National policy was introduced in Canada by John Macdonald in 1879 who was the government leader. This was a long-term government national policy, which was meant to stimulate the economic growth of the country. The policy had three areas to be acted upon and these were: transcontinental railway, strong immigration policy so as to fill the west and the protection and promotion of the Canadian infant industries from high tariffs and duty. The policy plan was elaborate or detailed such that, each part provided a justification and impetus of the existence of the other components.
The main reason for this national policy was to promote economic development of the country as a country, which is independent and has a stable national economy. Macdonald took the advantage of a political framework, which had been established by 1967 and he decided to build a union, which could last for many decades in order to create a strong national economy that supports east-west block than north- south. He thought that the development would be taken up by Americans if Canada could not implement its national policy program. The policy was to create a peaceful, separate and an orderly society in the northern part of the continent.
The west vast plains were vital for national interest if the country could occupy. The building of the transcontinental railway abbreviated as CPR would ensure that, Canada is a sovereign country from other territories in the eastern wing, which wanted to exploit its national resources and deprive it of its customers from the west. The immigration policy was designed to enhance and to maximize the investment funds in this great railway, which was to be built and to provide dependable customers from the eastern wing, which was growing rapidly. The tariff was included as part of the national policy in order to ensure Canadian domestic industries develop to better standards, improve its people living standards and to create more jobs to many jobless Canadian citizens.
Though it was a good idea for the development of the country, it created a national argument on the severe consequences and many difficulties, which may be experienced in the future. The critics expressed their concerns that, the policy was not for the national interest as it is, but it had some political hidden agendas. Due to imperialism that was mounting in the country, the policy was branded as an imperialist policy. Many people claim that Macdonald had his personal interests in developing Ontario and Quebec where his Montreal financial interest were located. This generated a hot argument in the country concerning the Montreal Windsor axis, which was to be the heart of this national policy.
People saw mischief in placing the development pole in a certain region as intentionally designed only to benefit that population at the expense of the other regions. The Maritime and Quebec would not benefit greatly from the national policy as Ontario was the home turf of Macdonald and all major decisions would be made and implemented there. The people who were opposed to this policy were not satisfied because it means that, workers (men and women) and other resources to be exported only to the center of Canada while importing its expensive and high quality industrial products.
Though the railway would cross most of the regions or territories of the country, they claim that, it was not designed or meant to develop them like other territories. The leaders from those regions disagreed with Macdonald publicly in a conference when they claim that they would be called to pay high taxes to implement the policy yet it would not affect their economy directly. They knew very well that, they would subsidize heavily the construction of transcontinental railway (CPR) yet they would receive very little benefits from it. They hoped that the immigration policy was to benefit the Canadians and especially the Quebecois to be attracted to the West as stated in the national policy, but this was not the case.
The Canadian government through Macdonald had already accepted immigrants including hundreds of immigration officers though all of them were to from United States of America (USA), Great Britain and some parts of Northern Ireland. Thousands of residence from Quebecois and other discriminated Canadians (estimated to be nearly one million from Quebec from 1830's to 1930) emigrated to other countries including United States of America (USA), some parts of Great Britain and a few to Ireland. This was prompted by the government's intentions of recruiting large numbers of people from the immigrants from United States of America, Ireland, and Great Britain. The federal government openly shows that it did not care about the fate of Quebecois and other Canadians; because they made little effort to repatriate them as it had promised them if they supported the national policy program.
Impartiality, unfairness, and racism were openly experienced when the government (each immigrant from Europe subsidized the immigration department from Europe. United States of America (USA) and Ireland received a train ticket heading for west in 1920's and a free land with permanent buildings; while the Canadians and specifically Quebecois who wished to go west had to buy their own tickets at high prices and to buy their own land).
The new and vibrant political parties were developed to monitor the national policy implementation process. These political parties were formed because they were powerful, independent, and influential social groups that would bring long lasting social change especially to the new western wing for the new immigrants.
Though the implementation of this national policy faced many challenges especially from the Quebecois who resisted and wage a protest, the issue was later resolved though they were not satisfied. The national policy was meant to boast the country's economic growth and prosperity in order to avoid dependence on other countries such as Great Britain and United States of America (USA) for financial aid for development purposes. The national policy focused very much on west in that, a large portion of tariffs, railways and immigration policy was meant to build the economy of Canada.
The federal government, which had been called by its opponents as the Dominion government, had the countries interest at heart though some people read mischief in the introduction of the national policy, which was not the case. The introduction of protective tax measures for instance the high taxation rate, was essential meant to protect all infant and domestic industries in the whole country. This was in contrary to what the Quebecois were spreading about this policy.
