British Columbia, Legislative Council: Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada (14 March 1870)
By: British Columbia (Legislative Council)
Citation: British Columbia, Legislative Council, Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada: Reprinted from the Government Gazette Extraordinary of March, 1870 (Victoria: William H. Cullin, 1912) at 53-68.
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DEBATE ON THE SUBJECT OF CONFEDERATION WITH CANADA.
IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.
MONDAY, 14TH MARCH, 1870.
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The House having resolved itself into Committee of the Whole on the Confederation Resolutions, as arranged by His Excellency the Governor of British Columbia, the Hon. Mr. Ball in the Chair.
On the motion of the Hon. Attorney-General, the Chairman read the Resolutions through.
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The Hon. the Attorney-General said:—Sir, I rise to propose the adoption of the Resolution as sent down to the House. having as its object the Confederation of this Colony with the Dominion of Canada. I desire to consult the wish of the Council as to the particular mode in which the terms should be discussed. whether as a whole or in detail, paragraph by paragraph. But before doing so I think it right, Sir, to make a few brief remarks on the Resolution as a whole. The conditions have been prepared with great care, and after the exercise of deep thought and mature deliberation on the part of His Excellency the Governor and the Executive Council. The subject is one of so large a nature, and of such paramount importance, so many interests both here and in Canada are at stake, and the issues involved are so extensive. that I sincerely hope that all Hon. Members will bring to its discussion an earnest desire to combine their individual efforts to work out a successful result, and to throw aside, for such an occasion, all former prejudices and distrust; and as we have unanimously affirmed the principle, the House is committed to Confederation in the abstract [” No, no,” from Hons. Helmcken, Wood and Drake].
Well, I think so, and the House will think so too. It has so voted. However that may be, I hope that we can all now act harmoniously together, and see whether we cannot now turn out such a scheme as will work well in practice; he just and equitable to Canada, who will certainly be just and equitable to us, and yet be so favourable to this Colony as to insure the terms ratification when submitted to the popular vote All Hon. Members, whatever their opinions, desire the same thing, namely, to get the best terms practicable for the country ; and the proposition now sent down, which is based upon the “British North America Act, 1867,” contains, I submit, the best terms that can be devised, and will give the Local Government as large an annual balance of cash for local purposes as we can venture to ask.
There is one danger against which I think it my duty to warn Hon. Members, and I do particularly caution those who favour the idea of Confederation against attempting to weigh the conditions by additional suggestions and recommendations so as to overload them, and against suggesting alterations in the terms which could not be granted by Canada, I believe we are all equally anxious to gain good terms, and we should be careful not to take away from the interest of the proposition before us by suggesting any other conditions that are not of material importance. I have observed a report in a newspaper of the previous proceedings of the Council. if I may be allowed to notice it without producing the paper, in which an Hon. Member is stated to have said, that any amendments of the Resolution would be accepted. I think it right to say, on behalf of the Government, that, while the Government cannot consent to imperil the unity of their scheme by amendments, they will still be happy to receive, and fully consider, all suggestions of a practical and reasonable character : and I invite Hon. Members to bring forward such suggestions, particularly such as will be calculated to remove any of the disadvantages of the scheme, and so to improve its working and insure its more general acceptance. As the majority of the Council seem to be in favour of dividing the Resolution into parts, and discussing it paragraph by paragraph. I will follow the suggestion. I therefore, now propose the adoption of the first paragraph :—
“1. Canada shall be liable for the Debts and Liabilities of British Columbia at the time of Union.”
These debts and liabilities, I would explain, include all the actual debts of the Colony now matured and due, as well as the liabilities for debts to mature at a future day. I will quote from the Returns sent down this day by the Governor, which give the full details of these liabilities. showing that our funded debt on the 10th of March instant, consisted of the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Loans secured by Act, amounting in all to $1,194,000 against which $346,820 has been paid and invested as a Sinking Fund in reduction of Loans, leaving a balance of $817,180 still to be invested. and floating debt of all kinds of $319,000, including over $40,000 Savings Bank deposits. This floating debt it is in contemplation to consolidate by a Statutory Loan, at a lower rate of interest, and to procure the money from Canada, which, as Hon. Members are aware, is now rich, or elsewhere. For this purpose the Governor proposes to submit an Ordinance for the approval of this House, conferring the necessary powers. Owing to the mode in which the Sinking Fund is invested, there is reason to believe that it will be paid off at least a your before the time stated. Regarded as a whole, our public debt is by no means extravagant, as compared with that of other countries; but in our isolated position as a young self-dependent Colony it is felt as it very heavy burden; of […]
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[…] this burden, Confederation will relieve us; a benefit so apparent needs not a single word. Hon. Members are aware that this debt is a heavy tax upon the country, and prevents the undertaking of public works. The assumption of this debt by Canada, on fair terms, will not only relieve us of this burden, but will save us a large balance of cash, which will be available for public works to open up the country. I will now proceed to the next item.
Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works ( Mr. Trutch)—I would suggest that each clause should be discussed and passed separately.
Hon. Member for Victoria District ( Mr. DeCosmos)-—No, no. Let us hear the Attorney- General on the whole Resolution.
Hon. Member for Yale (Mr. Barnard)—We shall not carry the matter so well in our minds if we take the whole together.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—I think that the clauses are so distinct that it will be better to take them separately.
Hon. Member for Victoria District—I would suggest, as one who has scarcely had an opportunity to read these Resolutions, I would rather hear the Government on the whole scheme.
Hon. Chairman—I think it better to put it to the House, whether these clauses should be discussed one by one.
On the question being put, it was carried in the affirmative
Hon. Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken)—I presume clause 1 will be agreed to.
Chairman—Has any Hon. Member anything to say upon this clause?
Hon. Member for Victoria District—What is the meaning of liabilities in clause 1, is it intended to mean financial liabilities?
Hon. Attorney-General—financial liabilities.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—There may be liabilities which are not debts; there may be some liabilities which will become debts, liabilities which are not matured.
Hon. Member for Victoria District—Unmatured contracts, is that the meaning?
Hon. Member for Victoria City—I move that the word ” public ” be inserted before “debts.”
Hon. Member for Victoria District—That would imply private debts.
Hon. Member for New Westminster—I don’t think so, Mr. Chairman, there can be no misunderstanding, it would make the clause no plainer. ‘
Hon. Attorney-General—It is as well that I should add that these terms come down complete in themselves; as far as the Government is concerned they are incapable of amendment, but the greatest attention will be paid to suggestions. I think it better to state this, to avoid misapprehension.
Clause 1 was passed as read.
Hon. Member for Victoria District—I suggest that Clauses 2 and 3 be taken together.
Clauses 2 and 3 were then read by the Chairman :—
“2. The population of British Columbia shall, for the purpose of financial arrangements, be estimated at 120,000. British Columbia not having incurred debts equal to those of other Provinces now constituting the Dominion, shall be entitled to receive, by half-yearly payments in advance from the General Government. Interest at the rate of 5 per centum per annum on the difference between the actual amount of its indebtedness at the date of Union and the proportion of the Public Debt of Canada for 120,000 of the population of Canada at, the time of Union.”
