Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Independence of Parliament”, 1st Parl, 2nd Sess (28 April 1867)
By: Dominion of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Dominion of Canada, House of Commons Debates, 1st Parl, 2nd Sess, 1869 at 96-119.
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INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT
Mr. Mills moved the second reading of the Bill to render members of the Legislative Councils and Legislative Assemblies of the Provinces now included, or which may hereafter be included, within the said Dominion of Canada, ineligible for sitting or voting in the House of Commons of Canada. He said when they considered the inconvenient season at which they met, which was in a large degree owing to the fact that a number of gentlemen, who had seats in this House, had also seats in the Local Legislature, it could not be alleged that the difficulties connected with dual representation were of a merely imaginary character. The principle involved in the admission of dual representation, he thought, was one very objectionable indeed. Under the British America Act we had established here a new system of Government. We had by that Act called into existence a number of independent Legislatures with limited powers, it was true, but each having exclusive jurisdiction within the sphere assigned to it by the Constitutional Act. Now it appeared to him that the principal means by which the powers entrusted to the Local bodies might be properly guarded and defined was by preventing the members of those Local bodies from sitting in this Parliament. It was a well settled principle that people would guard with care powers specially entrusted to them, and this principle of protection to the powers of the Local bodies was violated when their members were allowed to sit here. A gentleman having a seat in this House as well as in a Local Legislature was like a person who was a partner in two firms, one of which could not gain except at the expense of the other. When he found the house trespassing on the powers of the Local Legislatures, it was not his interest to object, because as a member of this house he would share in the advantage of the powers thus usurped. The principle of dual representation was also objectionable on the ground that under its operation the Local Government and General Government were induced to enter into a species of alliance,—the members of the former agreeing to support the Government of the Dominion on the condition that similar support should be given by the Government of the Dominion to the Local Ministers. The principle of dual representation was also objectionable, because it interfered with independence of action and judgment on the part of the Lieut.-Governor. What was the position of the Lieut.-Governor of a Province when the members of his administration who had appointed him, sat in the Legislature of that Province? Was he
free to act on the advice of his Cabinet, if the members of the Dominion Government should be in opposition to that Cabinet? Might he not be induced under such circumstance to enter into intrigues against his own Cabinet? Another objectionable feature of the dual principle was that it tended to an abuse of the Veto power in the hands of the Governor General. Parties in the House would always be closely allied to corresponding parties in the Local Legislatures, and if members of a party which was in the minority in the Local Legislature were members of a party which was in the majority here, they would be very apt, in the excitement of party feeling, to exert their influence to have measures disallowed here which had passed the Local Legislature. His opinion was, that the veto power was one which no government should possess; but this was not the time for entering on the discussion of that point. They had been told in the debate, last year, that this measure would interfere with the liberties, and curtail the privileges of the electors, and that it should be left to the judgment of each constituent body to say whether or not it should elect the same individual to represent it in both Houses. The plea of defendlng the liberties of the people was thus made a pretext, and it was nothing more; for what would surely undermine the system of Government we possessed? There was no such pretext about the rights of constituent bodies when we passed our Independence of Parliament Act. Who was to judge whether any measure was detrimental or not? It was parliament, and not the constituent body. What the constituent body had to do was to express its opinion with reference to any species of legislation by electing members favourable or unfavourable to it. He contended that in the present instance the constituencies of the country had had clearly expressed their opinion. If a large majority of them were not opposed to the principle of dual representation, there would have been a large number of members elected having seats in both bodies. This Legislature had decided that judges should not sit in Parliament, although some Lord Macaulay, among the number, had expressed the opinion that they should, and had it not the same power to decide that the same individual should not sit in the local and general bodies? It had been said that if they excluded members of the Local Legislatures from sitting in the House of Commons, they should also exclude municipal officers. He would answer to this that members of municipal councils were elected without reference to their political
opinions. The objects for which they were elected lay too remote from all questions of a political character ever to make them a rival body in any respect to the Legislatures or the Parliament of Canada; but it was easy to see that when there were so wide differences of opinion as to whether we should have a federal system or a legislative union, the system dual presentation greatly aided the central Government in depriving the Local Governments of the powers with which they were entrusted. It was easy to see how the Dominion Government could bring to bear on members having seats in both Houses such an amount of power as would induce them to betray the trust confided to them as members of the local body. For these reasons he considered it to be highly important that the principles of this Bill should become law. (Applause.)
Mr. Dufresne believed the principle contained in this Bill was wrong, because it was putting another restriction on the choice of the people, and would deprive them of the services of those who were most able to represent them, and to render them the greatest services in both Legislatures. The hon. mover of the Bill said the people were against double representation. If so, let them be left to their choice, and settle the matter for themselves.
Mr. Cheval approved the Bill. He was surprised to hear hon. gentlemen, talking about restricting the right of the people, who had taken from the people the right of electing members to the Upper House without consulting them.
