British Columbia, Legislative Council: Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada (21 March 1870)

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Date: 1870-03-21
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 105-120.
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MONDAY, March 21ST, 1870.

  •        (p. 105)

Hon. Mr. Ring rose to assume the debate, and said:— Mr. Chairman, I feel assured that the House will accord me leave to say a few words. There have been submitted for the consideration of this House two amendments. and in the observations of the movers, two points of argument have been adduced,—the first founded on supposed reasoning, and the second in the way of threats and military argument, grounded on the possibility of the Government refusing to insert this condition. I desire to disengage myself from this latter argument. When I hear anything tantamount to a threat from the people against the Executive, I desire to repudiate it. Hon. Members who put such a picture of warfare before us talk bunkum. I address my humble petition to His Excellency, but if his judgment is against us I say to him, stand to your point and do not give way to threats; listen to no arguments as to what may happen in the nature of threats; stand to your points. I say to Executive Members, don’t yield to threats; don’t be moved by them. I support the principle of Responsible Government, but I do so constitutionally. I say to Executive Members, I trust you will yield to reason and argument, but not to threats. I say we can ask for Responsible Government without the leave of the Organic Act; but I say let us repudiate all connection with Canada until we have secured Responsible Government; let us not wait till we are surrounded by Canadians. With regard to the railway, I say that in the life of the youngest amongst us we shall not get it; but we must make this the main Resolution : without Responsible Government let us have no Confederation. Better bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of. Let us not run the risk of having to ask Canada for Responsible Government. Make it the emphatic sine qua non that we must have Responsible Government or no Confederation.

  •        (p. 106)

 Hon. Mr. Humphreys—Out of deference to the amendment offered by the Hon. Member for New Westminster (Mr. Robson) , I ask the leave of the House to withdraw my motion, so that the amendment, the latter part, of which I like better than my own, may stand.

Hon. Attorney-General—I regret very much that a discussion so inapposite, so totally unnecessary, should have been forced on by the other side of the House at a time so inopportune. I am glad that the Hon. Member for Lillooet has withdrawn his motion ; it leaves the Council to deal with the amendment of the Hon. Member for New Westminster; and I deeply regret that the Hon. gentleman did not accept the invitation to give up a special field day to the discussion of Responsible Government, as suggested by myself after we had passed clause 15 of the Terms. This, I stated at the time. the House was quite competent to do. Then Members on this side of the House might have freely joined in the discussion ; perhaps some might have supported the principle. But no ! The Hon. proposer of the amendment, with the light of battle in his eye, had refused every suggestion ; and afterwards, when he began to find out his mistake, it was too late ; there was nothing for it but to go on. The melee had begun ; the glove is down ; the visors are closed, and the lists barred. It cannot be put off. If the Hon. Member for New Westminster had been opposed to Responsible Government, he could not have devised a course more adapted, than mixing up the question with terms, for shelving Responsible Government for the session. One point which requires special notice and correction is, that nearly all speakers during the debate seem to think that the Governor alone could grant any alteration of Constitution that may be required, merely for the asking ; but this is a mistake ; he cannot. The Constitution can only be changed by the same power that created it—the Imperial Parliament and the Queen in Council. The Governor can only recommend it ; it is for the Home Government to say what that change shall be. As to the able speech of the Hon. Member for New Westminster, the eloquence of which I was forced to applaud in spite of myself, it was an argument based upon fallacious premises throughout, asserting that we should only have a representative majority of one, which could only lead to a false conclusion ; and I take it that the Hon. Member is in favour of Responsible Government as a sine qua non for why all this tall talking of blood, wading knee deep in blood? Why this encouragement of rebellion in defence of our rights, and the like? And yet I understood the Hon. Member for New Westminster to say that he does not make Responsible Government a sine qua non for Confederation.

 Hon. Mr. Robson—I said nothing of the kind. I do not choose to state whether or not I would make it a sine qua non.

 Hon. Attorney-General—I have an accurate recollection, and have a note of it, and I ask the Hon. Member to state whether he will make it a sine qua non.

Hon. Chief Commissioner —I understood the Hon. Member for New Westminster to say that Confederation would not be satisfactory to the Colony without Responsible Government, but he would not pledge himself to make it a sine qua non.

Hon. Mr. Robson—I said further That I did not pledge myself that the people would not.

 Hon. Attorney-General—I then understand that the Hon. Member for New Westminster puts it not as a sine qua non.

Hon. Mr Robson —No, Mr. Chairman, I never said that. I will not be placed in such a position. I refuse to have such an issue forced upon us.

Hon. Attorney-General—Either the Hon. Member puts it one way or the other ; one of two opposites must be true I can quite understand and must prefer the direct and simple issue of the Hon. Member for Victoria District, for immediate Responsible Government in any case, either with or without Confederation.   I say, Sir, that the question is in no way connected with the discussion of this clause. I said that Responsible Government ought not to be considered until after the Council is reconstituted with an increased representation, as shadowed forth in His Excellency’s speech. I have said that we shall have the sole control of the matter in our own hands if we have Confederation. I say we, because I identify myself with this country.   I speak on this matter as a citizen. I say that if we have Confederation we shall have an opportunity of getting Responsible Government. If we have not Confederation then we shall have increased representation, and under that we can get Responsible Government if the country as a unit goes for it. Honourable Members are complicating this question. I cannot imagine that it was the intention of the Honourable Member for New Westminster to complicate the question. I have too much respect for him to allow myself to suppose so ; it is […]

  •        (p. 107)

[…] impossible; and that he wished to force a negative is equally impossible. It is an error of judgment, in my opinion. If it had been left to the Council separately, it would have left Honourable Members more at liberty to consider the question freely. I was, in common with other Members, carried away in admiration of the outburst of oratory of the Honourable Member. But there was an allusion—a warning. It is said that it was not a threat; but there was talk of shouldering muskets, and of blood and bloodshed, as it that was the proper way to get civil rights. I protest against these threats, these turgid speeches which oppress the ears of those who wish to listen to argument and reason. As to the opposition of the Government Members, it arises from no dislike to the system on the part of the head of the Executive. Responsible Government interposes a barrier between the people and the Governor, which is most useful to the Governor. I say that we are not in a position to take advantage of Responsible Government. If the country thinks it necessary or desirable, what is there to prevent our getting it when we choose to ask for it? The Honourable Member for New Westminster himself told us that the Imperial Government were always ready to step in, and yet he hints at violence and disturbance.

When the Honourable Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works proposed a Resolution last session, which was seconded by myself, with respect to a change in the Constitution, asking for a Council with a majority of one of representative Members, Honourable Members said we don’t want the change and voted it down. If we had secured this, we should have been a step further in advance than we are in constitutional progress. I say we must hesitate before any body constituted as this Council is can pass resolutions of such a nature. Any such resolutions ought to express the full and deliberate opinions of the country. As to the special merits of Responsible Government itself, it is hardly necessary to argue it here at such an inopportune time. I shall, therefore, merely say that I think it totally inapplicable at present to the circumstances of British Columbia, where population is so sparse, and lies at the circumference of a circle which contains an area of 300,000 square miles, and where representation is so difficult that the form suggested would be the most expensive that could be adopted, and instead of preventing agitation, will be likely to increase it. Much of the population is alien, and, in any case, this Council is not the proper body to pass upon it. If, however, the country is of a different opinion, they can say so at the polls, and there is no power can prevent their getting Responsible Government.

