Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (24 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 446-482.
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FRIDAY, February 24, 1865.
Leonidas Burwell [Elgin East], in resuming the debate upon Confederation, said—
Mr. Speaker, before allowing a measure of this importance to go through the House, I feel it my duty to offer a few words upon it. The question of Federation is not a new one to my constituents. Ever since the Reform Convention in Toronto, in 1859, they have been quite familiar with it. At the general election, in 1861, in an address to my constituents, I stated that in case we should not be. able to get representation by population, I would be in favor of Federation of the two provinces of Canada, with a Local Government in each province and a Central Government to administer matters common to both, provision to be made to admit the Eastern Provinces and the North-West territory, should they see fit to enter the union, of course with the sanction of Great Britain. And at the last general election in 1863, I addressed them in precisely the same language. (Hear, hear.)
The agitation for constitutional changes had been so general and persistent for a length of time in Upper Canada, that it was impossible to all appearance to stave off much longer some action in reference to the difficulty. Efforts were made at different times to secure representation by population as a remedy, but without success. The nearest approach to a remedy for the difficulty under which Upper Canada labors, is, in my opinion, the resolutions of the Quebec Conference now before the House, and the question for consideration is whether they are acceptable to us and our people, or not. The principle of Federation, in my view, has been a great success on this continent. I think that, if we look to the history of the United States, it cannot boo denied that there, as a principle of free government, it has been successful; and I doubt whether history records a like example, under ordinary circumstances, of such great success and prosperity.
The present trouble in that country—the war now raging there—is not in my opinion attributable to the federative form of government adopted there. I attribute it to different causes altogether, which might have existed, had it been a monarchical or a despotic government that prevailed. Slavery existed there and was the cause of the war. It was opposed to the spirit of the age, and had to be eradicated. (Hear, hear.)
There were, no doubt, other causes which had some influence in bringing it about; such, for instance, as the desire of the North for a high protective tariff to encourage its domestic manufactures, and the opposing interest of the South in favor of free trade, so that, manufacturing nothing itself, it might have all the benefit of cheap importations. These, sir, I conceive were the two great causes of the difficulty in the United States. Now, in forming Federal Government in these provinces, I think we should look for an example to a people who are similar to us in situation, habits and customs. I find that example in the people of the United States. (Hear, hear.)
My honorable friend from Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie] cited the example of a great many other countries, but they were not not perhaps accustomed so much to free government as the United States; for it was not Federation that first gave them liberty, the old colonies of New England enjoying a large share of liberty long before the adoption of Federal Government by them. (Hear, hear.)
The plan proposed by the Conference at Quebec is, in my opinion, too restrictive, as regards the power of the Local Legislatures. It gives too much power to the General Government. I am one of those, sir, who believe that the appointment of the deputy or lieutenant governors should not be in the gift of the General Government, but that they should be elected by the people. (Hear, hear.) I believe, too, that the members of the Legislative Council should be elected by the people. (Hear, hear.)
There is no element in this country—no class in this country, nor do I think it possible to create a class—the counterpart of […]
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[…] the class that composes the House of Lords in England. The British Government is undoubtedly the best-balanced government in the world; but we cannot exactly copy the system here, because of the absence of the class to which I have referred. The nearest approach that we can have to the House of Lords is, in my opinion, an elective Legislative Council, the members of which shall hold office for an extended period. My hon. friend from Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie], in the very excellent speech he made to the House yesterday, said that if both Houses were made elective their circumstances and powers would be so similar that neither would be a check upon the other; but I contend that if wo had an elective Upper House, with the members representing larger constituencies and elected fore longer period than the members of the Lower House, it would be less liable to be influenced by every change of public opinion, and conservative enough in its character to he a wholesome check upon rash and hasty legislation. (Hear, hear.) But although the scheme now proposed does not make these provisions, there are many things in it that I can approve of.
That the General Government should have control over many matters committed to it by the scheme is, I think, quite right. The customs is a branch of the administration that has ramifications throughout the whole country, and it and the appointments connected with it should be in the hands of the General Government. So, too, with regard to the post office, which affects the whole country, and should be under the same control. The militia and all matters connected with the defence of the country should also be placed under the control of the Central Government; and the scheme would boo defective if it were otherwise. I think there is no question more important now to us than that of defence. A military spirit seems to have seized the people all over the continent, and promises to control their action for a long time. I think it wise; therefore, that provision should be made by which the General Government can put the country into a state of preparation for whatever may occur. It is well also, in my opinion, that that government should appoint the judges. I like to see an independent judiciary, and believe that this will be secured to us by the mode proposed in these resolutions. (Hear, hear.)
