British Columbia, Legislative Council: Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada (17 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 82-95.
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DEBATE ON THE SUBJECT OF CONFEDERATION WITH CANADA.
THURSDAY, 17TH March, 1870.
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Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—Mr. Chairman, judging from the statements made by the Government, this Railway is not likely to be completed in so short a period as I had hoped. The indefinite nature of the clause is unsatisfactory. It contemplates nothing more than the expenditure of $1,000,000 per annum, which would no doubt be a great boon, and would stimulate various branches of industry but that is almost all that can be said of it. The way that it has been put to the Colony heretofore, was that the Canadian Government would construct the road. It now turns out, from the statements of the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, that in all probability the Canadian Government will get some private company to carry out the work; and he adds ” that we may” get a guarantee with grants of land in aid of, the undertaking. Now, Sir, from the first I have always been careful not to bring forward the question of the Railway in connection with Confederation. The London Conference favoured it only when the financial position of the Dominion admitted it. It must be quite a long time before connection by rail with the Canadian Railway system can take place. I never believed the Canadian Government would contract a debt for this purpose at the present. They are already, in my opinion, too deeply in debt, and are taxed too high, to allow them to do so. According to my calculation, it will cost $150,000,000 to complete the Railway from this Colony to Montreal.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—You mean to the head of the water communication of Lake Superior?
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Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—No! that gets frozen up and cannot be utilized for several months in the year. It must go to Montreal, on the north side of Lakes Superior and Huron. It will cost $100,000,000 to construct it to Lake Superior from Victoria. Now a four per cent. guarantee on $100,000,000 will require Canada to impose additional taxation of $4,000,000 a year. Then you must remember that the wear and tear of the Railway would not be met by the returns. Besides that, there are running expenses to be provided for. The United States Trans-continental Railway pays from the way stations in the populous districts through which it passes; we should have none, except a few people at the Red River and in British Columbia. A four per cent. guarantee would be adding one-third to the annual taxation of the Dominion. Then for the portion of Railway they will have to make from the west end of Lake Superior to Montreal, there would be required $50,000,000 more at four per cent. To meet these sums, therefore, there would have to be raised an annual sum of $6,000,000 by Canada; in other words they would have to add nearly fifty per cent. to the present taxation of Canada. Do you think, Sir, they will ever do this, or that any Finance Minister would dare attempt it in the present state of Canadian finances?
I call attention to this view of the subject in order to prevent false impressions getting abroad, and the creation of false hopes, which will only lead to disappointment. With all due deference to his professional knowledge, I deny the correctness of the estimate of the Chief Commissioner that this Railway will cost only two’thirds of the United States Trans-continental line. This is a more difficult line in my opinion, not an easier one, than the line over the Sierra Nevada. Perhaps part of the year we might get communication, partly by steamboat and partly by railway, but for several months in the winter the water portion of the route would be closed up. In the temper of this House and the temper of the Government, I do not expect “this Resolution of mine to go up to the Government. Now, I want to utilize our money, and to utilize our time. I estimate that a Railway from Fraser River to Kamloops would cost $50,000 a mile. According to the plan of the Chief Commissioner, with the expenditure of only $1,000,000 a year, at the end of five years, it we started at Burrard Inlet, we should get to Yale only, for which the water communication at present existing would suffice, and consequently that time would be lost Possibly it might be opened to the Rocky Mountains in ten years, if begun at New Westminster as this scheme proposes It is our duty to open the interior country—Osoyoos, Okanagan, Kamloops, Similkameen, and other districts. Bring the interior into communication with the seaboard, that would settle up the best portion of the interior, provide an outlet for produce, and keep the money that is new sent abroad within our own borders. The Government plan will injure, it not delay, the development of the country. I have no hope that my recommendation will pass, but still I have the satisfaction of feeling that I have done my duty.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—Sir, I rise to support the recommendation of the Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos). I quite agree with that Hon. gentleman that a Railway starting from the head of steamboat navigation, would he more useful than any other, If we have a Company spending $1,000,000 a year in building a Railway which will open up the farming districts, we shall be able to raise cereals and compete with our American neighbours, and by commencing at the head of navigation we shall reap the advantage in our lifetime. It will develope the Mainland. Agricultural land would be turned into profitable use, and the mining section from Big Bend to Kootenay. which contains. I believe, most valuable mines of gold and silver will be opened up. If the recommendation of the Hon. Member is adopted, we shall find almost immediate benefit From the opening up of the inland trade. It will bring us population, and will build up this City and New Westminster, and other towns through the Colony. I do hope it will receive the support of the Executive Council.
Hon Mr. Ring—Sir, I thought we were discussing the necessity of a Railway, but I did not come prepared to discuss engineering questions as to route; it is wasting words to discuss the topography. That must be decided by competent surveyors. Our business, as it appears to me, is to insist upon having a through Railway. And it is highly desirable that the construction should be commenced simultaneously at both ends as well as the survey. I shall thoroughly and cordially support the Government upon this clause.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—Sir. I thought I had made the Government views on this clause sufficiently clear yesterday, in supporting the Hon. the Attorney-General’s motion; if not, my words could not have thoroughly expressed my meaning. The Government have not inserted the construction of a Railway into these Resolutions on the principle of local advantages. The […]
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[…] Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos) seems to argue that we inserted it in order to secure the advantages which would accrue to special localities from way traffic. But I can assure the House that the Executive Council entertained no such idea in adjusting the details of this great scheme; they have endeavoured to secure the utmost advantages to the whole Colony. You will observe, Sir, that the clause is most general in its. terms, and it was purposely made so. It does not attempt to define the line the road should take; it may have n terminus, as I distinctly stated before, at any place on the coast most convenient—at Bentinck Arm, Bute Inlet, or Burrard Inlet, or even by crossing the fiords between Vancouver Island and the Mainland, it may come to Victoria or Esquimalt. These details must be left to the parties constructing the line. The Executive Council have avoided all through all sectional and local considerations.