“3. The following sums shall be annually paid by Canada to British Columbia, for the support of the Local Government and Legislature, to wit:—
“An annual grant of $35,000, and a further sum equal to 80 cents a head per annum of the population; both payable half-yearly in advance, the population of British Columbia being estimated as aforesaid at 120,000. Such grant, equal to 80 cents a head, to be augmented in proportion to the increase of population, when such may be shown until the population amounts to 400,000, at which rate such grant shall thereafter remain”
The Hon. Attorney-General, in moving the adoption of these clauses said:—I would observe that this estimated population of 120,000 is nominal, and has been arrived at by comparison of the revenue and population, because in the absence of actual census, and to facilitate financial arrangements, it has been deemed best to calculate according to the revenue producing powers of British Columbia compared with Canada. Thus we have it officially […]
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[…] from Canada, that her Customs and Excise produced $2.75 per head of her population; at the same rate, $2.75 per head, our Customs represent the same present revenue as a population of 120,000 Canadians produce. This estimate of 120,000, therefore, though nominal, is really just and fair; hence 120,000 population has been adopted as the basis of our financial calculations. The $35,000 in paragraph 3. allowance for the general support of the Government, is an arbitrary sum adopted by Canada in negotiating with Newfoundland and New Brunswick. The allowance of 5 per cent. interest on the difference between our public debt and that of Canada is arrived at in this way: We have it officially from Canada that her debt on February 9th—say 1st March if you like—amounted to $22 per head of her population. This would entitle us, with 120,000 people, to come in with a much larger debt than our own, which at the time of Union would be, say, $1,000,000. The interest at five per cent. on the difference of these amounts would give us the annual allowance of $82,000 named in the papers before the House. The 80 cents a head on our population of 120,000 is the usual allowance prescribed by the Organic Act of Confederation.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—Mr. Chairman, I think that on these two clauses depends the whole stability of our scheme; and as I believe them to be of very vital importance [“Hear, hear,” from Mr. DeCosmos], I trust I shall be excused if I offer a few remarks upon them, although it is possible I may travel over the same ground as the Hon. Attorney- General has taken up in introducing these clauses. I say. Sir, that 120,000 may appear extravagant at first sight. The basis of the population of 1861 is taken as the basis on which other schemes rest; but that would not do for this Colony. It would not give us an equal advantage with other Provinces. It has, therefore, been found necessary to take some other basis. And here, Sir, I desire to say that I am permitted to inform this House that the Executive are very much indebted to the Hon. Member for Victoria City, who is also a Member of the Executive Council (Dr. Helmcken), for his able assistance and suggestions in preparing this scheme. I trust that this Council will. find that the Hon. Member has been most practical and ardent in his endeavours to obtain good terms, if he has not been an enthusiastic advocate of Confederation. With regard to the reasons for adopting the number of 120.000 as the basis of population, we ask something for undeveloped resources. The expenses of living in this Colony are much higher than on the Atlantic Coast; there is more per head paid for taxes here than in any other part of the Dominion. One dollar here is in reality worth no more, that is to say it goes no further, than one shilling in the Eastern Provinces; and one man here pays as much to the Revenue as four on the other side. The basis is in fact the basis of Customs paid by each individual in this Colony, compared with the Customs Revenue paid per individual in Canada. Taking the estimate of the present year, the Canadian Customs and Excise yield $2.75 per head on the present population; and our Customs being $330,000, is equal to $2.75 per head on a population of 120,000, upon comparison with Canada.
Practically and equitably, I believe this to be a fair basis. It may be open to some logical objection, but I believe it is equitable. The estimate which we propose to hand over yields at that rate, as we now farm it. We turn it over into the hands of those who are to manage it. It is not for us to consider how. If they reduce the Customs, it is nothing to us; we must have a basis as favourable as this. [“Perhaps more so” —Hon. Mr. Helmcken.]
[Hon. Chief Commissioner:] Perhaps more so, as the Hon. Member says. The debt of Canada amounts to $22 per head on the population, and this on a population of 120,000 gives a debt of $2,640,000. We may claim to have our debt taken over on the same basis as other Colonies, as before Union can be consummated we may expect our debt to be reduced to $1,000,000, leaving a balance of $1,640,000, on which we will have a right to claim interest at 5 per cent., that is to say: $82,000, as stated in the printed particulars now before the Committee. The subsidy of $35,000 is equal to that given to Newfoundland. Referring again to the printed figures, you will find that the amount of Revenue retained by British Columbia is $151,050.. Add this to the subsidies. including the interest on the difference of the debt, amounting to $213,000, and we have a total Revenue of $364,050. As we shall be relieved of all expenses but $212,000.75, we shall have left a clear balance of $ 152,040.25 to be spent in local works. This constitutes the Financial Scheme, and although it is open to argument, it is about what we are entitled to receive, and what we must receive to place us in a fair position under Union.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos, after asking the Hon. Mr. Helmcken if he wished to speak before him, and receiving a negative reply, rose and said:—Mr. Chairman, in rising to speak to the […]
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[…] Resolutions respecting the proposed subsidies to be granted by Canada, I may possibly be wasting my breath, and the time of the House; but although that may be the case, my duty to my constituents and the country demands that I should do so. With respect to Confederation, I have ever looked at it from one point: it must have a money value. [“Hear, hear,” from Dr. Helmchen.] A great deal has been said about the form of Government—about Responsible Government—but I say this: that every Government, whether responsible or irresponsible—must have money. It is impossible for the most perfect political system to move without it. Ways and Means must be provided. Now, I have always said, and I still maintain, in view of Confederation, that the amount that ought to be placed at the disposal of our Local Government when we enter Union ought. to be an annual surplus of $200,000, or nearly so, after having provided for the annual current expenditure of our Local Government; that is, for all the offices and services that must be kept up at the expense of the Colony, in order to keep it moving as a Province of the Dominion. We know by reference to the Estimates what they are; but in addition, there must be a certain sum provided for keeping in repair public works, such as the Main Trunk Road from Yale to Cariboo, and our public buildings. After these expenses have been defrayed, I should expect a surplus to the credit of the Local Government of about $200,000.
Hon. Mr. Trutch—As against $152,000 in the estimate accompanying the Resolutions?
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—Yes; some surplus of that kind would be about the proper amount, if we expect the Colony to be any better off after Union than before, and if we expect our Local Government to do anything towards developing the resources of the country. Now, Sir, how shall we get that surplus? By the proposition before us, for which the Hon. Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken) gets the credit as the originator? No, Sir. But I will not anticipate the answer to these questions. Let us first examine, the Government financial scheme, of which the Hon. Member for Victoria is the financier. The first proposition made by the Government is that we shall assume for financial purposes that our population is 120,000. Now, Sir, I am one of that number who do not believe in assumptions in matters of finance,— one of those who deem it to be dangerous to found financial measures on fiction instead of fact; for in no department of Government ought there to be maintained a stricter regard for truth and fact than in the department of finance. The financier who resorts to fiction, no matter how well-intentioned, nor how patriotic, may justly be doubted. It may be as the Hon. Chief Commissioner has said: that the assumption of a population of 120,000 may be illogical and untrue, yet the result may be equitable. But, Sir, I do not think that we ought to assume, neither do I see the necessity for assuming, that we have a population of 120,000 instead of 40,000, as I believe it to be, as it is recognized to be, and as it is in fact.