It is hardly necessary for me to make allusion to the local governments; there are so many propositions connected with them, and so little is known of what their constitution will be, that it is hardly possible indeed for me to refer to them. I would like to be informed as to their character and authority before speaking of them. My opinion is, that they should have certain powers defined in written constitutions, so that beyond these powers they would have no right to legislate, and if they did, that their legislation should be set aside and rendered null and void by the superior courts. I believe that the British Constitution is of that elastic character that the institutions, which exist under it, can be made most popular and still work well. I think history has proved this to be the case. Under it we have kept sacred the great principle of responsible government, which we now enjoy, and under which ministers of the Crown hold seats in and are responsible to the Legislature.
Well, we want no change in that principle; for I think it is the greatest safeguard to liberty, not only in England, but the world. (Hear, hear.) With regard to the executive head opt the General Government; appointment by the Crown as at present is the only mode that is desirable. It will not do to tamper with or change this provision of our government; for if we become detached from and cease to be a dependency of the British Crown, what do we become? We must necessarily become independent, and when that state of political existence is reached, we know not what will follow. (Hear, hear.)
The question may be asked, is the Constitution foreshadowed in these resolutions such as can be accepted by the people of this country? Is there a possibility, if it were defective, of bettering or amending it? I think that in many of its details it has a great deal that are good; and if, in portions where it is desirable, it cannot be amended, I think, nevertheless, that the people of this country would hardly be justified in rejecting it. (Hear, hear.)
There is no doubt that all history shows that nothing in the way of government is ever considered finality. Changes are continually going on in all forms of government The political history of our own country even is proof of this fact. At the time of the union of these provinces, the members of the Legislative Council were appointed by the Crown, but since then there has been a change, and the people now elect them. At that time, too, the wardens of […]
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[…] the Crown appointed our district councils; that principle was subsequently changed, and they are now elected by the popular vote. It is impossible, sir, to take this question of Confederation into consideration, without also taking into account the question of the Intercolonial Railway. I have on several occasions spoken against the construction of that road at the expense of Canada. I never could see that any advantage would be derived from it, unless in a military point of view; and as a military work I did not think it worth the large sum it would cost. But if commercial advantages could be pointed out equivalent to the cost of it, then I admit its construction might become a subject of consideration. (Hear, hear.) I think that free intercourse and free trade with 800,000 of our fellow-subjects in the Lower Provinces are not light and unimportant considerations. They are, in my opinion, something like an equivalent for the expenditure—(hear, hear)—and if there are no graver difficulties than the building of this road in the scheme of the Quebec Conference, then they may all be easily surmounted. (Hear, hear.)
That there will be great expense in the construction of the road, and in connection with Confederation, admits scarcely of a doubt. But we have one to a period in our history when, for various reasons, expense has become necessary. We must have some change in our Constitution, and whether it be attended by additional expense or not, it is indispensable in order to remove the evils under which the country has so long labored. (Hear, hear.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] said—Mr. Speaker, I approach the discussion of this subject in no degree of diffidence or temerity, because I apprehend that it signifies very little what I or any other hon. member may say, it will receive but little attention, so far as tending to change in the slightest degree the opinions that hon. members may have in reference to the project of Confederation. (Hear, hear.) Nevertheless, though no weight may attach to anything that I may say, I feel it my duty to the constituency that I represent, and to the province at large, to enter my protest against the passage of this resolution in its present shape. (Hear, hear.)
I am in favor of a union of the provinces, but it must be such a union as will benefit and protect the interests of the provinces at large; and I feel that those interests cannot be protected and benefited if we are going auto the extravagances that must necessarily follow such a union as is now contemplated. (Hear, hear.)
The question has been considered in its political, in its commercial, in its defensive or military aspects, and in its sectional aspects, and very little that can be said by any hon. gentleman now will be considered new; and he who speaks at this stage of the discussion will speak at a disadvantage, because he can say very little that is new. He may speak on those matters that have been discussed in new language, and so make some little change, but as for the material positions, they have been already discussed, and by honorable gentlemen very ably discussed.
I understand that the position which the Government of this country assumes, in introducing this measure with the haste in which they are doing it, declining to allow the people to have anything to say upon it, except through their representatives, who were not sent here to vote on any such measure as this, is that this country had arrived at such a stage that it was impossible for the affairs of the Government to be carried on, unless some change took place, and that of a radical character. In that assertion I do not agree. I dissent from it entirely, and I feel that it was not the necessities of this country that have brought about these resolutions, but that it was the factious conduct of honorable gentlemen on the floor of this House. If that factious conduct had not been persevered in, there would have been no necessity for the consideration that we are now undertaking. (Hear, hear.)