I stated yesterday, and I repeat it again, that I hoped the Railway would follow down the valley of the Fraser River to the seaboard; but the Government have purposely avoided any definition of any particular line, and have made it as general as possible I also said that I did not think that the Dominion Government would make the line; and I said so because I am well aware that this is not the way in which great works of this character are generally undertaken in these times. I believe that a private company, with the assistance of the Dominion Government, and I hope the Imperial Government also, will construct the line. But this is merely surmise. I know no more on my own actual knowledge than other Members round this board But I come to this conclusion because I know that it is not considered feasible for Governments to undertake such works It has been found to be a great mistake. Then why discuss the suggestions of the Hon. Member for constructing a Railway from Yale to Kamloops, or try to fix details which the spirit of the whole Resolution avoids, when we don’t even say the line shall pass Yale or Kamloops at all? It is a vast undertaking, and if undertaken at all, it will not be with a view to profit, but with a view to the future, and as part of the great responsibility of the Canadian Government in contracting alliance with this country. The strenuous desire of the Canadian Government is to make such a line. I think they are able to do it, and we know for certain that they will do it if they can. I do not agree with the Hon. Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken), that Confederation means a Railway; the Government do not say that there shall he no Confederation without a Railway.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—No; that is my opinion, and I do not put it forward as the opinion of the Government.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—I am glad to have that set right. The Government believe that the Railway will be made, but they do not make it a sine qua non; but if, on a calm view of the whole subject in negotiating with Canada, it is found impracticable for Canada to commence to make the Railway at once, then I see alternative terms, which will not only suit Canada but the people of this Colony, who, you must remember, will have to pass upon them when they come back from Canada. It has been stated the public mind is impressed with the idea that the insertion of so paltry a sum as $1,000,000 will lend to the postponement of the completion of the Railway for fifty years I can assure them it is a fallacy Why, Sir, as well put by the Hon. Member for New Westminster yesterday. common sense shows that it would be against the interest of the parties making the line to prolong the work over a number of years. It can only he carried on quickly to secure any real profit. I again repeat what the Government Members stated yesterday so distinctly, that the one million a year is not nearly the sum which will have to be spent; the amount stated is only intended to serve as a guarantee or an earnest that the work will be done.
If we had said make it in so many years time, they could not have acceded to it. Certainly in three years’ time the Dominion Government will he in a position to determine the line. The suggestion oi the Hon. Member is. in my opinion, wholly inapplicable to this scheme. If admitted it would entirely remodel the Government clause, which is general. The suggestion is. that the first section should be made at some place on Fraser River, I said before, we cannot tell whether the Railway will come down the valley of the Fraser River at all. Those who spend the money have a right to choose their line. As far as my own opinion goes, I should say that the Canadian Government will determine the basis of the scheme on engineering considerations of the port best suited for pouring in supplies, and for the cheapest construction of the road. Do not let us hamper so great a scheme by such minute details; let us leave it for those who have to construct the line to select their own route.
Hon. Mr. Robson—The Hon. the Chief Commissioner has left very little for me to say upon this clause, but there is one point to which I would direct attention, The Hon. Member […]
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[…] for Victoria District has not sufficiently considered, it seems to me, how the material for the construction of the Railway would he most easily moved to the line from the sea coast. If the road is to be commenced at Yale, all the vast material and rolling stock would have to be shipped from the port in small steamers up the Fraser River, to a point at which the line, according to the Hon. Member’s scheme, would start. The extra expense would be ruinous; and besides, it must be remembered that during a considerable portion of the year the navigation of the river is closed to steamers; and not only is this the case, but these boats cannot take up the engines and cars, but can only carry on the ordinary traffic when the population increases. No; the real, the only proper, course will be to commence to lay the track from the ships to where the material will have to be laid. That alone puts out of the question the commencement of any initial section at Yale, or anywhere else than on the seaboard.
Hon. Mr. Drake—Mr. Chairman, I am glad to hear from Hon. Members that this clause is the pivot of the whole scheme. I hope it will now be well understood that the Railway is the condition in Hon. Members’ minds upon which Confederation or no Confederation hangs. I hope that this will be remembered hereafter. This Railway is a gigantic undertaking. I look upon it as merely impracticable. I believe this Railway will cost more than the whole debt of Canada, [“Hear, hear,” from Hons. DeCosmos and Robson] The Government tells us that this Railway is to be a sine qua non. [“No”—Dr. Helmcken] Why, my colleague, the Hon. Member for Victoria, who is a Privy Councillor, says no.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—The Government does not say so; I say no.
Hon. Mr. Drake—Well, certain Hon. Members say so. Now, this is what will happen: Canada will agree to a Railway to get Confederation, and Confederation takes place, Canadian officials rule here, and Canadian laws prevail. Three years elapse, and Canada may find it inconvenient or impossible to carry out the Railway. I say that we require a guarantee for the making of the Railway. On Confederation how can we enforce this condition? This difficulty underlies the whole scheme. I ask how we are to get out of it. guard against it, or surmount it? Leave the Confederation? That means rebellion, which is not to be thought of by any law-loving persons. We can’t float ourselves out when once in; then we are bound hand and foot from now to eternity. There should be a penalty of $50,000 for every year in which Canada fails to expend the one million.
Hon. Attorney-General—How do you propose to secure the $50,000?
Hon. Mr. Drake—By Imperial guarantee.
An Hon. Member—How would the guarantee of the President of the United States do? [Laughter.]
Hon. Mr. Drake— I shall be quite satisfied if the President of the United States indorses the bill. [Laughter.] I consider the Railway the primary and essential condition of Confederation, and I think that Canada is too poor to guarantee such a work as this. She had to go to the Imperial Government to guarantee the payment of the £300,000 to buy out Canadian interests in the Red River Settlements, and I maintain that we are on the right course to ask for an Imperial guarantee now. When we get into Confederation we cannot help ourselves. If Canada is unable or unwilling to pay the $1,000,000 a year, as soon as it appears necessary to her to throw over the conditions, over they will be thrown. One Hon. Member tells us that Canadian statesmen are ” men of unbounded ambition.” Now, men of unbounded ambition will not scruple at anything to gain their ends; that is all they look to. Until a guarantee is obtained, I shall oppose this Resolution. I don’t care whether it is the guarantee of the President of the United States or any other that will do.
