British Columbia, Legislative Council: Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada (6 April 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 157-165.
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DEBATE ON THE SUBJECT OF CONFEDERATION WITH CANADA.
WEDNESDAY, 6TH APRIL, 1870.
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The Hon. Attorney-General, in the absence of the Hon. Colonial Secretary, Presiding Member.
On motion, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, to take into consideration the Message of His Excellency the Governor respecting the provision to be made for the sending, of Delegates to Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Ball in the Chair.
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Hon. Collector of Customs —Sir, I rise to move,—
“That suitable provision be made by this House for the payment of the expenses of the Delegates to be sent from this Colony to Ottawa to negotiate the terms of the Confederation of this Colony with the Dominion of Canada.”
This has been one of the preliminary steps taken by the other Colonies before going into Confederation. If it has been necessary in other cases, it is certainly necessary for us. The expense is comparatively small, probably from $2,500 to $3,000, and the Governor has preferred to bring the matter before the Council now, instead of putting it into a supplementary estimate next session.
Hon. Mr. Ring —Sir, I beg to inquire why these resolutions cannot be transmitted by post. I do not see why the Colony should be put to the expense of conveying the message; there is postal communication with Canada. and sufficient means of conveying to the Canadian Government what we have agreed upon. There can be no necessity to send Hon. Members to Ottawa. The fact of our doing so would lead to the presumption that Confederation is agreed upon. I differ from that. I say the people want to have the terms before them. Let us first see whether the Colony assents to Confederation in the abstract. Why should we send three or four Hon. and learned gentlemen—learned, no doubt. Why, I say, should we have the Colony put to so much expense when it is in a state of poverty and bankruptcy. [No, no.] I say, dispatch the terms in the ordinary way by post.
Hon. Mr. Robson —I hope, Sir, it will not be necessary to fight our battles over again. This House has, in the name of the Colony—[No no, from Hons. Ring and Drake.] Perhaps it will suit some Hon. Members better to say a majority of this House, [No no] Perhaps certain Hon. Members will have the decency to be quiet until their turn comes to speak. A majority of this House—an overwhelming majority—has decided upon terms. We shall get the consent of the Canadian Government to these, or modified, conditions and then submit them to the people, That is the only way. If we were, as proposed by the Hon. Member for Nanaimo, to ask the people whether they wanted Confederation, what would they say? [Mr Ring—They would say ” No! “]
[Hon. Mr. Robson:] They would say most emphatically, ” Yes, on terms.” They have said so for years. The Governor has adopted the usual course. These resolutions will go to the Canadian Government and come back. perhaps, modified, and the people will then be asked if they will have Confederation on these terms. The terms are now proposed to be sent to Ottawa. I cannot agree with the Hon. Member for Nanaimo that it would be cheaper to send them by post. The first outlay might be smaller, but it might cause delay, and, in my opinion, British Columbia cannot afford delay. The telegraph might do, but it would cost more. It ought to be by delegation. I think the House is entitled to know who are to go. I presume the Government will be prepared to give us the names. I, for one. would be unprepared to vote a sum of $2,500, or more likely. $5,000, if I thought the Governor would send Delegates who would not be acceptable to the people. I say that the people ought to be represented, and that particular Members who will fairly represent the people on the Responsible Government question ought to go. I say that if the Delegates are silent on Responsible Government the Cabinet at Ottawa will raise it. If the Delegates say that British Columbia is not prepared for it. that it has been voted down. the Cabinet will say, they have reason to believe that the people, or a large proportion of them. want it, and that they have had enough of discontent. I say. that although Responsible Government is not, strictly speaking, a condition, it underlies and permeates the whole question.
Hon. Collector of Customs —Nothing would be easier than to forward the resolutions by post to Canada. “his has probably been done already; but on every one of the resolutions, as you all know. there are numerous points requiring explanations, and to make these effective the presence at Ottawa of Delegates on our part, understanding the question and authorized to act for us. would appear to be indispensable. I am inclined to think that the names of the Delegates are pretty well known, but I have no authority to mention them here. The Governor has chosen them on his own responsibility, and he does not ask the Council to share that responsibility. For what purpose should the names be given? Does the Council wish to canvass the merits of each individual? What those gentlemen will say on the subject of Responsible Government I am not prepared to tell you; but I tell you this, that on that subject and on every other they will act with fairness and ability. with no discredit to themselves and with no discredit to us. I am ready at any rate to trust them so far as that. I hope this Council will trust them, as the Governor has shown himself ready to trust them. Every year there are expenses that […]
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[…] cannot be provided for except in the Supplementary Estimates. This will doubtless be one of them. There will be no objectionable special tax, that I know of, proposed on this account. If there is, it will be time enough to oppose it when it. comes. in the meantime you are asked simply to authorize the expenditure of a small sum of money for an object of infinite importance.