I feel that I am making a statement the correctness of which cannot be denied; and I shall refer to the language of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], even since this matter has been under consideration, to establish it. (Hear, hear.) It has been stated by him that the affairs of this country had come to a dead-lock. It has been stated that we were drifting into inevitable ruin; that our debt was so fast increasing, that it was absolutely impossible to stem the torrent, or close the flood-gates of the treasury that that had been opened by the mismanagement of hon. gentlemen sitting alongside of the President of the Council [George Brown] at the present time. Understand me: I am not charging those hon. gentlemen with extravagance; I am simply referring to the language used by the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown]. But on a recent occasion he spoke of this union as a matter to be proud of, and […]
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[…] said that every one of the provinces that was entering into the union would enter it with a surplus of revenue, and were, therefore, not obliged to go into it from necessity; that they did not enter into the partnership as a bankrupt concern, but, on the contrary, would commence business in a most prosperous condition. Now, if that were the case, what is the necessity for this change—a change that will render so much more extravagance necessary to carry on the government, even under the guidance of the Hon. the President of the Council [George Brown]? It was said that the people of the section of the province to which I belong had become satisfied that there was extravagance in the Government, that the people of Lower Canada were absorbing too large a proportion of the revenue that was paid by the people of Upper Canada.
It was asserted that the people of Upper Canada were paying seven-tenths of the whole revenue of the country; that we had not sufficient representation in Parliament; and that there was ruin staring us in the face, because we had not our proper voice in the Legislature, by means of which we might resist the extravagance of Lower Canadians. It was said that for every appropriation made for Upper Canada, a corresponding one had to be made for Lower Canada, and thereby the people of Upper Canada were paying more than their fair share into the common purse of the country.
Taking that view of the case, I would ask the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], who is so warm in advocating these resolutions, how much the people of Upper Canada will be called upon to pay more than Lower Canada in the new scheme? I understand that Lower is to receive $888,531 from the Federal Government. As Upper Canada has been paying two-thirds, nay, as much as seven-tenths into the general revenue, how much are we granting to Lower Canada out of the pockets of the people of Upper Canada towards paying the expenses of managing their local affairs—affairs of which we in the Upper Province will have not one word to say? By the arrangement that is to be entered into, suppose that the Lower Provinces constitute about one-fifth of the whole—which, I presume, is all that they will contribute. This would make $177,706. Upper Canada, on the principle of paying two-thirds, would contribute $473,884, and Lower Canada only $236,941. For the support of the Local Government of Lower Canada from the Federal exchequer, Upper Canada would, therefore, have to pay no less a sum than $473,884, which is nearly double the amount that Lower Canada itself will pay for the same purpose. The amount that Upper Canada will have to pay in excess of Lower Canada, for exclusively Lower Canada purposes, is $175,859. (Hear, hear.)
Now that is the position in which that branch of the question stands; but it is said that we are to become a great people, third, I think, in rank of the nations of the earth. It is said that, because we unite with a people who have less than a million of inhabitants, while we have nearly two and a half millions, we are to become this vast nation, and to hold a position in the world above that of all nations except three on the face of the globe. Well, it does not strike me that the mere fact of our joining the Lower Provinces to this province by the Intercolonial Railway is going to give us that position. We need a vast population as well as a vast country to acquire that greatness. It is said that we will be stronger by this union; that we will be better able to protect ourselves in the event of hostilities breaking out between this country and the United States. But is that true? (Cries of “Yes, yes,” and “No, no.”) Are we to become at once an independent nation that will make treaties with foreign nations, or are we still to be dependent on the British Crown—a dependency that I hope will never be done away with? (Hear, hear.)
Let it be understood that I am not to be dazzled by those ideas of greatness that are being held out to us. We can never be so great in any way as we can by remaining a dependency of the British Crown. Every one of these provinces is true and faithful in its allegiance to the British Crown, and if that power makes war, each will do all that lies in its power to defend its own territory and assist the Mother Country. But how do we gain strength from the scheme? We obtain many hundreds of miles of additional frontier, and we do not get men in proportion. (Hear, hear.)
