Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Incorporation of Rupert’s Land, Etc.”, 1st Parl, 1st Sess (4 December 1867)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 1st Parl, 1st Sess, 1867 at 180-188.
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INCORPORATION OF RUPERT’S LAND, ETC.
Hon. Mr. McDougall, in rising to move the resolutions of which he had given notice, was not without apprehension that he should fail to put the House in possession of a proper idea on a subject of so great magnitude and importance. It would not be necessary to inform them that since the close of the American war the Union of the British people inhabiting the northern portion of North America had been ardently looked to by all British statesmen. The dream of the patriot and the speculation of the political philosopher had been of the destiny that should unite these British people in one nationality from one ocean to the other. In 1864, compelled by the logic of events, which moved faster than the patriot’s dream or the philosopher’s speculation, representatives of these Provinces had met in Quebec to consider what was necessary to be done for their own protection and security, with consideration to the novel events transpiring on this continent. The result of their deliberations had been the proposal of a scheme of Union which had the consent of the Imperial Government, and had been laid before, and ratified by, the Imperial Legislature, and had now become the law of the land. Among the many important provisions their Act contained was one conferring power to unite all territory north of the 49th parallel acknowledging English rule into one Dominion. The first resolution, which asserts that it would be for the general advantage of the Dominion that its authority should be extended westward to the Pacific Ocean was, he imagined, one which was not likely to provoke question or discussion, and on which it would not be necessary for him to dwell, or to enter upon much argument to demonstrate. Regarding the second resolution, referring to the colonisation of the lands watered by the Saskatchewan and Assiniboine, an opinion had got about that this great Northwest Territory, occupied by the Hudson’s Bay Company, was not adapted for cultivation or civilization, and was only suited to the trading purposes which the company had made it serve. But the authority of the most reliable explorers, among whom Capt. Palliser, who had been employed to make his survey by the Imperial Government, was especially worthy of credence, during the last ten or fifteen years had established that the territory contains a great interior basin which, though lying geographically far to the north, was well adapted to the production of grain, and possessed a climate quite equal to that of the locality where they were then assembled. He himself had consulted numbers of these authorities, and marked many of their passages, but would not occupy the House at great length in quoting from them. He would, however, make brief reference to the statements of Capt. Palliser, an able British officers, who had been charged to explore the Rocky Mountains, to discover a pass over which a railroad could be run, and to examine the country along the south branch of the Saskatchewan to ascertain if it were fit for settlement, if it were a mere arid plain, or a tract of arable land fit for the residence of man. Capt. Palliser had been successful in finding, along the skirts of the Rocky Mountains, such a country, of which he had made a thorough exploration. It was the opinion of gentlemen from the eastern districts that the north western climate was so severe, and the summer there so short, as to make it impossible to grow those productions necessary for the sustenance of man. He
would read from Captain Palliser what that officer reported upon this subject. The honourable member here read at some length, from the volume referred to, in which the soil, the minerals, and the climate of the district are very favourably spoken of. That was a fair statement of the capabilities of the great region, which it was proposed to ask the Imperial Government to hand over to the Dominion. There was already a population of ten thousand persons in the Valley of the Red River, engaged in the arts of husbandry and in hunting, which was sufficient evidence that commercial advantages could not fail to flow from the extension of the Dominion in their direction. There had been an Imperial intention at one period of establishing a colony there, which would have embraced an area of 240,000 square miles, the greatest part of which was fit for cultivation. It was impossible for the Hudson’s Bay Company to provide a government to meet the requirements of a colony whose commercial interests would be in opposition to their own, although they had been able to govern Indians successfully, and there could be no expectation that extended settlements would be made in this direction until some change had been effected. Indeed, the Hudson’s Bay Company were themselves convinced that their sway was near its termination, and had not of late been very particular in the performance of their duties. The fourth resolution referred to the clause of our