The magnitude of the subject, the historical aspect of the terms, the dignity of the contracting parties, the nobleness of the work of nation-making, our own self-respect, ought to lift us above the atmosphere of assumption and fiction, ought to guide us by an accurate and genuine political standard, and ought to inspire us with such pure and lofty political sentiments as would stamp the financial terms with the indelible marks of truth, fact, and statesmanship, and for ever shut out the possibility of posterity associating our public men with mere parish politicians, instead of ranking them with enlightened and able statesmen. At the utmost, our population does not exceed 40,000, including men, women, and children.—Whites, Chinese, and Indians—10.000 civilized, and 30,000 semicivilized.
It would be a mistake to estimate an Indian to be equal to a white man as a consumer; but when we consider that in our white population the males are largely in excess of the females, and that in this country they are very large consumers, it would not be incorrect to conclude that there is no unfairness in making our whole population— Whites and Indians—as equal to 40,000 consumers in the Dominion. Starting, therefore, with a population of 40,000, we base our calculations on facts, and not on fiction, as in the governmental assumption of a population of 120,000. I will now, Mr. Chairman, proceed to deal with the financial proposition of the Hon. gentleman for Victoria City—which is the Government scheme—by which he proposes to get $152,000 surplus revenue for the Colony after the Union. The proposed sources of revenue to produce this surplus are four in number, viv : (1) an annual subsidy of 80 cents per head of our population, which is assumed to be 120,000, and on that basis of population would yield $96,000; (2) a fixed subsidy of $35,000 per annum; (3) interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum on the difference between the actual amount of the debt of the Colony, at the date of Union, and the proportion of the public […]
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[…] debt of Canada for 120,000 of the population of Canada at the time of Union, which is estimated at $82,000 per annum; and (4) the balance of our present revenue (not including the Customs, Excise, Postage, &c., that go to the Dominion), estimated at $151,050 per annum. Now, Sir, I have already shown that our maximum population does not exceed 40,000. If we estimate the population of the Dominion on our admission in 1871 at 4,300,000, and the public debt at $86,000,000, the rate per head would be $20. Now, $20 per head for our 40,000 people would entitle us to a public debt of $800,000; and as our public debt, after deducting Sinking Fund, would be in 1871 about,$1,050,000, the Colony would enter the Dominion with a debt of about $250,000. So no revenue can be acquired from the third source of revenue on the basis of 40,000 population.
Again, if the proposed terms allowed us to enter with the same debt per head as old Canada entered the Dominion, that is $25 per head, our population of 40,000 would only entitle us to a debt of $1,000,000, leaving us still in debt $50,000 on our admission. No revenue still, Let us now take a passing glance at the Newfoundland terms of Union. The debt per head allowed to New Brunswick on her admission was, we are told, accepted on behalf of Newfoundland by those who negotiated the terms, and that was $27.77 per head. Now 40,000 people at $27.77 per head would entitle the Colony, on admission in 1871, to a public debt of $1,110,800, instead of $1,048,644, our public debt then leaving a difference of $62,150, on which. on the basis of the third source of revenue, we would be entitled to draw interest at 5 per cent. That difference, $62,150 at 5 per cent, would yield only $3,107,—a sum very far below $82,000 per annum, the estimate in the terms proposed. So it is neither on the Newfoundland basis, nor on a basis of fact, that the Hon. Member for Victoria City has framed the Government scheme of Union.
I will now come, Sir, to the real point of issue. I will try, with all fairness, to discover whether there is or is not any ground on which to base the assumption of a population of 120,000. We have been told by the Hon. the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, and by the Hon. and learned Attorney-General, that the financial calculations are based on the proportion between the receipts of Customs and Excise in this Colony and the receipts from Customs and Excise in the Dominion of Canada. Now, Sir, from statistics in my possession, I find that the Customs of. Canada yield $8,640,000. That amount, with a population of 4,300,000, would be equal to $2 per head per annum. Let us now see what the Customs Revenue yields per head in British Columbia. In 1869, the Customs were $342,126. The difference between the average percentage of Customs duty imposed in British Columbia and in Canada is 7 per cent. less under the Canadian than under our tariff.
Now, as we imported in 1869 $1,775,000, 7 per cent. on that amount would be equal to $124,250. If we deduct $124,250 from $342,126, our Customs receipts in 1869, we shall have $217,876, the total revenue Canada would have received from British Columbia in case we had been in the Dominion. If we divide this $217,876 by our population, 40,000, we shall have 5 3/20 per head; in round numbers, 5 1/2. We can now easily discern the reason why the basis of population has been fixed at 120,000 for financial purposes in the Government scheme of Union. It is apparent that the Government estimate of population has been founded on the conclusion that in British Columbia the Customs would be about $6 per head. and in Canada $2 per head, or three times higher here than there; and, therefore, our population of 40,000 ought for financial purposes to be 120,000, or three times greater than it really is. If there were not reasons for the opinion that under Confederation the Customs and Excise of the Dominion, as applied to this Colony, would not perceptibly exceed the rate per head in the Dominion East, I would cheerfully assent, for financial purposes, to the assumption of 120.000 as our basis of population.
I cannot, however, conscientiously do so, for with the extension of the Dominion to the Pacific, I hold, will come the’ equalization of political rights, and the equalization of taxation. The equalization of political rights will be established with the extension of the Dominion; but equalization of taxation, though it may not come in the first year after Union, yet it is bound to come within two or three years after Union shall have been proclaimed. In proof of this assertion, I could direct the attention of the Council to what I deem facts: (1) That as soon as Union shall have been proclaimed, Canadian manufacturers will enter our ports duty free, and that the reduction of Customs receipts from this source will, on the basis of our imports for 1869, be $58,400 per annum; (2) The reduction of Customs receipts after Union, for Canadian produce entered duty free, and by the increase of agricultural produce in the Colony, will be, on the imports of 1869, $66,100. Now these two reductions are equal to $124,500, […]
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[…] and if we deduct $124,500 from $217,876, the amount that has been assumed by Government that Canada would draw from this Colony in Customs receipts, we shall have only $93,376; and thus $93,376 will be only a fraction more than $2 per head for our 40,000 population—very nearly the same rate per head of Customs taxation on the Pacific as on the Atlantic. I might enter into explanations at greater length to show the correctness of this conclusion, but I deem it undesirable. The certainty of the equalization of taxation all over the Dominion renders the assumption of a population of 120,000 for financial purposes a pure fallacy. and nothing more nor nothing less, It is simply taking a temporary, a transitory state of things, a state of things that will pass away in a year or two, as the basis for permanent conditions, Besides, there is a serious disadvantage in assuming that we will pay $6 per head per annum in Customs duty to the Dominion after Union, and it is this Nearly every one would like to see all kinds of foreign merchandize, except such as would enter into competition with home-grown produce and home-made manufactures, entered duty free in Victoria, in order to foster and extend ‘commerce.
Now, it the Dominion Government made such an exemption from Customs for our benefit, it is but natural that we should make good to Canada in some other way what her revenue would lose by such an exemption. If Vancouver Island were exempted from Customs, and its population were taken to be 20,000, the Local Government would be expected to pay to the Dominion $6 per head, or $120,000 per annum, for the exemption. But if instead of the temporary rate of $0 per head, the permanent rate of $2 per head were taken, the 20,000 people of Vancouver Island would only have to provide $40,000 per annum in lieu of $120,000, a saving of $80,000. The advantage of adhering strictly to facts, instead of fallacious assumptions, is consequently perceptible to every one. By following facts we can have a scheme of union with a true correlation of parts, a thing impossible if we follow the proposed assumptions. I have stated that $93,376 is all the Revenue that Canada is likely to receive in Customs from British Columbia, on the basis of Population and Imports of 1869.
