Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (22 February 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 394-421.
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TUESDAY, February 22, 1865.
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Hon. Mr. Holton—Before the debate is resumed, I would enquire whether it is the purpose of the Government to bring down the promised measure on the subject of education in Lower Canada, before the House is invited to pass finally the scheme of Confederation now under discussion? I need not say to honorable gentlemen that this is a matter which is regarded with a great deal of interest by a very large portion of the people of Lower Canada, and I think that before my honorable friend for Montreal Centre (Hon. Mr. Rose) proceeds to take part in this debate, the position of the Government upon that question should be clearly defined.
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—Although the question is not put regularly, I have no hesitation in answering the honorable gentleman. My answer is the answer which has already been given by my honorable friend the member for Sherbrooke (Hon. Mr. Galt).
Hon. Mr. Holton—The honorable member for Sherbrooke [Hon. Mr. Galt] has not stated to the House—
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—Order!
Hon. Mr. Holton—I think I am quite in order, on the calling of the Orders of the Day, to put a question of this kind. But I rise again, simply to give notice to the honorable gentleman that I shall renew the question on the Orders of the Day being called to-morrow evening. I do think it is dealing slightingly with the House and with the country for honorable gentlemen to refuse to state explicitly what are their purposes with regard to this important question—whether or not their measure is to be brought down before a final vote is taken on Confederation. I shall renew the question to-morrow.
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—The question has been answered twice, but the Government are ready to answer it again, if the honorable gentleman so desires.
Hon. Mr. Rose then resumed the adjourned debate He said—Before I proceed, Mr. Speaker, to offer any observations on the motion in your hand, I wish to acknowledge very cordially the consideration which the House evinced last evening during my absence, and especially to acknowledge the courtesy of my honorable friend from Lambton (Mr. A. Mackenzie), my honorable friend from Chateauguay (Hon. Mr. Holton), and my honorable friend the member for Brome (Mr. Dunkin) . I certainly feel indebted to them for the manner in which they yielded me precedence, at the request of the honorable member for Montmorenci (Hon. Mr. Cauchon); and I shall endeavour to shew my sense of the kindness of the House, by not trespassing on its indulgence any longer than I can possibly help. And, before I offer any remarks on the question itself, I would premise this, that I hope in the course of them I shall not give utterance to a single expression which would seem to reflect upon those who entertain strong opinions adverse to the proposition now before the House.
Far be it from me to deprecate discussion—discussion of the amplest, widest, and most searching character, on this important question. And far be it from me, by the use of a single word, to impute to those honorable members, who feel it their duty to oppose this measure, any absence of patriotism. I believe they are actuated by the same ardent desire for the good of the country, which I claim for myself. (Hear, hear.) It is right that the question should be considered in all its details—not merely in its bearings on the present state of parties, but as respects its influence in all time to come on the country at large. And with that view I think it ought to be calmly, deliberately and patiently investigated, and instead of deprecating the fullest and most ample discussion, I trust the opportunity will be afforded to every honorable member of this House to speak our it in his own way and at his own time. (Hear, hear.)
Well, sir, I presume there are few who, in the abstract, would not favour the idea of a union between a numbers of small states adjoining each other, rather than that they should remain isolated under separate governments. To the idea of union in the abstract between states so circumstanced, I take it no one would be opposed. But the principal ground of the opposition which is made to the present scheme by a not unimportant class, is this—that the mere abstract principle of union does not apply with full force to colonies circumstanced as Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland—the five colonies that are parties to this scheme. It is feared by many that it is the first step towards independence—that it must tend to loosen the ties now existing between this aid the mother country—that it changes our relations, and will produce a strength incompatible […]
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[…] with Imperial sovereignty—that it may probably result in not only severing our connection with the Mother Country, but in forcing us to a union with the neighbouring republic. That I have heard urged as the greatest and most important objection which strikes at the root of the proceedings of the Quebec Conference. I know that many of the opponents of the scheme entertain the apprehension—perhaps the conviction—that that will be the result. (Hear, hear.)
Far from deprecating, then, the discussion of that question in its broadest aspect, I think all of us who desire to perpetuate our connection with England, should listen calmly and anxiously to the objections which are urged by those who conscientiously entertain those opinions which are not only blameless, but entitled to respect. (Hear, hear.) Now, I do not deny that the effect of the present movement may be to change the character of the actual relations which subsist between this province and the Mother Country.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Hear! hear!
Hon. Mr. Rose—I do not deny that the result may be to change the character of these relations. But I maintain, and I hope I shall be able to satisfy the House of the soundness of the position I take, that the change will be of that character, that, instead of loosening or weakening or diminishing the connection with the Mother Country, it will tend to put it on a footing which will make it stronger and more enduring. (Hear, hear.) Though I believe these relations will be somewhat changed, and we may have to consider what new aspect they will present, I believe this measure is forced upon us by the necessities of our position. The irresistible force of passing events will not allow us to stand still But, whether by this inevitable change the country shall gradually lose its dependent or protected character and assume more of the Federal relation, constituting this a territorial division of the Empire, I believe it will result in placing those relations on a surer and more steadfast footing, and that we will still acknowledge the same Sovereign, owe the same fealty, and maintain the same veneration for the English Constitution and name. (Hear, hear.)
It cannot be denied that there is a state of public opinion growing up in England just now—not confined, as it was a few years ago, to a class of extreme theorists—that the connection which subsists between the colonies—Canada especially—and the Mother Country, is a source of expense and danger. It cannot be denied that that kind of opinion has obtained a good deal more force within the last few years, than those of us who desire to maintain the connection between these colonies and England would like that it should have obtained; and we cannot ignore the consequences which that increasing volume of public opinion may have upon the legislation of England.
Then there is another consideration which makes this subject stand out more prominently before the people of England at the present time than otherwise it would do, and that is, the state of its relations with the republic adjoining us, and the enormous military power which the United States have shown, within the last two or three years, that they possess. In consequence of this, the state of opinion in England which might have been confined for many years perhaps to mere theory, has been brought to a head. It is not now merely a question of abstract opinion, whether under such and such circumstances it would be better for this and other colonies to assume a more independent attitude towards England.
But it has been pressed with unexpected abruptness to a practical issue before the people of England, and they have now to consider what the relations of Great Britain to these colonies would be, in the event of war with the United States; how far, in that event, it would be possible to protect this remote dependency of the empire, to avoid disaster to the English flag, and at a distance of 3,000 miles to maintain the prowess of the English name. It is this which has forced public opinion so strongly in England to a consideration of the actual relations between this country and the Mother Country, and it is this state of facts with which we must deal now. It is, I repeat, past discussing as a mere abstract matter of doctrine. We must look our situation in the face. We must consider the eventualities which press themselves on our notice, and it is our bounden duty to see whether we cannot find in the union of these colonies security to ourselves and a source of strength to the Empire at large. (Hear, hear.)
With respect, then, to the objections urged by those who consider that this scheme may be leading us along a new and untrodden path towards independence, or at least to a more independent relation with reference to England than that in which we now stand towards her, I say we cannot forget that our […]
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[…] surroundings are of a peculiar kind. I would grant that there would be much force in the argument that it might sever our ties with England, if we were circumstanced as some of the smaller states of Europe—if we had, for example, a state like Switzerland on the one side and any of the German Principalities on the other. If we had, as our neighbours, states like Belgium or Denmark—if, so situated, we were one of a number of small states, I grant you that, if a union of all these provinces were to take place, it might lead possibly to that independence which those who oppose the scheme now fear, and which for one, I hope from my heart, may never occur. (Hear, hear.)
No doubt, if situated in that way—if we had no powerful and over-awing neighbor, such a political combination as we now propose might lead to practical independence of England. If we were a mere congeries of small states, with no powerful neighbor, that result which we so much deprecate might possibly follow. We should, probably, in time aspire to have foreign relations of our own, to have our own army and navy, and to seek for that complete emancipation which with communities as with individuals, maturity prompts. But independence in a state must always be relative, and none of us can expect to live to see the day when the British dominions in this part of the world will be peopled to such an extent, and become so powerful, that they can afford to be independent of England. We must, from the necessities of our geographical position—so long as the United States continue to be as powerful as they are; and even if they were divided into two or three portions—we must always find in them a source of danger which must force upon us a dependence on England.
We find, I repeat, in our position towards the United States, and in the great preponderating power they possess, a guarantee that we need not apprehend that there will be anything like practical independence of England asserted by the colonies of North America; because, from the very necessities of our position, we shall always have to look up to her for protection and aid. I say nothing of the sentiment of loyalty, of that attachment to the British Crown, that love for the person of the Sovereign which we all possess so strongly and try to instil into our children. I do not speak for the moment of the pride we all have in the constitution of England, and in our being identified, in all our associations and feelings, with the glory of the English name. I put aside, for the moment, the instinct of attachment to the Mother Country, and I put the case on this ground alone, that the necessity of self-preservation will for centuries—for generations at all events—prevent the possibility of these colonies asserting their independence of England, unless it were, indeed, to become a portion of the republic which adjoins us, and to which, I think, it is neither the interest nor the inclination of any member of this House to become united. (Hear, hear.)
Whatever fate may be in store for us, that is a destiny to which no one looks with favor. The genius and instincts of our people are monarchical and conservative—theirs levelling and democratic. But, sir, though I have said that I was disposed to look upon this question—the danger of Federation rendering us independent of England, quite apart from the considerations that spring out of sentiments of loyalty, yet I believe that those attachments will be increased tenfold by this proposed union. We will have a sentiment of nationality among ourselves; and I consider it to be one of the first duties of a statesman to inculcate that national feeling that gives the people a strong interest in their country’s welfare. We will feel that we have something here, in the way of constitutional blessings due to our union with England, and that we have stable material interests which we can transmit to our posterity. We shall feel very differently from what we now do as colonies, apart and alienated from each other, and in some respects jealous of one another. With a stable government and a strong central power controlling an immense territory, we shall be able to enter upon a well-considered, well-devised and attractive system of immigration. (Hear, hear.)
We will be enabled shortly, I trust, to commence to bring from the Mother Country a constant stream of immigration by which those sentiments of attachment to home and devotion to the Crown will be perpetuated. And in this continuous recruiting of our population I see one of the great elements we will have to look to for the perpetuation of the attachment of this country to the Crown We have not, in time past, been able to devise or carry out any extensive system of immigration. We would not, in our divided and isolated condition, offer those attractions which we […]
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[…] will be enabled to offer to emigrants when we can throw open to them the choice of a large country, a country which will have a name and a nationality—a country in which they and we can all feel an honest pride. (Hear, hear.) They will not feel as we have hitherto done, doubtful how long our system of constitutional government, and the blessings flowing from it, were to last. I trust, therefore, that the formation of a stable government, and the devising of a system of emigration that will be attractive to the people of England, Ireland and Scotland, will do a vast deal to keep up that constant attachment to the Mother Country which we all desire to see strengthened. (Hear, hear.)
We shall then not only have the ordinary motive to present to emigrants, of self-interest—the opportunity to make money merely, but the other interest cu attachment in a permanent way, to the soil, without a desire to go back to the Mother Country after a competence shall have been gained—for the sentiment of nationality will soon take root among us. Now, sir, I think that so far as the danger of union leading to independence is concerned, those who are most earnest in desiring to perpetuate the union, need not have much apprehension. But, it may be said, that from the necessity of our position there is danger that we shall feel our material and commercial interests so strongly bound up with the United States, and feel so reliant in our own strength as a great country, that we will eventually form a closer alliance with that republic than any of us desire, and that the formation of the present union is the first step towards annexation.
I do not think we need have any fears on that score. I do not think our interests would lead us in that direction. At the present time we are almost entirely dependent upon the United States commercially. We are dependent upon them for an outlet to the ocean during the winter months. If they choose to suspend the bonding system, or by a system of consular certificates make it practically useless; if they abolish the reciprocity treaty, and carry the passport system to a greater degree of stringency, we should feel our dependence upon that country even in a greater and much more practical way than we do at the present time. And perhaps, sir, it is worth our while to consider whether this may not be the real motive which dictates the policy they are now pursuing! (Hear, hear.)