Sir G. E. Cartier said he observed that the hon. mover of the Bill had yielded to an objection which was made to his measure of last Session—in that measure he had a clause disqualifying members of the Local Legislature from being Senators. In doing so, he made a disqualification for Senators which was not recognized by the British America Act. He was glad to see the hon. gentleman had become a little wiser and had dropped that clause of his Bill. He hoped he would go further and drop the whole of it. It was not for this House to determine who was qualified to be a member of it. Unless there was a disqualification by law, it was for the electors to choose whom they pleased. If the hon. member would carry out the Democratic and Liberal principles he professed, he would endeavour to secure for the people the privilege of selecting those whom they deemed best qualified to represent them. He (Cartier) further contended that the kind of disqualifications
sought to be introduced here was against the spirit of our Constitution. The British North America Act did not give the general Parliament the power of amending its Constitution. The Local Legislatures had to some extent the power. If the hon. member wished to give effect to his views he should do so not by trying to amend the Constitution but by working up the public opinion of the different Provinces which had the power to act in the matter, so that the Local Legislatures would not allow individuals like himself ta get into both Houses. If dual representation was an evil, which he did not admit it to be, it ought to be dealt with by the Local Legislatures, which had the power to do so, and not by this body, which had not that power. The hon. gentleman had said that one evil of the dual system was, that it enabled the Local Governments and the General Government, when representing the same party, mutually to support each other. The hon. gentleman ought to know that it was by means of party that the British system was carried out. Perhaps the hon. gentlemen opposite made this complaint because they found so much difficulty in keeping their party together. He hoped that his hon. friend, as a strong advocate of the people’s rights, would see that he violated those rights in this Bill, and would, therefore, find it to be his duty to abandon it.
Mr. Dufresne rose to move a six months’ hoist, but, he had previously spoken in the debate, was not allowed to do so.
Mr. Mackenzie said he was utterly amazed at the want of logic shown in the argument by the Minister of Militia. That hon. gentleman held that the measure should be rejected, because it was inimical to the exercise by the people of unlimited choice—that it was restrictive of the people’s privileges. That was really the only argument of any consequence the hon. gentleman used against the Bill; but, it was a fact, that the Independence of Parliament Bill, which that hon. gentleman had assisted in passing, had deprived certain classes of the possibility of being elected to a position in that House, and when the hon. member used that argument, he merely asserted that if we passed one law already, we were quite competent to pass another amending it. This question might be extended very considerably beyond the range of the discussion which it had already opened up, because it involved the constitution of the present Government, the circumstances connected with its organization and the connection it had directly or indirectly with some of the Local
Governments. A satirical allusion had been made to a supposed difficulty to keep the members of the Liberal party together. He was free to admit that there had been considerable difficulty in doing this. The hon. gentleman and his colleagues had been successful in seducing a few of the weak-minded members of the Reform party; but it was a most ungrateful act, on his part, to be the means of bringing this fact out openly before the House—to reproach his own colleagues in the Ministry with desertion of their party principles—to tell them that they had caused that desertion of party which he found to be a reproach to the hon. gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House. (Hear, hear.) He (Mr. Mackenzie) was glad the hon. gentleman had taken that view of the matter, and that he had become sensible that the necessities of himself and his colleagues, of late years, had caused them to do that which was a reproach. He (Mr. Mackenzie) had read in the London papers not long since a statement which was worth mentioning in this connection. The statement was made that Sir George E. Cartier and Mr. McDougall had been received as members of the Reform Club of London. (Laughter.) It was well to see both honourable gentlemen coming to their senses. (Laughter.)
Sir George E. Cartier said he helped to keep up the Reform party, when it only consisted of 10 members.
Mr. Mackenzie confessed his astonishment at seeing narrated in the papers the incident he had mentioned. He could not possibly believe it to be the case. As to the Commissioner of Public Works, who once belonged to the Reform party, he was long since considered to have become fixed with the party he joined in the Government. But that after 15 years experience with the Tories, the Minister of Militia should have decided that it was not a party with which he could become permanently connected and resolved to take advantage of his trip to London, in order to take the first step towards a retrograde movement. (Laughter.)
Sir John A. Macdonald—Was that a “retrograde movement?” (Laughter.)
Mr. Mackenzie said that the Minister of Justice was pleased to be facetious; but if the hon. gentleman examined the meaning of the word, he would find it was simply to go back. The Minister of Militia having proceeded in a wrong direction, had retrograded to the position from which he took the final step,
and it was a matter of congratulation that he had done so. To come back to the immediate argument they had, he believed, several things to indicate the calamities which might be brought on the House by the intimate connection between members of the Local Governments and the House of Commons. Who would imagine that under other circumstances the control exercised by the honourable gentleman opposite over the member for Glengarry, who was not, he regretted, then in his seat, and the member for Brant—who would imagine that under other circumstances than the connection existing between the two Legislatures, those two gentlemen would be compelled to jump just as honourable gentlemen opposite drew the strings—that these two gentlemen should be made mere automatons to help the machine, guided by the hon. gentlemen opposite. Had the two gentlemen he referred to been entirely independent—had they not occupied seats in this House as well as in the Local Legislature, the distinction might have been drawn so clearly and distinctly that both Legislatures might discharge the duties devolving on them without interference; but under present circumstances the Dominion Government exercised a controlling influence over the Local Legislatures of Quebec and Ontario. He desired to make no imputation on the gentleman opposite (Mr. Chauveau) in saying this; he and his colleagues were invariably guided by the Ministry in the House on almost every measure coming up. So long as this state of things existed, it was quite impossible to maintain that independence which they hoped to see exercised by the representatives of the Local as well as the Federal Legislatures. The argument that the Local Legislatures could make this change in the representation themselves was a specious one, and he admitted it had some force; but the position in which they were at present placed was this-the Ministry in Ontario and Quebec had been organized under the direction of the Ministry now leading the Legislature of the Dominion on conditions some of which were publicly known and some, no doubt, never would be. This much was known, that it seemed to be conditional on Ontario establishing the Government on the same principle as the Dominion ministry had been established on. This rule was established for the primary object of the destruction of a certain powerful party in Ontario, and this—he would not say—conspiracy was faithfully carried out.