Now, if a wide margin be allowed, and these figures be raised to $120,000 per annum, it would only, at $2 per head, entitle us to a population of 60,000. That population would entitle the Colony to a debt of $1,200,000, or only $150,000 in 1871 over our present debt, and on which the interest would be but $7,500 per annum. It is useless for me to follow the matter further to Show that the financial terms are not based on correct premises. But before I conclude this section of the subject I would remark that I have not taken into account the amount of Internal Revenue, such as Excise, Postage, Stamps, Malt Tax, &c., that the Colony is likely to contribute to the Dominion Treasury; for, so far as I can estimate the rate, it will not exceed $1, or $1.25 per head, and offers little or no grounds on which to base financial terms. The only difference, it appears to me, between the Customs and Internal Revenue laws of Canada, as applied for Revenue purposes to this Colony, is: that the Internal Revenue Taxes are likely to be, from the date of our admission, at the same rate per head here as in other parts of the Dominion; whereas the Customs will be higher here per head for a few years than there.
Turning now, Sir, to that portion of the financial terms that proposes to get $151,050 30 from sources of revenue to be reserved after Union to the Colony, 1 cannot help thinking that: there has been a mistake all through the Governmental scheme, and that the amount of revenue proposed to be obtained from those sources is another instance of Governmental blundering. As I sum up these sources of revenue from the Estimates of 1870, they are as follows: —Road Tolls, $50,000; Land Sales, $6,000; Land Revenue, $4,000; Rents, $1,500; Miners’ Certificates, $11,000; Mining Receipts. $12,000; Spirit Licences. 25,000; Trading Licences, $15,000; Fees of Court, $4,200: Fees of Office, $6,050; and Vancouver Island Road Tax. $6,000 – making a total of $141,250, instead of ‘$131,050, as in the Governmental estimate submitted with the proposed Terms of Union. The way in which I make the difference is by not taking into account as permanent sources of revenue such items as Arrears of Vancouver Island Real Estate Tax, $8,000; Over-payments Recoverable, $500; Sale of Unserviceable Stores, $1,500. There can be no grounds for including such accidental sources of revenue under the head of permanent sources of revenue.
Hence we must reduce the $151,000 of local revenue to $141,000. But the latter amount must also be reduced by deducting the Vancouver Island Road Tax $6,000, therefrom, thus leaving only $135,000 as permanent sources of revenue; for if the Vancouver Island Road Tax be included in our estimate of permanent revenue, we ought also to include the annual revenue of the cities of Victoria and New Westminster, which is simply absurd.
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The Vancouver Island Road Tax is a purely municipal matter, and so the Government has blundered in mixing up municipal with provincial revenue. The Yale-Cariboo Road Tolls are estimated as a permanent source of revenue at $50,000. This is another mistake. for the Road Tolls are falling off every year. In 1868 they were $67,823 ; in 1860, $46,500; and in all probability will be much less in 1870; and as mining diminishes in the upper country, year by year, so will the Tolls. If ever the proposed Railway be built, away go the Tolls altogether. Besides that, the present Road Tolls are oppressively high. On the receipts of last year, they are equal to $150 per waggon load of 6,000 lbs., or 2 1/2 cents per lb.,—an enormous tax that no one in his senses would ever think of regarding as permanent. If any toll at all were levied permanently, it could not be fixed at a higher rate than one- sixth of a cent per pound. or $10 per load of 6,000 lbs., from Yale to Cariboo. At that rate the Road Tolls, instead of yielding $50,000 per year, would only produce $3,333, which for all practical purposes might as well be abolished. for the cost of collection would exceed the receipts.
For another and all-important reason, I think a great mistake has been made in entering the Road Tolls as permanent revenue after union. It is this: the entire people of the upper country have determined to abolish the Road Tolls as soon as possible. No compromise will be accepted. So, under this head our future revenue cannot he estimated higher than $3,333, or nothing. The revenue from Land Sales is also put higher than we are justified in fixing it. In 1868, the receipts under the head of Land Sales were only $1,200; in 1869, $5,564; and as permanent revenue, for all time to come. under union, at $6,000. Now, as it is alike our policy and our interest not to make Land Sales a source of revenue, I do not think that we would act judiciously in considering the terms of union if we estimate a higher amount of permanent revenue from this source than the receipts of 1869, $1,200. Neither Land Revenue nor Rents appear to be as uncertain in their returns as Land Sales; so I will pass on to the items of Miners’ Certificates, $11,000, and Mining Receipts, $12,500. Here again it appears to me another mistake has been made. Such gold mines as are worked in British Columbia will be worked out. Such diggings are sure to he deserted in a very few years. The white miners will retire, and the Chinese will take their place. When the Chinaman leaves, the mines are worked out. I can, therefore, see but little hope of permanent revenue from the gold mines, Already the mining revenue has begun to fall off.
In 1867, Miners’ Certificates yielded $13,645; in 1868, $11,535; in 1869, $10,500; and is likely to be less in 1870, although the estimate is $11,000. In 1867, Mining Receipts were $22,208; in 1808, $15,756; in 1869, $11,500; and yet for 1870 the estimate is $12,500. At the utmost, from all departments of mining, we cannot, in my opinion, estimate higher than $10,000 as permanent revenue, and but little of that amount will ultimately be drawn from gold-mining. Now, Sir, with respect to Spirit Licences, which have been estimated by the Government at $25,000 as permanent revenue, there could be no greater blunder made. The Hon. gentleman who framed these terms seems to have had no notion whatever of the sytems of taxation that obtain in the Dominion, and has consequently repeated his mistake of mixing Municipal taxation with Provincial. In the Dominion there are three forms of Government, viz : Municipal, Provincial, and Dominional, and each has its own system of taxation. Here we have but Provincial and Municipal Governments, with their respective systems of taxation. Now it appears that consideration has only been given, in framing these terms, to taxation under the Customs and Internal Revenue Laws of the Dominion. But Provincial Taxation ought also to have been considered, and the starting point should have been the equalization of our Provincial Taxes with the Provincial Taxes of the Eastern Provinces. This is made very apparent with respect to Spirit Licences. Here the Provincial Government levies $200 per annum on retailers in towns and in the country $50 per annum. In Ontario the retail spirit licence is $20 per annum in cities, $17 in towns, and $10 in the country. In estimating our future revenue from this source, we are not justified in placing it higher than the rate of Ontario, and that would reduce the receipts from Spirit Licences from $25,000 to about $6,250 per annum. The excess above the latter amount, if levied, ought to he levied for Municipal purposes. The Trade Licence here is also estimated too high.