Hon. Mr. Robson—I have listened with profound astonishment to the remarks of the Hon. Member who has just sat down, upon Canada and Canadian statesmen. I shall not condescend to reply to the aspersions. Canada can support herself against all this kind of thing. She is great enough to do so. Such attacks can only come from those who know nothing about those whom they malign, I am a Canadian, and am proud of being one; but in this matter of making terms of union, I shall be as exacting as any reasonable Member of this Council can be. I would have all the conditions well understood, and would have them put in black and white, but I would ask no endorsement from any other source. When this agreement is completed between British Columbia and Canada, we shall have the best possible of guarantees. We shall have the guarantee of the imperial Government, and of Her Majesty the Queen, from first to last. We shall have the endorsement of the Queen’s Proclamation, […]
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[…] which lies at the root of these conditions. Can we have or desire better security? [“Hear, hear,” from Mr. Trutch.] Hon. Members say we cannot get out, and that Canada may repudiate. I say, nothing of the kind. Canada would never be allowed by the Imperial Government to coerce this Colony to remain in Confederation for the fulfilment of one side of a contract of partnership, the terms of which Canada herself has trodden under foot. To entertain such a supposition is, if I may be allowed the expression, an outrage on common sense too absurd to be for a moment seriously entertained. Would the Imperial Government stand by and let Canada send a force of soldiers to compel British Columbia to remain in Confederation under such circumstances?
The Canadian Government never broke faith yet, and the Imperial Government never broke faith yet, and both are pledged to the fulfilment of this condition. Canada has hitherto gone in advance of her word. The distrustful views of the Hon. junior Member for Victoria (Mr. Drake) are so manifestly unjust that, as it is impossible that they can arise from ignorance, I may be pardoned for attributing them to wilfulness, to a rabid sense of opposition, and a chronic feeling of distrust. To ask the President of the United States to endorse a scheme which emanates from the Imperial Government, I look upon as a monstrous ill-timed joke, against which reason and argument are powerless. I cannot—we cannot discuss it. Now, to go to the ways and means. Why, Sir, it is well known that Canada is rich. Does the Hon. Member know that Ontario and Quebec have $4,000,000 lying idle at this moment, carrying low interest. There is plenty of capital in Canada at this moment to build the Pacific Railway. The reason why Canada uses the Imperial guarantee for the £300.000 is this: She can borrow cheaper through the Imperial Government, with their guarantee, than without it. Canada frequently borrows money for public works. It pays her to do so. It is simply a beneficial financial operation,
Hon. Mr. Drake—I rise for the purpose of explaining that I make no reflections upon Canadian statesmen, but I treat this solely as a matter of business; and as in other ordinary business, I prefer having an endorsed note to a simple obligation. In the 145th section of the British North America Act, an Imperial guarantee for a loan of three millions sterling for a Railway is specified. I think we are justified in making a similar request. Mine is a business condition. I am willing to trust Canada, but I say we are entitled to ask for an endorser. The Hon. Member’s remarks have not disturbed my position.
Hon. Mr. Wood—I am obliged, Sir, in the few remarks that I intend to offer, to treat of all the amendments and suggestions together. To my mind, this condition which requires the construction of the Overland Railway is one of the most important of all the terms. A great deal has been said about the incorruptibility of Canadian statesmen. No doubt Canadian statesmen are very like all others. Canada acts through her Ministers. Those now in power are, so far as we know, favourable to this scheme. But, without imputing motives, it must be admitted that it is very possible that a Canadian Ministry, some three or four years hence, possibly of the anti-Confederate party, or cold upon the subject of Confederation, when pressed by circumstances, may be disinclined to carry out the terms, and with perfect consistency of political conduct, desire to obtain relief from carrying them out, and their first effort would be to get a vote of the Provincial Legislature to relieve them from the burthen. In the event of Confederation, I should consider this country a Colony of Canada. [Hon Mr. DeCosmos—”No, an integral part of it.”]
[Hon. Mr. Wood:] I say a Canadian Colony, because, as I believe, neither Responsible Govermnent nor full representative institutions are to be granted under Confederation; at all events, they are not included in these terms. And under such a constitution as we have now, the Canadian Government could easily get a vote of this Legislature to cancel the terms. I repudiate chronic opposition, but I consider it to be my duty to oppose the course that is being taken by some Hon. Members here. I believe there are some Hon. Members of this House who desire Confederation on any, or without any, terms. [“Name, name,” from Hons. Carrall and Robson; ” No, no,” from Mr. DeCosmos.] The very gentlemen who speak, if I may judge from their votes. [“No, no.”] If I was in favour of Confederation at all; if I did not think that reaction would follow; if I thought that Lord Granville’s argument was sound. I should say, “Let us be confederated at once.” This brings me to a difference of opinion that exists. Some of us consider the Railway a necessary point in the terms. Many of us. including Lord Granville, consider it essential, The Hon. Chief Commissioner says it is not essential.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—I never said the Railway was not essential.
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Hon. Mr. Wood—I understood the Hon. Member to say that Government did not consider it essential. I fear that it is delusive to hope that the Imperial Government would give a guarantee for this Railway. They could only do so on military grounds; but I am convinced they would never guarantee three thousand miles of an exposed line of Railway within a few miles of the territorial boundary, a thing which courts assault and would be so perilous to maintain, seeing that it could he cut in two in a hundred places by hostile forces from the United States. It requires little reflection to see that Colonial undertakings are seldom guaranteed now. Canada’s interest in the Railway, on the other hand. is purely commercial. For such a Railway to pay, it must pass through populous districts—places like Omaha and the United States towns. It is monstrous to suppose that England would supply the capital for such a scheme. No capitalists in the world would advance their money for such an undertaking. The matter has been talked threadbare in the public prints. It is out of the question to suppose that there would be any material trade in bulky goods this way. [Hear, hear, hear, hear] Canada, finding the thing difficult, will refuse the terms. [“No, no,” from Dr. Carrall.]