Union Act, under which this annexation was to be effected. It was provided that nothing more should be required to transfer to us the rights held to-day over the whole of this territory by the Imperial Government, than the assent of an Order-in-Council to an address from our own Legislature. We shall hold this territory subject to settlement of all just claims which may be advanced to any portion of it, and the question of the claims of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who assert territorial rights under a charter granted them in 1670 by a king of England, will necessarily engage attention. The Government of Canada has at no time admitted the claim which the company advance over the whole tact between our boundary and the Rocky Mountains; the Government of Canada has at no time admitted the validity of the Charter. The Company is, however, an established fact, having houses, servants, and ships, engaged in trade over the whole territory assuming to exercise government there, and holding what assumes to be sufficient authority for the rights to which they pre- tend, and the subject of their rights is not one which can be decided without hearing both sides of the question, upon which he did not propose to express the opinion of the Government, although he might say for himself that the right assumed to trade exclusively be regarded as no right at all. The Company, claiming under their charter whatever rights that it might give them, could only fairly pretend to have authority over Rupert’s Land, as the district immediately round the Hudson’s Bay was called. They could have no pretension to the basin of Lake Winnipeg, or the Valley of the Saskatchewan, because a charter of King Charles could not assume to grant them rights over a country at that date in the possession of the subjects of another prince. He had lately seen, when visiting Paris at the time of the Exhibition, maps and documents which left no doubt but that the North West Territory was in the hands of the French at the date of the Company’s charter. It was not, however, in- tended to ask the Legislature to pronounce a decision upon this question. If the Company are able to prove that their charter is valid for some purpose, all that will be necessary is to agree with them upon the conditions on which their rights shall be transferred. The Company have been themselves anxious for such a transfer at a proper rate of compensation, and in 1865 there had been a discussion upon the subject, between them and gentle- men representing Canada, and it had been reported that the best arrangement would be to pay a specific sum for the relinquishment of the whole of the company’s pretensions, and that this amount, whatever it might be, should be obtained under the guarantee of the Imperial Government. But, while this guarantee was agreed to, doubt had been thrown upon the Company’s right to compensation at all, and it had been claimed, and was now claimed, and would be further claimed for Canada, that such rights could not be maintained. But, at the same time, it would not be in accordance with our conception of the principles of honour and honesty, to treat the pretensions to such rights as having no existence. The effect of the anticipated transfer would be to give this Parliament authority to make laws for the whole region, to go into the basin of Lake Winnipeg as part and parcel of Canada, assuming the Company to be only squatters there, having their remedy in a court of law if dispossessed wrongfully. The Seventh Resolution referred to the Indian inhabitants, of whom there were large numbers, though not so large as formerly, scattered over the
whole territory. It had been the practice of our Government to recognize some rights as belonging to the aborigines of the country, making treaties with them, and giving them compensation for their lands-dealing with them in a measure as with minors incapable of the management of their own affairs, but always acting generously towards them. The Company had never pretended to extinguish these aboriginal rights which had preceded theirs. A settlement must be come to with the Indians for the sake of the protection of the Colonists. He was glad to say that in Canada we had no difficulty in dealing with Indians, which was experienced in the United States, and the reason was that we had acted justly towards them, and desired to continue to do so. The proposed annexation was a matter which every member who had given attention to public affairs must have well considered. The Government, believing it to be one of very great importance, had thought themselves justified in appropriating a sum of money in opening a road from Long Bay to Lake Superior towards the Red River, the expense of which, though entirely within the Province of Ontario, might, in view of its general advantage, be made chargeable to the Dominion, and would be found to have been well expended towards promoting the progress of the settlement. Important discoveries of silver mines had already resulted, and American companies were even now established there. He had been assured that if the Government were to offer lands on easy terms along the route a large portion would be taken up readily.