Hon. Mr. Humphreys —There is a mighty curious dust kicked up by great opposites when they meet. I think we shall see some of these gentlemen hoisted on their own petards. I have a pretty good idea who the gentlemen are, and I do not think they represent the people, especially in the matter of Responsible Government. I believe the Governor will act fairly and honourably, but I think he will not select men who will he acceptable to the people. My opinion is. that the Hon. Chief Commissioner, the Hon. Member for Victoria, and the Hon. Attorney-General do not represent the people. Popular members will he untrue to themselves
Hon. Mr. Dewdney —The Hon. Member has had his guess. I do not desire to mention names. I would merely suggest that His Excellency be requested to select one of the Delegates from the Mainland.
Hon. Chief Commissioner —My views on Responsible Government have been so often expressed that there is no occasion to refer to them again, but I am astonished that after Hon. Members have told us that the people are a unit in favour of Responsible Government, they should be afraid to trust it to the people, or to the Council, which His Excellency has told you he will form after this Session. Why, then, are Hon. Members so desirous to weight down the terms? Are they afraid that the people will not be so unanimous at the polls in favour of Responsible Government? His Excellency has told you that, if allowed by Her Majesty’s Government, he proposes to form a Council which will be representative. I, for one, have no doubt about the permission. The question will then he left to that Council. Why are Hon. Members afraid to leave this question to the representatives of the people?
Hon. Mr. Humphreys —I will answer the Hon. Chief Commissioner: we are not afraid of putting the question before the people, but I am afraid that members of that delegation will misrepresent the opinions of the people to the Canadian Government; I fear the people will not be represented
Hon. Mr. Drake —Mr. Chairman. I intend to oppose the resolution proposed by the Hon. Collector of Customs. I think that if Hon. Members examine this message in connection with His Excellency’s speech, it is apparent that the resolutions were sent down complete. This House was not allowed to alter them. The recommendations of Hon. Members were voted down. I think it would be better to send the resolutions by post as the resolutions of Government; they are not the resolutions of this Committee.
Hon. Chief Commissioner —They are the resolutions of this House.
Hon. Mr. Drake —No; only of the official majority. The expense is unnecessary; it is one which will be incurred to enforce the views of Government. His Excellency asks that he should be authorized to expend a sum of money for this special purpose. A special tax is asked for. If we accede to this message we are assuming the responsibility. I would like to ask this question: Is the Delegation to take powers from this House or from the Government?
Hon. Chief Commissioner —I must reply without delay to one proposition. I would like the Hon. gentleman to point out any one example or suggestion which, if defeated, was not defeated by a majority of so-called popular members, with the exception of Responsible Government, in which there was a minority of, so-called, representative members. The Hon. gentleman’s remarks fall to the ground.
Hon. Mr. Humphreys —The mistake has been made at that end of the table. I think we are in duty bound to send Delegates and raise the money. My only objection is, that the names are withheld. I cannot understand why Hon. Members should vote against this message. I believe we are all agreed that Delegates should go, but if names are not sent down, I must vote against it.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos —Mr. Chairman. I scarcely expected a discussion upon this point; I should have supposed that this House would have voted the money at once. The question is whether this Delegation will be representative or not. I do not intend to offer any factions opposition. I am satisfied that the people will take means to send a people’s delegation.
Hon. Mr. Barnard —Current report names the gentlemen. The object of sending by delegates is that the terms may be modified if necessary. If unsatisfactory, will not the people have a right to say: “How could we expect anything better.” Here are two members recent […]
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[…] converts, and one a decided opponent. How can a popular member go to his constituents after voting this money? The people are in earnest in this matter. I stand on the floor of this House a Government contractor, and likely to support the Government, but so long as I gave a straight vote on Confederation my constituents cared not about anything else. On the Mainland we have been firm on Confederation all through, and the Mainland is ignored. The two Hon. gentlemen at the head of this table represent the Island, and the other Hon. Member represents the Island. The Mainland is not going to be satisfied, particularly when the Hon. senior Member for Victoria, who has consistently opposed. and will oppose, Confederation. is lo be one of the Delegation. For the first time in twenty years the Hon. gentleman leaves this Island. He knows nothing about the interior of the country.