Sir John A. Macdonald suggested the expression “unholy alliance.”
Mr. Mackenzie was willing to adopt that term. It was an unholy, at least, an unnatural alliance. As the honourable member from Halton had suggested, that alliance produced the effect intended, and the Government of Ontario was now so entirely under the control of the honourable gentlemen opposite, that they dare not even connive at the passing in the Local House of such a measure as that now before the Dominion. He had no hesitation in saying irrespective of those considerations which were outside the argument that on a matter of public policy he believed the Dual system to be extremely injudicious, because that House was supposed to exercise certain powers over the Local Assemblies, and if seats in the Federal Parliament were to be open to all the Local members, and supposing the possibility of all the members of Ontario and Quebec having seats in that House, where would be the control which the Dominion ought to have over Local Legislation. It was quite fair to follow out the prevailing principle to its legitimate conclusion, and suppose a case in which all the members of the Local Assemblies were elected to the Dominion Parliament. It was quite possible that such a state of things might exist, and it was almost sure to do so, so as to exercise a greater or less influence under certain circumstances than would be useful to the public. Again, suppose the Conservative and Liberal parties to be as evenly mixed in the House as during the last Parliament, and supposing a certain number of members to be elected who would be influenced by the Government of the day, was it not easy to be seen that an Administration could then be kept in office not by the will of that House but because of the control the Government obtained over the local legislatures. The argument he thought conclusive against continuing or adopting such a system. At the same time, he would grieve very much to lose the services of distinguished gentlemen on his side whose proclivities were with the Liberal party. But still it was clear that owing to the connection between the Dominion and Local Legislatures the two gentlemen he alluded to were not free to exercise their own opinions. They were driven about by the force of circumstances. He would cheerfully support the motion made by his honorable friend (Mr. Mills), in so very able a speech, to put an end to this state of things. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Blanchet could not see how it was that on every occasion the member for Lambton rose to address the House he took occasion to attack the Minister of Public Works. He (Mr. Blanchet) did not know whether it was because the member for Lambton was not Minister of Public Works himself. Speaking to the question, he (Mr. Blanchet) thought the member for Bothwell should do that session as he had done last—withdraw his motion; but there was no necessity for it. Their present system was no new one. It had been tried and found to work well in Germany, Austria, Spain, and, perhaps, he might even go as far as to add France also. The member for Bothwell had argued that there were a number of exceptions, and that among them Judges were prevented from being elected to the House of Commons.
Mr. Mills said that his statement was that, at present, the people were deprived of the power of electing Judges to this House.
Hon. Mr. Blanchet—Judges cannot be candidates for this House.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Why not?
Hon. Mr. Blanchet—Because they drew salaries from the Government.
Mr. Mackenzie—Does any honourable gentleman in the House receive a salary directly from the Government?
Hon. Mr. Blanchet—Yes—the Chairman of the Railway Commissioners.
Mr. Mackenzie—He is on precisely the same footing as the Judges, then, so far as your argument goes.
Hon. Mr. Blanchet said that the Chairman of the Intercolonial Railroad Commissioners sat in the House, but he had been specially excepted by law. In conclusion, Mr. Blanchet said, as the member for Montcalm had not been allowed to move the six months’ hoist, he (Mr. Blanchet) would do it. He then moved the six months’ hoist.
Mr. Bodwell said that the whole of the argument against the Bill was, that it was a violation of the principles of the Reform party, and curtailed the choice of the people;
and these arguments, it appeared to him, had been fully met by the speeches already made. Under the existing circumstances where there were many exclusions by law, it was absurd to argue that the enactment of the proposed law would be contrary to the principles of the Constitution. The House was told that if this Bill becomes law, the people would not be at liberty to select their own representatives. We argue that they cannot do so now, and that carrying out the principle of the argument of hon. gentlemen opposite, Judges would be entitled to a seat in that House. The fact was generally known that the prohibition regarding seats in that House had not been carried far enough. Persons occupied seats in the House, who ought not, under responsible government, to be allowed a seat there—gentlemen who were receiving salaries from the Administration of the day. The last speaker was particularly unfortunate in his selection of countries as examples for the Dominion to follow. If that hon. gentleman wished to drag the House down to the examples of France and Austria, he would not get many to support such a movement in that House.
Mr. Jackson said that it would take some time to define the precise limits bounding the operations of the local and general Governments. Some good had been done by the present law, but the general conviction was that this thing would cease. Far better, in his opinion, allow the Provinces to legislate on this subject themselves.