But, give us this Intercolonial Railway, affording us communication with Halifax and St John at all seasons of the year, and we shall be independent of the United States commercially as we now are politically. We may not find this route to the ocean more economical, especially in the winter season, than to go through the United States, but if we have a route of our own to which we may resort, in case of necessity, our neighbors will find it to their interest to give us the use of their channels of communication at a cheaper rate. (Hear, hear.)
They will not do that if they find we have no other outlet; but if we are prepared with an opening for our produce, all the year round, they will not act so foolishly as to deprive themselves of the opportunity of carrying our goods through their territory. If we had this railway built, we should have no need to fear the withdrawal of the bonding system, or the continuance of the passport system, because they would be inflicting upon themselves a greater injury by so doing than upon us. Let me say then once more that I can perceive no one element of danger to us in this union. I certainly did try, during the many months in which the process of incubation of Federation, if I may so speak, was going en—I certainly did try to bring as unprejudiced and dispassionate a consideration to its various phases as I possibly could. I looked upon it, I confess, with suspicion at the outset; I felt it was launching us into an unknown future, and that we were changing a system, that we got along with in comparatively a satisfactory manner, for one that was, in some of its aspects, new under the British Constitution.
I say now, however, after giving to it the fullest consideration I am capable of giving, that I do not see, in any one respect, how the cementing of these colonies together in the bonds of government can tend to make us independent of Great Britain If I did, I should feel it my duty to offer it a most uncompromising opposition, and to endeavor to defeat it by every means in my power. But, sir, I do see a great danger the other way. I see that if we remain a mere congeries of isolated colonies, hostile in some degree to each other’s interests, there is danger ahead. I see that danger existing and threatening us in the United States. I see that if we do not unite and form one Central Government, giving it the power to direct all the physical energies of this country in whatever direction may be necessary, that we are liable to be overrun by that power. And this I conceive […]
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[…] to be one of the very strongest arguments in favor of the Confederation of the provinces, that it enables us to prepare appropriate defences along the whole frontier of our country. I believe I shall be able to show in a very few words, that if we are united, we shall afford to England sufficient inducements for undertaking those works of defence that are essential to our own security and to the maintenance of her flag on this continent for all time to come, and that if we do go into this union, as I believe we will we shall be placed in a position to defend ourselves successfully from attack. And this, sir, unfortunately, is not a contingency which we can hope will never occur. It is not now a mere vague possibility in a far distant future which we have to consider.
So long as the present civil war continues, it is impossible for any man to foresee that such national complications will not arise as may at any day or hour involve us in actual hostilities. It is impossible for any prudent man to disregard that dark threatening cloud that has been gathering upon our borders, ready at almost any mom end to burst upon us. It behoves us therefore to lose no time, if we believe that union offers a guarantee of safety against the dangers that threaten us—it becomes important that we lose no time to consummate the proposed union, in order that the General Government may put us at once in a proper state of defence. The public opinion of England, as we unhappily know, does not at the present time tend very much to warrant the Imperial Government in making any large expenditure for colonial purposes.
There must be some reasonable prospect, that if expenditure is incurred in erecting necessary works of defence, those works will be actually available, when constructed, to protect the country upon whose frontier they are established. We cannot expect England to enter upon a course of expenditure for fortifications on our frontier, unless she has the assurance of our ability with her aid to hold those works against attacks from a hostile power.
I believe that if the proposed plan of union breaks down—fails to get the assent of the several provinces—and we go back to our old condition of separate colonies, we shall so discourage the statesmen of England in reference to us, that they will feel very much embarrassed with the prospect before them. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Holton—No, no!
Mr. Dunkin—What reason have you to think so?
Hon. Mr. Rose—I believe that the formation of a government, having the power to direct the whole strength of five colonies would greatly add to our security. Who doubts that there is greater security in such a union than in isolation, each with separate interests and having no common action? I think the advantages of union for purposes of defence are not properly appreciated. (Hear, hear.)
What would be the strength of Great Britain if there was a separate government for England, another for Wales, another for Ireland, and another for Scotland; each directing its owns military and naval power? If one national government had not called forth all the national materials and elements of strength, would the prowess of her fleet or of her armies have been what it is? Is there no benefit in having a power that can bring to bear the whole military strength at any point desired? If there is not, then I am willing to say that this argument which carries conviction to my mind is of no value whatever.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Are we not all connected with the Mother Country?
Hon. Mr. Rose—Certainly.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Then what stronger could we be by merely having a mere political connection with others? It would give us no more men.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Does my honorable friend think that if each province had control of its own militia force, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island control over the seamen, and Canada the direction of her own militia, that the military forces of these five provinces could be brought to bear with the same advantage as if they were under the control of one central power? We could not take them out of their own provinces contrary to the laws of those provinces. Is it of no importance to make the hardy seamen of Newfoundland, or the people of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick feel, that if a hostile force lands at Sarnia in Upper Canada, their territory and their soil are invaded, or their independence threatened! We should have embroilment and difficulty among ourselves at the very moment when united action in presenting a bold front to the enemy was necessary to our safety. If we go back to our old condition of isolation, now that the solemn approval of the Mother Country has been […]
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[…] given to this proposition of Federation (and her statesmen see in this a great source of strength in enabling her to avert a war, and a ready means of defending the country)—do you believe that those statesmen will look kindly upon the act? Even my honorable friend from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] has admitted that there must be in that case a dissolution of the union between Upper and Lower Canada. That honorable gentleman stated in his speech the other night, that if this measure failed there must be Federation between the Canadas; and what, I would ask, is that but a dissolution of the present union? It is certainly a dissolution of the present union to adopt some new Federative system as between Upper and Lower Canada. But does the honorable gentleman think that he will find in the separation of these provinces an element of strength?
Hon. Mr. Holton—That is what you propose to do now.
Hon. Mr. Rose—No, Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to do anything of the kind, as my honorable friend will acknowledge, if he will but bring his mind, dispassionately and earnestly, to the consideration of the question. There is no one more capable of seeing and appreciating the important features of this scheme than he. But my hon. friend has strong feelings, and sometimes is led away by preconceived jealousies or fears; I say that if my honorable friend will bring his strong intellect to bear on this scheme, he will find in it none of those dangers which ordinarily attach to the Federal form of government. I must now say a few more words in reference to the question of our ability to provide for the defences of the country. I have already stated—and I must apologise to the House for the digression which has been forced upon me—that I do not believe that, if we reverted back to our original condition, the Imperial Government would be as much disposed to aid us in the construction of the works necessary for our defence, as if they found that in the presence of a common danger we were united together to repel the common enemy.
I say the Imperial Government would not in such a case be actuated simply by a regard to the expense of constructing these works—in which I understand the Lower Provinces will have to bear a share—but she would be deterred from so doing by the further consideration, that when built, these works would be less likely to serve the purpose they were designed to accomplish, namely, to enable the country to be efficiently defended. It is one thing to have a population of four millions united under one common head, and enabled to direct all their energies to the point of danger; and it is another thing to have a number of separate units, with no common action—each under a different government, and distracted and separate at the very time when they ought to be most united. (Hear, hear.) What we have to guard against is this: a sudden conquest or surprise, for which we might be unprepared. I believe myself that, if works can be constructed, by means of which we can effectually defend the country against sudden attack, no one will grudge the expense. Of course they will cost no inconsiderable sum; but I hope, as I believe my hon. friend the Finance Minister [Hon. Mr. Galt], although he may be pressed for other purposes, will not hesitate to recommend the appropriation necessary for the purpose, and to impose increased taxation for that purpose. (Hear, hear.)
For I am sure that no member of this house, nor man in this country, would hesitate, if need were, to put their hands in their pockets and give a tenth of their substance for the construction of the works required to protect the country from the ravages of the aggressor, and to secure to ourselves a perpetuation of the inestimable blessings derived from our living under the British flag. (Hear, hear.) I am the more earnest in this question on account of the observations which have been made by my honorable friend the member for Hochelaga, (Hon. Mr. Dorion) observations which I am sure he did not mean to have such an effect, but which nevertheless have a most mischievous tendency. That hon. gentleman stated that our true policy was, in fact, neutrality; that it was hopeless for us to attempt to defend ourselves against the overwhelming force which the United States could bring to bear against us, and that with our small population we would be very much in the same position as Denmark when opposed to the armies of Austria and Prussia.
Indeed, he almost went as far as a gentleman who uo longer holds a seat in this House, when he said that “the best armament for Canada was no armament at all.” I am sure that had the honorable gentleman felt that any injury would be done—any false impression produced on the public mind—by the use of observations like these, he would not have employed them at all. But I may say that they all tended to this end—the taking away […]
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[…] of that confidence we should have in our energy and resources, by telling us that the prospect before us is practically a hopeless one—that there is no use undertaking public works for our defence—no use in organizing, training, and arming our militia—that all attempts to hold our own would be fruitless on account of our inability to bring sufficient able-bodied men in the field to cope with the force to which we might be opposed. Why, sir, is it by such a tone as that, that you can keep up the spirit of the people for the defence of the country, by telling us that four millions of British subjects could offer no resistance whatever, even when backed by the power of England, against the United States or the greatest military nation on earth? I assert that even were we to be put in the unfortunate position of Denmark, ninety-nine out of every hundred of our population would be prepared to make a stand, hopeless though it might be for them, and to resist until the last foot of ground was wrested from us. (Hear, hear.)
But if England, in case of war, should, for the first time in her history, decline to come to the aid of her colonies, future generations would not glory in the name of being Englishmen, as the past had such just reason to do. Sure I am, however, that we should occupy no hopeless or isolated position. It is in order that the observations of my honorable friend the member for Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] may in some respect be counteracted, that I would yet trespass upon the indulgence of the House for a few minutes more on this head. We know that in modern warfare, if you can erect certain works which will compel an enemy to sit down before them, so as to prevent him from making progress into the country, you may by such means defend it for many months. I do not know what the scheme of the defence commissioners may be. But it is well known that they express the conviction that by the construction of certain works at various points, the manning of which is quite within the compass of our power, we can arrest the progress of an invader for many months, we can compel him to expend and exhaust his strength before these works, and we could throw embarrassments in his way such as would take an invading force many months to overcome.
Because honorable members must remember that it is impossible to have more than a six months’ campaign in this country. And supposing you were to erect works before which an enemy was compelled to sit down in the month of May, it would take him fully three months before he could bring up his supplies and siege train and protect his communications, and by the time he was ready to make a determined attack, he would be overtaken by winter, be compelled to raise the siege and go into winter quarters.
In truth our winters are our safeguard and defence. Such, at any rate, is the opinion of military men. During six months only are military operations practicable in this country, and thus whatever is done one season has to be abandoned on the approach of winter and begun again the following spring. If therefore we can only, by manning certain salient points in the country, prevent the progress of invasion, we are safe. Sudden conquest would be impossible—delay and impediments are everything. Every one knows the history of the celebrated lines of Torres Vedas, which extended thirty miles, and by means of which the invasion with which Napoleon terrified Europe was first rolled back. These lines were defended by but a small number of men, and they compelled Napoleon to retire before them. Then, on this continent we have the experience of Richmond, which has forced the army of General Grant to become a mere corps of observation, and of Charleston which has fallen at last, but after what delay and at what cost!
Going to the Crimea, we see Sebastopol defying for months and months the joint efforts of England and France. If we therefore can keep the invader from our doors for a certain number of months, our Canadian winter will do the rest, whilst English ships would be engaged in harassing their coasts and in the destruction of American commerce in every sea. I, therefore, entreat those who are disposed to take a desponding view of the question to consider these things. An aggressive warfare in this country is one thing, and a defensive warfare another, and a very different. (Hear, hear.)
Our country is well adapted for defensive purposes, and it is next to impossible to subdue us. The badness of our roads, the difficulties presented by our winters, our deep, broad and unaffordable rivers, and the means we could establish for keeping an enemy in check at certain points for the necessary time, would enable us to resist the United States with all their power and resources. No man can have a greater appreciation of the enormous resources, […]
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[…] of the courage, of the varied appliances, of everything in fact which tends to success in war than I have of the American nation. I have seen them in the field, and seen them at sea. They certainly have come out as a military nation in such a way as almost to astonish the world. But, sir, let us consider a little more closely what their circumstances are in other respects.