I say the money will not be spent. I back my knowledge of: the world and experience of men and things against the “No, no ” of the Hon. Member, and I believe the result will be that the Canadian Government will refuse this item; and in refusing will say, “We do the best we can; it is our interest to do the thing. but it is impossible to get the guarantee through Parliament.” I believe the Canadian statesmen who have the conduct of this matter will sav to our Delegates, or to His Excellency, “Don’t you think you can do without this Railway ? You must take our desire to do it for the deed itself. By and bye, perhaps, it can be accomplished, and by no means so effectually as by becoming a part of our Dominion.” And so a quiet go-by will be given to the Railway, and the terms will come back again shorn of this item. If, as the Hon. Chief Commissioner says, these terms are to come before the people—mind I say the people alone—I believe there is a feeling that Confederation is a movement which promises something, and this feeling will lead to these terms being passed. So weak are commercial and agricultural interests in this Colony at the present time, so small is the population, and the mass of the people are doing so badly and are so dissatisfied that, in my opinion, they will vote for anything that will give change and a chance of bettering themselves.
I intend, Sir, to move an amendment, with the view of making this Railway a test question :—”That without a substantial guarantee for an Overland Railway, Confederation should be rejected by the Delegates from this Colony.” It is obvious that this motion will be defeated, but I am desirous to test the opinions of the representative members of this Council on so literal a point as this, The Hon. Chief Commissioner says that these terms are to be decided, eventually. by the representative members alone—of course, without the official vote. And here I may ask, are the official members, in the event of its ultimate discussion, to retire from the Council, and leave the question to the representative members alone? If we are fit for representative institutions. why not give them to us now? Having promised the Colony terms, I think the Executive are bound to present terms which are good, in the sense of being productive of permanent good and quiet enjoyment. I cannot forbear to say that in place of terms simply providing for pecuniary benefit, I should have preferred to have seen inserted constitutional powers, and powers of self-government. [” Hear, hear,” from Hons. DeCosmos, Robson, and Humphreys.] I should have desired ‘to embody these in the conditions; and, in particular, I should have desired to retain full power over the Tariff.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—The Tariff is an open question.
Hon. Mr. Wood—Give us reasonable powers of self-government, and I will accept Confederation to-morrow. If we cannot settle our local matters. there will be trouble. If the Tariff is left an open question. it is at least one step in the right direction.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken—It is an open question on agricultural matters.
Hon. Mr. Carrall—I shall not attempt to answer the discursive remarks of the Hon. Mr. Wood. It would require an ignis fatuus to do so. for he is here, there, and everywhere in no time; but I cannot suffer some of his remarks to pass unnoticed l have sat in this Council for two sessions, and have endeavoured to conduct myself with propriety; but I find certain Hon. gentlemen in this Council who, by inuendo and implication, directly and indirectly, have endeavoured to cast slurs upon Canada, and to slander and belittle the statesmen of that country, which I am proud to call my own. I have, hitherto. refrained from answering, because I thought my country occupied too high a place in the roll of England’s Colonies to […]
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[…] be affected by such conduct. The position of Canada is so great, beyond cavil and dispute, as not to, require any defender in this Council. Such remarks only recoil upon those who make them. The versatility of spleen displayed by the Hon. gentleman who has just sat down, only shows the bitterness of the mind that conceived the remarks. The question now before us is as to Clause 8, and upon the discussion of this clause another question has arisen, or rather has been dragged in, namely, that of the ability of Canada to fulfil the condition of this particular clause, and it is said that this is to be made a test question. With regard to the idea of any future Canadian Ministry repudiating this condition, I wish, Mr. Chairman, to refer you to English history, and to ask whether you have ever known an instance of an incoming Ministry. whether Whig, Radical, or Tory, repudiating the plighted troth of their predecessors in office? Such a thing is never done to my knowledge, and so far as my experience of history goes, never has been done. [” Hear, hear,” from Hon. Attorney-General.]
I have yet to learn an instance where a loan guaranteed, or anything else undertaken by any Government, has been repudiated by an incoming Ministry. We might just as well suppose that the guarantee for the loan for the Inter-colonial Railway might be withdrawn by Gladstone, because it was given by the late Ministry, as that any future party in Canada might entertain the idea of going back from the promises of the present Government. History forbids such an idea. The Hon. and learned Member for Victoria (Mr. Drake) says he wants a guarantee. Well, let him want it. I am perfectly willing that he should want it. For my part, I look upon the Queen’s Proclamation as the guarantee which will make the whole thing inviolable. I point to the fact, that every compact entered into with the Maritime Provinces is being fulfilled. Can anyone point to any act of repudiation? No, Sir, Canada has gone beyond her promises.
I repudiate, on behalf of myself and others, the assertion that any member of the confederate party has stated that he would accept Confederation without conditions. I never heard the Hon. Member for Victoria District, or the Hon. Member for New Westminster, who have taken a prominent part in this great question, make any such statement. I have the honour of being one of the Executive Council who framed these Resolutions, and I believe the terms will be acceptable to a large majority of the people. Those who say that there can be no Union without a Railway, speak a fallacy. Railways follow. Look at San Francisco and the Eastern States of America. Look at Scotland and England. I am well aware that British Columbia wants a Railway, and I know that Canada wants it. I am sanguine enough to believe that it will be made. I am assured that the money is ready, if the desired guarantees can be obtained. The Hon. Mr. Wood. in his discursive remarks, flew around like a hummingbird buzzing round a rose, and amongst other things touched on the assailability of the Railroad. I say that the American people have Railways of their own, and we do not intend to have from henceforth daily warfare. With regard to the course of the Railway, the Hon. Chief Commissioner has told you that the advantages of the line are greater than those of the existing Pacific line. It is well known that the American Pacific Railway, after passing Omaha, passes through a wild and most desolate country, through miles of wilds and sage-brush. [” No, no.” from Mr. DeCosmos.]