Sir John A. Macdonald said that clearly hon. gentlemen opposite did not like the position in which they were placed, and trying to adduce some reason to show the country why they and their colleagues were not in a majority. On a fair appeal to the people on local and general grounds, they had been beaten. Hence their discontent and the present Bill. Hence their attempt to deprive the people of the right of selecting their own members. The member for Lambton even went so far as to characterize the course taken at the elections of Ontario and Quebec as a conspiracy. A conspiracy is an arrangement made in the dark, secretly, clandestinely. There was nothing secret or clandestine about it. Gentlemen opposite might object that an understanding had been arrived at between the member for Cornwall and himself (Sir John); but whether that arrangement were right or wrong, it was certainly the very opposite of being a conspiracy. It
was open and avowed, and sustained on an appeal to the people. The result of this appeal to the people was not what hon. gentlemen opposite contemplated, and hence all their complaints. The speech of the hon. member for Lambton was the most decided condemnation he (Sir John) had heard of the recent sensible constitutional action of a great Reform constituency—that of West Durham. The learned gentleman representing that constituency, represented also the constituency of South Bruce in the Local Legislature. The other day he went to his constituents in West Durham, and told them that so ruinous almost were the conditions of dual service to him, that he wished to be relieved from his position as their representative in this House. He made this appeal to a Reform constituency—one which proved itself to be strongly Reform—one where strong exertions were used to defeat the sitting member last election.
Mr. Mackenzie—You went there yourself?
Sir John A. Macdonald acknowledged that he did go there, but failed. But what he wished to impress on the House was that that strong Reform constituency had refused to relieve their member, who also occupied a seat in the Local House, of the responsibility of attending the Dominion Parliament, and why should they be prevented from taking this action? Did the honourable member for Lambton wish to censure them by this present course? Did he wish to tell those Reformers they were wrong in so doing, and had acted against the principle of the Liberal party? Sir John, in conclusion, urged that the decision of this question should be left with the Local Legislatures.
Mr. Young said he had listened with some interest to the rather remarkable speech of the member for Missisquoi. That honourable gentleman told the House that he had somewhat altered his views since last Session, and that he did now see some evils arising from dual representation: but he wound up by pleading, wait a little longer. If the hon. gentleman’s arguments were correct instead of arriving at this conclusion, he should have supported the Bill. The Minister of Justice had contended that this Bill had been originated by his (Mr. Young’s) side of the House in consequence of their being disappointed with the result of last election brought about by the
political combinations which then took place. He (Mr. Young) asserted that at that election, the people of Ontario were cheated by means of those combinations, (Hear, hear). The Minister of Justice seemed indignant that any one should suppose there was anything clandestine in the arrangements at that time, between himself and the member for Cornwall. It might be impossible to get at all the facts, but it was well known that those two gentlemen had been politically opposed to each other for 20 years, and when they were found allying themselves they must have been actuated by some reasons which did not appear on the surface.
Sir John A. Macdonald—Did not the people approve of that alliance?
Mr. Young said that by the way the elections were sprung on the country and the special pleas put forth by the hon. gentleman, he did achieve a success—being the first time he had ever obtained a majority in Ontario, although for very many years he had remained in the Government in defiance of the majority from his own section. The hon. gentleman had no doubt acted very cleverly, and it was for those gentlemen whom he had seduced from the Reform ranks, to consider what now was their position when they found the Minister of Justice with a large following of his own friends, while they had scarcely any following at all. He believed too, he was justified in saying that there were other gentlemen who had become parties to the Combination who would never have done so but for certain very peculiar arrangements.
Sir John A. Macdonald—What do you refer to?
Mr. Young said he referred to a gentleman now removed from this House who, if reports were true, would never have been a party to the combination but for a certain clandestine arrangement. The Minister of Justice had referred to the position occupied by the member for West Durham, and the resolutions passed by his constituents. It was well known those resolutions were passed on the distinct understanding that the member for West Durham would not continue to hold two seats after the close of the present Parliament, even if the state of the law allowed him to do so; but he (Mr. Young) was satisfied the force of public opinion would be such that, if not now, this measure would become law before the close of the present Parliament. It was
objected to this Bill that it would restrict the choice of the people. This argument was utterly fallacious, for we know that already there were on the Statute Book any number of restrictions on the people’s liberty of choice, Judges, clergymen, and many other classes of our population were not allowed to occupy seats here. Why were these restrictions imposed? In order that the independence of this Parliament might be preserved; and that was precisely the reason why this Bill was now being pressed, that we might the better protect the independence of Parliament. It was necessary, in the interests of the people themselves, that their choice should be, to some extent, restricted. He supported this Bill because he was prepared to support any measure which would restrict the growing influence of the Crown in this House. In consequence of the connection between the Local and the General Government, the principle of dual representation gave the General Government a power which he believed to be dangerous to the Local Legislatures and to the rights of the people. For the first time in our history we found a number of gentlemen occupying seats on the floor of this House, who were receiving for their services a money consideration at the hands of Government. The power of the Government, through this and other objectionable proceedings, was increasing every day. He thought it, therefore peculiarly important that this measure should be sustained by the House, and he trusted it would receive the sanction of a majority of votes.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau said he had already on two separate occasions given his views fully on this question in the Quebec Legislature. That body had twice pronounced in favour of the double mandate. The result of the first vote was 39 for, and 21 against; and of the second vote, 39 for and 13 against. He was quite sure that harmony could exist between members merely holding a seat in one Parliament and those having the double mandate. If the people were opposed to the double mandate it rested with themselves to send different members to the two Legislatures. He believed that at next general election the number of members having seats in both Houses would be smaller than it is now.