Now, after careful study of these sources of Provincial Revenue which it is proposed that the Colony, after union, shall exclusively possess, I cannot make the permanent receipts higher than $50,000 per aununl. The difference, therefore, between my estimate of Provincial taxation and that of the framer of these terms, is $101,050, or as $151,050 is to $50,000, If a larger amount than the latter be levied by our Provincial Government after admission, our taxes will be out of proportion to the taxes in the Eastern Provinces for Provincial purposes. Before propounding what I consider ought to be the financial […]
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[…] terms of union, I will conclude this part of the subject by stating that the terms submitted in the Resolutions, and illustrated by the printed Estimate, instead of giving the Colony a permanent total revenue of $364,050 per annum, will only produce $248,567, unless higher Provincial taxation be levied here than in other parts of the Dominion. The way in which I make up these results is as follows :—By the terms submitted by the Government, there is (lst) Fixed subsidy, $35,000 ; (2nd) Interest on difference of Public Debt, $82,000; (3rd) 80 cents per head on 120,000 people, population, $96,000 ; (4th) Reserved revenue, $151,050 : Total, $364,050. By my interpretation of the proposed terms, there is: (1) Fixed subsidy, $35,000; (2) 80 cents per head on 120,000 people, $96,000 ; (3) Interest on difference of debt, taking $20 per head as the debt of Canada, $67,567 ; (4) Reserved revenue, $50,000: Total, $248,567. Now, if we deduct from the latter amount the Government estimate of current: expenditure, viz.: $211,009, there would only remain a surplus revenue of $36,558, instead of $151,050, as anticipated.
I, therefore, sincerely think that the Government scheme is wrong, and ought to he revised. Mr. Chairman, I therefore propose to bring under the notice of the Council what I consider ought to he the financial terms, taking for granted always that Canada will become liable for our public debt at the time of admission. When the Provincial Delegates met in Quebec and London, to decide on the terms of Confederation, they divided the Provinces into three groups, viz. : Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and the Maritime Provinces. Lower Canada was taken as the initial point. Now, Sir, in deciding finally as to the terms, I consider that British Columbia ought to be treated as the fourth group, whilst: the Northwest Territory may be regarded as the fifth. The first thing that strikes me, on looking at the Eastern Provinces, is their territory. Ontario has 121,260 square miles; Quebec, 210,000 ; and all the Maritime Provinces, 88,065. Territorially, then, we are their equal, and greater than either of them.
The natural capacity of our territory to support population is as great as Lower Canada. We have a finer climate, and more varied natural resources. Quebec sustains a population of about 1,250,000, or more. Ontario has 2,000,000. It is true that they are two centuries ahead of us, and we are in our infancy, with a handful of people. But that is no reason why, in framing terms, that we should not look forward to the rapid development of the Colony, and to the possession of a large settled population. Considering our geographical position, our natural resources, our wide-spread population, and our future, I think that we are entitled to as large a fixed subsidy as Ontario, that is $80,000. The proposed terms, submitted by the Government, ask only $35,000 per annum. Now, this is placing British Columbia, with its 220,000 square miles, its great natural resources, and the best climate in the world, on a par with Newfoundland, with its 40,000 square miles, its sterile soil and inhospitable climate,—a country that has never yet developed any capacity for anything but catching and selling codfish. Prince Edward’s Island is also offered a fixed subsidy of $35,000 per annum,—a little insular community with a territory of 2,100 square miles, a hundred times less in area than our own country, and with a climate far inferior to ours.
It is simply absurd to propose such a thing as ranking this Colony in subsidies with either of the Provinces except Ontario. I want neither more nor less than what the latter Province gets as a fixed annual subsidy. Every Hon. gentleman present who gives the matter a moment’s consideration must agree with me that $35,000 is entirely out of the question, and that the least we can accept is a fixed subsidy of $80,000 per annum. [Hear, hear.] In the next place, I propose that our population be taken at 40,000, and at no time shall it be considered less ; and that we shall be entitled to receive 80 cents per head annually until our population shall have reached 1,000,000. By this proportion we have truth and fact on our side. Our population will he subsidized at its actual number and not increased by a fiction -an unnecessary assumption-as in the terms proposed. Under this head we would get, on entering the Dominion, $32,000 per year. Besides that, as our population increases, this per capita subsidy would increase annually in amount, till it reached the maximum number of inhabitants of 1,000,000, and then it would stop.
Now, the terms sent down to us by the Government assume, as I have shown before, the existence of a population of 120,000, and propose that we shall receive 80 cents on that number at once, and that we shall receive no increase till our population shall have actually reached and passed that number; so it may be twenty years or longer before our actual population shall be equal to the assumed population, 120,000; and in the interim the per capita subsidy will remain unchanged. But this is not all. The Government scheme proposes to limit our maximum population to 400,000, the same as in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and as proposed in the terms to Newfoundland and Prince Edward’s Island. This is part of the same error made in copying the fixed subsidy. If we […]
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[…] sum up the maximum of population entitled to a per capita subsidy in the four Maritime Provinces, it will amount to 1,000,000. Now, if we rank our population with our extent of territory, we who possess three times as much territory as the Maritime Provinces, and equal capacity to support population, ought, at least to be entitled to fix our maximum number of inhabitants entitled to the per capita subsidy at one million. (Hear, hear.)
Now, Sir, neither of these two subsidies, nor both, would meet the current expenditure of the Government,—keep the necessary offices and services of the Colony moving. Both only amount to $112,000 per annum, and we require at least $162,000 to meet current expenditure, on the basis of the Estimates of 1870. But, as it accidentally happens, if we add the proposed fixed subsidy, $80,000, and the per capita subsidy, $32,000, to the reserved revenue, which I have previously shown ought not to be estimated higher than $50,000, we shall have $162,000 and nothing over,—no surplus to enable the Local Government to do anything to develop or settle up the country. If we were to receive nothing more than those two subsidies and reserved revenue, we would gain nothing by joining, the Dominion. It would be simply jumping out of the frying- pan into the fire,—a change without financial improvement. Under such circumstances, I would oppose Confederation. Now, Sir, in addition to the fixed and per capita subsidies, I ask for a temporary subsidy of $150,000. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—For how long?
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—I ask for a temporary subsidy of $150,000 per annum, to be diminished annually in amount, in proportion as our population shall exceed 40,000. New Brunswick has a temporary subsidy of $63,000 for ten years. Nova Scotia a temporary subsidy of $82,000 for ten years. The grounds on which I ask a temporary subsidy for British Columbia are: firstly, that the cost of living here is greater than in the Eastern Provinces, and, consequently, public officers must be paid higher salaries, and necessary services cost more in this country than there; secondly, our country is very large, and our population is small and widely scattered. and, consequently. requiring a larger staff of officials than a more compact and more populous community might require elsewhere; lastly, we require the additional temporary subsidy on the highest of all grounds—expediency, that has governed politics in all times and countries. Without a surplus of at least $150,000 per annum, the Local Government will be able to do nothing to advance the interests and settlement of the country.