No doubt they have an enormous navy, but that very navy would not be more than sufficient to defend their harbours in case of a war with England. It is not because I imagine their ships could not cope singly with British ships—it is not because I believe their men are lacking in skill or courage, or that they are unable to build sufficient vessels—but they lack this—and it is a consideration which we cannot and ought not to forget—that they have not a single harbour in any sea, except on their own coast, to refit their vessels. (Hear, hear.) Supposing them to send a fleet of 20 or 30 ships to England.
An Hon. Member—Or Ireland (Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Rose—If they went to Ireland, they would have a very warm reception indeed. (Hear, hear.) No doubt they could get there with the coal they could carry; but where would they get the coal to bring them back or to carry on operations there? Sailing vessels now-a-days can do nothing; all vessels of war have to be propelled by steam; and there is no neutral port in the world where in time of war with England, the navy of the United States would be able to obtain assistance. For I take it for granted that in the event of a war with England the United States would have few allies. And, as I before remarked, they is not a port in the world where they could get an ounce of coal or any addition to their armament. In this would consist our great safety.
They have no ports in the Indian Sea, in the east Atlantic, the Mediterranean or China seas, and it is simply because men of war could not exist without coaling and refitting that the navy of the United States would be placed at so great disadvantage. It is contrary to international law, as the House is well aware, that the ships of a belligerent nation can be received in a neutral port and assisted, beyond what is requhed by the dictates of humanity, to enable them to face the Clements. They would be unable, I say, to get a single man, a ton of coal, an ounce of gunpowder, or a pound of iron, in any neutral port, and I would like to know what the United States could do in a war with England so circumstanced? (Hear, hear.) Well, sir, this is one state of things.
But there is yet another view to be taken of the question. Do we not know that in the event supposed, we should find the Atlantic coast swarming with English vessels carrying moveable columns of troops, menacing and landing at every point. The navy of England, the arsenals of England, the purse of England, and all the appliances and requirements of war would be brought to bear upon and be available to us in such a struggle. We should not suffer from the lack of the material of war, which is perhaps the very thing of all other things the most essential. In all respects we should be in a very different position from the Confederate States at the present day. We should simply be required to hold our own, while the United States were being harassed on the seaboard, and then when the winter came we should be comparatively safe. Think of the exhaustion to the United States of such a war!
I have ventured to say thus much with a view of counteracting, so far as my feeble observations will enable me to do, the remarks of the hon. member for Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] the other night, because I think it was a most pernicious, unmanly, and unpatriotic view of the case to be allowed to be disseminated, when we ought to do all we can to encourage and evoke a military spirit on the part of the youth of this country. Neutrality has been spoken of. But how could neutrality be possible in a struggle between England and the United States? The country which cannot put forth an effort to defend itself occupies a despicable position, and forfeits on the score of weakness, even the wreathed privilege of being neutral. How is it possible, I again ask, that we could maintain a neutral position in such a war? We could not. We should have to make common cause with one or the other. Do you suppose the United States would allow us to stand aside?
Hon. Mr. Holton—It is the Minister of Agriculture’s [Hon. Mr. McGee] opinion that we should hold a neutral position.
Hon. Mr. McGee—Not at all.
Hon. Mr. Rose—I have listened with pleasure to many speeches from my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture [Hon. Mr. McGee], but I have never heard one in which it was […]
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[…] implied that we ought to remain neutral in the event of a war between England and the United States. My hon. friend is well able to speak for himself; but I must say I have no recollection of hearing him utter so unpatriotic a sentiment.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Hear! hear!
Hon. Mr. Rose—I have no doubt that what my hon. friend meant by neutrality was this, that we, as part of the British Empire, were bound to remain neutral as between the two warring sections of the neighboring states.
Hon. Mr. Holton—No; the hon. gentleman expressly gave it as his opinion that the neutrality of this country should be guaranteed by treaty, the same as is the case with Belgium and Switzerland.
Hon. Mr. McGee—I had this idea once. It was shortly after my hon. friend opposite (Hon. Mr. Holton) declared in favor of annexation. (Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Holton—The sentiment has been expressed by the hon. gentleman within the last two or three years.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Events have changed very much within the last two or three ears, and we have got to deal now, not with mere party questions only, but with events that are transpiring. I will not say anything further on this point, however, as my hon. friend from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] is not in his place, although the hon. member for Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton] chivalrously defends him in his absence. I say then, Mr. Speaker, that while I do not wish to exaggerate the danger, I cannot be insensible to it. It is a danger, dark, imminent and overwhelming, and if it was on that consideration alone, I say that I find in this question of defence sufficient not only to justify me if voting for the scheme now before the House, but to demand of me every effort to carry it into effect. (Hear, hear.)
If we show that we are in earnest on this question of defence, England will be encouraged to come to our assistance if time of danger, knowing that she can look to us not only to contribute towards the construction of works, but effectually to defend them when constructed. (Hear, hear.) If we show England that she can depend on a population of four millions, with a strength wielded from a common centre, she will be encouraged to aid us with both men and material of war, and will lend us the assistance necessary to protect ourselves both now and if time to come.
Let me repeat then, sir, that were there nothing in addition to the great considerations to which I have adverted, I should go heartily for these resolutions, and I should be disposed to overlook many inequalities and some objectionable features which I see in the scheme. I do not intend to advert in detail to these, for I feel that I have to consider this question as a whole, and that unless I see objections to it, so great and numerous as to make me vote against it as a whole, it is useless to criticise that which I cannot mend. The scheme is in the nature of a treaty. It will not do to cavil at this or at that; we must either accept it or reject it. (Hear, hear.)
I see the difficulties of the scheme, and the inequalities of it; but we must not complain if one colony gets a few thousand dollars more than another, or if one colony has to assume more of the debt than another. Unless I saw enough in the whole scheme to make me vote against it, I think it would be a mere waste of time to cavil at these small matters. Because without the consent of all the other colonies they cannot be altered, and on the whole there is no reason why the whole scheme should be rejected, and these slight inequalities will soon right themselves. (Hear, hear.)
There is one thing I would ask the House to consider—apart from the higher consideration of defence; apart from the cementing of our union with England, which I believe is involved in the adoption of this measure, and apart from the chance of our falling a prey to the United States—and it is this: are we prepared, looking at Canada alone, to go back to the old state of things of twelve or eighteen months ago? Are we willing to revert to the chronic state of crisis in which we constantly found ourselves for years past? (Hear, hear.)
This House and the whole Government had lost the confidence of the country, and the most lamentable recriminations and difficulties existed on the floor of this chamber. Indeed at the time of which I speak affairs were in such a state as to make every man with any feeling of self-respect disposed to abandon public life. I think we see in this alone enough to reconcile us to the change, and I believe I should see sufficient cause in this to induce me to vote for a change in our political system. The dread of going back to the past, the apprehension lest old party cries should be revived, and the fear lest difficulties in which we found ourselves might be perpetuated, would impel me to vote for the scheme now in our hands. (Hear, hear.) […]
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[…] Having said so much on the general policy of the union, I might have been disposed to enter at greater length into it, were it not that I wished to keep faith with my honorable friend from Lambton [Mr. A. Mackenzie]; but, having said so much on the higher grounds which recommend this scheme, I will now say a few words in reference to the objections which have been urged against its character, viz., because it embraces those elements of disruption which are to be found in every federal union. That is the objection of many who, while they would be willing to go for a purely legislative union, object to one of a federal character. They see in it that which tends to a disruption, and collision with the Central Government.
Now, sir, I do not deny that if a legislative union, pure and simple, had been practicable, I, for one, would have preferred it; but I cannot disguise from myself that it was, and is at present, utterly impracticable, and I cannot help expressing my astonishment and extreme gratification, that five colonies which had been for so many years separate from each other, had so many separate and distinct interests and local differences, should come together and agree upon such a scheme. Remembering the difficulties that had to be encountered in the shape of local interests, personal ambition, and separate governments, I certainly am surprised at the result, and I cannot withhold from the gentlemen who conducted these negotiations, the highest praise for the manner in which they overcame the difficulties that met them at every step, and for the spirit in which they sunk their own personal differences and interests in preparing this scheme of Confederation. (Hear, hear.)
It is remarkable that a proposition having so few of the objections of a Federal system, should have been assented to by the representatives of five distinct colonies, which had heretofore been alien, practically independent, not only of each other, but almost of England, and almost hostile to each other. (Hear, hear.) There had been very much to keep these colonies apart, and very little to bring them together, and the success which has attended their efforts speaks well for those statesmen who applied their minds earnestly to the work of union. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Holton—The necessity was urgent.
Hon. Mr. Rose—I quite understand the ironical spirit of my honorable friend—but the work of Confederation was no less one of vital importance to the country. I cannot help saying that I had no sympathy with the hon. member for Hochelaga (Hon. Mr. Dorion), the other evening, in his historical detail of all the antecedent difficulties which existed in our political position. That honorable gentleman told us what were the opinions of this member and of that one at different periods,—commented on their inconsistency, and claimed that he himself had always been firm in his opposition to the project. Well, sir, I do not care what may have been the views of one member or of another, or how inconsistent he may have been. What we have to consider is the scheme which is now presented to us. Let us forget the past; let us forget former differences; do not let us revive former animosities! Let us consider that we are starting fresh in life, or as the term has been used, that we are entering upon a new era of national existence. (Hear, hear.)
Let us cast aside past recriminations and look at the merits of this scheme. I have only to say that a man who does not change his opinions is a very unsafe man indeed to guide the affairs of a nation. Such a man is like an old sign-post on a road that is no longer used for travel. The signpost is consistent enough, it remains where it had been placed, but though a type of consistency it is an emblem of error. (Hear, hear.) The hon. member for Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] spoke of his consistency and the inconsistency of others, but he was like the sign-post which pointed out a road that existed twenty years ago, but which no one could now pass over. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
I think, therefore, that instead of endeavoring to find objections to this scheme because it does not give as a legislative instead of a federal union, we ought to acknowledge the sacrifices of those men who came together and prepared it. (Hear, hear.) Whatever may be said of our desire to get out of our own constitutional difficulties in Canada, that objection cannot be urged against the public men of the Lower Provinces. Newfoundland has not been in a state of crisis like us, and New Brunswick has been tolerably faithful to Mr. Tilley for the last ten years; a short time ago the Premier of Nova Scotia had a majority of thirty in a very small house—everything went on swimmingly there, and even Prince Edward Island was not much embarrassed.
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A Voice—It wanted a railway.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Let us attribute no motives, but rather give to every man who has had anything to do with this measure the credit of being actuated by the utmost patriotism and singleness of purpose. Such, I believe, is the feeling of nine-tenths—yes, ninety-nine hundredths of the people of this country. What inducement, except those of a public kind, had my hon. friend the President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown], or the Attorney General West [Hon. J.A. Macdonald] to enter the same Government, if it was not with a view to bring about a union of the colonies? And even if they had only in view to heal the constitutional difficulties of the past, we ought to be deeply thankful to them. (Hear, hear.)
I stated that I would not criticise many of the features of this scheme; but there are two main features which to my judgment commend themselves to the attention of every one who has any doubts as to the stability of the system, and which give us a sufficient guarantee, that guarantee which federal unions have heretofore wanted, namely: that it establishes a central authority which it will not be within the power of any of the local governments to interfere with or rise up against. It appears to me that they have avoided the errors into which the framers of the American Constitution not unnaturally fell. They have evidently learnt something from the teachings of the past, and profited by the experitnee afforded in the case of our American neighbors They have established this Central Government, giving it such powers, and so defining the powers of the local governments, that it will be impossible for any Local Parliament to interfere with the central power in such a manner as to be detrimental to the interests of the whole.