Hon. Mr. McDougall continued the debate, stating that in pursuance of the principle of Confederation, an appropriation had been made toward a road, intended to connect Lake Superior with the Red River. The reports of those employed were good, both as to the practicability of the route and the nature of the country, and he had no doubt but £100,000 would complete the road to Fort Garry. It was, of course, the first question whether the House would consent to, and desired the acquisition of the Red River and the Northwestern Territory. It would certainly involve a considerable expenditure, but he believed it would not be long before it would be self-sustaining. Already the people of the Red River had proposed to make one hundred miles of the road to connect them with Lake Superior; and beyond the Red River there were no difficulties in the way of making roads, the country being admirable for that purpose, and what was of still more importance, it was most desirable for settlement. The object of Captain Palliser in his explorations was to find a pass for a road through the Rocky Mountains, and he has found two or more. Mr. Waddington, a gentleman now in Ottawa, whom he had no met, had hoped soon to have the honour of doing so, had projected a road in that part of the territory. He (Mr. McDl.) looked forward to the time when the whole expanse from the Atlantic to the Pacific would be peopled with a race the same as ourselves, enjoying the same political rights, and moving forward to the same destiny. At first a good wagon road would answer the purpose, and that at least was perfectly practicable, but a more speedy mode of communication might be necessary in a few years. All the great rivers traversed the shortest route across this continent in the track of this territory, which in many of its parts had been found to be the best grain growing region in the world. He referred to the report of an American gentleman, named Taylor, who had given excellent descriptions, not only of American, but also of British territory, in the latter of which he had computed that there were 300,000 square miles of fertile lands only awaiting the hand of civilization to make it productive and wealthy. It might be asked, admitting all the good that would ultimately from the acquisition of this territory, was it prudent to embark in the enterprise now, or were we prepared to bear the burden of expense? There were several reasons why we should act, and act promptly. The inhabitants were without Government, and the Americans were fast pushing their way up to the British frontier. If those who were calling upon us for protection and assistance found that no attention was paid to them, they must look elsewhere, and there were already movement on foot in that direction. If we would counteract such influences we must do our duty. There the position of the Hudson’s Bay Company was such that it must be decided at once, by the very terms of the Act of Confederation it had become unsettled. The great idea of that Act was, that we should form one people from east to west-a new nationality side by side with the Republic, which was our only safe and true policy. All the relations between Great Britain and these colonies had been changed by the great war in the United States, and it was the opinion of the statesmen of the Mother Country that
we must reconstruct, and in doing so, we must bear some burdens to provide an increase of population with our own instincts, and to whom we could offer the rights and privileges enjoyed in the Mother Country. With this idea the Government had resolved to ask Great Britain to hand over to us the sovereignty of the northwest territory. Referring to one resolution, he said that it might be said that the Government might enter into negotiations for this purpose without the consent of Parliament, but he could assure them that there was no such intention, and he was prepared to consent to any modification of the language of the resolution in that respect. The burdens of this enterprise would fall upon the whole people, and might be onerous at least for a time. Still it was a duty we owed to our country, to those who were demanding our assistance-and he felt in urging it, he would be supported by the House and by the country.
Mr. Bodwell agreed in the main with the resolutions. He conceived the wording of them gave the Government power to deal with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and he was happy to hear the honourable gentleman say that he was willing to so amend them as to obviate an inference that that Company had any claim to the territory. Common sense seemed to indicate that they had no legal right, and he referred to authorities with the object of showing that the charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company being granted by Charles II without the consent of Parliament, was therefore void. The boundaries were very uncertain, and the claim now set up by the company included a much larger territory than the charter contemplated. He not only considered the charter illegal, but that the Company had failed to carry out the objects contemplated. They did not seek to open up a north-west passage, nor to send missionaries to the Indians-on the contrary, they had persecuted them-and the whole course of the Company was opposed to the settlement of the country. He referred to various opinions as to the fertility of the country, quoting from evidence taken by the House of Commons which, though it should be received with caution, showed the country was valuable for settlement, both for agricultural and mineral resources and fisheries. But we could not conceal from ourselves that great obstacles presented themselves to opening up the territory, and that the natural line of communication was from the States. But he believed once communication was opened, the country would rapidly become settled, and it was capable of sustaining 30 millions of people; and in view of this the difficulties in the way seemed of small consideration. He believed if we were ever to assume the dignity of a nationality to which we aspired, we must now step in before the States obtained even an apparent claim to this vast territory. He felt quite willing to endorse the resolutions before the House, with the exception of the 6th, to which he had referred, and which the Commissioner of Public Works had pledged himself to alter, so as to meet the wishes of the House. He felt there was a necessity for immediate action somewhere. He thought it should come from the British Government in the first instance; but if they would not assume the responsibility of removing the monopoly which they had created, we must take it ourselves, if we were to build up a great nation under British institutions on the American continent.