Confederation would soon prove itself a source of disappointment, if there were no money spent annually for public works, immigration, education, &e. A change, without financial improvement, would destroy all hope of any such thing as the loyal and cordial co-operation of our people with the Government of the Dominion. Expediency, therefore, demands the subsidy. and expediency justifies the demand. In concluding my remarks Sir. on this subject, I will briefly contrast the terms proposed by the Government and the terms suggested by myself. The Government scheme, as I have shown, calls for only , $248,567, instead of $364,050 as alleged. Of the former sum it can draw in subsidies $198,567, in lieu of $213,000 as intimated. Now, by the terms which I have proposed the three subsidies, viz:—fixed subsidy $80000 per annum, per capita subsidy, $32,000, temporary subsidy: $150,000, would yield $262,000 per annum, and adding thereto the reserved revenue (the details of which have been explained) $50,000, the Colony on and after Union would have a Revenue amounting to $312,000 per annum. If we deduct $162,000, the sum required by the Estimates of 1870, to keep up and pay for our Provincial officers and services and make the necessary ‘ repairs to certain roads and buildings. we will have a clear surplus of $150,000 per annum to be devoted to Education, Charity, Public Works and Immigration Besides which the equalization of taxation for Provincial purposes would reduce taxation at least $100,000 more. If we deduct the current expenditure of the Government, viz: $162,000 from $248,507, the actual total amount of Revenue to be received under the terms submitted by Government to the Council, the surplus Revenue will be $86,567, as against $150,000 in that which I have proposed, making a difference between them of $63,433. (“Hear, hear.”) I shall hereafter move a Resolution suggesting the adoption of the terms that l have explained, and as an amendment to the Resolutions now under discussion. [” Hear, hear.”]
The Hon. Mr. Helmcken, Member for Victoria City, said: —The Hon. gentleman says in fact, we should go to Canada and say we want $250,000. I say we don’t want to be Confederated. Canada wants Confederation. We don’t ask Canada, Canada asks us to be Confederated. I agree that we ought to have $250,000 from Canada at least. The Hon. Member […]
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[…] who has just spoken, attempts to show that Canadian manufactures will come in free. Twenty years hence Canadian manufactures may come in, but I will not go into that question ; why should Canada complain of her goods coming in. what she gains will be more than she loses. She desires a large market for her manufactures, and she must pay us for that ; she cannot complain that she is losing by supplying us with her manufactured goods. The Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos) says that equalization of labour, and of value of property and productions. will come about. I admit that it may be so, but in my opinion it will not be for some years to come. If there is equalization of labour, there will also be equalization of taxation and offices. The Local Government can look after this when it happens.
I do not suppose that Canada will be disposed to look at our terms critically ; they are getting this Colony far too cheap ; I think $250,000 is too cheap. The Hon. gentleman (Mr. DeCosmos) says that we should go to Canada and ask $80,000 per annum, because another Province has the same, and that this Colony, which is larger in extent of territory than the largest of the Provinces, should have $80,000. But the Hon. gentleman must recollect that we do not produce revenue equal to what the other Provinces produce. With regard to the limit of population for the.] purposes of representation, I think 400,000 is too small ; it ought to have been 1,000,000, not indefinite, 120,000 gives us the right to have eight members to represent us ; this is a matter of expediency. There is a fault in the Resolution to which I will draw attention, it is this, that we do not get any increase of Revenue to the Colony until we get a population of over 120,000 persons. We have to calculate what our Revenue will be now under Confederation. and we cannot look for any increase for years to come. Whichever way we look at it. the figures come back to the same thing, we want $250,000, and there are several ways in which we can get it ; in point of fact we ask Canada to lend us that sum of money.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—My proposition would give, $650,000 more than the Government scheme and set free Internal Revenue for local or municipal purposes.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken-The Hon. Member wants $150,000 now, and as the population increases the sum is to decrease.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos-We should always have $150,000, with our present or a greater population.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken—The long and the short of the story is, that the two propositions amount to much the same thing. We go to Canada and say we want $250,000. According to this scheme, Canada will only be out of pocket $128,000. I say that Canada’s expenses will diminish in two years from this time by $60,000. so that Canada. will only be paying $68,000 a year. This is a very low rate of payment, far too low in my opinion. I say, Sir, that if one thousand miners go to Peace River this year, our revenue will be increased by $100,000. and if Peace River succeeds, “pans out well.” as the saying is. I am quite certain that $250,000 a year will not purchase this Colony. If Peace River is a failure, Canada may get it.
The Hon. Mr. Holbrook said – Sir, I rise to support the motion of the Hon. Attorney General for the adoption of these clauses. I prefer the scheme put forward by the Government to that suggested by the Hon. Member for Victoria District; it is more statesmanlike and deals with the subject in a larger manner. I agree with the Hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Helmcken) that there is a great probability of one having a large increase of revenue from the Peace River mines. It is impossible at present to form any opinion. beyond mere. conjecture, on this head; but still I think we ought to be prepared for the contingency. I believe, Sir, that in a short time the Dominion Government will be drawing a large amount of revenue from this Colony, probably a million, or a million and a half of dollars, and I am of opinion that provision ought to be, made, by which the Province will derive some material advantage from that large, increase. The United States Overland Railroad is producing such an effect as to turn California’s attention to the Pacific Coast I should be glad to see a scheme proposed, by which we should get back a part of any such increase of revenue, and if, any Hon. Member will bring in an amendment, to secure to us some local advantage out of any such prospective increase of revenue, I will support it: failing such amendment, I am prepared to support the clause as it stands.
The Hon. Mr. Humphreys, Member for Lillooet, said-Sir, I rise to support the amendment of my Hon. colleague (Mr. DeCosmos). In my opinion, Sir, the magnificent, bold, and statesmanlike scheme propounded by the Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos), has entirely demolished that of the Government. Hon. gentlemen have said much about Peace […]
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[…] River mines, so much, that they would almost lead us to suppose that if Peace River was to fail in fulfilling the expectations that seem to have been formed respecting it, the Government measure will also be a failure. I say, Sir, that nothing is known about Peace River, which will justify any such expectations. It is folly to talk about the revenue to be derived from the Peace River mines ; the amount of prospecting in that district has been too trifling to afford any data upon which to base even an argument or suggestion, so far as the terms, financially speaking, are concerned. I think that the proposition laid down by the Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos), is worthy of the serious attention and consideration of this House. I should like, Sir, to see a scheme carefully laid down, which would involve no subsequent reflections and troubles, such as we have seen in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ; it is better to go through all the squabbling and discussion that we have to do in this House now, than leave it to involve us in serious trouble hereafter.
Hon. Mr. Barnard—The Hon. Member says that the scheme proposed by the Hon. Member for Victoria District has quite demolished that of the Government. I should be glad to hear the Hon. Member for Lillooet point out the distinguishing differences between the two schemes.
Hon. Mr. Humphreys—The difference is apparent. I think that 1 have said enough to show this Council the advantages of the scheme propounded by my Hon. friend ; if Hon. Members cannot see differences which are so plain, it is not for me to supply them with brains.
The Hon. Mr. Wood said—Sir., I speak with considerable diffidence upon matters connected with finance. It is a subject which I have not made my particular study. The class of observations which I shall feel it my duty to make upon these clauses, will be more for the purpose of enquiring whether this Council has taken properly into consideration the possibility of the population of this Colony increasing within ten or fifteen years to 100,000, or about that number, if such an increase should take place, with the debt of British Columbia paid off, as it will be. by that time, Canada will gain enormously under those terms. Of the prospect of there being a large consumption of Canadian goods here, I can say nothing. I do not think it likely that the Railway will supersede sea carriage in bulky staples. There are great difficulties connected with the transport of any goods, and until the Railway is in operation, I apprehend that the bulk of our dry goods will come as heretofore, from England, whilst that claim of unmanufactured articles, which we are now importing from America, will still be likely to come into the market cheaper than Canadian goods, even though they are subject to a tariff. It is the difficulty of transport, our isolation in fact, as the Hon. Attorney-General has stated, and not the tariff, which is the real and substantial impediment to trade. I cannot help thinking that it is the probable destiny of this Colony to be numbered by hundreds of thousands, rather than by millions. This is the ultimate part of the world.
