Canada, House of Commons Debates, “The Election Law” & “Papers on British Columbia”, 1st Parl, 4th Sess (28 February 1871)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 1st Parl, 4th Sess, 1871 at 67-68.
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Tuesday, February 28, 1871
THE ELECTION LAW
Hon. Sir GEORGE-É. CARTIER introduced a bill to make temporary provision for the election of members for the House of Commons. (Hear, hear from the Opposition.) He expected that his hon. friends opposite would say ‘‘hear, hear’’ at the very mention of the measure. He would explain that since we were about to have another province comprised in this Dominion, it was obvious that the government could not yet enact a law to affect all the provinces of the Dominion, as far as the representation of this House was concerned. The circumstances of Manitoba having been recently admitted into the Union and British Columbia being on the eve of joining the Confederation, had led the Government to the conclusion that it would be better to carry on the next election for the Dominion under the laws as they now prevail in the several provinces. (Hear, hear from the Opposition.) He might state that the bill too, contained a provision with regard to the number of days on which elections were to take place. This Bill provided that the elections should take place on one day. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. BLAKE said that after two permanent Electoral Bills had been passed, the House was now asked to enact a temporary one. Last session one had been passed, the session before the House had passed one, and now they were asked to deal with another one. The hon. gentleman had explained that the reason why he now submitted this temporary measure, was because of the introduction of the new Provinces into Confederation. At what period since the 1st July, 1867, was not the House favoured with the news that new Provinces were to be added? Every day they were told they were coming in, though they didn’t come.
Hon. Sir FRANCIS HINCKS: Yes! yes!
Mr. BLAKE: And yet the Hon. Minister of Militia had asserted that it was in view of these additions to the Dominion that this temporary Act was provided. Last session the Opposition had pointed out the effect that the new measure then submitted would have in the East and in the West. They had shown that it would be impossible to work it in Manitoba, and that difficulties would arise in other Provinces too. But they were told that their arguments were fallacious, and that the Union would overcome all the difficulties which were then deprecated. He was glad to hear that, taught by experience, they had admitted the truth of the arguments then advanced by the Opposition, that it was necessary to respect the views of the different Provinces on the subject, and by degrees as they became more acquainted with the franchise laws of other countries, the Government had made some approach towards providing for a common franchise for the Dominion. He was not surprised that it was merely a temporary Act. It would be coming down too far to propose as a permanent Act what they opposed so consistently before, but, he had no doubt that it would contain for some years to come the principle at the base of our Parliamentary representation, founded on the motion of the hon. member for
Hochelaga, that the franchise should be for the Dominion the same as by law established for each of the Provinces. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Sir GEORGE-É. CARTIER said he did not intend to discuss the measure at this moment, but he felt it to be his duty to answer some of the observations made by the hon. gentleman opposite. The Manitoba measure was submitted to the House as the result of the negotiations carried on between the Dominion of Canada and the gentlemen sent as delegates from Manitoba. No one knew at the close of last session that Manitoba would certainly be a member of the Confederation. There was no necessity or intention at the outset that Manitoba should form a province and be comprised in the Confederation. It was intended that it should be a Crown colony, and that very reason induced the Government at the time to withdraw the Bill.
Mr. BLAKE: Hear, hear!
Hon. Sir GEORGE-É. CARTIER: Then with regard to the remarks of the hon. member for Lambton, he would say that the Bill was proposed last year as there was no hope that we should have British Columbia so soon. Every one expected of course, that sooner or later that colony would be comprised as one of the sister colonies in the Dominion. It would be useless at the close of this Parliament, with one Province just admitted and another shortly to be admitted into the Confederation, to endeavour to assimilate the laws. They could not make a law now which would apply to British Columbia. He hoped his hon. friend would take with a better feeling the good intention of the Government in adopting this course.
The Bill was read a first time.
PAPERS ON BRITISH COLUMBIA
A message from His Excellency, accompanying papers relative to the proposed union of British Columbia with Canada, was read.
HIS EXCELLENCY’S PEERAGE
The SPEAKER read the following reply of His Excellency the Governor General to the recent congratulatory address of the House of Commons:
Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Commons.
I beg you to accept my sincere thanks for the address of congratulation with which you have honoured me on the occasion of my elevation to the Peerage.
The expression of your acquiescence in the favourable view which our Sovereign has graciously deigned to take of my services is highly to be valued, as conveying the good opinion of the freely chosen representatives of a people possessing the precious endowments of energetic industry, self-reliance, and firm and orderly attachment to the freedom and institutions of their country.
The North West Territories already added to the Confederation and the willing accession of British Columbia, which, it is to be hoped, will shortly take effect, as they extend your bounds, so they proportionately augment the cares and responsibilities of those who are in the high places of the land; but the legislature and people of the Dominion will, I feel persuaded, prove equal to the lofty task, the vast and varied interests throughout the wide domain will be safe in their charge and gradually cemented into one compact and contented whole, by the same wise legislation, and the same equal administration of affairs as have done so much in the past to establish the well being and satisfy the just expectations of the people. In conclusion, I return your good wishes with all sincerity, and assure you I shall retain and cherish to the close of my life a warm interest in all that regards the position and prospects of this great and growing country.