But, I would ask, what makes the system so particularly attractive to Honourable Members who advocate it? We are told that it is solely because it will be good for the Colony, but there is no attempt to prove the proposition that has been set up. Another thing strikes me as coming with a very bad grace from those who support this recommendation. It presupposes a distrust of Canada, and assumes that men of the large experience of Canadian statesmen, and so reliable as they are, are not to be trusted to yield to a general cry from the country for enlarged representative institutions. I don’t think that this is the time to go into the question. I say, then, that whenever Responsible Government is wanted it can be had. I need hardly refer to the position of official Members in this matter. The terms already passed by the House, so far as this question is in any way connected with Confederation, leave the officials free to express their opinions. I must, myself, vote against this recommendation, and I press upon the Honourable Members to do the same, in order to prevent the complication of the terms with any such irrelevant question.

Hon. Chief Commissioner—I must endeavour in as few words as possible to state the position of the Government Members upon the subject now before the House. I fully understand that it was imperative upon some Hon. Members to bring forward this question of responsibility at some period of the present session, having advocated it by speech and pen as the specific remedy for the ills that the Colony was labouring under. Consistency demanded that the question should be brought up by them for discussion; it was a logical necessity. Inexorable fate, I say, impelled certain Hon. Members to advocate Responsible Government. I had, however, hoped that the Hon. Members who advocated it would have reserved it for separate consideration. instead of bringing it up as an amendment to this clause now under consideration. [Mr. Robson—”No, not an amendment”]

[Hon. Chief Commissioner:] Virtually it is an amendment. If this clause had prescribed that any future alteration in the constitution should have been dependent on Canada, then I could see the desirability of Hon. Members on the other side of the House taking exception to it; but as it is I confess I am at a loss to comprehend their position. Although, as I said inexorable fate compelled Hon. Members to bring the subject […]

  •        (p. 108)

[…] forward, it is a mistake to bring it up in a Council constituted as this is, especially when the Governor has so distinctly expressed his views in opposition to the inauguration of Responsible Government at the present time. It would surely have been much more to the advantage of the cause they advocate for Hon. Members to have postponed the consideration of the question for the more representative House shadowed forth in His Excellency’s speech. I say shadowed forth, for on reflection it must be plain to all Hon. Members that His Excellency was not in a position to tell what the constitution of that House will be. He does not know. He has recommended certain changes for Imperial sanction; they may or may not be favourably considered. His Excellency does, however, tell you that the representative element will be larger; and I think, therefore, that it would have been wiser on the part of the representative members who advocate Responsible Government to have left it to the next Council instead of bringing it forward while the present Resolutions are under discussion.

The subject, if not positively irrelevant, is not connected with this Resolution, which simply provides, as a matter of form, power to change the constitution, in accordance with the Organic Act when the people desire it. In common with the Hon. Attorney-General, I am surprised that Hon. Members who cordially support Confederation should be afraid to trust the Dominion Government upon this question. I am’ surprised at the inconsistency of those who tell you that the people could not get Responsible Government under Confederation, and that the wishes of the people would not be allowed to prevail. I am surprised particularly at the Hon. Member for New Westminster expressing any doubt upon this subject. I, as an individual member of this community, would willingly leave the interests of the Colony to the guardianship of the Canadian Government. If I did not think that that Government would exercise whatever power it might have for the benefit of the people, instead of, as suggested by Hon. Members, for its own aggrandisement, I would have no Confederation. If under Confederation there would be no chance of Responsible Government, how can the Hon, Member expect to get it from a Council constituted as this is? However, as the subject has been brought forward for discussion, it behooves us to consider it upon its merits.

There were two propositions before the House. The Hon. Member for Lillooet has withdrawn his, which was in reality but a vague expression of an abstract opinion in favour of Responsible Government—a recommendation in general terms. We have now to confine our attention to the amendment of the Hon. Member for New Westminster; the preamble of which states that Confederation will not be satisfactory to the people without Responsible Government. The resolution itself, although embodying the same principle as the one which has been withdrawn, contemplates a practical step towards obtaining the object recommended, by addressing the Governor. The Hon. Member for New Westminster was careful to reserve his own opinion, but he very positive that Confederation without Responsible Government would not be acceptable to the people. Coming now to the subject and matter of the speeches of the two Hon. Members, I find that the arguments of the Hon. Member for Lillooet are simply invectives; his entire logic is abuse of the Government and the persons composing it. I have always understood that assertion is not fact, and that invective is not argument. It may be that my inability to appreciate the force of his remarks arises from my not possessing the qualification which he told us was essential to a proper understanding of the people and the people’s affairs. It may he that I have not “eaten and drunk and slept with the people,” and cannot, therefore, rightly estimate the strength of demonstration which general and indiscriminate abuse of Government officials may convey to some minds.

As to the Hon. Member’s earnestness of belief in his case, his conscientiousness in the discharge of his duty to his constituents and to the Colony, had we ever any doubt of it, his positive and repeated assurances of the honesty of his intentions in this matter, of his unfaltering determination to do his duty to those he represents. must have forced conviction upon us. But, while giving him full credit for singleness of purpose, I must take leave to remark on his singular mode of recommending the subject to the favourable consideration of this Council, since his argument in its favour is to heap general accusation and vituperation on the Official Members of this Council, whom he invites to join with him by voting in favour of his views,—to confirm his view of their utter baseness and worthlessness. I shall not place myself in opposition to such a line of argument. But, Sir, the argument of the Hon. Member for New Westminster is of a very different character. I congratulate him, and I congratulate the House, on the manner in which the matter was treated by him, and especially as regards the officials. I acknowledge the courteous manner in which he touched on those points in his arguments which affected the members at this end of the table. It is inseparable from the discussion of this […]

  •        (p. 109)

[…] question in this House that it must to some extent partake of a personal character; it must almost mean a vote of want of confidence in Government officials. The smallness of the community reduces it almost to a question amongst individuals, and as the Government Members have been placed. unnecessarily and inexpediently, as I think, to some extent upon their defence, I must speak plainly on some points, but in doing so I must deprecate any idea of giving offence.

I say, then, that Responsible Government is not desirable. and is not applicable to this Colony at present; is practically unworkable. And here I would deprecate the impression which is being so studiously instilled into the people of this Colony concerning what has been said of the unfitness of the Colony for Responsible Government. His Excellency the Governor has never said, nor has any member of the Government ever said, that the people are unfit, individually, to govern themselves. 1 say that, man for man. this community will compare favourably with any people on this coast. [“Hear, hear,” from the Attorney-General.]