Hon. Mr. Howe said this was a great question, and he must ask the House to indulge him while he explained the views he entertained upon it. In his former address to this House his theme was his own country, her complaints and her wrongs, and although he might have trespassed upon the patience of honourable members, he would have been recreant to the people of his own Province if he had failed to raise his voice in protestation against those wrongs. On this occasion, he would try to forget that he was a Nova Scotian—try to think himelf a Canadian, and deal with this great questions from a Canadian point of view. He would say at the outset that it was a mater of indifference to him whether the Government should be turned out of office to-morrow, and as to the Minister of Public Works to whose speech he would call attention, he had nothing personally but the highest opinion of the honourable gentleman’s talents and abilities. The House would understand, therefore, that he would approach the consideration of the subject in no spirit of hostility either to the Government or the Minister of Public Works. This was, as he had said, a question of great moment. Whether we should spend a million or two, more or less, was a matter of small consequences compared with this question-whether we should expand our frontier more than a thousand miles and attach to ourselves a country which might possibly involve us in war and untold expenditures. The Minister of Public Works had told the House that the idea of uniting that country ta these Provinces had been a favourite idea with the people for many years. So it was. No
man doubted it-it had been a favourite dream of his connected with a railway which should extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific; but the “philosopher’s stone’ was a favourite idea, and so was “perpetual motion”, both of which were abandoned because they did not happen to turn out realities. He had been awakened from his dream after careful investigation had shown to him that even if it were possible to transport tea or other eastern products to England by way of Vancouver’s Island and overland rail carriage to Halifax, it would involve a cost so much larger than that of the present mode as to make the route practically useless. It was by such facts flowing into his mind that he was cured of his dreams, and formed a new judgment in regard to this subject. He agreed with all that had been said by the honourable gentleman opposite as to the fertile and valuable character of the North-West country, and he agreed, moreover, that the Hudson’s Bay Company was effete and truly incapable of governing or developing the resources of that interesting country. While he could corroborate all that had been said on these points, he could agree also with the honourable gentleman that the Crown would approve of these resolutions, and that the Imperial Government were anxious that we should step into their shoes in regard to that country. Not a doubt of it. But that was exactly the turning point of the matter, and what we would not do. To step into their shoes was more than they had a right either to ask or expect. When a boy stepped into a man’s shoes there was danger that before going very far he would stumble and lose his shoes altogether. (Laughter.) He wished very sincerely that before this question had been brought up for discussion, the Government had brought down their financial scheme. If the rumours which circulated were correct, he feared that the Finance Minister, when he made his statement, would be obliged to acknowledge a deficiency of four or five millions. If that were near the truth, it would be enough to cause this assembly to pause before taking the steps suggested by these resolutions. He calculated that taking into account the present debt of the Provinces and demands impending upon them for the Intercolonial Railway, for defence, and so on, we had a total burden upon our shoulders of one hundred and nineteen millions, which, as Tristram Shandy would say, was a serious sum. (Laughter). He puts it, whether in view of such a state of things, it was not wise to pause until at any rate we were in a position to defy that bête noire of Canada, Mr. King of the Bank of Montreal—to pause until we were in such a condition that we need not, as Canada did last year, go begging for two or three millions from unwilling London agents—to pause until this country was in a condition to hold up its head, and not go on its knees begging for favours in the money market. He did not believe any gigantic ideas as to the future extent of country should induce us to go into this scheme. The frog made himself ridiculous when he attempted to blow himself out to the dimensions of the ox, and without comparing Canada to a frog, he would say we would all be frogs if we endeavoured to carry out this project, and there would be plenty of croaking at the expense if it were done, and no end of trouble for us all. There was another thing that ought to make the men of Canada–and, for the time, he would consider himself a Canadian–pause, and that was the large sums now paid in taxation for local purposes, being 8.60 per cent higher than what was paid for the same purposes in Nova Scotia. Take it all in all, the weight of taxation in this country ought to make every honest legislator pause before going further. To endeavour to enlarge our territory under these circumstances would like that man who, unable to maintain a fence around one farm, and prevent depredation, should seek to obtain more farms. What would be thought of Belgium or Switzerland should they, with their present population and resources