We shall build a railway that cannot possibly be of much use to us, but that will be subject to destruction by the enemy, and will be indefensible and difficult to keep open. The armies that will be brought against us by the United States will be too great to be resisted along the entire frontier, and no ordinary force will be sufficient to protect so long a line of communication. I therefore argue that the […]
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[…] Confederation will not make us a stronger or a greater people than before. Then it is said that in our present exigencies we must look out for other markets for our produce than those we have been depending upon; that we must endeavor to become a manufacturing country, obtaining minerals from the Lower Provinces and sending them our produce in return. That is all very fine, but it can be accomplished without entering into an extravagantly expensive arrangement such as this is. We could have a legislative union with one Legislature or Central Government, that would manage all our affairs on a scale as economical as the affairs of the province of Canada have been conducted; but when you provide for a General Government, and then for a Local Government in each province besides, it stands to reason that the expenditure must be far in excess of that which would result from having a single legislature.
The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] has said that he is not, although all his other colleagues who have spoken on the floor of the House have admitted that they are, in favor of a legislative union, if this union could be accomplished. The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] thinks, perhaps, that this would be too damaging an admission, so he says; “I would not have a legislative union if I could. There is nothing but a Federal union for me, because our country is so extensive that it would be impossible to control it with a Legislature sitting at Ottawa.” Now, is this so? Would four or five hundred additional miles of territory make all the difference?
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman is mistaken. I never used any such expression.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Of course it is very unpleasant to have to say it, but my ears must have deceived me very grossly indeed, if the hon. gentleman did not assert in the hearing of persons in this House, when delivering his address on these resolutions, that he preferred a Federal union, and assigned as a reason for his preference the extent of the country.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman will see that this is a very different thing from the statement he previously made. What I did say was this, that it would be exceedingly inconvenient to manage the local affairs of so widely extended a country. I did not say that we could not exercise a general control over the country. I said that it was impossible to attend to the mere parish affairs of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the North-West. That is what I said.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Well, one reason assigned by the hon. gentleman for a Federal union was that in attending to the private business of the Lower Provinces, under a legislative union, we would be kept sitting at Ottawa for nine months of the year. It is, however, the case that the affairs of United Canada can be transacted in a period of three or four months, while according to the Hon. the President of the Council [George Brown], the affairs of the federated provinces would not be attended to in less than nine months in consequence of the private business which would be added to the legislation from a people numbering only seven or eight hundred thousand. (Hear, hear.)
The business of two and a half millions can be disposed of in three months, whilst it is alleged that the business brought by the addition of seven or eight hundred thousand more would prolong the sessions of Parliament by six months. (Hear, hear.) I think that the position which the hon. gentleman took in reference to that, is just as untenable as his position that a Legislative union in itself would not be better than a Federal union. Now, it is said that our commercial affairs will be very much advanced by this arrangement. It is said that the Reciprocity treaty is going to be abrogated. No doubt we have received notice of it. It is also said that it is possible—although the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] does not think it is so—that the bonded system is to be done away with between Canada and the United States, and that, therefore, we would have no means of reaching the Atlantic except during the summer months of the year, in consequence of which it is very desirable that this great work of the Intercolonial Railway should be accomplished, and that this union of the provinces should take place.
I presume it is a well understood fact that a people will always find some channel into which to direct their energies—that there will be a channel for their commerce—that there will be a channel for their produce. Now, it the Reciprocity treaty is abrogated, and if the bonded system is put an end to, it will be done long before the Intercolonial Railway can be established, and we must then remain suffering for a number of years until […]
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[…] that work is accomplished and before we get communication with the Lower Provinces, except through the medium of the St. Lawrence, which is only accessible during the summer time. Then it would be absolutely necessary for us to resort to some other means, to devise some other scheme, by which we might not allow the affairs of these provinces, in the meantime, to be injured, to lag and to suffer; and when our commerce flows in such new channel, it will not be easy to divert it. But is it not the fact that we have been in existence a number of years as a colony here? Is it not the fact, too, that we have been far removed from the sea? Is it not the fact, that when Upper Canada was subject to duties to Lower Canada, and when we had no connection with the United States except by paying high restrictive duties, Upper Canada progressed rapidly and became a large and prosperous province? Did we then complain with all these restrictions weighing upon us?
For my part, I have yet to see, if the reciprocity treaty is put an end to and if the bonding system is discontinued, that we would be unable to find means by which the energies of the people of this country would find development. We would still go on in material prosperity, if we found hon. gentlemen forgetting their faction, and allowing the wheels of government to progress without being unnecessarily impeded. (Hear, hear.)