We are in this Colony further removed from the great centres of civilization than probably any other known portions of the globe ; we may almost be called the last country in the world ; and it is probable that only exceptional articles of manufacture will come to us from Canada. The consumption of manufactured articles imported from England, which can produce every kind of manufactured article cheaper and better than Canada, is not likely to decrease. Canada cannot compete with the facilities afforded by England and the United States in manufactures. With regard to the advantages to be derived by Canada from the terms, I take it that the present population of consumers in British Columbia is in reality about 25,000, instead of 40,000. As the population increases the Customs Revenue, which will always be the main source of income, will increase; the advantage, consequently, will be entirely on the side of the Dominion ; their profits grow in proportion as our population increases, whilst their burdens are becoming less. Customs would increase and judicial fees would increase ; in fact, with a population of 100,000, I think I am not far wrong in stating, that Canada would take from $800,000 to $1,000,000 from this Colony in the shape of Revenue every year, and would leave British Columbia with an increased expenditure necessary for carrying on the Local Government, without any Corresponding increase of income. The clauses proposed show, in my humble opinion, a present temporary and uncertain advantage, against a certain and prolonged future loss.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken—In Canadian calculations the Indians are reckoned as white men, therefore we have a population of more than has been stated, for the Indians alone exceed 40,000.
Hon. Mr. Robson, Member for New Westminster. said:— Mr. Chairman, I have listened with interest to what has been said upon these clauses, and have endeavoured to follow the Hon. Member for Victoria District through his figures ; and, after hearing all, I am not prepared to […]
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[…] think any the less of the Government scheme for the remarks which have fallen from the Hon. Member. The scheme proposed by him as an amendment to the financial clauses of the Government, indicate a vast amount or research, calculation, and thought. I congratulate the Hon. Member for Victoria District on the vast advance which he has made in the last two years. He then only asked for $142,000, inclusive of subsidy and head money. I think, Sir, that the Government has hit upon the soundest, best, and most feasible scheme. I consider it a real stroke of statesmanship, and am glad to find that the Unofficial Members of the Executive Council have added so much to its value. With regard to the number at which it is proposed to estimate the population, it is all very well for Hon. Members to say that this is a fiction, but there is nothing dishonest in the assumption. If we were going to impose upon the Canadian Government it would be dishonest; but we cannot impose upon the Government at Ottawa any more than we can upon ourselves. There is a real honest intent. The explanation of the Chief Commissioner is fair and satisfactory upon this point.
The policy of the scheme proposed by the Government is less intricate than that of the Hon. Member for Victoria District; it is more businesslike. It is important also as a basis of representation. If we adopt 40,000 as a basis of population, we shall only be entitled to a much smaller representation. By fixing the basis at 120,000, we give the country a better status abroad, and with the Dominion Government, than it could have if the basis were fixed at 40,000. This is where the fiction comes in, if at all. Besides, we are upon the brink of great changes, which will enormously increase our population. We have every reason to expect our population to be doubled in a very short time. The public works which would commence immediately after Confederation will increase it at once, and it is fair to put our population up to meet that increase.
There is, in my opinion, a great deal of reason in the arguments of those who say that as the population of this Colony increases the policy of the Dominion will tend to free trade [” No, no.” from Mr. DeCosmos], and the Canadian Government look forward to the time, and that very shortly, that Internal Revenue or Excise will exceed the External Revenue or Customs, and the Customs Revenue of this Colony will not increase much above its present standard from the reduction of duties and the importation of Canadian goods. Hon. Members may look surprised at this, but I will tell them that there are large Canadian houses now in negotiation with merchants of this Colony respecting the transmission of goods to this Colony, and I believe that cargoes of Canadian goods will come in to this port immediately after Confederation. This will be a relief to us. The Revenue from our own Customs will in a few years come to a standstill, or rather, notwithstanding the increase of our population, the Revenue will decrease. Looking ahead, it is argued by some Hon. Members that these terms look good for the present time, but bad for the future. I believe, however, that the bargain about to be made is a good one. Let us, if we can, strengthen the hands of the Government in asking more, but let us do nothing to weaken them and compel them to take less. We want more money just now.
My idea is that the expenses of Local Government are set down at a figure which is unnecessarily high. I think the expenses might be considerably reduced, and thereby a saving made to the Colony. The subsidy of $35,000 is, I think, too small. I will, therefore, move to increase it to $50,000, and to increase the limit of representation from 400,000 to 1,000,000. I make this proposition with the more confidence because I believe that the Dominion Government will think very little of $15,000, but they might think a good deal of the $45,000 which would be necessary to increase the subsidy to $80,000. in regard to the mines of this Colony, I think they will be more lasting than some Hon. Members predict; and I also differ from those who think that our prosperity depends entirely upon our mines. I believe that there is a great future for the Colony. I believe that the mineral resources will last our time, and that of our children. I believe, also, that our agricultural resources may be developed so as to give us one million of population within twenty years, and that this Colony will become of immense importance when the Overland Railway, the true North-West Passage is established. I conceive that it is not at all an exaggeration to assume that this Colony will have a population of one million within our lives. With such a climate as we have, and with such natural advantages, this Colony has stood still at a marvellous rate.
The Hon. Mr. Carrall, Member for Cariboo, said:— Sir, Hon. Members have said and I think with reason, that the policy of the Dominion tends towards free trade. Excise Duties are gradually taking the place of Customs, and I incline to the opinion that the importation of Canadian goods will reduce the revenue of this Colony considerably, but in any case, if a surplus should accrue to the Dominion Government, then a proportion of that surplus should […]
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[…] revert to us, so that it might be applied for local purposes. If the inequalities foretold should arise, then with such representation as we shall have, we shall have the means of securing a due proportion of the surplus. If the Canadian Government do not give us a fair share, we will force it from them. We shall be strong enough even with the number of Representatives proposed by these Resolutions. If the population really increases, as it is said it will, we shall have a vast representation. As regards the Indian population, it is roughly estimated by the Vicar-General at 60.000.
The Hon. Mr. Drake, Junior Member for Victoria City, said :—Sir, I do not think that the advantages to Canada have been fairly put; it has been said that the sum of $35,000 is an arbitrary sum similar to the subsidy allowed to Newfoundland. From the expenses of carrying on the Government of this Colony in proportion to the expense of the Government of Newfoundland, in comparison to the population. I say that the sum is out of proportion and too small for the requirements of this Colony. I would put it up to $70,000. Canada will receive, after paying subsidies and expenses, $128,000. Canada will no doubt fund the debt at a smaller rate of interest.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—Canada cannot fund it at less.
Hon. Mr. Drake—It is a matter of assertion, but I am of opinion that she will, and with the payment of debts in five years, Canada will pay out about $53,000 only a year, therefore I move a recommendation to the Governor that ” $70,000 ” be inserted in the conditions, instead of ” $35,000.”