The great advantage which I see in the scheme is this, that the powers granted to the local governments are strictly defined and circumscribed, and that the residuum of power lies in the Central Government You have, in addition to that, the local governors named by the central authority—an admirable provision which establishes the connection of authority between the central power and the different localities; you have vested in it also the great questions of the customs, the currency, banking, trade and navigation, commerce, the appointment of the judges and the administration of the laws, and all those great and large questions which interest the entire community, and with which the General Government ought to be entrusted. There can, therefore, be no difficulty under the scheme between the various sections—no clashing of authority between the local and central governments in this case, as there has been in the case of the Americans.
The powers of the local governments are distinctly and strictly defined, and you can have no assertion of sovereignty on the part of the local governments, as in the United States, and of powers inconsistent with the rights and security of the whole community. (Hear, hear.) Then, the other point which commends itself so strongly to my mind is this, that there is a veto power on the part of the General Government over all the legislation of the Local Parliament. That was a fundamental element which the wisest statesmen engaged in the framing of the American Constitution saw, that if it was not engrafted in it, must necessarily lead to the destruction of the Constitution. These men engaged in the framing of that Constitution at Philadelphia saw clearly, that unless the power of veto over the acts of the state legislatures was given to the Central Government, sooner or later a clashing of authority between the central authority and the various stated must take place. What said Mr. Madison in reference to this point? I quote from The Secret Debates upon the Federal Constitution, which took place in 1787, and during which this important question was considered.
On the motion of Mr. Pinkney “that the National Legislature shall have the power of negating all laws to be passed by the state legislature, which they may judge improper,” he stated that he considered “this as the corner stone of the system, and hence the necessity of retrenching the state authorities in order to preserve the good government of the National Council.” And Mr. Madison said, “The power of negating is absolutely necessary—this is the only attractive principle which will retain its centrifugal force, and without this the planets will fly from their orbits.”
Now, sir, I believe this power of negative, this power of veto, this controlling power on the part of the Central Government is the best protection and safeguard of the system; and if it had not been provided, I would have felt it very difficult to reconcile it to my sense of duty to vote for the resolutions. But this power having been given to the Central Government, it is to my mind, in conjunction with the power of naming the local governors, the appointment and payment of the judiciary, one of the best features […]
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[…] of the scheme, without which it would certainly, in my opinion, have been open to very serious objection. (Hear, hear.)
I will not now criticize any other of the leading features of the resolutions as they touch the fundamental conditions and principles of the union. I think there has been throughout a most wise and statesmanlike distribution of powers, and at the same time that those things have been carefully guarded which the minorities in the various sections required for their protection, and the regulation of which each province was not unnaturally desirous of retaining for itself. So far then as the objection is concerned of this union being federative merely in its character, and liable to all the difficulties which usually surround federal governments, I think we may fairly consider that there has been a proper and satisfactory distribution of power, which will avert many of those difficulties. (Hear, hear.)
But, sir, there is another objection made to it, and one upon which, from my stand-point, I desire to make some observations, and that is with reference to the manner in which the rights of the various minorities in the provinces have been protected. This is unquestionably a grave and serious subject of consideration, and especially so to the minority in this section of the province, that is the English-speaking minority to which I and many other members of this House belong, and with whose interests we are identified. I do not disguise that I have heard very grave and serious apprehensions by many men for whose opinions I have great respect, and whom I admire for the absence of bigotry and narrow-mindedness which they have always exhibited.
They have expressed themselves not so much in the way of objection to specific features of the scheme as in the way of apprehension of something dangerous to them in it—apprehensions which they cannot state explicitly or even define to themselves. They seem doubtful and distrustful as to the consequences, express fears as to how it will affect their future condition and interests, and in fact they almost think that in view of this uncertainty it would be better if we remained as we are. Now, sir, I believe that the rights of both minorities—the French minority in the General Legislature and the English-speaking minority in the Local Legislature of Lower Canada—are properly guarded.
I would admit at once that without this protection it would be open to the gravest objection; I would admit that you were embodying in it an element of future difficulty, a cause of future dissension and agitation that might be destructive to the whole fabric; and therefore it is a very grave and anxious question for us to consider—especially the minorities in Lower Canada—how far our mutual rights and interests are respected and guarded, the one in the General and the other in the Local Legislature. With reference to this subject, I think that I, and those with whom I have acted—the English speaking members from Lower Canada—may in some degree congratulate ourselves at having brought about a state of feeling between the two races in this section of the province which has produced some good effect. (Hear, hear.)
There has been, ever since the time of the union, I am happy to say—and everybody knows it who has any experience in Lower Canada—a cordial understanding and friendly feeling between the two nationalities, which has produced the happiest results. Belonging to different races and professing a different faith, we live near each other; we come in contact and mix with each other, and we respect each other; we do not trench upon the rights of each other; we have not had those party and religious differences which two races, speaking different languages and holding different religious beliefs, might be supposed to have had; and it is a matter of sincere gratification to us, I say, that this state of things has existed and is now found amongst us. (Hear, hear.) But if, instead of this mutual confidence; if, instead of the English-speaking minority placing trust in the French majority in the Local Legislature, and the French minority placing the same trust in the English majority in the General Legislature, no such feeling existed, how could this scheme of Confederation be made to work successfully? (Hear, hear.)
I think it cannot be denied that there is the utmost confidence on both sides; I feel assured that our confidence in the majority in the Local Government will not be misplaced, and I earnestly trust that the confidence they repose in us in the General Legislature will not be abused. (Hear, hear.) I hope that this mutual yielding of confidence will make us both act in a high-minded and sensitive manner when the rights of either side are called in question—if ever they should be called in question—in the respective […]
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[…] legislatures. This is an era in the history of both races—the earnest plighting of each other’s faith as they embrace this scheme. It is remarkable that both should place such entire confidence in one another; and in future ages our posterity on both sides will be able to point with pride to the period when the two races had such reliance the one on the other as that each was willing to trust its safety and interest to the honor of the other. (Hear, hear.)
This mutual confidence has not been brought about by any ephemeral or spasmodic desire for change on the part of either; it is the result of the knowledge each race possesses of the character of the other, and of the respect each entertains for the other. (Hear, hear.) It is because we have learnt to respect each other’s motives and have been made to feel by experience that neither must be aggressive, and that the interests of the one are safe in the keeping of the other. And I think I may fairly appeal to the President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown], that if, during the ten years in which he has agitated the question of representation by population, we the English in Lower Canada had listened to his appeals—appeals that he has persistently made with all the earnestness and vigor of his nature—if we had not turned a deaf ear to them, but had gone with those of our own race and our own faith, the people of Upper Canada, who demanded this change, where, I would ask him, would have been our union to day? Would not a feeling of distrust have been established between the French and English races in the community, that would have rendered even the air consideration of it utterly impracticable? (Hear, hear.)
Would the French have in that case been ready now to trust themselves in the General Legislature, or the English in the Local Legislature of Lower Canada? No; and I pray God that this mutual confidence between two races which have so high and noble a work to do on this continent, who are menaced by a common danger, and actuated by a common interest, may continue for all time to come! I pray that it may not be interrupted or destroyed by any act of either party; and I trust that each may continue to feel assured that if at any time hereafter circumstances should arise calculated to infringe upon the rights of either, it will be sufficient to say, in order to prevent any aggression of this kind—”We trusted each other when we entered this union; we felt then that our rights would be sacred with you; and our honor and good faith and integrity are involved in and pledged to the maintenance of them.” (Hear, hear.) I believe this is an era in our history to which in after ages our children may appeal with pride, and that if there should be any intention on either side to aggress upon the other, the recollection that each trusted to the honor of the other will prevent that intention being carried out. (Hear, hear.)
Feeling as I do thus strongly that our French fellow-subjects are placing entire confidence in us—in our honor and our good faith—we, the English speaking population of Lower Canada, ought not to be behind hand in placing confidence in them. I feel that we have no reason as a minority to fear aggressions on the part of the majority. We feel that in the past we have an earnest of what we may reasonably expect the future relations between the two races to be. But although this feeling of mutual confidence may be strong enough in our breasts at this time, I am glad to see that my hon. friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], as representing the French majority in Lower Canada, and the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt], as representing the English speaking minority, have each carefully and prudently endeavored to place as fundamental conditions in this basis of union such safeguards and protection as the two races may respectively rely upon. (Hear, hear . )
I feel that it has been carefully considered and carried out, and with the same amount of mutual confidence in the future working as in the past, we need not have any apprehension in trusting the interests of the two races either in the Federal or Local Legislature. (Hear, hear.) But although we here, and as members of this House, feel this confidence in each other, no doubt those who prepared these resolutions were conscious that the powers must be so distributed, and the reservations of power so made, as to commend them to the people of the country at large. You must carry the people with you in this movement, for you cannot force a new Constitution, a new state of political being, upon a people, unless their own judgment and their own convictions as to its safety go along with it.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Rose—You cannot, I say, force a new Constitution upon an unwilling people, but in this instance I believe a very great majority approve of, and are earnestly desirous of the change. I know you must […]
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[…] satisfy them that their interests for all time to come are safe—that the interests of the minority are hedged round with such safeguards, that those who come after us will feel that they are protected in all they hold dear; and I think a few observations will enable me to show the House that that has been well and substantially done in this case. (Hear, hear.) Looking at the scheme, then, from the standpoint of an English Protestant in Lower Canada, let me see whether the interests of those of my own race and religion in that section are safely and properly guarded.
There are certain points upon which they feel the greatest interest, and with regard to which it is but proper that they should be assured that there are sufficient safeguards provided for their preservation. Upon these points, I desire to put some questions to the Government. The first of these points is as to whether such provision has been made and will be carried out that they will not suffer at any future time from a system of exclusion from the federal or local legislatures, but that they will have a fair share in the representation in both; and the second is, whether such safeguards will be provided for the educational system of the minority in Lower Canada as will be satisfactory to them? Upon these points some apprehensions appear to exist in the minds of the English minority in Lower Canada, and although I am free to confess that I have not shared in any fear of injustice at the hands of the majority, as I consider that the action of the past forms a good guarantee for the future, yet I desire, for the full assurance of that minority, to put some questions to my hon. friends in the Government.
I wish to know what share of representation the English-speaking population of Lower Canada will have in the Federal Legislature, and whether it will be in the same proportion as their representation in this Parliament? This is one point in which I think the English inhabitants of Lower Canada are strongly interested. Another is with regard to their representation in the Local Legislature of Lower Canada—whether the same proportion will be given to them as is now given to them in this House, that is to say, about one-fourth of the Lower Canadian representation, which is the proportion of the English speaking to the French speaking population of Lower Canada, the numbers being 260,000 and 1,100,000 respectively. Now, the spirit of the resolutions as I understand them—and I will thank my hon. friend the Attorney General [Hon. Mr. Cartier] to correct me if I am in error in regard to them—provides that the electoral districts in Lower Canada for representatives in the first Federal Legislature shall remain intact as they now are; and, although the resolution is somewhat ambiguously expressed, I take that to be its spirit.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Have the kindness to read it and see.
Hon. Mr. Rose—The 23rd resolution reads: “The Legislature of each province shall divide such province into the proper number of constituencies, and define the boundaries of each of them.” Then the 24th resolution provides that “the Local Legislature may from time to time alter the electoral districts for the purpose of representation in such Local Legislature, and distribute the representatives to which the province is entitled in such Local Legislature, in any manner such legislature may see fit.” In these resolutions I presume that power is given to the Legislature of each province to divide the province into the proper number of constituencies for representation in the Federal Parliament, and to alter the electoral districts for representation in the Local Legislature.
Now, to speak quite plainly, the apprehension which I desire to say again I do not personally share in, but which has been expressed to me by gentlemen in my own constituency, is this, that with respect to the Local Legislature, it will be competent for the French majority in Lower Canada to blot out the English-speaking minority from any share in the representation, and so to apportion the electoral districts that no English speaking member can be returned to the Legislature.
That is an apprehension upon which I would be very glad to have an expression of opinion by my hon. friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier]. As I read the resolutions, if the Local Legislature exercised its powers in any such unjust manner, it would be competent for the General Government to veto its action, and thus prevent the intention of the Local Legislature being carried into effect—even although the power be one which is declared to be absolutely vested in the Local Government, and delegated to it as one of the articles of its constitution.