Nor is it even the smallness of the population that I consider to be the great objection, although I admit that this is a drawback; but it is the scattered character of that population. It would be practically impossible to organize electoral districts so that they should properly represent the interests of the separate parts, and of the whole Colony. As Victoria is the centre of wealth, and intelligence also. it you will, under present circumstances the Government would be centralized in the hands of Victorians, who would thus rule the Colony, and this would be objectionable [“Hear, hear,” from Mr. Holbrook]; and I say also that there would be a great difficulty in getting proper representatives to represent the respective districts. I do not agree with the Hon. Member who has stated that only the chaff of the people is blown into this House; for I say, Sir, that this Council, constituted as it is. has proved that men fit to represent the people do come here.

Responsible Government will come as a matter of course when the community is fit for it; but that form of government is not fitted for communities in their infancy. It has never been so considered. Look abroad into the world and you will find large populations without Responsible Government. There is no necessity to look far off to see whether the Anglo-Saxon race must necessarily have Responsible Government. Look across the Straits, where there is a population of, I suppose, 30,000 people. and there they have neither Responsible Government nor representative institutions. Look at Oregon, also with no representation until the population exceeded 45,000. Look at the Red River Settlement, also with a population larger than ours; they do not apply for Responsible Government. It does not follow, according to the rule of Anglo-Saxon minds, that this form of government must prevail. I do not think the sort of responsibility which is advocated would be suitable to this Colony at present, or would promote its true interests. If I did think it desirable I should be found amongst its most cordial advocates, as this is a matter open for discussion without Government direction.

But I think, Sir, that our present form of Government is practically a more real responsibility to the people than that proposed by the Hon. Member for New Westminster; this form which the Hon. Member for Lillooet finds it so easy to animadvert upon. For we are in reality, if not directly, responsible to the people. We, as servants of the Crown, are directly and immediately responsible to the Governor, and the Governor is responsible to the Queen, who is the guardian of the people’s rights. This is no mere idea, for the fact of responsibility has been, over and over again, proved. If you have any good grounds of complaint you know where to lay them and get redress. This responsibility which we owe is more real, less fluctuating. less open to doubtful influences, and under it the rights of the whole country are secured and protected and not those of the majority, to the prejudice of the minority, as under the so-called Responsible Government. which really means Party Government, advocated so warmly by the Hon. Member for New Westminster. Why, Sir. the Hon. Member has admitted to you that under that system the Government of the day might come down to pass measures by unfair means.

Hon. Mr. Robson—No, I made use of no such words; what were my words?

Hon. Chief Commissioner—The Hon. Member said, and I took down his words. “that under Responsible Government the Government might come down to the House and carry measures by means not excessively fair.” I say that this cannot occur under the present system; that no corruption can be charged against this Government. I think the House is capable of being remodelled. I would rather see a larger element of representative government in this Council, with such a majority that the Government would have no opportunity of passing a measure objectionable to the people, as understood by their representatives; such a majority as I advocated in a resolution submitted to this Council. But the Hon. Members […]

  •        (p. 110)

[…] for New Westminster, for Victoria District, and for Lillooet, tell you that the people desire Responsible Government ; that they must have it. and will have it. I say, Sir, that if they do say so. which I very much doubt, it is because the population have been educated up to it by those who have agitated the subject through the press and through speeches. Some no doubt press for it from conviction, and some with a view to serving their own ends; but I believe, Sir, that what the people really want is such an administration of the Government as will tend to bring back prosperity to the Colony. You are told that the present officials have no sympathy with the people ; that they are not of the people; that they move in a different sphere, and constitute a class by themselves.

Is this true—or is it not rather the fact that persons who have ends to serve have put us in a class by ourselves?   The Hon. Member says that the hands of the benefactors of the people must be callous with labour. Who, I ask, are those throughout the world who have laboured most for the people by speech and pen? I say that the great statesmen who have done most to advance the truest interests of the people, have not sprung from the ranks of those whom the Hon. Member classes as the people. The Hon. Member for New Westminster says that the present Government Officials are well enough, able and honest, but that they cannot enjoy the confidence of the people because they are not their officials ; they are not elected by them. And, be as able as we might, and as honest, and work as we might, and do what we might for the people’s good, we could not gain their confidence because we are not directly responsible to them. And the Hon. Member sympathized with us for the position. Now, Sir, if it be true, as he says, that the Government have not the confidence of the community when, he says, they deserve it, whose is the fault? I say, Sir, it is the fault of those who, by voice and pen, have for years sedulously prejudiced the public mind of this community against that Government, not by pointing out faults to be remedied, but by general and indiscriminate fault finding, descending to personal abuse, and even to the verge of scurrility. We have striven to do our duty.  

Hon. Members do not advance arguments, but content themselves with saying that we are unpopular. I tell you why : If false impressions have gone abroad on this point let the responsibility of those impressions rest where it ought ; for I say that it has been the business of certain persons to prejudice the public mind against Government officials. Let them settle the question of motives with their own consciences and with the people. If the officials in this House occupied the positions which would be held by officials under party government, I could understand the persistent course of the opposition offered by some members present; but when I see the changed position, that there is no Responsible Government, and that our mouths are closed and our pens cannot be used in self-defence, I feel that we have been struck in a cowardly manner, and let the public defend the motives of those who have attacked us. I invite all in this House, or out of it, to aid as to carry on the Government. and to act in a reasonable way in promoting the general interests of the Colony.

Whether we are to have Responsible Government or not I don’t know. I feel that it will come in good time, when the circumstances of the Colony are so changed as to admit of its adoption—I think sooner with Confederation than without it. But whether we have it or not, I ask Hon. Members to assist us instead of endeavouring to complicate matters and retard the progress of the Colony. I ask them to give us some credit for good intentions Now, Sir, one remark in conclusion : the Hon. Member for New Westminster, in his powerful oration, has not only allured us with the prospects of popularity under Responsible Government, but he has, I will not say threatened, warned us of the result of our opposing him in this matter. He tells us that unless Responsible Government be conceded the cause of Confederation will be ruined ; that the people would not have Confederation without Responsible Government. This in fact is embodied in the preamble of his Resolution, Sir, I have cordially supported Confederation because I honestly believe that it will be for the benefit of the local interests of this community as well as for the security and consolidation of Imperial interests; but I believe that this community is not ready for Responsible Government, I will not, therefore, do what I consider wrong that good may come ; I will not vote for Responsible Government for the sake of gaining Confederation.

I, for one, say, if the people won’t have Confederation without Responsible Government; if they regard Responsible Government as the main object of Confederation ; if they do not appreciate the real advantages of Confederation, let Confederation wait a while. The Governor has sent down Resolutions which he thinks can be carried out. and we hold that, whether under Confederation or not, this matter of Responsible Government will ultimately have to be settled by the vote of the people. When the proper […]

  •        (p. 111)

[…] time comes we shall, I say, as a matter of course, have Responsible Government ; and that time will arrive sooner under Confederation than without it. I trust the Dominion Government ; I do not think they will go against the will of the people. I believe that in this, as in other matters, if they exercise influence at all, it will be for the good of the country. A Government of liberal institutions cannot be expected to oppose the wishes of the people in proper and reasonable matters. Responsible Government ought not to be a condition of Confederation ; and I say that in these Resolutions it is very properly left to be settled in a new and more fully representative Council, which the Governor has told us he is going to obtain Imperial sanction to establish. But if Confederation is to depend on this question of Responsible Government, then I say let it be the test also of the reality of the supporters of Confederation.