The North-West Territory is more fertile than any portion of the route of the American Pacific Railway. The Hon. Mr. Wood says he will make this a test question. I say the whole terms are a test question, and no one part of them more than another. The Canadian Government are to be asked what they will do, and the final test will be for the decision of British subjects of this Colony. No one thing is a test more than another. The people have the sole right to say whether they are willing to take the terms as finally offered, or not. I have already spoken twice with regard to Representative Institutions, which the Hon. Mr. Wood regrets are not made a condition. Either l must fail to put my ideas clearly, or Hon. Members misunderstand me. I have said, over and over again, that the people must decide this question. His Excellency says that if the newly constituted Council asks for Responsible Government, under the Organic Act, they will get it. What need is there to drag in the question into these Resolutions? The Hon. Mr. Wood cannot, dare not, say that the majority of the British subjects in British Columbia are in favour of Responsible Government. I may be found in the minority upon this question when it comes before the people, but I speak from conviction; and, moreover, I say that when once we are in the Dominion, if the people desire Responsible Government, no power on earth can prevent them from having it.
Hon. Mr. Robson—I heartily concur with the Hon. Mr. Wood, in his views on Responsible Government.
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Hon. Mr. Wood—I never said I was in favour of Responsible Government. I say that the Governor asks for the ratification of the people, and at the same time denies that we are fit for self-government. I have never pledged myself to Responsible Government. [“Oh! oh! oh!”]
Hon. Mr. Robson—I must oppose the amendment of the Hon. and learned member; first, because it raises invidious distinctions, and might lead to the inference that we were indifferent to the other portion of the terms; secondly, because it asks this House to do what it cannot, and, even if it had the power, ought not to do. This Council is not the proper body to dictate final terms. This Council is only a quasi-representative body, and does not fairly represent the people. With a House constituted as this is, containing some Members who professedly only represent their own individual opinions, it would, in my opinion, be an insult to the people to make any condition a test of union, in the sense proposed. Suppose Canada sends back the terms without the Railway, it is for the people to accept or reject them; that is a right belonging to the people, who have not yet been consulted. The Hon. Mr. Wood has said that there are Hon. Members in this House who would go in for Confederation on any terms. I, for one, have never done so; nothing is more foreign to my desires. [“Hear, hear,” from the Attorney-General.] Though I am a Canadian, and am proud of my country, I am also a British Colombian; and upon this question my first and last thought has been, is, and will be, for British Columbia. [” Hear, hear,” from the Attorney-General.]
Hon. Mr. Alston—As a test question, I must say I cannot vote for this amendment If I am in this Council when the final votes upon Confederation are to be taken, I shall be prepared to vote against Confederation, unless a Railway is included in the terms—unless, that is to say, my sentiments undergo some change which I do not foresee. I do not see how, if this were made a test question, the Government could carry out their instructions, first to submit the Resolutions to Canada. and then to submit the Canadian terms to the people. This is not the time to submit a test question, neither can we arrogate to ourselves the power to do so; it must be left to the popular vote. Therefore, although I fully concur in the sentiment that we must have a Railway some time or other, I must vote against this amendment.
Hon. Mr. Helmcken—Mr. Chairman, the sooner we get back to business the better. The discussion has become too wide. Some Hon. Members seem to think that Canada can’t do it, that too much money is required. What is the fact? We merely ask the Canadian Government to spend one million a year. What is the interest on that sum, at 4 per cent? $40,000. and the next year $80,000. I don’t know how long it will take to get to the Rocky Mountains We want the Railway for our own purposes. [” Hear, hear, hear,” from Hons. DeCosmos, Holbrook, and others.]
We shall derive benefit from the expenditure of a million dollars a year in the Colony, and be getting a Railway at the same time. Every one seems to think that the Railway will unite the country; so it will; but it is not simply a Railway or a Telegraph that will unite Canada and British Columbia. The only true basis of Union is that people should have the same interests, the same feelings, and the same desire to make this a prosperous country. If Canada gives us terms sufficiently good to show that it is her intention to do all she can to develop our resources and advance our interests. then she will gain the affections of the people of this Colony, and then there will be an union which no Railway can give, a material Union which nothing can disturb, and we shall find hereafter that Kingdoms and Nations will spring out of this Union. We are told by the Hon. Mr. Wood that the Officials must vote for these terms, as they have been settled by the Governor. This is not so, for before any terms can be concluded some one must go to Canada from here, or come from Canada to this place, to arrange conditions. I believe in what His Excellency has said. I place more reliance on him than on any one else. I believe he will act fairly and justly in this matter, nor do I think there is so much to fear from Canada as there is from the danger of the people of this Colony cheating themselves; you can make the people believe anything. I do not agree that the country is in ‘such a depressed condition. I know that Victoria, the chief city, is in rather a depressed condition, and perhaps New Westminster also, but outside it is otherwise.
Hon. Mr. Wood—Is the gold mining interest prosperous?
Hon. Mn. Helmcken—The Hon. Member asks if the gold mining interest is prosperous. I say that this Colony has no business to depend upon its gold mining interests.
Hon. Mr. Wood—What else has she got?
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Hon. Mr. Helmcken-She has agricultural interests. coal. lumber, and fisheries. What do you send away half a million of dollars for each year? We want a more industrious population, a productive population. But to return to the Railway: the sooner we get through this Railway the better; it opens so many avenues for discussion. I think it is the most essential part of this document. It is essential to Canada; through it she hopes to make a country of this Colony; and it is essential to us, as bringing us prosperity. I believe the Canadian Government will make the Railway in the interior. We are told that they have four millions lying idle; they cannot have a better investment for it than to build a Railroad from Fraser River to Kamloops.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—I remark. Mr. Chairman, that there is a considerable contrast between the views of two Hon. Members of the Executive Council. I mean the Hon. Chief Commissioner (Mr. Trutch) and the Hon. Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken). The former says that it is not proposed to construct a railway with reference to local interests. He says to advocate our own local interests is simply inapposite. I think differently. I think that we should deal with it locally as well as nationally. I presume it is put in the terms because it is expected that it will benefit the Colony. We don’t care so much for its benefiting the people of Montreal as for benefiting ourselves; we look at it from a British Columbian point of view. I say with the Hon. Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken), that we should deal with it with reference to British Columbion interests. After the discussion of yesterday, I confess my surprise. I thought from the tenor of the Resolutions that the Canadian Government would construct the line.