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—There is not the least doubt that the Local Legislature of Lower Canada should apportion the electoral districts in such a way as to do injustice to the English-speaking population, the General Government will have the right to vet […]
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[…] any law it might pass to this effect and set it at nought.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Would you advise it?
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—Yes, I would recommend it myself in case of injustice. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Rose—I am quite sure my hon. friend would do it rather than have an injustice perpetrated. There is another pout upon which I would like to have from the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier] an explicit statement of the views of the Government. I refer to the provision in the 23rd resolution which I have just read; what I wish to know is whether the Legislature therein spoken of means the Legislature of the province of Canada as it is now constituted, and whether it is contemplated to have any change in the boundaries of the electoral districts for representation in the first session of the Federal Legislature?
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—With regard to Lower Canada, it is not the intention to make any alteration in the electoral districts, because there will be no change in the number of representatives sent to the General Parliament. But with regard to Upper Canada, there will be a change in the electoral districts, because there will be an increase of members from that section.
Hon. Mr. Rose—So that I clearly understand from the statement of the hon. gentleman that in Lower Canada the constituencies, for the purposes of the first ejection to the Federal Legislature, will remain as they are now?
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—Yes, as they are now.
Hon. Mr. Rose—And that as regards the representation in the Local Legislature, the apportionment of the electoral districts by it will be subject to veto by the General Government.
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—Yes, in case of injustice being done. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Rose—I have to thank the hon. gentleman for the manner in which he has answered the questions, and for the assurances he has given on these two points—assurances which, I feel persuaded, will remove some apprehension felt in the country with regard to them. An hon. gentleman who sits near me (Mr. Francis Jones) asks me to enquire who is to change the electoral districts in Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Galt—The Parliament of Canada. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Rose—The hon. gentleman wants to know if it is the present Parliament of Canada; but I am quite willing to let Upper Canada take care of itself, and I think its representatives are able to do so. One minority is quite enough for me to attend to at present. (Laughter.) I trust the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], from my putting these questions to him, will not infer that I have any doubt as to the fair dealing that will be accorded to the minority by the majority in Lower Canada. But it is very desirable, I think, that we should receive a clear, emphatic, and distinct declaration of the spirit of the resolutions on these points, in order that the minority may see how well their rights and interests have been protected. (Hear, hear.)
I am fully persuaded that in the past conduct of the majority if Lower Canada there is nothing which will cause the minority to look with doubt upon the future; for I will do my hon. friend the justice of saying that in the whole course of his public life there has not been a single act on his part either of executive, administrative, or legislative action, tinged with illiberality, intolerance, or bigotry. (Hear, hear.) I say this to express my Relief that in the future, wherever he has control, there will be no appearance of bigotry or illiberality, and I feel that many others in this House and throughout the country share in the confidence I repose in him in this respect. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Holton—Will my hon. friend allow me to interrupt him? Perhaps it would be well, while he is asking questions of the Government, to elicit an answer to the question I have put once or twice touching the proposed measure of the Administration on the subject of education in Lower Canada, as it affects the English-speaking minority. Perhaps he will ascertain whether it will be submitted to the House before the final passage of the Confederation scheme.
Hon. Mr. Rose—I intend to come to that presently, and to put a question to my hon. friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier] in reference to that subject. What I wish to do now is to point out the objections I have heard on the part even of some of my own friends to this scheme—objections which, as I have said, are grounded on an undefined dread of evil rather than on anything that they actually now see obnoxious in the scheme itself. These fears, I have said, are vague and undefined, and difficult therefore to combat. If I go among one class and ask […]
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[…] them what they fear, I am told—”Oh, you are going to hand us over to the tender mercies of the French; the English influence will be entirely annihilated; they will have no power in the community; and all the advantages we have gained during the past twenty-five years by our union with the people of our own race in Upper Canada will be entirely lost.” I can but answer–“What are you afraid of? Where is the interest affecting you that are imperilled? You have, in conjunction with a majority of your own race, power in the General Legislature to appoint the local governors, administer justice and name the judges, to control the militia and all other means of defence, and to make laws respecting the post office, trade, commerce, navigation; and you have all the great and important interests that centre in the community I represent—all matters that affect the minority in Lower Canada—within your control in the Federal Legislature.
The French have surrendered the questions relating to usury, to marriage and divorce, on which they hold pretty strong opinions, to the Central Government. What, then, are you afraid of in the action of the Local Legislature?” “Well,” I am answered, “all that may be true enough; but we shall not get a single appointment; the administration of local affairs in Lower Canada will be entirely in the hands of the French majority, and they will control all the patronage.” You say to them again—”Is it the exercise of patronage you are afraid of? Is not the appointment of the judges, the patronage of the post office, the customs, the excise, the board of works, and all the other important branches of the administration in the hands of the Federal Government? What is there, then, but a few municipal officers to be appointed by the local legislatures; and for the sake of this petty patronage, are you going to imperil the success of a scheme that is fraught with such important consequences to all the Provinces of British North America? Is it for this that you will oppose a measure that contains so many merits, that possesses so much good, and that is calculated to confer such lasting benefits upon these provinces, if not to lead to the formation of a territorial division of the British Empire here?”
Well, these questions I have put, and these explanations I have made, but some still seemed to entertain an undefined dread that they could not realise to themselves—a dread which to a great extent appears to be shared by my hon. friend opposite (Hon. Mr. Dorion) in regard to the General Legislature. Well, if we look to the history of the past twenty-five years and see how we have acted towards each other, I think neither party will have any cause for apprehension. Has there been a single act of aggression on the part of my hon. friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier] on us the English minority, or a single act of aggression on our part towards the race to which he belongs? (Hear, hear.)
Has there not been mutual respect and confidence, and has there been an act on either side to destroy that feeling? (Hear, hear.) I think the past gives assurance to us that no such difficulty will arise in the future, and that we shall continue to live and work harmoniously together, each holding the other in respect and esteem. (Hear, hear.) But we are told—and it is urged as an objection against the scheme—that the Local Government in Lower Canada will obstruct works of improvement.
Now, I think the day has long gone by when acts which were formerly committed could possibly be repeated—when, for instance, before the union, the work carried on by the Montreal Harbour Commissioners could not be proceeded with because Mr. Papineau opposed it. The days of progress and advancement have come since that time. This is an age of progress, the very spirit of which is hostile in the strongest degree to such a state of things. It is impossible for either race to treat the other with injustice. Their interests are too much bound up together, and any injustice committed by one would react quite as injuriously upon it elsewhere; and I believe that the mutual confidence with which we are going into this union ought to and will induce us all to labor together harmoniously, and endeavor to work it out for the best. (Hear, hear.)
I do not disguise from myself that the minority in Lower Canada has always been on the defensive. That is a condition which is natural under the circumstances; for we cannot be in a minority without being more or less on the defensive. But I think that under this scheme the French minority in the General Legislature and the English minority in Lower Canada, will both be amply and satisfactorily protected. (Hear, hear.) Now, sir, I come to the question adverted to by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton], in reference to the education measure which the Government has promised to bring down to the House. I believe this is the first time almost in the history of […]
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[…] Lower Canada—and I call the attention of my hon. friends from Upper Canada to the fact—that there has been any excitement, or movement, or agitation on the part of the English Protestant population of Lower Canada in reference to the common school question. (Hear, hear.) It is the first time in the history of the country that there has been any serious apprehension aroused amongst them regarding the elementary education of their children. I am not aware that there has ever been any attempt in Lower Canada to deprive the minority of their just rights in respect to the education oil their youth. I do not state this simply as my own opinion, or as the result of observations which I have made alone. I have received letters from those who have been cognisant of the educational system in Lower Canada for many years, confirmatory of this in the strongest degree.
It was also observed and commented upon by the three commissioners who came out from England to this country in 1837, and who in their report said it was one of the most remarkable circumstances that came under their notice, that they found two races, speaking different languages and holding different religious opinions, living together in harmony, and having no difference or ill-feeling in respect to the education of their children. Now we, the English Protestant minority of Lower Canada, cannot forget that whatever right of separate education we have was accorded to us in the most unrestricted way before the union of the provinces, when we were in a minority and entirely in the hands of the French population.
We cannot forget that in no way was there any attempt to prevent an educating our children in the manner we saw fit and deemed best; and I would be untrue to what is just if I forgot to state that the distribution of State funds for educational purposes was made in such a way as to cause no complaint on the part of the minority. I believe we have always had our fair share of the public grants in so far as the French element could control them, and not only the liberty, but every facility, for the establishment of separate dissentient schools wherever they were deemed desirable. A single person has the right, under the law, of establishing a dissentient school and obtaining a fair share of the educational grant, if he can gather together fifteen children who desire instruction in it. Now, we cannot forget that in the past this liberality has been shown to us, and that whatever we desired of the French majority in respect to education, they were, if it was at all reasonable, willing to concede. (Hear, hear.)
We have thus, in this also, the guarantee of the past that nothing will be done in the future unduly to interfere with our rights and interests as regards education, and I believe that everything we desire will be as freely given by the Local Legislature as it was before the union of the Canadas. (Hear, hear.) But from whence comes the practical difficulty of dealing with the question at the present moment? We should not forget that it does not come from our French-Canadian brethren in Lower Canada, but that it arises in this way—and I speak as one who has watched the course of events and the opinion of the country upon the subject—that the Protestant majority in Upper Canada are indisposed to disturb the settlement made a couple of years ago, with regard to separate schools, and rather to hope that the French majority in Lower Canada should concede to the English Protestant minority there, nothing more than is given to the minority in the other section of the province.
But still it must be conceded that there are certain points where the present educational system demands modification—points in which the English Protestant minority of Lower Canada expect a modification. I would ask my honorable friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], whether the system of education which is in force in Lower Canada at the time of the proclamation is to remain and be the system of education for all time to come; and that whatever rights are given to either of the religious sections shall continue to be guaranteed to them? We are called upon to vote for the resolutions in ignorance, to some extent, of the guarantees to be given by subsequent legislation, and therefore my honorable friend will not take it amiss if I point out to him where the Protestant minority desire a change, with a view of ascertaining how far the Government is disposed to meet their views by coming down with a measure in which they may be embodied.
The first thing I wish to mention has caused a good deal of difficulty in our present system, and that is, whether non-resident proprietors shall have the same right of designating the lass of schools to which their taxes shall be given as actual residents. That is one point—whether a person living out of the district or township […]
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[…] shall not have the same privilege of saying that his taxes shall be given to a dissentient school as if he resided upon the property. A second point is with reference to taxes on the property of incorporated companies. As it is now, such taxes go in a manner which is not considered satisfactory to the minority of Lower Canada What I desire to ascertain is whether some equitable provision will be made, enabling the taxes on such property to be distributed in some way more satisfactory to the owners—perhaps in the same way that the Government money is. Some have urged that it should be left to the directors of such companies to indicate the schools to which such taxes should be given, while others think that each individual shareholder should have the power to say how the taxes on his property should be applied. I am inclined to think the latter method would be found utterly impracticable. I confess it is an extreme view, and I do not think we could expect that.
But I do think there ought to be some more equitable way of appropriating the taxes on such property These are two points, of perhaps inferior importance to the third, and that is, whether a more direct control over the administration and management of the dissentient schools in Lower Canada will not be given to the Protestant minority; whether in fact they will not be left in some measure to themselves. I am quite well aware that this is a question that concerns both Catholics and Protestants, for I believe that about one third of the dissentient schools are Catholic schools.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Dissentient on account of language.
Hon. Mr. Cartier—There are none dissentient on account of language.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Well, what for then?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—Well, not on account of language; there is no difficulty on account of that.
Hon. Mr. Rose—The question relates to all dissentient schools, from whatever cause they may have been led to dissent. The remedy can be made to apply equally to all. I do not ask what precise measure will be brought down, but I do think they ought to have more control than they now possess. The final question is one relating somewhat to the finances, and therefore belongs more properly to my hon. friend the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt].
Hon. Mr. Galt—You shall have an answer immediately.
