practical work at the Conference, which they thought was due to his ill-considered attempt to stampede the British Government.

At that time many people were inclined to agree with the Economist. Yet within two years an Imperial Economic Conference has done what then seemed to most thoughtful people impossible.

In the event, it has all come about naturally enough. The British Labor Government found themselves overwhelmed by the economic and financial blizzard of the summer of 1931, and being unable to carry on under storm conditions gave way

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