Hon. Mr. Huntington said the member for Missisquoi had contended that it would be unsafe by requiring different members to be elected for the two bodies, to open the door for outside barbarians to come in, for fear
the great skill and ability which distinguished this House and the various Local Legislatures might be lost to this country. He (Mr. Huntington) ventured to say that if some great calamity should take away all the members of this House at one stroke—if it were possible to conceive that a great flood should submerge this building and all who were in it—the country would be able to find other men now in the walks of the various professions who would be able to legislate for it just as well, and with as much ability as was displayed by the present members of the House.
Mr. Chamberlin said the hon. gentleman had imputed to him a line of argument which he had not followed.
Mr. Masson (Terrebonne) believed the hon. gentleman was referring to what he (Mr. Masson) had urged.
Hon. Mr. Huntington said the member for Terrebonne had merely repeated, in another form, what had been said by the member for Missisquoi. Nothing, it appeared to him, could be more absurd than for those of them who had been for a few years, or, perhaps, 10 or 12 years in Parliament, to entertain the vain idea that it was necessary for them to remain there in order that the public affairs of the country might be properly conducted. Those who had been for some time in Parliament would, no doubt, be acquainted with the rules of Parliament; but, after all, it did not require any great ability, or any very great length of time to master these, and he had no doubt the country could at any time find a sufficient number of men able and patriotic enough to represent its wishes both in the general and Local Legislatures, without being under the necessity of selecting the same men for both. The member for Missisquoi was very anxious to have the views of the general Legislature and the Local Legislature harmonized. If he carried his views to their legitimate conclusion what he should contend for was that there should be no Local Legislatures. (Hear, hear.) He (Mr. Huntingdon) thought this principle of harmony was already carried too far. It was notorious that the Quebec Government could not exist without the sanction of the great Conservative leader of Lower Canada and it was to continue that system that the dual principle was upheld.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau asked the honourable gentleman, supposing the dual principle was
not in existence, could not a majority, elected by Quebec, represent the same views, both with the Local and General Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Huntington said he was willing to admit that in any case the supporters of Mr. Chauveau’s Government would be scarce if the Minister of Militia undertook to kick them out.
Mr. Mackenzie wished to make one or two observations on the speech of the Minister of Justice. In the first place, the assertion that the Legislature of Ontario had disposed of this matter adversely to principle contended for by the member for Bothwell, was not strictly accurate, for they had passed a Bill which, after this Parliament, would exclude members of the Local Parliament from occupying positions in this House. That of course was a step in the right direction, and when even that was carried with reference to any Province, one of the principal arguments for the Bill was excluded from the discussion. But hon. gentlemen opposite will not take the advanced position in this matter that was taken by the Government and Legislature of Ontario. The hon. gentleman had boasted of the number of members returned by the Province of Ontario to support himself and the member for Cornwall. He (Mr. Mackenzie) asserted that this was because the people of Ontario were deceived. There was full evidence of this in the fact that in the metropolitan county of York, which at the general election gave an immense majority to the late Minister of Inland Revenue, when another election took place last fall, although the Dominion Government exercised all the influence they could bring to bear upon it, the election was carried against them by a majority almost as great as the other side. He appealed to the result of this election as showing the verdict of the people on the first occasion that presented itself in Ontario of pronouncing an opinion on the true character of the Coalition of 1867. A similar result had been witnessed in Quebec at the election in Kamouraska, formerly represented by the Minister of Agriculture, and which was delayed till December, to allow that gentleman to manipulate the electors, but that election was also carried against the Government.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau said that in Kamouraska while a Liberal was elected for this House, a Conservative was elected for the Local.
Mr. Mackenzie said he understood that the only reason why the Liberal candidate was
not elected for both Houses was, that the people were opposed to the principle of dual representation. The Minister of Justice had asserted that the people were in favour of dual representation. He (Mr. Mackenzie) had been in that riding, and happened to know that such was not the fact. They naturally desired to retain the services of their distinguished representative, but on the other hand it was well known that that gentleman, if present to-night would have voted for this Bill. In the meantime his position as representative of the two constituencies was a temporary necessity, and did not show that the people of either of the counties believed in the principle of dual representation.
Sir John A. Macdonald said there was no reason why the people of West Durham shall be deprived of Mr. Blake’s services if they wanted them. It might be that it was of importance, both to them and to the country at large, to have his services for even a small portion of the session. The member for West Durham was a very able man, and especially so in his own profession, and it was of very great importance, not only to West Durham, but to Ontario and the Dominion, that he should remain in this Parliament. He was exceedingly sorry that that gentleman had indicated his opinion against remaining in this Parliament. His own people had in the most solemn way informed him that his opinion was wrong. The member for Lambton said it was a temporary necessity. He (Sir John) could not recognize it in that light. If there was anything constitutionally wrong in Mr. Blake’s continuing to be the member for West Durham there could be no over-ruling necessity to force him to remain here. He did not think the great interests of the country should be sacrificed to any temporary exigency. The fact was the people of West Durham had taken a common sense view of the case, believing that he was a credit to them and would be of great service to them and the Dominion generally, and he (Sir John) was glad they had overruled his own judgment. Sir John went on to refer to the West York and Kamouraska elections, and said they were of no more significance than the defeat of Gladstone in Lancashire, and of his colleagues, Mr. Bruce and the Marquis of Hartington. These defeats did not shew that Gladstone’s Government had not the support of the English people.