Now, we are informed by the Hon. Chief Commissioner that it will be undertaken by a private company. Then, he says if we cannot get a Railway we must have an equivalent. If this clause is not a fixed principle in the terms, then, I ask, what do the Government propose as an equivalent? With regard to Railway communication through British Columbia, we ought, in my opinion, to connect Kamloops and the adjacent country with the seaboard. That is, commencing at navigable water on Fraser River and ending at Savona’s Ferry, Kamloops Lake. This line, at the utmost, is only 150 miles long. The expense of its construction, at $50,000 per mile, would be $7,500,000. We might safely approach the Canadian Government upon this, irrespective of the terms of Union, under the constitutional provision authorizing the Dominion Government to construct public works of this character.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—I say again that the scheme of this Railway, on which this clause is based, hangs on the construction of the line from the seaboard. I never said. and never intended to say, that we had no right to take into consideration whether or not local interests would be benefited. I say that I would not dare to stand up here and advocate a special link of a special line. I should think if I did so that I was doing what the Canadian Government could not listen to. But in a great scheme which contemplates a line of Railway from the seaboard of British Columbia to Canada, I consider that the Dominion Government may take a broad View and strain a point to get it. This clause has been drawn without pretending to define the route. I did not say that it was proposed that the line should be built by a private company. I said that it suggested itself to my mind that the line would be built by a private company. not that it was so proposed. I do not disregard local interests I look upon this Railway as a necessity of the position—a means to the end. I do not advocate it on its merits as to local interest, but as a grand scheme of Transcontinental Railway.
Why, Sir, some say that the terminus should be brought to Esquimalt or Nanaimo. A Railway is wanted in the interests of the Confederacy, but the locality has been generalized as much as possible by the Government. This brings me to another point: though I look upon the Railway as a necessity of the position, in view of the approach of Confederation, I would not pledge myself to bind the Dominion Government to the special terms of this clause. I think it possible that terms may be suggested; instead of this condition, which may be found to be acceptable to the people of this Colony, to whom, as you know. His Excellency says the matter must he referred. I do not look upon the Railway as unessential. I say it is essential; for without unity of interests Confederation cannot endure. If I did not think that under Confederation we should be governed satisfactorily and to our advantage, I would oppose Confederation, and would advise its abandonment. I do not say and I am not going to bind myself, that unless that clause is granted by Canada I shall not vote for Confederation, although I think it essential to the position.
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Hon. Mr. Walkem— Chairman, having been unfortunately absent during the early part of this debate, I have not been able, hitherto, to take part in it. I adopt the principle laid down by the Hon. Chief Commissioner with regard to this clause, but I think the clause is not general enough. It is true, that it is sufficiently general as to a part, but not as to the whole. Enough has been said about the spending of $1,000,000 to show what it means. I would leave out the one million. It would be enough, in my opinion, to say that it shall be constructed within a reasonable time. This would mean not an indefinite, but a reasonable, time; it would he so interpreted by the Law Courts I would leave out the definition of time, and I would leave out the one million. I think it ‘will do us injury with Canadian statesmen; they will say that this is the measure of our desire to he confederated.
There is another point to which I would call attention. The language of the clause does not, in my opinion, imply that one million must necessarily be expended within the Colony. I conclude, after hearing the explanations of Hon. Members, that it is intended that the one million shall he spent here; but in my opinion it might, under these words, be expended on any part of the line. I thought that was the intention; it was so thought in San Francisco. There were newspaper articles upon it, and the idea of a million a year being spent upon the Railway for a hundred years was laughed at on all sides. I would suggest an alteration in the words. I am ready to leave the construction of the English to any schoolmaster. I say that they do not mean ” in the Colony.” With regard to the remarks of the Hon. Member for Victoria District, I would remark that this is not really a final contract, and I agree with the Hon. Chief Commissioner that the clause ought to be general. The Canadian statesmen, with whom we are about to deal, are not mere tyros; and I say that the mention of this one million leaves it open to Canada to keep the time open. If they expend that sum upon any portion of the line, they will be able to prolong the building of the road as long as-they please. And, although it may be said that Canada will take care of us, I say we ought to take care of ourselves. Let us get as good terms as possible, not trusting to the Canadians, but looking after our own interests. We should, in my opinion, abstain from all mention of one million dollars, or any other sum; otherwise the Canadian Government may say that on payment or expenditure of that sum they will have completed their bargain.
Hon. Attorney-General—I rise, Sir, to defend my English. This clause was settled after much consideration, in the first place emanating from the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. I conceive that the ‘words—”and that a sum of not less than $1,000,000 “shall be expended in every year, from and after three years from the date of Union, in “actually constructing the initial sections of such Railway from the Seaboard of British “Columbia. to connect with the Railway system of Canada,” fully convey the meaning that it was intended they should. The language means that the expenditure should be within this Colony, and it can mean nothing else. The schoolmaster cannot have been where the Hon. Member has just visited, or he would not have so misconstrued this clause. I may confirm what the Hon. Chief Commissioner says, that if in communication with the Canadian Government it is found that they will not consent to the Railway, it is thought that we may obtain some equivalent. I must vote against the amendment of the Hon. Member for Victoria District (Mr. DeCosmos). as it proposes to enter into details affecting particular localities. I regret that the Hon. Member, who usually takes such large and extended views, should in this instance have taken so small and sectional a view of so large a scheme. The whole country will he just as much benefited by the Railway as any one part of it.