take upon themselves the government and defenses of large portions of contiguous countries in Europe? Would not any wise man say that they would sacrifice their national interdependence, for the sake of gratifying foolish vanity. The Minister of Public Works said so tempting an opportunity of acquiring this territory should not be neglected; but did we not pray every day to be kept out of temptation, and he hoped the honourable gentleman would not forget that prayer to-night. (Laughter). He (Mr. Howe) did not believe in playing the game of England, by slipping into her shoes at the outset of this Union, for he had come to the conclusion that English statesmen were over anxious to get rid of us, and looked upon Confederation as a stepping-stone to independence or annexation. He then proceeded to discuss the Government of the North-West Territory by the Hudson’s Bay Company, arguing that monopoly should have been abolished along with slavery, the penal laws, and other abuses. There was just as wide a field for the labour of philanthropists
in that country as ever in that country as ever existed in the slave States of the South or the plantations of the West Indies; for the unfortunate people of that country were under as complete thralldom to the Company as negro slaves ever were to their masters. What progress were the Indians making under the rule of the Company? There was not a man of these Indians could get a grant of land, a pound of lead or powder, but from this Company. Their very existence depended upon the Company. The consequence was, they had grown rich and fat by possession of the monopoly of the consumption of a large class of Her Majesty’s subjects. It was time that the monopoly ceased; but this company had been wise in its generation, and their influence in England is greater than the whole five Provinces put together. Honourable gentlemen had referred to the conduct of Mrs. Lincoln in the neighbouring Republic, in justification of the Governor-General’s large salary. It was necessary they said to prevent the possibility of such scandalous proceedings by giving the Governor a large salary. He would ask them to look at the long list of Presidents, from Washington down, noble men, and say whether any man was ever heard to breathe the breath of slander against these men, or charge them with pecuniary speculation. But what have we seen in Canada? We find a certain Governor-General advancing and subscribing to certain doctrines in reference to the Hudson Bay Company, then returning to England and accepting a position in that company at two or three thousand a year, and denying and denouncing the very doctrines which he as Governor-General had proclaimed. He gave this instance to show that the highest salary in the world would not make a man faithful to his duty nor endow him with integrity or uprightness if God Almighty had not endowed him with these qualities. Look at the diplomacy of England. No man was fonder of England than he. He drew his blood from her stock, replenished his mind with her history; his associations had lived in her atmosphere; he loved the soil upon which the old monu- ments of industry of his forefathers rested, but he now looked in vain upon that country for a man with the qualities of a statesman such as Chatham had, who would be able to bind this great country together and make it what it ought to be. They had not such a man, and we were asked to go stumbling, blundering on at haphazard to cover up the blunders of English statesmen. No one could look at the stupid diplomacy in relation to the Maine boundary without feeling disgust at the result. There was a general impression in England among the higher and educated, and he was sorry to say even among the literary classes, that a good deal of North America-to use words he had heard a noble lord answer to a question of the poet Rogers-was not of more value than a black beetle. He held that England had as deep an interest in the safety of this Province, as we had in England’s safety. Few people in England would agree with that opinion. A Scotchman in Edinburgh, being in the garret on the tenth storey, with but one window, could not be made to believe that the Premier of Ontario, or the Premier of the Dominion, was as good a Scotchman as himself. Talk to him as much as you please of Hon. Macdonalds and Hon. Macnabs; they were, in his opinion, only colonists. The same feeling exists in England. They forget that our ancestors helped to make their country what it is-that they fought the old battles and cultivated the old soil. He believed in his heart that when England lost her North American possessions she would lose the finest nursery for her seamen she has, except her own coast. (Hear, hear). It was almost worth war to preserve her territorial rights on this continent, if only for their fishing grounds. There were now only sixty thousand fishermen in these Provinces, and yet to preserve this territorial right, England would not fire a shot. What was the present state of that fishing question? If a Nova Scotia fisherman imports a thousand barrels of fish into the States, he pays $2,000 duty, while an American fisherman by paying a paltry license-which half the time he did not pay at all-comes to our coasts, catches our fish, and makes $2,000 more on a thousand barrels of fish than Nova Scotians could. This made trade with New England in fish so far as Nova Scotia was concerned comparatively valueless. The time had come for speaking out on all these questions. If we are to take upon ourselves national obligations and national liabilities we should be treated like a nation. He next referred to the annexation of Russian America to the States, and complained that no remonstrance had been made by England. He could not help thinking that Britain had lost her chance. She spent large sums to preserve the balance of power in Europe. When America was convulsed with civil war, the Emperor of the French wanted England to strike in and divide that country into two parts, but England refused and lost her chance. With that coun-