Hon. Mr. Robson —I expect the privilege of a general reply, but I desire to explain, now, that the Hon. Chief Commissioner has made an unfair use of what I said about “horny hands and patched garments.” I disclaim having used it in that connection attributed to me; his remarks are unfair.

Hon. Mr. Walkem—I think on an important question of this kind every member should give a reason for his vote. I have given the matter great consideration, and had intended entering somewhat fully into the discussion, but the Hon. Chief Commissioner has anticipated me. I have been utterly astonished as I listened to what fell from him. I entirely coincide with him in his argument and in his views. Indeed, I can hardly help thinking that either he has copied my notes or I his. I must congratulate myself on coming to this conclusion. On the same ground I congratulate the House on the good temper, good taste, intelligence, and ability with which this question has been launched for discussion. The main speech —for the Hon. Member for Victoria District did not deign to express his views—has been that of the Hon. Member for New Westminster.

As I listened to that speech, Sir, one of the best ever uttered in this House. I almost felt that for live long years I had been wrong,— he almost made a convert of me ; but upon looking a little more closely into it I find that it is based upon false premises ; his arguments are fallacious, and his conclusions wrong. The Hon. Member says that Responsible Government is a principle which may be applied either to the Great Eastern, or to a dairy churn. or to a lady’s watch; that it is a principle capable of being carried out by three or three hundred. This is utterly incorrect ; it is not a principle, but a form, one element of which is responsibility to the people. It is a form adopted by the people, but it does not follow, as a matter of induction, that it can be used or carried out in every place or by every community. In 1837 the rebellion in Canada, for the purpose of acquiring Responsible Government, took place. The rebellion was raised and the question agitated simply for changing the form of Government, What was the population ? It was in the neighbourhood of 2,000,000 in 1837. and of 2,500,000 in 1861. Look at the difference of the population of this Colony ; after deducting the aliens and females, there is scarcely a voting population through the whole Colony of 3,000. Have the whole country mapped out and show me how much further the Governor can go in usefully extending the representation.

We have nine members, and out of these nine, under Responsible Government, we should have to elect a Colonial Secretary, an Attorney-General, a Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, and probably two other Cabinet Ministers ; altogether five in office, and four struggling for power. Make the whole number eighteen and you then have a constant struggle for power ; a struggle such as we have not had in this Colony before. and such as I hope we shall not see. There are virtually two ends of the Colony which represent all the wealth and property of the community—Victoria and Cariboo. Cariboo would be contending for the repeal of road tolls, and Victoria would be contending that they ought to be paid. It may be said that these general questions of taxation will be left to the Dominion Government, but there are many other subjects which will create differences between the two ends of the Colony. The Hon. Member for New Westminster says if we go in without Responsible Government we shall go in with agitation, Does any one believe that if we had Responsible Government to-morrow, politicians will have no subject on which to agitate. Political agitation will never cease.

Let us go further. As the Honourable Chief Commissioner says, we have the United States advocating Responsible Government, and that form of it which is said to be the best in theory, a form in reality democratic ; but the people are not educated to the extent of the principle itself. Americans are averse not only to granting small but large territories the freedom which we now ask, They say : “You shall be a Territory until you are properly educated.”

  •        (p. 112)

For instance, there is Washington Territory, with a population of 27,000, sends a Delegate to Congress, who has no vote. Dakota, another Territory, has been refused admission as a State until it has a population larger than it now possesses. I am just reminded about Alaska, which is not even a Territory yet. General Thomas reported against giving it any other than a military form of Government How can we. then, expect Responsible Government with our population? I know that there are Honourable Members wavering; their interests tell them to vote one way, their conscience points to another. I say. vote according to your conscience. I say that a village can never have Responsible Government. I maintain that it would prove a curse, through the agitation that would follow, instead of a blessing. I coincide with the Honourable Member for New Westminster as to what he says as to callous hands. I believe there are men with tattered garments in the upper country quite capable of giving a sensible vote upon all questions likely to come before a Council in this Colony; but we find that they have too much to do; they have no time for politics; they have to earn their own bread. I believe that the Honourable Member for Caribou has uttered the true sentiments of the great majority of the district. I do not believe that Cariboo is favourable to Responsible Government. Those gentlemen with the patched garments and callous hands have the same opportunity that the Member for New Westminster has had of coming into the House. He has told us with pride of his hard work as a pioneer on the Fraser River; and today we hear him advocating, with most eloquent language, his views upon this great question.

His voice has had much to do with shaping the councils of this House, and, I ask, are these doors shut to any man in the Colony of equal talent with the Honourable gentleman, who can be found willing to devote their time to the service of their country? I do not feel in the servile position or being obliged to vote one way or the other. I am as free to vote as the Honourable Member himself. I shall give my vote to the best of my ability. I believe that no compulsion has been brought to bear upon any Member of this House, official or otherwise. The latter part of the speech of the Honourable gentleman (Mr. Robson) is hardly worthy of the former. It contains language which I am very sorry he has used; language which makes me believe that it is not from conviction, but that it is intended to go forth to the world to stir up the people; excellent stump oratory, if, without intending the slightest disrespect. I may use the term. I believe it is not the wish of the property owners of Victoria to have Responsible Government. Do you suppose, Sir, that property owners are going, willingly, to entrust their interests to persons of whom they know nothing? I do not dread professional politicians; I believe they are as useful as any other professional men in their way; but I say, as a fact, there are no politicians here with the exception of those who have devoted their time to politics Why, I ask, is there so great an antipathy to leaving this question for the people to decide at the polls?

“Give us,” says the other side, ” an opportunity of educating ourselves, so that our mistakes, when made, may be remedied.” I say that there is no better education than this Council, in which Hon. Members have education before they Come to Responsible Government; for under the scheme foreshadowed by the Governor, the position will be very little inferior to Responsible Government. Depend upon it, if the Canadian Government think we can manage Responsible Government they will give it to us—they will be glad to get rid of the question. I say, however, this question is being agitated at an inopportune time. I, for one, would not consent to trust my interests to any such change. I do not believe in the present form of Government but if the form foreshadowed by the Governor be carried out, it will give the people a system very little interior, as l have said, to Responsible Government, and infinitely more workable. I trust that, Hon. Members will give due weight to the remarks of other speakers who have preceded me upon the question. and will well consider their votes.

Hon. Mr. Drake —Mr. Chairman, I have a strong objection to this clause being inserted; it never ought to have been in the terms. It presumes that this Colony is willing to go into Confederation with the form of Government that we have at present. It seems to have been put in as a sop to Canada; it ought to have been left out. I cannot see why it is inserted, or what advantage it can possibly be to us. If we go into Confederation bound hand and foot with the some form of Government as now. we shall have no power to change the form. We shall then have Canada as a Queen Regnant. We shall then have an Executive who will, if so directed. vote against Responsible Government. This Colony would be a preserve for Canadian statesmen and Canadian patronage; we shall be no more advanced then than now. Without going into argument I may be pardoned, I trust, if I quote three propositions of John […]

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[…] Stuart Mill on Responsible Government: First, “Do the people require it; or are they unwilling to accept it?” We are told that this has not been made a question; I deny this statement. It has been made a question, more or less, in Victoria at every election. Every election depends more or less on this point. Second, “Are the people willing to take the burdens which are imposed on them by such a form? ” I say that we have the answer to this proposition in the fact of there being people willing to come here where they are practically useless. Do not persons come forward to represent the people? A very large majority of the people take part in every election. Third, “Are the people willing and able to do that which will enable the Government to perform its functions properly?” This, I contend, is the condition of the Colony.

The main argument of the Chief Commissioner in his very able speech, a broad argument and very well put, is that the population is scattered. I say this argument cannot be used with effect. We are told that the Government would fall into the hands of Victoria as the centre of population and wealth; no great harm if it did. Victoria is dependent upon all parts of the Colony, and they on her; their interests are identical, Another objection that has been raised is, that we cannot get men of proper intelligence and qualifications for positions of honour and trust. Looking round this Council Board we see men who have come out to this Colony to make their own fortunes and homes. Out of them the present members of the Government have been chosen, and out of our present population there can he found an equal number of men who can properly fulfil the duties of the Government. I cannot see that it is impossible to find proper men. If we find men willing to sit in this Council now, we shall find plenty ready and anxious to share in the burdens of Responsible Government. The sufficiency or insufficiency of population is not an element in this question. The United States has been pointed out to us as an example.

I say there is no Responsible Government in the United States; it is an absolute despotic democracy, absolutely irresponsible to the people, except once in four years. There is no such thing as responsibility in the form of government of the United States. The only means of getting rid of a minister is by impeachment. The Hon, Member for Cariboo, in his rambling speech, gives us no new argument against Responsible Government. He certainly reiterated much that was forcibly put forward by the Hon. Chief Commissioner. I can well believe that the wheat was left at Cariboo, and the chaff came here.

Hon. Mr. Humphreys —Sir, I have listened to the speeches of the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and to the Hon. Government nominee, and I find them difficult to answer, because there is so little in them, The only way would be to have them printed and read them. They carry their answers with them. One Hon. Member says that it rests on numbers. I say that intelligence is the only qualification for Responsible Government; numbers have nothing to do with it. If I err I am proud of erring with some of the greatest men that England ever produced. The Hon. Chief Commissioner has admitted that the population, taken man for man, is equal to that of any country. Then, I say, we have the proper qualification. Let us have practical, and not theoretical, means of governing. What is really the case? Under the present term of Government the people have to pay for the privilege and benefit of a few gentlemen sitting round this board.

Take away this form of government and make it more liberal, and what is the danger? All the civil wars and troubles have not arisen from the uneducated, but from the ambition of the so-called educated classes. The people have been the conservatives who came forward to keep the country going. Take away the so-called intelligent and educated classes and it will be no great loss; the labouring classes can always supply men to fill their places. But take away the working classes and you kill the world; the educated classes cannot fill their places. In my opinion, Sir, the people want practical reality. They have endured too long the law’s delay and the insolence of those in office. Why should we come here, year after year, to ask for a change in the form of government? I think that Responsible Government should be a sine qua non of Confederation. I shall move an amendment to that effect.

Hon. Dr. Helmcken—Great heavens! what terrible things are said and done in the name of the people. To hear Hon. Members talk one would think that they were the people. But the people are quiet while Hon. Members are very loud. I intend to support the Government. I do not mean to say much for or against. I take the position that the people can have Responsible Government when they want it; and their representatives ought to be satisfied to take it when the people really and seriously ask for it. Responsible Government has been one of the watchwords of a certain set of politicians who wanted to bring on Confederation.

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Government of, from, for, and by the people, without regard to the material interests of the Colony. This means government by politicians. These gentlemen will sacrifice every benefit to the Colony for Responsible Government. Confederation to me means terms; to them it means pickings, office. place, and power. This will be represented, I am well aware, as being the result of being in the Executive Council. It is said that there is a great difference between the atmosphere of the two Councils. I acknowledge it. There, with closed doors, people speak the truth, without any ad captandum arguments addressed to the galleries. There people can state what their opinions really are. Here popularity ‘ has to be sought. We are told that the people will fight for Responsible Government. That is mere nothing—words only. The Hon. Member for New Westminster in his able speech erected a very handsome structure, but, like most fancy structures, it will be a very expensive one. He wants a Government like Ontario; that is a Government of one House, with eighty members. For a Government of that kind not less than forty or fifty would be absolutely necessary.

Hon. Mr. Robson —I never said like that of Ontario, but that we wanted the principle of Responsible Government as existing in Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Helmcken —Then why not bring in a scheme embodying it? The true principles of Responsible Government can only exist satisfactorily with forty or fifty members in the House. It would cost very little short of $20,000 per annum. That, out of the very small amount we are to get from Canada, would reduce the amount likely to be available for public works to a fraction. You must have a large number to work Responsible Government, or, more properly speaking. party government. If we are to have it, I would not have the heads of departments responsible to the people; at least not the working heads. If any head of a department is to be responsible to the people, let it be the political head; but I would make the working heads permanent. I have found, from my experience of the old Vancouver House of Assembly, that policy frequently changes and turns round. The same thing would happen under Responsible Government.

If I wished to oppose Confederation, I believe that I could not do a better thing towards effecting my object than to vote for Responsible Government; but I want to see the more material wants advanced by Confederation. I know that material interests were not the pivot, but that is was place, patronage, and office that .was wanted. With regard to the present system of Government, it is very easy to say that it is bad, but I have listened to all the speeches and have not heard one word of practical fault-finding with the present Government—merely the assumption that the people desire change. This desire for change they have been educated to. I acknowledge many faults in the past, but we have now a new Executive, and we are promised a change in the form of Government; but this is apart from Confederation altogether.

It appears to me that the first thing we have to arrange is the money question; to get our material interests first settled; to make sure that this Colony should be pecuniarily [sic] better off; to make the question of Confederation now turn upon material interest, and not allow our material interests to be jeopardized by a cry for Responsible Government; not to allow Responsible Government to be the sauce to make the public swallow bad and unprofitable terms. All Members have acknowledged that “money” is the basis of all Governments; let us get that money. I would not have the public vote for Responsible Government and forget or put in the background the money. Place the question upon material terms and the Colony will demand profitable terms; but mix it up with Responsible Government and you got a divided opinion upon it, and those who think Responsible Government everything will vote for that to the exclusion of any terms, or, at all events, with unprofitable terms. There are. doubtless, many who hope to live upon Responsible Government; but, Sir, Responsible Government is not food and raiment.