Mr. Mackenzie said the Minister of Justice had evaded his argument on this point. These
defeats in England took place at the general election. The cases he had referred to in this country were of two counties represented by Ministers of the Crown which at the very first opportunity after the general election pronounced strongly against the Government.
Sir John A. Macdonald said there was a difference in the circumstances but not in the principle. He went on to deny that he had deceived the people in the combinations he had formed in 1867, and to contend that the Coalition of that year was justifiable as that of 1864, which had been supported by the member for Lambton.
At six o’clock the Speaker left the chair till half past seven.
Sir John A. Macdonald made some further remarks. He contended that the arrangements between himself and the member for Cornwall had nothing whatever to do with the question of dual representation. He then proceeded, with reference to the argument of the member for Shefford, as to the effects of the Dual principle in the Province of Quebec, to argue that as the Minister of Militia and the Premier of Quebec belonged to the same party, their acting together involved no deception, and would have been just the same had there been no Dual representation. The measure now before the House simply indicated a want of confidence in the people themselves, which had frequently been the case with what was called the Liberal party, not only in this country but in England. He adverted to the statement of the member for Waterloo that the last election was sprung upon the people. He (Sir John) asserted on the contrary that never was there an election the issues at which were more clearly placed before the people, being “will you or will you not elect men who, whatever might have been their antecedents, were willing now to forget their old little quarrels, and join together to carry out the great scheme of Confederation? The people emphatically pronounced that they would forget old provincial squabbles. It would have been very unreasonable had they done otherwise. What did the member for Lambton know of the party divisions in New Brunswick before Confederation? and the Lower Province men were equally in happy ignorance of the questions which used to divide parties in Canada. It was well that the
old party divisions should have been forgotten. It had been said that England abhorred coalitions. This was true in the sense that she abhorred coalitions formed between men of opposite principles to promote their own personal interest—but her history showed that she did not abhor but love such coalitions as consisted in the union of men who sacrificed personal feelings and personal hostilities for the good of the country. A combination of that sort was a holy combination, and in this country had prevented the utter destruction of its constitution. Reverting to the measures under discussion, he thought it might safely be left to the people to decide for themselves whether they would give any representative the double mandate or not. The restrictions in the Independence of Parliament Act were designed to curtail the power of the crown. This bill would restrict the privileges of the people. He would not trench on those priviledges, but would allow the people to choose for themselves. He hoped the member for Bothwell would see the propriety of withdrawing his bill.
Mr. Mackenzie said he had opposed the formation of the coalition of 1864, and in agreeing to support it, had only yielded to the majority of his party. The ground he took was, that a coalition of political parties was extremely dangerous, and could only be justified by some special necessity, such, perhaps, as did exist at that time. The hon. gentleman had stated that the issue at the general election in 1867, was the success of Confederation. He (Mr. Mackenzie) denied that entirely. It was true that the hon. gentleman and his friends had made use of that cry, while at the same time they brought out candidates who had opposed Confederation from its inception, and had pitted them against those who had laboured in every way to carry Confederation; and after election they supported, as a member of the Government of Quebec, Mr. Dunkin—who had made the most elaborate speech that was delivered against Confederation; and in Ontario they selected as Premier of the new Government, the member for Cornwall, who had branded—and even during the elections continued to brand—the Confederation project as being impracticable and wicked. Mr. Mackenzie then went on to deny that it would in any way tend to good government to ignore party differences and party proclivities. The Minister of Justice had asked him if he cared to define the differences which in
former times had separated parties in the Lower Provinces. It would be presumptuous for him to do so in a place where there were so many able gentlemen from these Provinces. It was enough for him to say that the distinctive principles of the two great parties in England were the distinctive principles which had divided parties in all the British Colonies. As Mr. Bright had said in Edinburgh, the one was the party of progress—the other always maintained that what was, was right, and everything which had antiquity in its favour, no matter how prejudicial to the interests of the country, ought to be preserved. Mr. Mackenzie then made some further remarks on the want of analogy between the English elections referred to by the Minister of Justice, and those of West York and Kamouraska, and concluded by saying that the condition of the country was far from satisfactory under the rule of hon. gentlemen opposite. He referred to the disastrous state of matters revealed when the gentlemen now at the head of affairs brought down their budget in 1862, and expressed a fear, considering how Mr. Rose had resorted to the proceeds of the Intercolonial Railway loan to meet the pressing exigencies of Government, that the budget of 1869 would reveal a very unpleasant state of affairs.