Hon. Mr. Drake —The Hon. Chief Commissioner stated that the whole of the recommendations were carried, except one, by the majority of the popular vote. I instance free port and the telegraph to the contrary.
Hon. Chief Commissioner —I must explain that I spoke from recollection. I was not in the House.
Hon. Mr. Robson —I claim that the official members who voted against Responsible Government must be struck out. But if we allow them to be counted, there is still a majority of six to three of the representative members in favour of Responsible Government; and I say that this resolution ought to be transmitted with such explanation as is necessary. With regard to Responsible Government being in the hands of: the New Council, Members will, we may presume, be elected for four years; consequently, the question will, in all probability, be postponed for four years. And I say that those who keep back Responsible Government will run a great risk of having Confederation defeated at the polls. Some Hon. Members may desire such a result. If so. I can understand the course they are taking. With regard to the individuals going on the Delegation, if we are to take the general rumour, there is not one who will properly represent: the Mainland. There are two recent converts, and one open opponent of Confederation, an implacable and politically unprincipled enemy to Confederation, leagued with some power, I won’t say with the cloven-footed gentleman, but with some power to defeat Confederation. The people will not be satisfied. It is extraordinary thumbs: Governor should make such a selection, ignoring the whole Confederation party and the whole Mainland as a territory. I could not justify myself if I voted for this resolution, which will virtually be voting for three island Members, two recent converts and one—[No, no, from Dr. Helmcken] well, I won’t say it again. (Laughter) I can understand a Government dishonest at heart pursuing this course. but I cannot understand a Government that is true to the cause doing so.
Hon. Chief Commissioner —Mr. Chairman, Hon. Members seem to be in position of fighting shadows in the dark. If they are wrong in their suppositions all the words that have been spoken today are thrown away. I fully concur in what fell from the Hon. Collector of Customs, that it is not proper that these names should be given. Hon. Members who favour Confederation should be the last to object to the Governor’s selecting members.
Hon. Mr. Robson —I have faith in the honesty of His Excellency in the matter of Confederation. The only act that shook me and other Confederationists was the appointment of the Hon. Member for Victoria City lo the Executive Council. I believe His Excellency to be a Confederate at heart. I will, in order to simplify matters, move to report progress, and ask leave to sit again, so that the Governor may have the opportunity of sending down names, or, at all events, of satisfying the Mainland that their interests, and Responsible Government, are cared for.
The motion to rise and report progress was lost.
Hon. Mr. Ring —I think this debate, if it may be so called, is quite uncalled for and unnecessary. It is ridiculous to bring up the names of men who may possibly go to Ottawa and discuss them; it ought not to be allowed; it is waste of time and lungs. I had prepared a resolution that the terms should be sent by post. but I see that it would be vain to put it to the vote. If delegates go they ought to be properly equipped. I shall not, therefore, oppose the vote.
Hon. Mr. Dewdney —I agree with the Hon. Member for Nanaimo that this debate is waste of time. I think the Mainland will be represented.
Hon. Mr. DeCosmos —I think it is not a question whether Island or Mainland is represented. We want the views of different parties represented, leaving out the Mainland and Island.
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Hon. Mr. Robson —I express a hope that the Government will not press Government vote.
Hon. Attorney-General —I can inform Hon. Members that I feel perfectly satisfied that the Governor will not: send down names. The Hon. Member who names the Delegates has better information than myself. The House having given unanimous adhesion to the terms. —[No, no, I was the exception,—Hon. Mr. DeCosmos.]—at all events it was passed by a majority, and so becomes the act of the Council,—we could not expect Canada to send Delegates here; they would be unable to refer to the Executive Council. It must injure the terms if in the debates of this House an expression of opinion goes forth to the world that the Governor has not Confederation truly at heart. The Hon. Member for New Westminster says that I am a convert, and that I represent Victoria. I am glad that the old idea that I leaned too much to New Westminster is exploded; I should be sorry that it should run in the other direction. The Hon. Member for New Westminster has told us if we cannot; get Responsible Government, he would not consent to make it a sine qua non.