The people can live without Responsible Government, but they cannot live upon it. Give them food and raiment first; the rest will follow in natural succession. These few words will give you my reasons for consenting to the arrangement proposed in the conditions. More than this, I am not pledged to Responsible Government, but I am pledged to representative institutions. The latter have been granted; my mission thus far is fulfilled. I have always asserted that we must take our steps to Responsible Government gradually. Having representative institutions, we can go on to the other. No one ever stated that the people were unfit to govern themselves; all acknowledge that they have talent enough. But this I do assert, that thus far the people have shown an unwillingness to govern themselves—have taken but little interest in the matter. It is not that they are unfit, but unwilling. They prefer looking after their own business; it pays them […]

  •        (p. 115)

[…] better. I need not refer to the difficulty of getting members; and doubtless some of us sit here from that cause; and it is no doubt true, as has been said, that better could have been found outside [sic].

If you have Responsible Government it will fall into the hands of those who wish to make a living by it. No one has said that it would be economical—it would not be so. It would require at least thirty members to carry on party Government for six weeks at least every year, or $150 per diem for thirty-six days. which would amount to $5,400; and then the mileage would come to as much more—say, altogether, $10,000. Add to these the salaries of the political heads, say five at $2,000 per annum, and then you have the nice little sum of $20,000 a year. Then, I suppose, each Minister would require a pension when he went out. The real Executive officers would remain then as now, and would have to be paid nearly as much as at present. The truth is, there would be a great difficulty in getting members, and without a large body of members it could not be carried on. You would find that the best men would avoid politics, and soon there would be very great corruption. There is a great deal of talk about voting away the people’s money, but it must be borne in mind that a part of that money, under Confederation, will come from Canada, and she will have a right to see it properly expended. There is also a great deal of talk about Hon. Official Members voting their own salaries, but would not the same thing be done under Responsible Government? Have not Hon. Representative Members voted themselves salaries this present session? Hon. Members say that if Responsible Government is not granted we will agitate. I thought that everybody was so much in favour of it that the people would rise if it were not included in the terms; that there would be employment for every gunsmith in Victoria; and yet we are told ” we will agitate.”

Hon. Mr. Robson—I never said that; I said that the people would agitate.

Hon. Dr. Helmcken—It is much the same thing; the agitators will “beat the bush” once more, and they will perhaps be driving the birds for other people once again. If the people really desire Responsible Government, why is there any necessity for all this agitation? I admit that many of the people of Victoria desire it, and think that it can be carried out. Ask the scattered districts in the country, and they will tell you that they do not know or care about it. Political opinion does not run high in the Colony. I intend to support the Government upon this clause, but I leave myself perfectly free to vote for Responsible Government if I think proper. I want to secure the material interests of the Colony. Let the people say whether those material interests will be benefited by Confederation, but not mix up the question of Responsible Government with it. I am perfectly willing to abide by the decision of the people on Responsible Government, and on Confederation on Terms, separately. My sole desire is to see this country materially benefited. If the people want responsibility I will not say nay, but we must have good terms. At the polls Responsible Government might carry Confederation with very indifferent terms. I am perfectly certain that the Government have acted wisely in not allowing the terms to be clogged with Responsible Government. I say, don’t let Responsible Government take the place of material benefits.

Hon. Dr. Carrall—Sir, I rise to take exception to what the honourable and learned Member for Victoria City said about being bound hand and foot to Canada. In my remarks he can find no efforts to catch votes, and no clap-trap addressed to the galleries, but I advocate what may be unpopular from conviction.

Hon. Mr. Barnard—Sir, I agree with the Hon. Chief Commissioner  that it is a pity that this question has been brought up now, for I had made up my mind to vote for Responsible Government in its entirety; but the Hon. Member for New Westminster put the question to the Hon. Attorney-General, who said it must go on.

Hon Attorney-General—I said that as the Hon. Member for New Westminster and others ii insisted upon opening the discussion, it must go on.

Hon. Mr. Robson—I felt regret  that it should be brought up now, but when I asked if we could put it off, the Hon. Attorney-General said it was too late.

Hon. Attorney-General—I offered the Hon. Members for New Westminster and Lillooet every opportunity for discussing the important question upon a day to be set apart for the purpose.

Hon. Mr. Humphreys—What I did was in consequence of what the Hon. Attorney-General said at the commencement of the debate. He invited recommendations, otherwise I should not have put my notice on the board.

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Hon. Mr. Barnard—It was fully impressed on my mind that this question should not be mixed up with the terms. I am astonished at the charge against Representative Members of trying to force this question upon the House at an inopportune time. I will leave it to the Government to say whether it shall be left for another day or go on.

Hon. Attorney-General—I say, again, now the debate has begun, now the gauntlet is down, the debate must go on.

Hon. Mr. Robson—Sir, this course is most unfair on the part of the Government Members. Let the House decide whether it will go on with this question now or postpone it. It seems to me that the Hon. Attorney-General is resorting to a parliamentary manoeuvre in forcing this matter on. It is a matter that Representative Members only ought to vote on. We shall have a large majoriy [sic] of Representative Members on this question, and that is all we want. I say that the Attorney-General did not fairly answer my question as to whether, by passing this resolution, we should shut the door to further discussion of the question during the present session.

Hon. Chief Commissioner—I should now object to the resolution being withdrawn. As the question has been discussed, let us take a decision upon it; it would be unwise to postpone the question.

Hon. Mr. Humphreys—I think, Sir, the matter cannot now be postponed; let us fight it out and have done with it.

Hon. Mr. Robson—I say, Sir, that this debate may be postponed, and if the Government vote is given against the postponement we shall know the reason.

Hon. Mr. Barnard—The Hon. Chief Commissioner said that he should take an adverse vote on this resolution as a vote of want of confidence. I don’t want that. Won’t Hon. Government Members help us?

Hon. Dr. Carrall—The opposition say that the Government ought not to have put such a resolution on the terms. Let us take that issue.

Hon. Mr. Barnard—It was not my desire to hamper the Government; I desired to give a hearty support to the Government, and, at the same time, to do my duty to my constituents. I have never felt the weight of responsibility as I feel it to-day. I feel that I am about casting a vote which will affect, for weal or woe. the destiny of. this fine Province. I am convinced that if a majority of the elected Members of this Council vote ” aye ” to-day on this question, Responsible Government will be inaugurated conjointly with Confederation. It is beyond a question that the intelligent portion of the community are in favour of Responsible Government, but there is a grave question in regard to its adaptation to the Colony. The words coming from His Excellency are worthy of careful consideration; they contain strong reasons against the introduction of Responsible Government. Public opinion is not settled on the Island, The Hon. senior Member for Victoria City has shown in his remarks that there is a great want of settled principle in the Colony. The principal men of Victoria are averse to taking upon themselves the duties and labour of legislating for the country. Men of standing and wealth stand aloof. The merchants, manufacturers, and professional men take no interest in the matter of legislation.

There is a great difficulty in getting good representative men. There are. I admit. many good reasons which might be urged against the measure, and I have no doubt that dissatisfaction, to some extent, may ensue. I agree with the Commissioner of Lands and Works, in his remarks about the press influencing the public unfavorably to the Government; but the blame is not in the press, but in that system of Government which keeps the rulers silent. The members of the Government ought to be in a position {to defend themselves, both by pen and speech. I have glanced at a few reasons against the admission of Responsible Government, but I will now look at the other side. Look at the fact of all the larger subjects, under Union; being dealt with by the Federal power. This fact, of itself, is as strong an argument as we need. What Hon. Member can go to his constituents and tell them that he thinks the local business of this Colony could be managed better at Ottawa than it can be by ourselves? The Official Members of this Government will, no doubt, avail themselves of the retiring pension. and appointees from Ottawa will take their places. Will those latter officials have to be pensioned off by this Colony when we adopt Responsible Government? This is a strong objection to entering the Union under a system like the present. This Colony may be asked to pension another set of officials. Will the people be satisfied with this sort of Government if we are to have appointees from Ottawa?

There are a class of men who oppose […]

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[…] Confederation on this ground. They would prefer remaining as they are, with the officials nominated from Downing Street, rather than from Ottawa. It is often asserted that this Colony is not ready. How long are we to wait? Canada was told the same story when she had a population of 600,000. All the other Provinces were told the same thing. Must we wait for such an increase, or must we fight as did Canada? Throw us on our own resources as a Colony, and we will soon learn valuable lessons in the science of Government. There were gentlemen of good families and of good education who came here in early days, who had never suffered privations of any sort before they came here; sent out to make fortunes, or, at all events, homes for themselves; their roughing it was rough indeed. Bad news had come from the mines; the avenues of trade were closed; there were no agricultural pursuits for them to turn to; the consequence was they had to lie round hotels; after failing to get Government employment,-for which, as a matter of course, they applied,—some kept bars whilst waiting for remittances.

The reason was that they never had been taught self-reliance. We shall be in the same position if we are constantly to have rulers from England, or Canada; but throw us on our resources and we shall succeed. Self-reliance is the best means of education in politics as in anything else. If our rulers are sent us from England or Ottawa we will always lack self-reliance. Self-reliance is written on every line of the British North America Act. Rely upon yourselves, is the cry of the people of England. It is better to grapple with the difficulties now when the issues are small and comparatively unimportant; and should we make blunders they will not be so serious when our interests are small; and for what errors we do commit, the consequences will fall upon ourselves. We will, no doubt, blunder at first, and there may be chaff blown here. If Responsible Government will bring the scum to the top, dross will go to the bottom. The scum will be ladled off—the chart will be blown away by the breath of public opinion. The Governor’s promise of a majority will not satisfy the people, and we should, therefore. urge upon His Excellency to give us Responsible Government. I am not in favour, however, of making that condition a sine qua non of Confederation. I would accept Confederation with good terms, even without Responsible Government. There may he a few arguments against it, but there are many in its favour. Under no circumstances would I like Confederation and Responsible Government to go to the polls together. I hope the people will sever the two. Let us have Confederation and we shall get Responsible Government.

Hon. Mr. Wood—In rising to address myself to the motion now before this Committee, I do so with a double object: I feel myself challenged to uphold my opinion on the subject of Responsible Government, as applied to this Colony, and I am desirous to add a few words on the bearing of the subject, in the matter of Confederation, now before the Council. First, with respect to the subject of Responsible Government. As to this, Sir, my views have been for a long time settled, and I shall endeavour to express them as clearly as I can. The result of them is expressed in a few words. I am in favour of the extension of representative institutions little by little, to the utmost verge of safety; but I am opposed, in this community at least, to the establishment of what is called Responsible Government. These are my views shortly. I believe them to be the settled convictions of most moderate and experienced men not bound to flatter popular constituencies. And I believe I am doing a service to society in upholding such moderate views against the popular error and the popular bias in favour of the rash application of Responsible Government in such communities. I will start, Sir, at once from an historical point of view.

The Hon. Member for New Westminster has, as I understand him, asserted that Responsible Government is the immemorial birthright of Englishmen, and that the principle of Cabinet Ministers going in and out with votes of a majority of the House of Commons is a principle of ancient date. My understanding of the history of my country leads to a different conclusion; and however much it may be clear and obvious that representative institutions are our natural and inalienable birthright; however much it may he established that the power of self-taxation resides and has always resided in the representatives of the country, in the Commons of England, carrying with it the overwhelming power of the purse—it is, I believe, clearly admitted that the principle of Responsible Government, as now understood, has existed for little more than 100 years, —say from the accession of George III. and the termination of Lord Bute’s administration,— so that I admit the Hon. gentleman’s proposition only so far as this. Representative institutions are the birthright of the British nations—representative institutions and the privilege of taxing ourselves. Now, Sir, I believe the whole scope of representative institutions to be greatly misrepresented. It […]

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[…] is the fashion for Honourable Members to say that the Government of this or any other community are bound to govern according to the well understood wishes of the people; that the vox populi is the vox dei; that Ministries and Governments are responsible to the people. But: the true principle, as we all very well know, is that Governments and Ministries are responsible, not to the people as a populace, but to the representatives of the people, properly and reasonably chosen. Governments and Ministries are responsible, not to numerical majorities, but to the country. Now, Sir, representative institutions are liable to this obvious and well-known danger.

I will quote the words of a well-known political writer, Herbert Spencer: “Whenever the profit accruing to the representative individually, from the passage of a mischievous measure, largely exceeds his loss as a unit in the community from the operation of the injurious law, his interest becomes antagonistic to that of his constituents, and sooner or later will sway his vote.” How true and bow obvious this is. I might go further, when the private and personal, the direct and immediate, interest of the representative or of the constituents, whose advocates and delegates they are, is opposed to any matter of legislative action, the direct and material interest will, of a certainty, prevail over the distant and more remote welfare of the, community, in all but very rare instances. This is the danger that threatens all representative institutions, and the only safeguard against it is the qualification—the pecuniary and material qualification of the representative, the pecuniary and material qualification of the elector; and, accordingly, we see representative institutions flourishing and successful only when this safeguard practically exists.

Let us turn to the example of England. In England representative institutions and Responsible Government work smoothly—and why? Because of the notoriously aristocratic and plutocratic character of the Legislature of Great Britain. Political life is a sealed book to any but the wealthy classes. Every member of Parliament is a man of property; no other can afford the luxury of legislative life; and society is secure in the hands of representatives whose property would suffer from the results of vicious or reckless legislation. I say nothing of the question of peace and war, probably the most momentous and disastrous subject of vicious and reckless legislation, a question which will not arise in the Colony. The cream of all legislation is taxation, and my solid conviction is that representative institutions and Responsible Government will fail whenever the working majority is in the hands of an unsubstantial class of representatives or of electors. I have thus, Sir, treated or representative institutions and Responsible Government somewhat in the abstract. I will now refer more particularly to its application to this Colony, and this apart from any question of Confederation;, and I will repeat that I am in favour of the extension to the utmost possible limits of the representative elements of this Council, but adverse to Responsible Government.