try divided into two parts—with Mexico a strong power in the South, and ourselves in the North, and two great European powers interested in preserving the balance of power on this continent we might have held our own. But that opportunity was lost. He thought that with the question of defence and other important question of defence and other important questions the Ministry had to consider, there was quite enough to occupy their time during this and the next session. He would not occupy the time of the House longer. He had not expected to speak on this subject till to-morrow. Before the debate closed, he might give expression to his views in the shape of a series of resolutions which he would lay before the House. He did not expect his advice would be taken, but he would advise the Government to let the views of Parliament on this subject go before the people, let it remain over till after the recess, and when they came back in Spring they would be in a better position to act wisely and justify with the question. (Cheers).
Mr. Gray said if any doubt had rested on any gentleman’s mind as to the propriety of passing these resolutions, he thought that doubt must have been removed by the speech of the member for Hants. That honourable gentleman had admitted the fertility and value of this territory. He had pointed out in most powerful language that the Hudson’s Bay Company had sat as an incubus and curse on the country, and he had declared that England would not expend a farthing to maintain our rights. If that was the case, could we in fairness leave our fellow countrymen in the Red River settlement and in the Saskatchewan Valley, to remain under the curse of Hudson Bay rule, without laws, without the enjoyment of liberty, and not do what was in our power to extend to them the blessings we enjoyed ourselves? He (Mr. Gray) was prepared to say that we had no right to call on the British Government to undertake the settlement and development of the North-West. The British Government had performed that duty towards us in these colonies, and when under its fostering care we had reached the important position we now filled. We ought to say that the British Government should not be called on to incur one shilling of expense on account of British America, except in case of extreme emergency, in the case of war or imminent peril. We had no reason to anticipate any trouble of this kind at present. He thought injustice was done to the intelligence and morality of the leading men of the United States, when it was assumed that they were eternally desiring to grasp this country, and include it within their own domain. On our part, our mission at this moment was a mission of peace and not of hostility to the United States, and in building up this new nationality, we should pursue the course which had been so successfully pursued by the people of this country during the last forty years. They had gone on extending their settlements, mapping out territory after territory, and giving the people, originally few in number, who settled in these territories, the benefit of their laws, and the aid derived from their power. We could not follow a better example with regard to our own fertile territories in the West. And in doing this, it would not be without prospect of ulterior benefit to our- selves, not only to this portion of the country, but to the people on the seaboard. What had built up the great prosperity of the cities on the seaboard of the United States but the opening up of the trade of the West, and the providing of artificial channels to bring it to the sea. Mr. Gray went on to refer to the policy of England in recent years in sweeping away monopolies which had cramped the energies of the people, and contended that a similar course should be pursued with reference to the Hudson Bay monopoly. He alluded to the very serious doubts which existed as to the legal right of the Hudson’s Bay Company to the territory it occupied, and pressed the opinion that its right should be decided by a judicial decision, in preference to the question being settled by a compromise. If the Company had no rights the territory would revert to the British Crown, which was willing to give it to us, and it would not cost us a farthing. If according to British law and justice, the Hudson’s Bay Company had a legal right and interest in that territory, we should be willing to pay what was the value of that right, for he did not think any man in this country would wish to take away the Company’s rights to the extent of a solitary shilling beyond what the law gave. Mr. Gray went on to contend that the opening up of the North-West was as much a part of the Scheme of Confederation agreed to by the various Provinces as was the Intercolonial Railway. He thought the resolutions should commend themselves to every member of the House. When the Government asked a sum of money to carry them out it would then be time to consider whether that sum was excessive or not. He thought we should not lose the opportunity which now presented itself of acquiring these great territories, and that it would be very unwise by delaying the matter till another session, to
allow the Hudson’s Bay Company to create fresh obstacles in our path.