Hon. Mr. Robson —I have never said that Confederation would be refused without Responsible Government.
Hon. Attorney-General — I have no doubt—I am not speaking from positive knowledge —that the Delegates will be clothed with full power to discuss all the suggestions made on this matter. If Responsible Government is started by the Canadian Cabinet it will receive full consideration
Hon. Mr. Humphreys —The people do not mistrust His Excellency, but they do think that if certain Members of the Government are sent on this Delegation they will endeavour to keep up the present system. I am satisfied that if the Hon. Members named are sent, Confederation is killed.
Hon. Chief Commissioner said those who support Confederation are injuring the cause. I believe, Sir, that it a consistent supporter of Confederation from the Island, and one from British Columbia are sent as this Delegation, with one Member of the Government, such a Delegation would carry confidence even if the terms were modified. I propose to vote for this resolution. I hope the Delegates will be such as will give satisfaction. I contend that there are officials who would add weight to that Delegation, and I should not like to see official members left out.
On division the resolution was carried, only one vote being against it.
On motion of the Hon. Chief Commissioner, Committee rose and reported resolution passed.
House adopted resolution.
Reported for the Government by
W.S. SEBRIGHT GREEN
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PROPOSED TERMS OF UNION.
|AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL.||RESOLUTIONS SUBMITTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.|
|Resolved, That it is expedient that the Colony of British Columbia shall be Confederated with Canada, on the following Terms and Conditions; that is to say:
1. Canada shall be liable for the Debts and Liabilities of British Columbia existing at the time of Union.
2. The population of British Columbia shall for the purpose of financial arrangements be estimated at 120,000. British Columbia not having incurred debts equal to those of other Provinces now constituting the Dominion, shall be entitled to receive, by half-yearly payments in advance from the General Government, interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum on the difference between the actual amount of its indebtedness at the date of Union and the proportion of the Public Debt of Canada for 120,000 of the population of Canada at the time of Union.
3. The following sums shall be annually paid by Canada to British Columbia, for the support of the Local Government and Legislature, to wit:—
|That the Governor be respectfully requested to strike out figures “$35,000,” and insert in lieu thereof “$75,000,”||An annual grant of $35,000, and a further sum equal to 80 cents a head per annum of the population, both payable half-yearly in advance, the population of British Columbia being estimated as aforesaid at 120,000. Such grant equal to 80 cents a head to be augmented in proportion to the increase of population, when|
|That the figures “400,000” be altered to “1,000,000,”||such may be shown, until the population amounts to 400,000, at which rate such grant shall thereafter remain.
4. The Dominion shall guarantee interest at the rate of 5 per centum per annum on such sum, not exceeding £100,000, as may be required for the construction of a first-class Graving Dock at Esquimalt.
5. In addition to the other provisions of this Resolution, Canada shall assume and defray the charges of the following services :—
a. Salary and allowances of the Lieutenant- Governor;
|That word “pensions” be inserted after the word “allowances.”||b. Salaries and allowances of the Judges and Officers of the Supreme Court, and of the County Courts;
c. The charges in respect of the Department of Customs;
d. The postal Department;
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|e. Lighthouses, Buoys, Beacons, and Lightship, and such further charges as may be incident to and connected with the services. which by “The British North America Act, 1867,” appertain to the General Government, and as are or may be allowed to the other Provinces.
6. Suitable Pensions, such as shall he approved of by Her Majesty’s Government, shall he provided by the Government of the Dominion for those of Her Majesty’s Servants in the Colony, whose position and emoluments derived therefrom would be affected by political changes on the admission of this Colony into the Dominion of Canada.
7. The Dominion Government shall supply an efficient and regular fortnightly Steam Communication between Victoria and San Francisco by Steamers adapted and giving facilities for the conveyance of passengers and cargo.
|That the word ” and,” between “construct” an: ” open,” he erased, and words ” and maintain” be inserted after ” traffic.”