With respect to the constitution of the Legislative Council of British Columbia, it might, I think, hardly be necessary, in the present condition of the Colony, to advocate a second chamber—a council as distinct from an Assembly. However advisable this may be in an advanced condition of the Colony, advanced in numbers and wealth, few, if any, would advocate such an institution as a second chamber. The elements for forming such a chamber are sadly wanting in the present state of affairs, and the matter may be dismissed without further comment—without discussing the advisability in a general way of such an institution at all, or the constitutional elements of such a body. But with regard to the Legislature on the supposition of its consisting of one single House, it will be necessary to speak at somewhat greater length. Of what elements ought such a legislative body to consist? At present it consists of official members, heads of departments; official members not heads of departments, but representing. for the most part, different magisterial districts; a few nominated members—nominated. I think it is reasonable to presume, from an impression of their being tolerably intelligent and moderate; and a few representative members. It is asked whether the constitution of this Council should be altered so as to establish direct Responsible Government, or what may be looked upon almost as its equivalent, a large working majority of responsible members. I leave out of the question at present all reference to any modification of the constitution of the Council in the event of Confederation, and I consider the matter at present only in reference to the Council and the Colony in their actual condition.

At present it is obvious, and must be felt by all of us, by official members no less than by independent members, that our po on as a Crown Colony is what is commonly called a false position. We are individually as well fitted for self-government as our brothers or our cousins in the Old Country or in Canada. I will go further: I will say that the community, taken individually, in this Colony is better qualified to demand and have representative […]

  •        (p. 119)

[…] institutions. I say taken individually—and I mean it in its strict sense. Man for man, I believe the Colonist a better politician than his English cousin. The aristocratic class hardly exists, it is true. It is an injustice to presume for a moment that the Colonist in this, or any other Colony of Anglo- Saxon origin. is in any way unfit for the enjoyment of the freest political liberty. Higher class we have none, but the middle and lower classes are—I do not hesitate to say it—superior to the middle and lower classes at home. The Colonist is more enterprising and more pushing than the stay-at-home Englishman. He has better knowledge of the world and of human nature; he graduates in a school in which politics are prominent, and he is free from an immense amount of ignorance and prejudice which is thought and written and acted in the Old World.

But then comes the consideration, what elements are indispensable in the community to form the representative body, if, as is contended, that element is to be supreme; or, what is the same thing in point of actual power, when that element constitutes the working majority? I will answer: (1) Localized and permanent population. (2) Established diversified interests; wealth, whether capital or regular income, the well—doing of professions, businesses and industries, agriculture, substantial industries, staples. Population herein we are deficient—6,500 adult white men-sporadic, scattered, and temporary. How many care to vote? How many are aliens? Established interests here also are deficient; isolation our drawback; staples we have, but they are undeveloped or unlucky; gold mining depressed; agriculture under a disadvantage, and no good market; coal not much sought after, and minerals a speculation; lumber unfortunate; fisheries unestablished, and commerce in the way of export killed by the abolition of the free port, or inferior from the absence of a large home demand. These are all our material elements of wealth, and we have them in no great abundance.

Now, without them, what have we? A sparse community, in which the only thriving interest is agriculture, and that only because supply is not equal to demand; or, in other words. small in numbers and importance, and no wealthy class at all. Can self-government be trusted to such a population? I say emphatically no! Now, I am not greatly in favour of a high qualification for representatives—for Members of the Council. It is sufficient for me that they represent substantial interests; but when we have unsubstantial representatives representing unsubstantial and small constituencies, I can hardly understand anything more dangerous, and, I might add, more ridiculous or more extravagant. That representatives should be substantial people is desirable, but that they should represent substantial interests is indispensable. if representatives are unfaithful to their trust the remedy is possible; but where the class of electors is needy and unsubstantial, it seems impossible to conceive anything more disastrous. Taxation, as before has been observed, is the cream of legislation; and taxation at the hands of unsubstantial men, or men forced to advocate the interests of unsubstantial constituencies, will be nothing but tyranny. Opinions may be divided in many other matters; the votes of a party may be split on many points; but in the hands of the masses the substantial class will be heavily and unmeasurably taxed to suit the views of those who have nothing to lose and all to gain by any contemplated movement. Take the example of Vancouver Island in old days as an example of a small and a narrow community; again, the example of Victoria, in Australia, where legislation is effected by the enormous majority of the advocates of the interests of constituents elected on a low qualification,—manhood suffrage.

I cannot but understand that if the Government is in the hands of the representatives of the people. and a working majority of them. supreme representative Government, if not equivalent to, is, in effect, equal to Responsible Government. In the hands of the representatives of the people, supplies would all be voted, except conditions were exacted, favourable to the popular will. And, Sir, having treated on representative and Responsible Governments as applied to this Colony, let us see its bearing on the subject of Confederation; and here I follow in the footsteps of the Hon. Member for New Westminster; his reasoning is mine, but not his conclusions. Without Responsible Government, or its equivalent, or its approximate Government by a representative majority, we have no safeguard against a Government of Canadian officials. British Columbia will be a Colony of Canada, a dependency of a dependency, and Canadian interests will prevail. Dependence on England is bearable; they have no interests apart from ours; but dependence on Canada would be unbearable; their interests are different from ours. That is the conclusion that is inevitable; it is but a logical conclusion. Confederation without Responsible Government, or Government by a working majority of representative members, is out of the question. Such a Government cannot be […]

  •        (p. 120)

[…] had; therefore Confederation is out of the question.

I have thus, Sir, given my opinion on a point which is sure to meet with popular disfavour, but I am proud to support the Executive when I think it is right; and I would share the responsibility of a measure which would make that Executive obnoxious to blame. I have no chronic feeling of opposition to Government. I have no objection to individuals, nor do I impute to them sordid motives, but in the matter of Confederation the Executive of this Colony are in a false position; they act primarily, not for the good of the Colony, but for the good, or supposed good, of Great Britain; and they exercise the power of Government in a matter in which the interests of the Colony are mainly at stake to carry out, and effect an organic change of great importance to local interests. It is somewhat unfair to me to say I impute motives to the Executive. 1 only quarrel with them when they place themselves in a false position, as in the question of education; and in this, as in education, I say they oppose their own views to the views of, the, well understood wishes of all classes of the community; and here the carry through a scheme of Confederation; they start the stone, and it is hard to see how or where it will roll. I sincerely feel for their position. The Colony will demand representative institutions, and they will be forced to yield them or back out of the position they have undertaken.

The answer of the Executive Government to this is as given by the Hon. Attorney-General. The Attorney-General says that after Confederation we are bound to have what we require—Responsible Government. This is taking the matter for granted. It may be attained, but with a struggle. It is impossible to doubt that the Executive of the new Province will oppose representative Government or any diminution of their own rights or their own power. He says it is inopportune and beside the question. The Hon. Member for Cariboo (Dr. Carrall) says: “If the people of British Columbia want Responsible Government no power on earth can prevent their having it.” This is but a promise for the future. The Hon. Chief Commissioner says the community is not fit for Responsible Government, but the matter is to be left to the new Council. Responsible Government will assuredly come with Confederation. The Hon. Member for Victoria (Dr. Helmcken) says: “This is the argument of the Government. But something must counterbalance Canada, otherwise with a working majority in the House the Dominion Government will keep things as they are when we are a Province of Canada.”

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