The Hon. Chief Commissioner, said:—Mr. Chairman, I shall be glad, speaking for myself as an individual member of this House, to accept any reasonable suggestion, and shall not oppose the recommendation of the Hon. Member for New Westminster. With reference to the amount of our debt, the Government scheme gives the Colony the full benefit of the debts to come in. I say that the debt of British Columbia, after Confederation, cannot be funded, or the greater part of it cannot, for this reason, the debt is payable in Debentures which fall due at certain dates. After Confederation the price of Debentures will go up, and Canada can get no further benefit by funding, except as regards the Floating Debt. With regard to the remark of the Hon. Mr. Wood, who says the Resolution is framed with reference to present gain and future loss, I say we may wait and the horse may starve while the grass is growing. When we enter Confederation we must do so in the expectation that we shall participate in all the advantages of Confederation; any increase of revenue or population will bring its share to us; we must believe that Canada will deal fairly with us.
Now, Sir, I followed the Hon. Member for Victoria District through his figures when he propounded his new scheme, and I must say that I am better pleased with the Government measure than I was before; ours comes out on a stronger basis than before, in contradistinction to his. By his scheme he proposes to ask a clear gift; we ask much the same amount, but show the grounds. The Hon. Member has based his argument on assumption more than the Government have. It is wrong to look upon the estimate of population as a fiction, it is not so. it is based upon calculation. Call it an expediency if you will, but it is no fiction. He seems to treat British Columbia as if it were an estate to be parted with for a quid pro quo, which is not a fair way of treating the subject. If Canada sends us goods she will derive greater advantages from doing so than we shall, but nevertheless we shall participate. When our population increases rates of taxation will be reduced; a lower tariff. cheaper manufactured goods, and lower rents, are amongst the advantages that I look for out of Confederation. With regard to the Road Tolls, I look upon it as essential that they should be kept up to meet the expenses of maintaining the roads and keeping them in repair. It has been a question, and perhaps it is still open for debate, whether the care and maintenance of the Main Trunk Road should not be thrown upon the Dominion Government; if we regard the road as military work necessary for the defence of the country, its maintenance may fairly be a charge upon the federal revenue. I think we shall be in a better position to uphold the terms after this discussion. I. believe that our future will be speedily prosperous, and I am quite satisfied that the Dominion Government should share in our prosperity. It will not do for us to depreciate our own future prospects.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken—I have not much to say in favour of Canada, but this much I will say: if British Columbia prospers by reason of Canada’s works and capital, surely Canada has a right to an ample share of the increased Customs Revenue which will be so produced.
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Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—Mr. Chairman, the credit of the Government proposition now before us has been given to the Hon. Member for Victoria (Mr. Helmcken). Now, Sir, I am perfectly content that he should enjoy the credit, and the whole credit. In speaking briefly he has quoted a word used by myself—”Expediency.” Now, I again say that the whole thing is a matter of expediency. I have not heard anything, however, either from that Hon. gentleman or others who followed me, to disturb the solid foundation of my scheme, resting as it does on truth and fact. and a plain out-spoken statement of our monetary requirements. I have always said that this question of Confederation was one of a monetary character—that it had a money value, and I maintain, as l have always done, without shadow of turning. that we ought to have a surplus revenue of about $200,000 on entering the Dominion. I have always said that we must have that surplus, or its equivalent, with Confederation, or else no Confederation. That is the point round which I have been revolving. I have made no stride in advance, none to the rear, the Hon. gentleman opposite to the contrary. I have ever kept before the public the same idea, that when the terms of union were negotiated, they must bring that sum in a surplus revenue into our Treasury. It was a simple point that every one could understand and not forget. It is the sum that I asked at first; it is the sum that I ask now; and it is the sum that I propose now in amendment to the Resolution of the Government. The real surplus in the Government scheme is so far below what it ought to be, that it will be repudiated as an absolute failure, if ever it comes before the people for ratification. They will reject it. It will create just as much dissatisfaction here as there was felt in Nova Scotia. I will now, Sir, as I promised, move the following as a recommendation to His Excellency, and in substitution of Resolutions 2 and 3:—
- That the Council recommend to His Excellency the Governor, the following Resolutions for his consideration:—2. The population of British Columbia shall be estimated at 40,000. 3. The following sums shall be paid semi-annually by Canada to British Columbia for the support of the Local Government and Legislature. to wit:—An annual grant of $80,000, and a further sum of 80 cents a head per annum of the population, both payable half yearly in advance, the population of British Columbia being estimated as aforesaid. Such grant of 80 cents per head to be augmented till the population shall be shown to be One Million, at which number it shall thereafter remain. Canada shall also pay to British Columbia, in semi-annual advances, the sum of $150,000 per annum, which shall from time to time be reduced in proportion as the population may exceed 40,000.
Hon. Member for New Westminster—I object to the basis of population being changed, otherwise I would support some part of the recommendation.
The Hon. Mr. Alston (Registrar—General) said :—This being a Government measure, I shall support the Resolutions, but I shall at the same time be prepared to give my assent and support to any sensible recommendations that are proposed. It strikes me that the Resolution of the Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos) is based on proper grounds. It is a mistake to say that the allowance for representation is based on a fictitious estimate of population. The Executive Council must have estimated it on the area and extent of the Colony. I believe that our representation would accord with the recommendation of the Hon. Member for Victoria District. I do not think that Canada is advancing in the direction of free trade. Her advance is more likely, in my opinion, to be towards protection. I have no doubt that Confederation will open the door for Canadian goods to be brought in. I have no hesitation in voting for a larger subsidy, because I believe that in a few years, from the increase in our revenue, Canada will have very little to pay, and in the Government Resolutions there is no suggestion for any refund from Canada, if the Customs Duties should amount to a very large sum. I shall, therefore, vote for the Resolutions, but I shall support the recommendation of the Hon. Member for Victoria District, because I consider that it is grounded on common sense.
Hon. Mr. Barnard, Member for Yale, said:—Mr. Chairman, I shall support the Government proposition as it stands, particularly the estimate of 120,000. New Brunswick, with a population of 250,000, is entitled to fifteen members in the Dominion House of Commons. If the basis of representation is to be taken from population, then 40,000 would only entitle us to two members in the House of Commons, instead of eight. For that reason, in my opinion, if for no other, 120,000 ought to stand. Besides, as a matter of fact, our population exceeds 40,000. There is not an Indian in the Colony who does not contribute as much to the revenue as a Canadian. They are entitled to be represented as well as white men. Eight members in […]
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[…] the House of Commons will give us, as has been suggested, almost the balance of power between parties: eight, standing firmly together, will have great influence ; but what would be our influence with two?
After a few words from Hon. Mr. Humphreys in support of the basis of population, as disclosed in the scheme of the Hon. Mr. DeCosmos.
The several recommendations of the Hon. Messrs. DeCosmos, Drake, and Robson were read by the Clerk.
Some discussion ensued as to how the vote was to be taken, and the Chairman decided to put the recommendations of Hon. Mr. DeCosmos first, by itself, and then the recommendation of Hon. Mr. Drake, which was an amendment on the recommendation of Hon. Mr. Robson.
The recommendation of the Hon. Mr. DeCosmos, on a division, was lost. Ayes 5, Noes 14.
The recommendation of the Hon. Mr. Drake, as an amendment to that of the Hon. Mr. Robson, on a division, was carried.
Clauses 2 and 3 were then passed as read.
On motion, the Committee rose. and asked leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos voted against the Report of the Committee being adopted.
House adjourned at 6 p.m. until 1 o’clock on Wednesday.