Hon. Mr. Dorion said it had been contended on the other side that the duty of seeing that the people were properly represented belonged not to the General Legislature, but to the Local Legislatures. He (Mr. Dorion) on the contrary, asserted that the duty particularly belonged to this Legislature under the Constitution which rightly or wrongly placed the Local Governments and Legislatures in a position of independence with reference to the General Government and Legislature. (Hear, hear). There was no question but the voice of Ontario was almost unanimous, and a large majority of the people of Quebec, in opposition to the system of double representation. The honourable member for Missisquoi said we had not yet sufficient experience of the working of the present system, and, though it could not last, it was better to let it alone at present. But the truth was the country had sufficient experience of it. Look at the member for Cornwall—a gentleman always found voting and acting with the Reform party. Yet, the moment he took office under the auspices of the Dominion Government, he was found sitting quietly in that House, and supporting the Administration in all their acts. And a similar state of things, of which the honourable gentleman
cited instances, prevailed, as far as some representatives for Quebec in that House were concerned. Look at those who had secured the two seats in Quebec. Were they, or even a majority of them, independent members? No. In Quebec there were five members who were Ministers in both Governments, while but six of the independent members got double seats. This showed that where Ministers offered for double seats, they were almost certain to get them as compared with private members. Look at Ontario. Three of the Ministers of that Assembly obtained seats in the Dominion, while but two independent members held such seats. The hon. gentleman next alluded to the statement sometimes made that the same members might find it a good thing in a pecuniary point of view to attend both Legislatures, and draw indemnities from the Local as well as the General Governments, and how was this system to be put an end to? Rumour had it that the Premier of Quebec, when spoken to on the subject in the Local Legislature, affirmed that the abolition of the dual system could not be taken up by the Local House, but belonged to the Federal.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau contradicted this statement.
Mr. Pozer was a member of the Legislature of Quebec, and said that if his memory failed not, the hon. gentleman had stated that the Local Legislature could not decide the point, as the Federal Parliament was the proper tribunal.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau—Never.
Mr. Ferguson spoke in favour of the amendment. In Ontario, a Bill had been brought in which would hereafter prevent members of the Crown in Ontario holding a seat in the Dominion Parliament. He was sorry therefore to hear the derogatory remarks, made respecting the members for Cornwall and Brant, and the accusations hurled at them that they had been induced to abandon their principles in consequence of holding seats in both Parliaments. There was nothing unconstitutional or illegal in electing a man for the two Houses; nor was such a course against the interests of the people. So far from that, he believed that many constituencies would hold that if they really got a good representative for one
House, by all means they should endeavour to secure him for both. His belief was, that if more of the Local members were in that House the harmony would be greater, and the benefit to the Province larger. Coming from professed Liberals, he could say that the measure, inasmuch as it would take away the people’s right of choice, was anything but liberal in sentiment. If this measure was injurious to Ontario and Quebec, how is it no petition had been sent in against it? Instead of public opinion growing against the present law, he believed it to be in favour of it.
Mr. White believed the Bill, which was introduced, to be of a character to secure the independence of Parliament, and would therefore heartily support it; yet, while believing in strict party government, he could not but regret the attacks made on the Commissioner of Public Works, by the member for Lambton. Much was due to that hon. commissioner for his advocacy of liberal principles in years gone by, and though the hon. gentleman might not agree with him in all respects, these personal attacks were to be deprecated. He would prefer to see more leniency in the treatment of that hon. gentleman. He had done much to forward a measure, in which, as Reformers, they had a deep interest,—the opening up of the North-West.
Mr. McConkey was an opponent of Dual representation on the hustings, and continued so still. He took occasion to say he quite concurred in the remarks of the member of Halton, respecting the Commissioner of Public Works. That gentleman had shown great ability, and would be accorded the thanks of all for his achievements in conjunction with Sir Geo. E. Cartier, in endeavouring to open up the North West.
Mr. Jones, though not approving of dual representation, said it still became a very serious question with him how to vote on this Bill. He thought it a serious responsibility for him to deprive the people of the Dominion of their choice of representatives. The people, he was confident, would not continue to send the same gentlemen to both Legislatures; but he was not desirous to deprive them of the right of doing so. During debate, he also had noticed the attacks made on the Commissioner of Public Works, but that hon. gentleman not long since occupied as prominent a position in the Reform ranks as the
member for Lambton, and perhaps had as much of their confidence to-day, though he had changed sides and had, it was said, been seduced. Perhaps the member for Lambton might be found among the seduced some of these days. (Laughter.) He believed that they must have been consenting parties—that no action for seduction could lie against the Premier. (Renewed laughter.) There had been too much said about party, but there could be no distinction of party without distinction of principles, (hear, hear), and even the member for Lambton endorsed the general policy of the Government. He (Mr. Jones) cared not for Conservative nor Reformer, so long as a sound policy was carried out. (Applause.)
Mr. Bellerose defended the Premier of Quebec from the accusation of the member for Hochelaga, and said that he (Mr. Bellerose) never heard the Premier make use of the words imputed to him.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau said that in Quebec, as here, he and those with whom he voted took the only true logical ground, viz:—That there are not two sets of electors—that the same people send representatives to both Houses, and should not, therefore, be fettered or restricted in their choice. In his speech in the Local Legislature, as he remembered it, there was no mention of the argument attributed to him by the member from Beauce.
Mr. D. A. McDonald argued that the dual system interfered with the seasonable meetings of the Legislature. He felt that so long as leading members occupied seats in this House as well as in the Local Legislature it would be impossible to get both Legislatures to sit at the same time, yet the same season was the most convenient for both. For this reason he felt bound to support the Bill.