The Hon. and learned Member for Victoria City proposes a guarantee and a penalty, but he has not shown how he could enforce the penalty if, we cannot compel the fulfilment of the terms. I think that the self-interests of Canada will be so identified with those of British Columbia that we shall require no further guarantee. If more is required, as the Hon. Member for New Westminster says, we have the assurance of the Imperial Government—the Queen’s proclamation. I cannot say that I think that the Canadian interests are purely commercial, I have lived in Canada for several years. and while there did not regret to see the country divided against itself. Now, there is a national feeling growing up in that promising young country; her inhabitants are becoming more British in their feeling; I believe that Canada will, as she has heretofore done, carry out the terms she makes in honour and good faith. It will he to her interest to do so; it will be to her interest to satisfy the interests of British Columbia.
Hon. Mr. Humphreys—The question of the Railway should be put in a practical form. The people want a Railway from the head of navigation into the interior. Unless we get […]
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[…] immediate benefit, I hold we had better have no Railway at all [laughter]. The resolution of my Hon. colleague (Mr. DeCosmos) will give us immediate prosperity. “Unless we get immediate advantage it is very little use at all.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—There is one word in the Hon. Attorney General’s speech that I desire to reply to. He said that my recommendation goes too much into matters of detail. I find as much detail in the Organic Act with reference to Railway communication to Halifax.
Hon. Mn. Robson—I have a recommendation to move, hearing on the Coach Road, as follows:—
“That a respectful Address he presented to His Excellency, recommending that Clause 8 “may he so altered as to include the section of the main trunk road of the Colony lying between ” Yale and New Westminster, in the Coach Road which the Dominion Government is to he asked ” to construct within three years from the date of Union.”
I think, Sir, that it is obvious that if Canada is to he asked to construct a grand trunk road it is equally important that she should add a connecting link which is wanting.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—If we can get the Dominion Government to make this communicating link it will he a benefit to the whole Mainland.
Hon. Dr. Carrall—I shall support the recommendation of the Hon. Member for New Westminster.
Hon. Attorney-General—This recommendation is open to the same objection as the proposal of the Hon. Member for Victoria District: I must oppose it on principle.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—It was intended to add the words “and maintain” after “construct and open for traffic.” The words have inadverently [sic] been omitted. I propose to remedy the mistake, and I therefore move a respectful address to His Excellency suggesting that the words ” and maintain ” he added between the words ” such ” and ” traffic,” in the fourth line
The Chairman put the recommendation of the Hon. Mr. Robson, which was carried; then the recommendation of the Hon. Chief Commissioner, which was carried.
The recommendations of the Hon. Mr. Wood and of the Hon. Mr. DeCosmos, were put and lost.
Clause 8 was then passed as read.
Clause 9 was next read by the Chairman :—
“9. The Dominion shall erect and maintain, at Victoria, a Marine Hospital and a Lunatic “Asylum, either attached to the Hospital, or separate as may be considered most convenient.
“The Dominion shall also erect and maintain a Penitentiary, or other principal Prison, at “such place in the Colony as she may consider most suitable for that purpose.”
The Hon. Attorney-General moved the adoption of this clause.
The Hon. Mr. Robson said :—Sir, upon this clause I have to move a recommendation that the Penitentiary shall be at New Westminster. I think that it will be admitted, on all hands, that the Penitentiary ought to he at New Westminster. Victoria and Esquimalt are named as sites for particular things. and why not New Westminster?
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—I second the recommendation of the Hon. Member for New Westminster. 1 think the Mainland ought to he considered; it is of course a matter of some consequence.
Hon. Mr. Humphreys—As a member from the Mainland I shall oppose the recommendation, I am in favour of centralizing buildings.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—Hon Members seem to lose sight of the words “or principal Prison.” This does not mean exactly a Penitentiary, or other principal Prison for reforming criminals; the existing prisons are too small for the purpose, and this really means a prison for the detention of prisoners,
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—The Dominion Government are bound, under the Organic Act, to provide a Penitentiary. This, I suppose, means more than the Organic Act contemplates; it means a Prison.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—Yes, that is the meaning; it means more than the Organic Act Contemplates.
Hon. Mr. Wood—I think the Penitentiary ought to be in the best and most central place; wherever the prison can be best maintained. 1 would leave it to the Dominion Government to decide the place.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—Why should not Victoria be struck out of this clause altogether?
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Hon. Mr. Robson—I did not suggest New Westminster in any local or sectional spirit. I rather did it to divest the clause of local and sectional spirit; though, at present, population and other things point to Victoria as the proper place for a Marine Hospital and Lunatic Asylum; but we must look to the future, the population must ultimately be largest on the Mainland. [Hon Mr. Ring —” No, no.”]
[Hon. Mr. Robson:] Surely the Hon. Member for Nanaimo will not assert that the population or the Island will in time to come exceed that of the Mainland. I have no desire to give any sectional complexion to the Resolutions.
Hon. Chief Commissioner—Sir, I desire to say that in my opinion the Penitentiary will ultimately be on the Mainland, perhaps at New Westminster or Burrard Inlet, where it is probable the Railway will come. I can easily believe that the Hon. Member for New Westminster does not advocate New Westminster from local motives, but I must defend the Resolution as it stands. I think it better to leave it to the people who find the money to select the place. The position is not the same as regards the Marine Hospital. It should be at Victoria or Esquimalt, or at some intermediate place, on account of this being the head quarters of the Navy; just as I think Esquimalt is the proper place for the Dock. I believe that New Westminster will he the place, but I cannot, on principle, vote for the recommendation.
The Chairman put the recommendation of the Hon. Mr. Robson to the Committee—Lost.
Clause 9 was then passed as read.
The Hon. Attorney-General—I move the adoption of Clause 10, which reads thus :—
“10. Efficient Coast Mail Steam Service, in connection with the Post Office, shall he established and maintained by the Government of the Dominion, between Victoria and New Westminster, Nanaimo, and such other places as may require such services.”
Until we have roads within the Colony, these services must he carried on for some time to come by water. I consider it to be a very proper item.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—I suggest the addition of Puget Sound.