Hon. Mr. Cartier—Mr. Speaker, as usual, I am ready to answer categorical questions, and I will answer my hon. friend in such a way as to satisfy both the House and my hon. friend. With regard to the first point, respecting non-residents in the townships, I may say that it is the intention of the Government, in a measure which is to be introduced, to give those who are in a minority power to designate to what dissentient schools their assessment shall be paid.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—Only in townships?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—Everywhere. Not to Catholics alone either. With regard to the second question—the distribution of money raised from commercial companies—I am well aware that to this day there has been a complaint with regard to the distribution of those moneys. It is the intention of the Government to have in the measure a provision which will secure a more equitable distribution of those moneys, distributing them in such a way as to satisfy everyone. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Now, with regard to the third enquiry, I am ready also to answer my honorable friend from Montreal Centre [Hon. Mr. Rose], that it is the intention of the Government that in that law there will be a provision that will secure to the Protestant minority in Lower Canada such management and control over their schools as will satisfy them. (Laughter and cheers.) Now, with regard to my Hon. friend from Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton], who said that there were dissentient schools on account of language.
Hon. Mr. Holton—The hon. gentleman must have misunderstood what I said. The honorable member from Montreal Centre [Hon. Mr. Rose] was saying that there were dissentient schools on account of religion. I merely suggested that there might be dissentient schools on account of language. There was nothing in the law to prevent it. There might be Catholic dissentient schools in municipalities where the majority was Protestant.
Hon. Mr. Cartier—The honorable member for Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton] has the laws of Lower Canada in his possession. Well, he will not find there that there is any such thing as Catholic or Protestant schools mentioned. What are termed in Upper Canada separate schools, come under the appropriate word, in Lower Canada, of dissentient. It is stated that where the majority […]
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[…] is of either religion, the dissentient minority—either Catholic or Protestant—have the right to establish dissentient schools. In the cities the majority being Catholics, the dissentient schools are Protestant, but in the townships, the majority is sometimes Protestant and the dissentient schools Catholic.
Mr. Pope—What will be the provision made, where the population is pretty sparse, as in some parts of my county? Will you allow the minority of one township to join with a neighboring township for the purpose of establishing a dissentient school?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—Yes. There will be a provision enabling the minority to join with their friends in a contiguous municipality in order to make up the requisite number.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—While the Government is in a communicative mood—(laughter)—I think it is of some importance that we should know whether it is the intention of the Government to extend the same rights and privileges to the Catholic minority of Upper Canada that are to be given to the Protestants of Lower Canada?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—I cannot do my own work and the work of others. The Hon. Attorney General for Upper Canada [Hon. J.A. Macdonald] is not present, but I have no doubt that on some future occasion he will be able to answer my honorable friend from Cornwall [Hon. J.S. Macdonald].
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—In the absence of the Hon. Attorney General West [Hon. J.A. Macdonald], perhaps the Hon. President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown] will be kind enough to give us the desired information?
Hon. Mr. Brown—If my hon. friend wants an answer from me, I can only say that the Government has not yet considered the provisions of the School bill relating to Upper Canada. As soon as a bill is framed there will be no delay in laying it before the House.
Hon. Mr. Alleyn—I sincerely hope that the Government feel disposed to grant to the Catholics of Upper Canada the same privileges they have just promised to the Protestants of Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Rose—The manner and spirit in which the Government have given explanations on the subject ought to be satisfactory to the people of Lower Canada of the Protestant religion. The liberal manner in which they have been dealt with in the past gives us every reason to be convinced that we will receive justice. (Hear, hear.) I have no hesitation in saying that I have full confidence that the Lower Canada section of the Administration will deal with us in a fair and liberal spirit.
I have confidence in my hon. friend the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt], and in my hon. friend the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], and I am glad to learn that he will give all proper consideration to that financial question, the distribution of the assessment of commercial companies in a satisfactory manner. I hope the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt] will be disposed to go further, and deal in a similar spirit with the endowment of colleges.
Hon. Mr. Holton—Bring the pressure to bear, and you will get it. Now is the time, before the Confederation scheme comes to a vote.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Well, it happens that my honorable friend from Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton] and myself hold very dissimilar views respecting the importance of Confederation. If I were disposed to follow such tactics, I might possibly profit by his advice. But I am inclined to overlook a great many things on which my honorable friend would hesitate, for the purpose of seeing so important a measure carried out. While I have every confidence in the present Government, I feel that we may expect as much justice at the hands of the Lower Canada Local Parliament as from any Government of United Canada that we ever had. We have never yet had occasion to appeal to the Protestant majority of Upper Canada for help, and if we ever should deem it proper to do so, I have no reason to believe that we should receive more attention than our wants received at the hands of the Catholic majority of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, so far as the three questions to which I have made allusion are concerned, the apprehensions of being shut out from the General Government—being handed over to the French in the Local Parliament of Lower Canada, and our educational rights being interfered with, I feel every assurance that the spirit of the answers just given will be carried out. I will now say a few words respecting the argument presented by my hon. friend from Hochelaga (Hon. Mr. Dorion) in the course of his speech the other evening—that the plan for Federation would inflict great financial injustice upon Canada, and that it would, through the Intercolonial Railway and works of defence, entail such enormous burdens upon the people of Canada […]
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[…] as to ultimately lead them to rise up against and overthrow it. Well now, for the life of me I cannot see how it is to increase our expenditure. I cannot see how it can go beyond what the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt] stated—that it could not in any case add to the present cost more than the expenses of the General Government. The Local Governments cannot be more expensive than the present Government, and therefore all we need to add at the very most is the expense of the General Government. I do not see how it is possible to add any more.
I would, however, ask the attention of the House to another statement made the other evening by the hon. member from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion]. He said that we were making a mistake in supposing that we were discussing a question of colonial union. Confederation, he said, was simply tacked on to the Intercolonial Railway at the suggestion of Mr. Watkin, and that the whole arrangement was merely a nicely planned scheme for the benefit of the Grand Trunk Railway.
Mr. Wallbridge—That was the very motive.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Well, does any one suppose that my hon. friend the President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown] could be duped in that way? Is it possible that my hon. friend from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] believes he has so little astuteness as not to see through such an attempt as that? The argument was used to get the support of the opponents of railways in this House against the Federation. Sir, it would appear that the hon. President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown], and the Hon. Provincial Secretary [Hon. Mr. McDougall] and the other members of the Government, who are ant railway in their views, have been altogether mistaken, and that we are merely going to build up another gigantic railway monopoly for fraudulent purposes They may all be deceived by this imaginary project, and it would seem too, sir, that Mr. Watkin, possessing the wiles of Mephistopheles, had hoodwinked the Governor General, and the Colonial Secretary, and caused them to fall into the trap also. Nay, further, it would appear that his wiles had reached the Throne itself, for Her Majesty has expressed herself in the speech to Parliament in favor of the scheme. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Holton—Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Can it be supposed that a grave and important matter of this kind would have received such consideration from the Home Government, if it were nothing more than a Grand Trunk job? My hon. friend opposite sonorously cries “Order,” when I come to deal with his late colleague’s arguments as the only answer he can give. Does he suppose I am going to allow a grave charge of such a nature to go unanswered?
Hon. Mr. Holton—If I called “Order,” it was because I considered that Her Majesty ought not to have been mentioned in connection with the term “hoodwink.” Her advisers were the responsible parties. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Rose—I repeat that the Speech from the Throne which we have received today, and to which I have a perfect right to refer, does not treat this measure as anything akin to a Grand Trunk job. It is really presuming too much on the part of my hon. friend from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] to get up and say in effect to the members of this House: “You know nothing about this scheme; you cannot see or understand what it really is; but my astuteness enables me to see that it is nothing more than a mere railway job.” (Laughter.)
Does the hon. member really believe what he has stated? Does he really believe that the whole project is for the benefit of the Grand Trunk? It is a most unworthy course for him to pursue to endeavor to bring old prejudices against the Grand Trunk Company, to bear in the manner he has been doing; prejudices and animosities based upon stories that have been repeated until a further reference to them seems almost childish. But it is not possible that any honorable member’s judgment can be carried away by those little appeals to side issues, on a question of this important nature. What does the Speech from the Throne say:—
Her Majesty has had great satisfaction in giving her sanction to the meeting of a conference of delegates from her several North American Provinces, who, on an invitation from Seer Majesty’s Governor General, assembled at Quebec. These delegates adopted resolutions having for their object a closer union of those provinces under a Central Government. If the Provincial Legislatures shall approve those resolutions, a bill will be laid before you for carrying this important measure into effect. (Loud cheers.)
This is the language used by our Sovereign when addressing the Imperial Parliament, and is we now to be urged to under estimate the value of the great project by mere appeals to the prejudices of the people at large against the threatened monopoly of the Grand Trunk Railway. The opinion of Her Majesty is shared in, too, by some of the […]
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[…] greatest statesmen of England, whose names are identified with the history of the nation. What said Lord Derby in reference to Confederation? Does he consider it to emanate from a mere clique of railway speculators? Speaking of the relation of Canada to the United States—and his remarks come in most opportunely in connection with the observations I made at the outset—speaking of defending the upper lakes with armed vessels, the noble lord says:—
I do not ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken, but I do say this, that they will be deeply responsible if they are not fully awake to the position in which this country is placed by these two acts of the United States. If the preponderating force upon the lakes should be in the hands of the United States, it could only be used for purposes of aggression. (Hear, hear.) An attack on the part of Canada upon the United States is a physical impossibility. The long frontier of Canada is peculiarly open to aggression; and assailable as it is by land, unless there be a preponderating force upon these lakes, you must be prepared to place the province of Canada at the disposal of the United States.
I prefer the appreciation of Lord Derby, and his opinion of the state of these affairs, to the ironical cheers or opinion of my honorable friend from Chateauguay [Hon. Mr. Holton]. I place what the noble lord has said as to the Confederation question in its relation to the defence of these provinces and the strength to be thereby added to the Government of England, before anything which he or the other opponents of this scheme can express. The noble lord says with regard to the great measure itself:—
Under the circumstances I see, with additional satisfaction, the announcement if a contemplated step—I mean the proposed Federation of the British North American Provinces. I hope I may regard that Federation as a measure tending to constitute a power strong enough, with the aid of this country, which, I trust, may never be withdrawn from these provinces—to acquire an importance which separately the could not obtain. If I saw in this Federation a desire to separate from this country, I should think it a matter of much more doubtful policy and advantage; but I perceive with satisfaction that no such wish is entertained. Perhaps it is premature to discuss at this moment resolutions not yet submitted to the different legislatures; but I hope I see in the terms of that Federation an earnest desire on the part of the provinces to maintain for themselves the blessing of the connection with this country, and a determined and deliberate preference for monarchical over republican institutions.
(Hear, hear, and cheers.) Now, sir, could there be anything more opportune? This is the language of one of the ablest statesmen of England. Be united, he says, that you may be strong, and depend upon it you will have the whole power of England to sustain you. Can there he anything more cheering or encouraging to those who have taken an interest in the subject, than the language I have just quoted, and which was uttered in the House of Lords not three weeks ago? (Hear, hear.)
And yet my honorable friend from Hochelaga [Hon. Mr. Dorion] presumes to stand up here and tell us, in effect, that we are so many children—that we are deceived with the idea that we are going to establish a great nation or Confederation of provinces, and that there is nothing of that kind in it; and he appeals to prejudices formerly entertained by members on this side of the House, in order that he may induce them to withdraw their support from the important measure which the Government has brought down, and which the greatest statesmen of England have stamped with their approval. (Hear, hear.) Perhaps the House will indulge me if I read a few more words from the discussion in the House of Lords upon the Speech from the Throne. Earl Granville, the President of the Council [Hon. Mr. Brown], said:—
And what ought to make us still more proud of the good government which must undoubtedly have prevailed amongst us, is to find that our North American colonies, in expressing their wish to continue their connexion with this country, and in adopting the new institutions they have been considering with such calm and prudent statesmanship, have thought it desirable to keep as close as possible to the constitution and institutions under which we so happily live.