Most industries in Canada were located at Quebec and southern Ontario and all of them were protected as the policy states without fear or favor. It was a government plan to look at the national interests of its industries in order to foster and to promote manufacturing sector in order to reduce the demand for more imports. Within a period of ten years after the implementation of the national policy programme, the country became self-sufficient and its industries expanded due high demand of their high quality products. Due to the commitment and support from the government, the industries productivity doubled hence the surplus were exported to other countries countries which included: Unite States of America (USA), Ireland, China, Great Britain, Indonesia, Australia and some countries in Africa and Asia.
Most of the industries expanded its operations and it opened new branches in the overseas countries hence becoming multinational corporations. The national policy had set out the code of ethics, rules and regulations, morals and way of governance, which improved the management of companies or industries in the whole country. Due to the quality of the goods produced by the industries in Canada, most managers from other countries came to conduct research on why Canadian industries were performing well especially in doubling its productivity every year.
The intercontinental railway was included in the national policy program by the government for it to serve two main purposes: First, it was to be used to transport or move the resources from the production regions to the industrial heartlands of Ontario and Quebec to be converted or made into finished products or goods. Secondly, after the production of the finished goods, it is then used to transport them to the market place in different captive region within the country and other neighboring countries where the markets are found. Canada especially in the western region produces grains in large quantities. Canada is well known in the whole world for growing grains in large scale and more importantly the bushels of wheat. These are some of the positive effects of the railway network in Canada irrespective of what those who opposed the national policy had earlier said and lied about the policy.
The national policy opened up the western region, which later led to prosperity in that region and other parts of the country. This was realized for the first time in 1896 when Canada produced eight million metric tons of wheat and a subsequent increase in 1912 when annual production was 232 million metric tons. The growth was realized because it was easy for many people to move to west where farming was done due to the availability of fertile soils.
In 1891, 5% of the total population in Canada lived in west and by 1912, the population had increased to 25% and most of them lived in British Colombia and Prairie provinces in the west. Due to high population and economic growth realized in the area, the federal government was forced to create two new provinces in 1905. These provinces were Alberta and Saskatchewan and were created in order to control and to manage resources within the geographical boundary effectively. All these development and growth was brought about by the inclusion of the railway connection program in the national policy of the government of Canada.
The third program in the government's national policy was the immigration policy. This was to make it easier for people to travel from other countries to Canada without encountering very many hindrances. People were needed to settle in west to farm and to develop that region. The government and the railway companies took the initiative to advertise in Europe, United States of America, Ireland, and the Great Britain in order to encourage the potential farmers to take up the opportunities in Western Canada. To encourage this, immigrants from other countries were offered 160 acres of productive farmland free of charge and a free railway ticket from their countries.
The British Columbian government applauded the Canadian national policy for influencing her economic and social development and growth. The three areas of the national policy, which include immigration, the railway, and the tariffs, were central to Vancouver Island's coalmines. This was because of the improved transportation, which was facilitated by the connection of the modern railway system, which also made the workers to reach the mining areas at the right time.
Due to this national policy, it led to the growth and development in the country. The immigrants from other countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, Indonesia, United States of America (USA), and Columbia who brought new skills of farming and railway construction facilitated this. The professionals from these countries had the knowledge, competencies and skills needed for the management of businesses especially the industries in Canada. It also led to an improved diplomatic relationship between Canada and other countries. This is because of the free movement facilitated by the railway line and enactment of laws on immigration to make it easy for investors to start business and to farm in the country with ease.
The social cultural diversity became the cornerstone of learning new culture and way of life of other people. Trade also expanded rapidly especially the exportation of the grains produced in the western fertile farms. Food shortages became outdated in Canada because of the new farming techniques brought about by the immigrants from other countries. The economic stability of the country improved significantly with the annual growth rate of the country improving every year and it ranges between 9% and 17%.
Job opportunities were created to the citizens in the farms, the industries, and the railway system. This led to the improvement of the living standards of the citizens of Canada. On the same note, the per capita income and the gross domestic product increased significantly. The infrastructure also improved especially on the roads linking the farms and industries to the railway terminus.
The health facilities were also improved where more hospitals and clinics were built hence improving health conditions of the people; and it led to the reduction of illness due to availability of modern equipment and adequate drugs in all health institutions. This was too improved by the availability of qualified doctors and nurses who serve the people with professionalism and diligence. The education system was improved in the country where school facilities and structures were improved. It was mandatory for all children to get access to quality education at an affordable rates subsidized by the government.
Even though there were many positive effects of the national policy, there are a few negative effects or demerits. Most people who benefited from the farms in the west were not Canadians hence most returns from the farms benefited the foreigners and most citizens did not enjoy the economic benefits of this national policy. Most casual workers were the Canadians since the foreigners hence owned most industries decisions were made by the foreigners to favor them instead of the Canadians. It also led to animosity and conflicts between the Canadians and foreigners since they controlled most of the resources in the country.
In conclusion, the national policy introduced in 1879 had more positive effects compared to the demerits despite the argument, which arose when it was first introduced. This is because the economic growth and development of the country improved significantly.