Mr. Anglin said the impression had been that it was not the serious intention of Government to proceed with this scheme at once. It would be recollected that it was only
proposed to go on with it when the finances of the country would permit. This had been the theme of all the delegates in the Lower Provinces. We had no knowledge of what our financial position was, and he doubted if the Government knew. As to the idea of the territory being in danger of being absorbed by the United States if we delayed action, he said surely a great power like Great Britain would not permit its absorption except to such parties, and in such a manner as she approved of. When one Province had been brought in against its will, and was asking to go out, was not the time to be talking of acquiring new territory. His constituents were strongly opposed to the measures, and he thought it should at least be delayed that it might have fair consideration. If the Government pressed it he feared it would be carried, but it was the duty of the Government to repress rather than to encourage the extravagance of their followers. If they did not do so, the dissatisfaction now existing would be greatly increased.
Hon. Mr. Cartier, who rose after a pause and cries of “question,” referred to the large sum recently paid by the United States for the late Russian possessions, and in reply the arguments drawn from the proposed heavy expenditure on the Intercolonial line, said that the increase in wealth consequent there-on would quadruple the cost, and that for the twenty millions expended there would be an enhancement of real estate value equal to one hundred millions. He asked were we to grudge the paltry sum of five or six million dollars to extend this Dominion to British Columbia. The policy of the United States, which had been referred to, immediately adopted on their becoming a nationality, had been the acquisition of fresh territory-Louisiana first and Texas more recently. If such a policy were necessary for them, it would be also necessary for us. When it became known in Europe that so large a territory, able to support, as had been proved by the Minister for Works, so many millions, we would see the effect produced upon the tide of immigration to our shores. Our country would be then as attractive as the United States, which derived its prestige mainly from its immense extent. The acquisition ought to excite no internal jealousy, and it would increase the importance of the whole Dominion, and not, as the representatives of Quebec well know, that of Ontario only.
The English Government were quite ready to transfer the territory to us, having had sufficient experience in government by companies. The Hudson’s Bay Company had, however, discharged its duties to the Indians in a way to entitle it to honourable recollection. But the Company would have no grounds for complaint in a simple change of masters.
Mr. Chipman asked were all the inhabitants of this territory willing to come into the Union, or were they to be dragged in against their will also? Were the people of the Do- minion willing to receive all these Indians and others? It seemed that the Government had nothing to do but to say to this man come! and he cometh. (Laughter). He did not profess to be a politician, but he was a commercial man, and he knew how a man overwhelmed with debt, and swamped by every kind of difficulty, if he were to propose the purchase of extensive property, would be looked upon. He would oppose the proposal which, if carried, would, he supposed, be followed by the annexation of the United States. (Laughter.)
Mr. Simpson defended the Hudson’s Bay Company from the charge of neglect to the Indians, and spoke of the climate of the North-West Territory as being equal to any part of Canada he had ever known. It was necessary to take possession of the Red River country for the protection of the Northern shores of Lake Superior, the part of the country from which he had come, and which had been too much neglected. He asked why we did not pay for our public works in these wild districts, as the United States did, in the grant of our wastelands, which would never otherwise be settled. The North-West country abounded with untold mineral wealth, and yet we had not one mine, or any enterprise established there, except that of one small steamer supported by the subsidy of a small mill. The honourable member gave an interesting account of the Indians of the far West, with whom he had been familiar from boyhood, and whom he characterized as quite incapable of receiving civilization. He believed, despite of the Missionary reports which go out year after year, that they were now no nearer Christianity than when Missionary efforts first began, and this he attributed partly to the unseemly competition
among Christian sects. He had no doubt of the validity of the charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company, in whose stock English capitalists had invested so largely. The honourable member, who spoke at considerable length, was much applauded as he resumed his seat.