(Loud cheers.) He does not belittle the men who have sacrificed so much, as honorable gentlemen opposite are inclined to do. He does not sneer at those who have gone into the matter with the honest view of carrying it out; but, on the contrary, he praises their “calm and prudent statesmanship,” and says that it is a matter of which they may feel proud, and I say that those who have taken part in originating and bringing this project to the present advanced stage, may well feel proud of their work, when the greatest statesmen of the world commend it as a thing of wonderful perfection, considering the difficulties with which it is surrounded. And these opinions were not confined to any one party, but were uttered by both liberals and conservatives. Lord Houghton said in the course of the same debate:—
On the other side of the Atlantic the same impulse has manifested itself in the proposed, amalgamation […]
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[…] of the Northern Provinces of British America. I heartily concur with all that has been said by my noble friend the mover of this address in his laudation of that project. It is, my lords, a most interesting contemplation that that project has arisen and has been approved by Her Majesty’s Government. It is certainly contrary to what might be considered the old maxims of government in connection with the colonies, that we should here express, and that the Crown itself should express satisfaction at a measure which tends to bind together in almost independent power our colonies in North America. We do still believe that though thus banded together they will recognize the value of British connection, and that while they will be safer in this amalgamation we shall be as safe in their fealty. The measure will, no doubt, my lords, require much prudent consideration and great attention to prevent susceptibilities. It will have to deal with several British provinces, but with a race almost foreign in their habits and origin. I do hope it will ultimately succeed, and that the French-Canadians forming part of this great integral North British American empire will have as much security and happiness as they can attain.
Those who say that the people throughout the country are opposed to this measure, I am satisfied, know very little what the sentiment of the country is. I believe there is a deep-rooted sentiment of approbation of the steps that have been taken. I know that those who are perhaps most fearful with reference to it, and whose interests are perhaps most in jeopardy—the English speaking minority in Lower Canada—have considered it carefully, and with all their prejudices against it at the outset, are now warmly in its favor. I speak particularly of those who have great interests at stake in the community which I represent—the great and varied interests of commerce, trade, banking, manufactures and material progress generally, which are supposed to centre in the city of Montreal. These men—and there are none more competent in the province—have considered the scheme in a elm and business-like way, and have deliberately come to the conclusion that it is calculated to promote the best interests and greatly enhance the prosperity of this country. (Hear, hear.)
Well knowing the it they are to be in a minority in the Local Legislature, and to be cut off, as it were, from those of their own race and religion in Upper Canada, yet, after considering how the change is to affect the important interests which they have at stake, they are prepared to cast in their lot with the measure, and endeavor to make it work harmoniously. (Hear, hear.) And I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we have not a day to lose in carrying out the project. I believe the question of preparing for the defence of this country is an imminent one. (Hear, hear.) There is not, I repeat, a day or an hour to be lost, and I believe that if this country is put into a proper condition of defence, the union will be the best safeguard we can have. If our neighbors see that we have the means of causing them to sit down on our frontier and spend a summer before they on hope to make any impression upon the country, we will then be in a pretty good condition to defend ourselves.
I trust that the blessings of peace may long be preserved to us, that the good feeling which ought to subsist between Canada and the United States may never boo interrupted; that two kindred nations which have so many ties, so many interests, and so many associations in common, may never become enemies, and I think that we ought to make every honorable concession in order to avert the calamities of war. No man can appreciate the blessings of peace more than I do, and no one is more alive to the horrors of war than I am. But at the same time we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that within the last three or four years we have several times been seriously threatened. It is not in the power of any man to say when the cloud, which so darkly overshadows us, may burst in full fury on our heads, and those who have the direction of the destinies of this country ought to be prepared to do all that in them lies to place it in a position to meet that event. We cannot recede from the position we have assumed. We cannot go back, we must go forward; and it is certain to my mind that if what has now been undertaken is not consummated, we will regret it in years to come.
I have but to add one word more, and I must apologize to the House for the time I have already occupied. (Cries of “Go on.”) I am afraid I have very much transgressed the limits I had assigned to myself. There is but one point more, and I have done. My honorable friend opposite (Hon. Mr. Dorion) says that this scheme is going to ruin us financially—that it is financially unfair. But he has failed to point out in what feature this can be regarded as financially injurious to any particular section. There can be nothing fairer to my mind than that, in forming a partnership between these five provinces, the amount of the debt should be equalised at the time the partnership is formed, and that whatever one is short should be made up by an annual grant to the other, not an increasing one but a fixed […]
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[…] sum. There can be nothing unfair in the application of such a principle as that. Of course the interest on the debt, whatever it may be, must be met by taxation. “And,” says my honorable friend, “the Lower Provinces are less able to pay taxation than we are, and therefore the great bulk of the taxation will have to come out of the inhabitants of Upper and Lower Canada, and particularly the merchants of the city of Montreal.”
Well, sir, is not this just? Is it not fair that the richest portion of the community should pay the most taxes? Does my honorable friend mean to say that those who consume most ought not to pay most to the revenue? And if the people of Upper and Lower Canada are larger consumers than the people of the Lower Provinces, ought they not to contribute according to their consumption to the revenue? “But, oh,” says my honorable friend, “the people of the Lower Provinces get their 80 cents per head, and we get no more, although we are much larger contributors to the revenue.” And, he adds, “The amount to be derived from the contributions to the revenue by the Lower Provinces will be very infinitesimal.”
But granted, for argument’s sake, that this is so, I think we ought not to undervalue in this discussion the collateral advantage which the control of the fisheries will give to the united government in the union to be formed. Remember that these fisheries will form an important part in the future negotiations with the United States in inference to reciprocity, which Upper Canada attaches so much importance to. Hence Canada in this union will have the control of the policy in regard to the concession of fishing rights to the American Government. And it is in this respect that the future commercial position of the Upper Canada farmer and the Lower Canada merchant will be enhanced by the fact that the concession of the fisheries will procure for them advantages in other branches of trade; for I repeat that the future policy will be directed in a great measure by the influence wielded by Canada in the Confederation.—(Hear, hear.)
My honorable friend, however, goes on to say, “But you are about to incur a large amount of debt. Lower Canada entered into the present union with a debt of only $300,000 or $400,000, and the united debt of the two provinces is now $67,000,000.” Well, sir, this is quite true. But Lower Canada, when she entered the union, had only a population of 600,000, and Upper Canada a population of 400,000. There was not at that time a mile of railway; now there are upwards of 2,000. (Hear, hear.) There was hardly a lighthouse, and see how the St. Lawrence and lakes are lighted now from Lake Superior to Belle Isle. (Hear, hear.) She went into the union without a canal, and she has now the finest canal system in the world. (Hear, hear.) She had no educational system, and look at the state of education among us at the present time. (Hear, hear.)
She was without a municipal system, and look at the municipal institutions of Lower Canada as they are to be found to day. (Hear, hear.) She went into the union with the seigniorial tenure grinding as it were the people, and weighing down the industry and enterprise of the country; and has not the seigniorial tenure been abolished? (Hear, hear.) Does not my honorable friend see the advantages of all these reforms and improvements? And does not my honorable friend know that of the $62,000,000 which is regarded as Canada’s proportion of the joint debt, $49,000,000 and more have been actually expended in and are now positively represented by public works of that value?
Hon. Mr. Dorion—Not in Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Rose—My honorable friend says “Not in Lower Canada.” But does he not see that the chain of canals which have been constructed to bring down the trade of the West to Montreal and Quebec, is a benefit of the most substantial kind to Lower Canada? (Hear, hear.) What but these very facilities have increased the shipping of Montreal some five hundred per cent, within the last few years. Does my honorable friend mean to say that the connection of the Grand Trunk with the western railways of the United States is not a benefit to Lower Canada? Does he mean to assert that the slides constructed on the Ottawa so as to bring lumber to Quebec are of no advantage to Lower Canada? Surely he does not measure everything that is done in the way of improvement by a petty, narrow, sectional standard, which would exact that unless a pound of money laid out in a particular spot or locality benefited that particular place, it was thrown away. Is this the policy which he would like to see introduced into the new regime?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—We have, too, the Victoria Bridge.
Hon. Mr. Rose—Yes, we have also the Victoria Bridge. And does my honorable friend think that we would have had this […]
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[…] great work had the views–he enunciates been acted upon?
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—Leave us as we are.
Hon. Mr. Rose—We cannot be left as we are. I should be content, Mr. Speaker, were I to live for twenty-five years after the union now contemplated is consummated, I should be content to know that I had taken a humble part in bringing it about, if the prosperity of the country during the next twenty-five years under it were only as great as during the twenty-five years that have past. (Hear, hear.) My honorable friend seems to think that the Intercolonial Railway is an undertaking of doubtful advantage, if it is not one of positive uselessness. But does my hon. friend think we can safely continue in our present position of commercial dependence on the United States? Shall we be denied access to the seaboard for a bale of goods or a bag of letters? Are we to be for all time to come dependent on the fiscal legislation of the United States? Is it to come to this, that in the winter season the Upper Canada farmer shall have no means whereby he can send a barrel of flour, or the Lower Canada merchant a bale of goods, to the seaboard, without the leave of the United States? Is my honorable friend disposed to leave us in this condition of commercial dependency forever?
I can hardly believe he will deliberately say that we are to continue in such circumstances as these—that under no conditions shall the expense of constructing the Intercolonial Railway be incurred. I believe with him that that work is a great and grave undertaking, and one that will involve a serious charge on the wealth of the country. Rut then I contend that it is one which we cannot avoid—it is a necessity. We must have it. It is called for by military reasons and commercial necessity, and the date of its construction cannot safely be postponed. Why, what have we not seen within a very recent period? Restrictions have been put on goods sent through the United States, by the establishment of consular certificates, to such an extent that you could not send a bale of goods through the States without accompanying it with one of these certificates, the cost of which I am told was nearly $2—perhaps more than the worth of the package, or more than the cost of the freight. (Hear, hear.)
Still further, the Senate of the United States had also before them a motion to consider under what regulations foreign merchandise is allowed to pass in bond through the neighbouring country; and this was evidently done with an in tension of abolishing the system under which goods were permitted to pass in bond from England through the United States.
I do not hesitate to say that if the bonding system were done away with, half the merchants in Canada would be seriously embarrassed if not ruined for the time. (Hear, hear.) In the winter season you could not send a barrel of flour to England—you could not receive a single package of goods therefrom. The merchants would have to lay in a twelve months’ stock of goods, and the farmer would be dependent on the condition of the market in spring, and would be compelled to force the sale of his produce at that moment, whether there was a profitable market for it then or not, instead of having as now a market at all seasons, as well in England as the United States. So that whatever sacrifices attach to the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, we must have it, seeing that it is impossible for us to remain in our present position of isolation and suspense. It is one of the unfortunate incidents of our position which we cannot get rid of. It will be a costly undertaking, but it is one we must make up our minds to pay for, and the sooner we set about its construction the better.
Hon. Atty. Gen. Cartier—We must always expect to pay for what is good.
Mr. Wallbridge—But when it is good for nothing, what then?
Hon. Mr. Rose—I have just done. I do not hope to convert my honorable friend; but I desired to show how indispensable and how desirable those communications are, and how necessary it is that they should be effected. No one can foresee what the future of the neighboring States will be—whether they will be reconstructed as one union, or split up into two or more confederacies. They have a dark and uncertain future before them, for no one can doubt that no matter what their condition as regards reconstruction may be, they will have an enormous load of debt weighing upon them, and that they will have to encounter great difficulties before they finally settle down into the same state of permanent security as formerly. If we are alive to the natural advantages of our position, unless we deliberately throw them away, we can, whatever that future may be, secure a profitable intercourse with them. Unless the St. Lawrence and Ottawa cease to flow, and the lakes dry up, those roads to the ocean are the natural outlets for the west, and we can turn them to good amount. We know something […]
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[…] of the great productiveness of the Western States.