Hon. Mr. MacDougall was not disposed to agree with hon. gentlemen opposite that this was a Reform measure. It was a measure to restrict the rights and liberties of the people. If the mover had shown a case of abuse he
would have made out a case, and he had attempted to make out such an abuse. It was this—that the people had sent to this House some men who were members of the Local Government, and supported the Government of the Dominion; but no abuse had been shown. The great mischief they had to dread, unquestionably, was when local interests, rights and ambitions conflicted with the general policy of the Central Government; and their desire should be now to use their influence, as public men, to establish a system in this country which would not only produce harmony and good-will between the two great political parties of the country, but between the representatives of the several Provinces. It was an advantage to the country and a credit to the Government that the confederated Provinces had gone together thus far harmoniously, with the exception of one Province, and there the issue raised had nothing to do with the question before the House. The honourable gentleman advocated persistently in this present course until all objects for which the Coalition had been founded were attained, until new territories and the Provinces were absolved, and the Government fully organized under the new state of things. Having noticed that the English Independence of Parliament Act was based on a desire to limit the number of placemen in Parliament, a principle not at all involved in the measure of the member for Bothwell, he concluded by urging that evil under present system, if there were any, would cure itself. The people could remedy it easily when necessary.
Mr. Rymal said that the complete position of affairs—the dominance of members of the Dominion Government over those of the Local Governments—seemed to be best described by the couplet,—”Great fleas had little fleas, on their backs to bite ’em, and little fleas had lesser fleas, and so on ad infinitum.” (Loud Laughter.) The defection which had occurred in the Reform ranks from time to time had given him great pain. He had marked with sorrow the different forms carried off to the Tory cemetery. (Laughter.) He felt as if the place were infectious, and that it was dangerous for him to be there. (Laughter.) He saw it spreading, and seize on another whilom Reformer, in the person of the member for Halton. (Loud Laughter.) The first symptoms of this unusual fatal malady were
aweakness of the knees, unsteadiness of the nerves (laughter), and an unnatural craving after the fiesh pots of Egypt (renewed laughter), and immediate remedies would have to be applied, lest the disease prove fatal. (Laughter.)
Mr. Dufresne argued against the Bill.
Mr. McDougall (Three Rivers) said he was opposed to dual representation, but he held that the people themselves should decide the matter. He argued and would continue to argue against it before the people; but he would not deprive the people of the privilege of it, if they saw fit. If legal disability was to be created it should be done by the Local Governnent.
Mr. Pope showed the absurdity of the present position of affairs. There was a Secretary of State and others in the Ministry occupying seats in both Houses, who were, in fact, drawing more money from the public treasury than they ought to draw. The people of the country would not sustain a Cabinet Minister of the Dominion going into the Local Government, and he would vote for any measure preventing such a state of things. On the present measure, he was at issue with the mover, believing it only right that the people should not be curtailed of their privileges. Hence he would vote for the amendment.
Mr. Anglin showed that the feeling of the people of New Brunswick was in favour of such a measure and said he would support it.
Mr. Connell was understood to speak in favour of the bill.
Mr. Mills summed up the debate, and the House then divided on the amendment, which was carried on the following division—
Yeas,—Messrs Beaty, Beaubien, Bellerose, Benoit, Blanchet, Bowell, Bown, Brown, Burton, Caron, Cartier, Cartwright, Casault, Cayley, Chamberlin, Chauveau, Cimon, Colby, Costigan, Crawford, (Brockville), Daoust, Dobbie, Drew, Dufresne, Ferguson, Fortin, Gaucher, Gaudet, Gendron, Grant, Gray, Grover, Heath, Holmes, Huot, Hurdon, Jackson, Jones, (Leeds and Grenville), Keeler, Lacerte, Langevin, Langlois, Lapum, Lawson, Little, Macdonald, (Cornwall), Macdonald, (Sir John A), McDonald, (Middlesex), Masson, (Soulanges), Masson, (Terrebonne), McCallum, McCarthy, McDougall, (Lanark), McDougall, (Three Riv-
ers), McGreevy, McKeagney, McMillan, Merritt, Morris, Morrison, (Niagara), Munro, Perry, Pinsonneault, Pope, Pouliot, Rankin, Read, Robitaille, Rose, Ryan, Simard, Simpson, Stevenson, Street, Sylvain, Tilley, Walsh, Webb, Whitehead, Willson, Workman and Wright, (Ottawa County). Total, 82.
Nays,—Anglin, Ault, Béchard, Bodwell, Bolton, Bourassa, Bowman, Brousseau, Burpee, Cameron, (Huron), Cameron, (Inverness), Cheval, Coffin, Connel, Coupai, Dorion, Fortier, Geoffrion, Godin, Hagar, Holton, Huntington, Hutchison, Kempt, McDonald, (Glengarry), Macfarlane, Mackenzie, McGill, McConkey, McMonies, Metcalfe, Mills, Morison, (Victoria), Oliver, Pâquet, Pelletier, Pickard, Pozer, Ray, Redford, Ross, (Dundas), Ross, (Prince Edward), Ross, (Victoria, N.S.), Ross, (Wellington), Ryan, Kings, N.B.), Rymal, Savary, Scatcherd, Snider, Stirton, Thompson, (Haldimand), Thompson, (Ontario), Tremblay, Wells, White, Wright, (York) and Young. Total, 57.
The House adjourned shortly after 11.