That this Section be altered so that the section of the Main Trunk Road between Yale and New Westminster may be included in the Coach Road which the Dominion Government is to be asked to construct within three years from the date of Union.
|8. Inasmuch as no real (Union can subsist- between this Colony and Canada without the speedy establishment of connminication across the Rocky Mountains by Coach Road and Railway, the Dominion shall, within three years from the date of Union, construct and open for traffic such Coach Road, from some point on the line of the Main Trunk Road of this Colony to Fort Garry, of similar character to the said Main Trunk Road; and shall further engage to use all means in her power to complete such Railway communication at the earliest practicable date, and that Surveys to determine the proper line for such Railway shall he at once commenced: and that a sum of not less than one million dollars shall he 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.|
|9. The Dominion shall erect and maintain, 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.
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.
11. Whatever encouragement, advantages, and protection are afforded by the Dominion Government […]
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|[…] 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.
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.
|That the figures “91” be inserted after figures “18”.
That the following words he added at the end of the clause :—” Provided, however, that the number of Members of the Senate shall never be reduced below the number of Four, and the number of Members of the House of Commons below the number of Eight.”
|13. British Columbia shall be entitled to be 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 in the House of Commons shall be increased, subject to the provisions of ” The British North America Act, 1867.”|
|14. The Union shall take effect on such day as Her Majesty by Order in Council (on an Address to that effect in terms of. the 146th Section of “The British North America Act, 1867,”) may direct; and British Columbia may, in such Address, specify the Districts, Counties, or Divisions, if any for which any of the Four Senators to whom the Colony shall be entitled shall be named, the Electoral Districts for which—and the time within which—the first Election of Members to serve in the House of Commons shall take place.
15. The Constitution of the Executive authority and of the Legislature of British Columbia shall, subject to the provisions of “The British North America Act, 1867,” continue as existing at the time of Union, until altered under the authority of the said Act.
16. The provisions in “The British North America Act, 1867,” shall (except those parts thereof which are in terms made, or by reasonable intendment may be held to be, specially applicable to and only affect one and not the whole of the Provinces new comprising the Dominion, and except so far as the same may be varied by this Resolution) be applicable to British Columbia, in the same way and to the like extent as they apply to the other Provinces of the Dominion, and as if the Colony of British Columbia had been one of the Provinces originally united by the said Act.
With reference to Defences :—
a. That it shall be an understanding with the Dominion, that their influence will be used, to the fullest extent, to procure the continued maintenance of the Naval Station at Esquimalt.
b. Encouragement to be given to develop the efficiency and organization of the Volunteer Force in British Columbia.
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IN REFERENCE TO CONFEDERATION, PROPOSED BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Council, the duties levied upon maltsters and brewers under and by virtue of the Excise Laws of Canada would he detrimental if made applicable to British Columbia, that His Excellency be therefore earnestly requested to take such steps as he may deem advisable to bring the same to the notice of the Canadian Government, and further to take care that no export duties shall be charged on spars exported from British Columbia.
Resolved, That this Council respectfully represent to His Excellency the Governor, that, in negotiating the Terms of Union of British Columbia with Canada, it is of the first importance to point out to the Government of’ that Dominion, that the circumstances of this Colony are in many respects so different from those of the Eastern Provinces, that the application of the present Canadian Tariff to this Colony, while reducing the aggregate burthen of taxation, would injurious affect the agricultural and commercial interests of this community; and that it he, therefore. urgently impressed upon that Government that it is absolutely necessary to our well-being under Confederation that special rates of Customs Duties, and special Customs Regulations, be arranged for the Colony, in such manner as may be found practically most advisable, so as to secure, While our requirements in this respect remain as at present, an equal measure of protection to our Agricultural Products, and of facility to our Commerce, as are provided under the existing British Columbia Tariff.
Resolved, That a respectful Address he presented to His Excellency the Governor, recommending that the Dominion Government shall be requested to cause a Geological Survey of British Columbia to be made; such Survey to be commenced within one year after its admission into Union.
Resolved, That His Excellency the Governor be respectfully requested to insert in the Terms of Confederation to be proposed to Canada, some such clause as the following :—
All public works and property of British Columbia at the time of admission to belong to British Columbia, except such public works and property as shall properly belong to the Dominion under the British North America Act, and such portion of the main trunk road through British Columbia, or other roads then constructed, as may be necessary to complete a continuous line of coach road from a point at or below Yale to a point at the foot of the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, and that the same shall he free of toll of every kind whatsoever.
Printed by WILLIAM H. CULLIN, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty.