“A Misapprehension”, The Globe (15 July 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “Misapprehension”, The Globe [Toronto] (15 July 1864).
A contemporary misunderstands our arguments in reference to the contest in North Ontario, when it represents us as denying the right of any one to oppose the present Administration. We have never been guilty of any such absurdity/ We have, it is true argued that under all the circumstances, [text cut off] Government formed for the sole object of styling the sectional difficulties of the country has very great claims upon the forbearance of the people. We have said that as the grave political evils for which this Government hopes to find a remedy have baffled all other efforts at settlement—and as the present effort had the nearly unanimous sanction of the representatives of both parties in the House— the people of North Ontario would assume a very grave responsibility in giving a vote which would tend to break up the arrangement at the outset. With such arguments as this we have…. the necessity of giving Ministers time to mature their scheme, and of preserving a good understanding between the two parties supporting the arrangement until the Ministerial measure could be perfected. We have urged the very great importance of preserving that good understanding, and of doing nothing on either side which would imply want good faith, until it could be seen what measure of success awaits Ministers in their efforts to agree upon the details of their proposed measure of constitutional reform. But beyond that we have not gone, in speaking of any opposition to the new arrangement which may be offered on public grounds. On the contrary, we have freely admitted, as we are bound to do, the right of Mr. M. C. Cameron or any one else to declare their objections to the Government and its policy, and to debate the merits thereof.
What we have complained of is this: That those who claim to support the Government and its policy should do all in their power to embarrass Ministers, by striving to defeat one of their number at the polls. We have complained that professing friends of the Coalition and its policy should take a course which, if successful, must go very far to defeat the purpose which called the Government into existence. We have been unable to understand how a man can be at once a supporter and an opposer of the Government. A supporter of the Government, we contend, should be a supporter of the whole Government. An opposite doctrine is utterly illogical, and contrary to all rules of constitutional practice. It places each Minister upon a separate footing, and destroys the joint responsibility of the Cabinet. Indeed, under the logic of the Opposition supporters of the Government, the Cabinet would become simply an aggregation of chief departmental officers. It is one thing to contend against an absurdity of this kind, and a totally different thing to deny the right of people to oppose the Government as a whole, either on the ground of dislike for its policy, or dislike for its personnel.
Then, as to the personal question, we have not denied the the individual character of a public man may be a fair subject for consideration in an election contest. We do not imagine that Mr. McDougall has the remotest idea of shrinking from a test of that kind. What we have said is that the personal objection is not one thats should come from supporters of the Coalition. If the object which brought the leaders of two parties into the same Cabinet is not one of sufficient important to override merely personal considerations, then the Coalition is not deserving of support at all. We deem the settlement of a great question, which has agitated the country for years, of sufficient importance to warrant the waiving of personal and partizan considerations.If others do not so think, then they cannot honestly support the Government. Mr. McDougall is an able man—a man who has many years in public life, and who enjoys the confidence of a portion of the supporters of the Coalition. His administration of an important public department was such as to win compliments for him even from the leader of the Conservative party. To such a man no objections can exist that cannot be urged against other members of the Government, unless it be an objection that he sits for a constituency formerly represented by Mr. M. C. Cameron. If the personal objection is valid against him, it is valid against every member of the Government, for the reason that each of the prominent members of the Government, at least, must be obnoxious to some of the supporters of the new arrangement. Those who make the outcry against Mr. McDougall is so obnoxious to them. But others will think differently. There may be men who find no difficulty in accepting Mr. McDougall, but who find very great difficulty can be scarcely one intelligent man in fifty of the supporters of the Government who can pretend that all the seats in the Cabinet are filled in accordance with his personal preferences. If every professed supporter of the Government were acting upon his “personal” dislikes in the way that the enemies of Mr. McDougall are doing, the whole Government would go to the wall, if not at once, at least as soon as Parliament is got together again.