Hon. Attorney-General—I object to such an addition, because Puget Sound does not come within Coast Mail Service.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—Then are we to suppose there are to he no other Ports of Entry, other than Victoria? [“no, no, no,” from all sides]
The Chairman put the recommendation of the Hon. Mr. DeCosmos, which was lost.
Clause 10 was then passed as read.
The Hon. Attorney-General—I move the adoption of Clause 11, which is a general proposition, which will, I hope, meet with the approbation of the House; it is as follows :—
“11. Whatever encouragement, advantages, and protection are afforded by the Dominion Government to the Fisheries of any of its Provinces, shall be extended in similar proportion to British Columbia, according to its requirements for the time being.”
Clause 11 was passed as read.
The Hon. Attorney-General—I move the adoption of Clause 12, which reads thus :—
“12. British Columbia shall participate. in fair proportion, in any measures which may be adopted and Funds which may be appropriated by the Dominion for the encouragement of Immigration.”
Passed as read.
Hon. Attorney-General—I now more the adoption of Clause 13. The working of this clause is familiar to this Council from the debate which has already taken place. The basis is the population of 120,000 up to the date, which is left blank. The clause is this :—
“13. British Columbia shall be entitled to he represented in the Senate by Four Members, and by Eight Members in the House of Commons, until the year 18 , and thereafter the Representation in the Senate and the House of Commons shall be increased, subject to the provisions of The British North America Act, 1867.”
Hon. Mr. Drake—Mr. Chairman, there seems to be a difficulty. The Organic Act, section 51, provides for the re-adjustment of the representation after the census of 1871; and that the representation shall be based on the proportion of 65—the number that Quebec now has—to the population of Quebec. It ought to exist at this number until 1881, or 1891.
Hon. Attorney-General—I would remark that in my opinion Clause 51 does not apply; we come in under Clause 146. The Hon. Members now representing Victoria City and District (Messrs. Helmcken and DcCosmos), when they proposed to telegraph were a little late. However if we now fix the date, for which a blank is purposely left, that will settle the matter beyond any doubt.
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Hon. Chief Commissioner—In my opinion, Sir, we are better off than if we were included. The only thing we have to do is to fix a date. If we put the date back to a remote period, we might be doing ourselves an injustice; for we might be entitled to more. I would put if off for 20 years, filling up the date by inserting 1801.
Hon. Mr. Holbrook—I think ten years quite enough, we shall have more than 120,000 in that time, and be entitled to increased representation.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos— Mr. Chairman, during the previous debate an Hon. Member referred to 120,000 as the basis of representation. as well as the basis of population. We find this echoed by others, last, but not least. by the Hon. Attorney-General himself. I am surprised to find the Hon. and learned gentleman setting this up as a basis. For the basis of representation under the Organic Act was the basis of representation allowed to Quebec, that is, one member for every 20,000. It is proposed that we shall have eight members; then the population ought to be 160,000; but it is only set up as 120,000, which number would only entitle us to six members. Now, Sir, I have no objection to getting eight members for the House of Commons, and four for the Senate; but I do object to Hon. Members and newspapers spreading abroad statements which have no foundation in fact. I think our population has been over estimated. It is going abroad that 120,000 is the proper foundation for representation; I say it is not so.
The honest straightforward and manly course is for our Government to say to the Dominion Government, that it is necessary for us to have a larger representation on territorial grounds. The whole thing resolves itself into expediency; beyond expediency I say that no one can find a fulcrum for the assertion. I would cheerfully support twelve and six so far as it goes. But I do denounce that want of principle and want of truth that surrounds this basis. There is another question about the representation to which due attention does not seem to have been given; it is this: the electoral qualification in Canada is too high, and it will be most objectionable to have the same qualification thrust upon us. The qualification of members may safely be left to the Dominion Government. But that of electors is too high, and will be a source of irritation, which the Government should endeavour to remove now. I should have moved a recommendation as to this, but from the treatment which my amendments have received in this House, I am inclined to let it pass, and I shall move my amendments before my constituents.
On motion of the Hon. Mr. Dewdney, the Committee rose, reported progress, and asked leave to sit again.
Several Members having left the House, on motion of the Hon. Mr. Robson the Committee sat again.
Hon. Dr. Helmcken—Mr. Chairman, I find the average of representation in the Dominion Parliament is one member to 15,000. That, on the basis of 120,000, gives eight members. Nova Scotia has 19 members for 39,000, New Brunswick has 12, Newfoundland has 8 members. All we have to do is to take care that we are not included in the census of 1871. Our number cannot be diminished, so we may put it at 1881 safely. As for fictitious numbers, it is useless to talk about it.
Hon. Mr. Carrall— I move that the date “1881” be inserted.
Hon. Chief Commissioner-I do not see that of necessity the number cannot be decreased. I would name a more distant date.
Hon. Mr. Robson—I would not take a more distant date, because I think we shall have a larger population in 1881.
Hon. Mr. Drake—From Section 61 of the Organic Act, I think our number might be reduced. I think it improbable we shall have a population of 120,000 in 1881. And if we have not that number then, I think it possible that we may be reduced. I shall therefore vote for 1801.
Hon. Attorney-General—I shall support the date 1801.
Hon. Mr. Wood—I move a recommendation to insert the words “not less than,” before “4 and 8,” and after the word ” eighteen” to insert “91.”
Hon. Attorney-General—I cannot see the use or necessity for the words “no less.”
Hon. Mr. Robson—I think the words are important. We might in 1881 be entitled to more or less.
Hon. Mr. Drake—I hold to 91, because I think it likely we might be reduced if we fix the date at 81.
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Hon. Mr. DeCosmos—I think we ought to fix a minimum number and keep to it, and a date, because I think that when the distrust wears away, British Columbia may be content with three in the Senate, and six in the House of Commons.
The Chairman put the recommendation of the Hon. Mr. Drake, to fill up the blank with the figures “91.” Carried.
The Chairman put the recommendation of the Hon. Mr. Wood—”That the number of members to the Commons should never be less than 8, and to the Senate never less than 4.” Carried.
Clause 13 was then passed as read.
The Committee rose, and reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again on Friday at one o’clock.