There is, in fact, no limit to that productiveness, and the necessity of their having another outlet to the sea, without being altogether dependent upon New York and Boston, is to my mind very plain. This necessity of the powerful western interests must have a controlling influence in the commercial policy of the United States; and if we can direct the trade of the Western States down the St. Lawrence by giving them additional facilities, it cannot be doubted that we shall find therein a great element of security for the future peace of the two countries. This House will remember the resolutions, of a couple of years ago, of the states of Wisconsin and Illinois in reference to this question. These resolutions contained one or two facts which are of the greatest importance, as showing the necessity existing in the Western States for a channel of communication through the St. Lawrence. The memorial founded on it stated these facts:—
With one-tenth of the arable surface under cultivation, the product of wheat of the North-Western States in 1862 is estimated at 150,000,000 of bushels; and from our own State of Illinois alone there has been shipped annually for the last two years, a surplus of food sufficient to feed ten millions of people. For several years past a lamentable waste of crops actually harvested has occurred in consequence of the inability of the railways and canals leading to the seaboard to take off the excess. The Northwest seems already to have arrived at a point of production beyond any possible capacity for transportation which can be provided, except by the great natural outlets. It has for two successive years crowded the canals and railways with more than 100,000,000 of bushels of grain, besides immense quantities of other provisions, and vast numbers of cattle and hogs. This increasing volume of business cannot be maintained without recourse to the natural outlet of the lakes.
The future prosperity of these states bordering on the great lakes depends in a great measure on cheap transportation to foreign markets; hence they are vitally interested in the question of opening the St. Lawrence, the great natural thoroughfare from the lakes to the ocean, through, and by which the people of England may enlarge their supplies of breadstuffs and provisions, greatly exceeding the quantity heretofore received from the United States, at one-fourth less cost than it has heretofore been obtained. From actual experience derived from shipments of Indian corn from Chicago to Liverpool, it is shown that the freight charges often covered seven-eighths of the value of the bushel of corn at Liverpool; more than one-half of the cost of wheat is also often consumed by the present very inadequate means of transportation.
The European customer for our breadstuffs determines their price in all our markets. The surplus of grain derived from the Northwest is fifty or sixty millions of bushels beyond the demand of the Eastern States, and when that surplus is carried to their markets, the foreign quotations establish the value of the entire harvest. The interior of North America is drained by the St. Lawrence, which furnishes for the country bordering upon the lakes a natural highway to the sea. Through its deep channel must pass the agricultural productions of the vast lake region. The commercial spirit of the age forbids that international jealousy should interfere with great natural thoroughfares, and the governments of Great Britain and the United States will appreciate this spirit and cheerfully yield to its influence. The great avenue to the Atlantic through the St. Lawrence being once opened to its largest capability, the laws of trade, which it has now been the policy of the Federal Government to obstruct, will carry tube commerce of the Northwest through it.
I say, then, give us the Intercolonial Railway, give us the command of the St. Lawrence, give us a government by which we can direct our national policy, give us the control of the fisheries, and we will be able to secure such reciprocal trade with the United States for Upper Canada as it requires. But if we are disunited—if the Lower Provinces retain the control of the fisheries, and Canada has nothing to give in exchange for the concession she seeks from the United States in the way of commercial intercourse, in breadstuffs and otherwise—I say that in such a case as this we are very much hampered indeed. I have detained the House very much longer than I intended, and I fear that I have exhausted the patience of honorable members. (Cries of “No, no,” and “go on.”) I have fallen into the same error which has been attributed to others. But there is a single observation I desire to otter in conclusion, and it has reference to the demand made by some honorable members, that there should be a dissolution before the question is finally decided. Well, sir, time presses. We have, and I cannot repeat it too often, not a day or an hour to lose in undertaking those great works of defence which may be absolutely necessary to our existence.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—What works of defence?
Hon. Mr. Rose—The works to which I have alluded.
Mr. Wallbridge—Where are they?
Hon. Mr. Rose—Does any honorable gentleman know, or, if he does know, ought he to say publicly where they are to be? All we know is that there must be a large outlay […]
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[…] on the defences of the country, of which the Lower Provinces will bear their share and the Imperial Government will bear its share; but how do I know, or ought any honorable gentleman here to enquire if I did, whether these works will be at Point Levis, at Montreal, at Kingston, at Toronto, or where? But that there are to be works, and extensive works necessary to be constructed, so as to check sudden conquest or invasion, does not admit of a doubt. Does not the honorable gentleman know that there have been out here time and again eminent military officers, under directions from the Imperial Government, to ascertain where would be the best points for the erection of those fortifications?
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—And how much of the cost are we to contribute?
Hon. Mr. Rose—I hope as much as may be necessary and fair. (Cheers.) For my part—and I know that this feeling is shared in by every honorable member who hears me—I am prepared not only to stake the money of others, but, if necessary, to expend my last shilling on these works, if they are declared to be essential for the defence of the country. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) I consider such precautions as much a necessity as insuring one’s house against fire. If the honorable gentleman means to say that, in providing for the continuance of our national existence, the people would bargain whether they should give a hundred pounds or a thousand pounds, I can assure him he knows very little of the spirit of the country. The people are prepared to tax themselves to the extent of their last shilling in order to defend themselves against aggression. (Hear, hear.) I do not pretend to know anything of military operations, but any man with a head on his shoulders must see that there must be works of some kind constructed to enable us to resist aggression.
Mr. Wallbridge—I pretend to have a head on my shoulders as well as the honorable gentleman, and I would ask him whether the railway, which is made part of the Constitution, is considered part of the works he alludes to or not?
Hon. Mr. Rose—I do not think the Intercolonial Railway is part of the Constitution, but its construction is provided for, and a railway from such point as shall be considered on the whole best, both in reference to commercial considerations and military considerations, is indispensable; and what is more, I believe the country will cheerfully bear the expense. (Hear, hear.) But in regard to the question of an appeal to the people, I would just ask, is there a single member of this House who does not already know what is the feeling of his constituents on this question, who is not aware whether they are for the union or against the union?
Is there a member who does not ken own what his constituents desire in respect to it, and who is not himself prepared to take the responsibility of his vote? I believe there is not. And does any honorable gentleman think that if there was to be a dissolution and an appeal to the country on this question, the elections would turn upon the scheme itself, that there would not be individual predilections, personal questions, and local questions affecting the elections, far more than Confederation? And would it not be most anomalous to elect a Parliament, the first vote given by which would be its own death? The sole business of the new Parliament would be to agree upon a Constitution which should annihilate itself.
There is something so anomalous, almost unconstitutional and absurd in such a step, that I think it could not commend itself to the common sense of the country. I think we are already sufficiently aware of what the feeling—the mature and dispassionate feeling—the calm conviction and views of the country are, and that too after an intelligent appreciation of it in all its bearings, and I do not think there is anything to be gained, but on the contrary much to be imperilled, by the expense and delay of an election. I know that in my own constituency—not the least important in the province—this conclusion has been come to, not from any inconsiderate love of change—not from any ardent and temporary impulse or vague aspirations to be part in name of a future nation, at the risk of imperilling their relations with England or of injury to their interests, but I believe the scheme is stamped with their approval, because their reason and judgment convince them that it is not only desirable but a necessity of our condition. (Hear, hear.) I again apologise for the time I have occupied the attention of the House, and express my thanks for the kind consideration honorable members have extended to me. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. A. Mackenzie moved the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Holton—I would like to say a word, and only a word, before the motion to adjourn the debate is put. I have listened with very great attention to the speech of my honorable friend from Montreal Centre [Hon. Mr. Rose], a large portion of which was devoted to the […]
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[…] subject of the defences of the country. I admit to the full the importance of that subject, but I maintain that as yet we are not in a position to give the proper weight to the arguments of my honorable friend and of other honorable gentlemen on that question, that in fact we are hardly in a position to consider the subject at all; and I do maintain that it is hardly fair to introduce it as an element into this discussion, so long as the Government withhold from us the official information which may be assumed to be in their possession on that subject. I have risen, therefore, to express the hope that the honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches will see the propriety of submitting to this House the fullest possible information on that subject. (Hear, hear.)
I am sure my honorable friend who has just taken his seat will himself admit the force of what I am now urging, and that we cannot give the consideration he asks to that branch of the general subject of Confederation without having the amplest information that the Government can give us with regard to it. I would, therefore, express the desire—which I am sure is shared by a large number of the honorable members who sit around me—that at once, before we proceed further in this debate, this important information should be submitted to the House in a distinct form. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—My honourable friend from Chateauguay (Hon. Mr. Holton) has very properly called the attention of the Government to the necessity of having laid before this House information as to the amount we shall have to appropriate for the defences of the country. It is well known that Imperial officers were sent out some time ago to make a survey, and report on the defensive condition of this country, and the best points at which to build fortifications—the points d’appui, where in cases of disaster we should be obliged to take shelter, if the enemy drove us into our garrisons. The report of those officers was made before I left office, more than a year ago. Surely during that time, with such a loyal administration as that composed of the honorable gentlemen now on the Treasury benches, the secret of the amount of the appropriation that will be required at our hands has not been kept from them. (Hear, hear.)
It appears to me that this is a branch of the question to which we must address ourselves, before we are in a condition to deal satisfactorily with the general subject. It is a principle of the British Constitution that the appropriation of any moneys from the taxes paid by the people, shall beat the disposal of Parliament. We have a right therefore to know, at the earliest possible period, before we go blindly into this scheme of Confederation, what we are called upon to appropriate in connection with this matter. (Hear, hear.)
And there is another point on which, as yet, we have had no information, beyond what was given to-night when the hon. member for South Oxford [Hon. Mr. Brown] answered me in his curt way. The Government may as well at an early date—I mean the portion of the Government who will have to speak for Upper Canada, and who are especially responsible for the acts of the Administration with reference to that section of the province—give their attention to the question how far the Catholics of Upper Canada are to be placed in the position of maintaining their schools and claiming their portion of the public funds, and enjoying generally the same privileges which are to be enjoyed, according to the declaration of the Honorable Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], by the Protestants of Lower Canada.
I express no opinion at this time as to the propriety of the demands made by the Protestants of Lower Canada, or as to what I shall be prepared to do when that question comes up. Nor do I express now any opinion as to the propriety of giving the Catholics of Upper Canada more rights than they have got. But I say the Government ought to address themselves at once to the question, whether they are to make the same provision for the Catholics of Upper Canada, as for the Protestants of Lower Canada. This is a matter which comes home to the feelings of the Catholics of Upper Canada, and they have here at this moment delegates to express their opinions. No doubt, to enforce what they conceive to be their own rights, they will use as a lever the proposition to extend to the Protestants of Lower Canada the privileges which they claim as their due. And depend upon it, that when the time comes for the Protestants of Lower Canada to ask what they assert to be their rights, they will be expected to stand up also for the Catholics of Upper Canada, and to deal out to them the same justice which they expect the Catholics of Lower Canada to extend to them.
Hon. Mr. Brown—My honorable friend from Cornwall [Hon. J.S. Macdonald] does not of course agree himself with the views he is now urging. I think he ought to wait till the parties he speaks for ask lime to express their views, or allow them to get as their advocate one who does share their views. He surely does not want to urge […]
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[…] views upon us in which he does not sympathize himself.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—Is my honorable friend ignorant of the resolutions which have been passed by the Catholics of Upper Canada? Is he ignorant that Vicar-General McDonnell of Kingston is here at the Palace, to give effect to them? And does he say that whatever opinions I may entertain on the question, I must not presume to ask the Government to state their intentions with regard to it? Their answer should not be delayed on the plea set up to night by the President of the Council (Hon. Mr. Brown), that they are to consider the matter. It is a matter worthy of consideration, and I press it on the attention of the Government in order that they may be prepared, for it must come.
Mr. A. Mackenzie—What must come?
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—The question must be brought up in this House.
Hon. Mr. Brown—Well, bring it.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald—I want the gentlemen on the Treasury benches, when the question is brought up and put to them, to be prepared to say what they are to do with reference to the Catholic minority of Upper Canada, as the Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier] has manfully stated what he will do for the Protestant minority of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.) I have never come to this House to act as the champion of any religious sect. I have come to do justice to all parties, and I claim that we are entitled to understand, when it is intended to make distinctions for the benefit of the minority in one section of the province, whether similar distinctions are to be made also for the benefit of the minority in the other section. (Hear, hear.)
The motion for adjourning the debate was then agreed to.