In one view of the case, if I were satisfied that the people of this country fully approved of the scheme, I would give it my support, although I disapprove of it in its present shape. But I cannot understand why those hon. gentlemen who have professed, at all events heretofore, to be the advocates of the rights and liberties of the people, should so far forget those rights and liberties as to set them aside, and allow half a dozen gentlemen in this province to combine with a number of gentlemen from the Lower Provinces to completely ignore and set aside the views of those they profess to represent. (Hear, hear.)
It has been said that the people of this country have fully endorsed and approved of his measure. But where is the evidence of it? It has been asserted that this is a matter which was under consideration in the year 1858, and that it has been mooted at different times since. But this very fact shows that it has never taken a deep hold on the people, and certain it is that it has never been made a question up to this time at the polls. (Hear, hear.)
Therefore, the people have not pronounced an opinion upon it. And I mean to say this, that if the people understood it was going to cost so much more than the present form of government, they would not be inclined to approve and to accept it as readily as hon. gentlemen seem to think. I hold that, if the hon. gentlemen who occupy the Treasury benches were really sincere in their views of the benefits to result from this measure, they would allow the question to go to the people for the fullest consideration.
In 1841 the people of this country obtained responsible government, and it was declared to them then that they should have a controlling voice in the affairs of the country—that no important change, in fact, should take place without their having an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. And yet hon. gentlemen now disclaim the right of appeal to the people, and arrogate to themselves an amount of wisdom to suppose that the tens of thousands of people of this province have not the capacity to understand he meaning or the magnitude of this question.
They exclude from these men the right of pronouncing an opinion; and are it not singular that it is the people of the province of Canada who are treated in this way? It is not so in the Lower Provinces. New Brunswick, for instance, dissolves its House, and goes to the people. And why should New Brunswick do that which is denied to Canada? Why should the people of New Brunswick be treated as more able and more capable of understanding and pronouncing an intelligent opinion than the people of Canada? (Hear, hear.)
The people of Canada, I apprehend, are just as capable of comprehending a measure of this importance as the people of New Brunswick, and they ought to have the same opportunity of pronouncing upon it. (Hear, hear.)
The Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] has said that a hostile feeling had arisen between both sections of the province to such a degree, that the government and legislation of the country had almost come to a dead stand. Now, was there such a feeling of hostility existing between the people of the different provinces? Was such the fact? Did honorable gentlemen of French extraction meet honorable gentlemen of British extraction upon the floor of this House with any feeling of hostility whatever? Did we not meet as […]
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[…] friends? They considered that they had peculiar interests to serve, and we considered that we had a larger population than they, and which population had not a sufficient representation on the floor of this House, and we sought a change in order to give them the representation to which they were entitled. The President of the Council [George Brown] claims that he has accomplished a great work in gaining for the people of Upper Canada that representation on the floor of Parliament.
Now, I beg to join issue with him on that point. I assert that, instead of having gained for the Upper Province that boon, he has arrayed thirty additional votes against Upper Canada. He makes Upper Canada stand not as she is now, but with thirty additional voices to contend against. (Hear, hear.)
We shall pay in the same proportion, in fact, that we paid before to the whole revenue of the country. Let us see if I am singular in this view—let us see whether the gentlemen who compose the governments in the Lower Provinces do not entertain the same opinion. Hon. Mr. Tilley made this representation in a speech which he delivered on the 17th November last:—
So close is the contest between parties in the Canadian Legislature, that even the five Prince Edward Island members by their vote could turn victory on whatever side they chose, and have the game entirely in their own hands. Suppose that Upper Canada should attempt to carry out schemes for her own aggrandizement in the west, could she, with her eighty-two representatives, successfully oppose the sixty-five of Lower Canada and the forty-seven of the Lower Provinces, whose interests would be identical? Certainly not; and she would not attempt it.
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—What has that to do with representation by population?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—”What has that to do with representation by population?” asks the hon. gentleman. Representation by population was agitated, so far as Upper Canada is concerned, because we are paying so large a proportion of the revenue of the country; and should the Lower Provinces have a corresponding voice, we should still pay the same proportion of revenue—instead, in fact, of standing on an equality, we would have thirty voices more to contend against. (Hear, hear.)
Now, let us see whether, in another point of view, it is going to benefit us. It is represented by this same gentleman in the Lower Provinces that, when this change takes place, they will be relieved from the burdens they now bear; because, as asserted in the speech to which I have referred, they have paid $3.20 per head of taxes; and, when the change was brought about, they would only pay $2.75—that is, they would be gainers by the arrangement by 45 cents a head. Is that so, or is it not so? If not, then there is dishonesty at the bottom of this scheme, when it requires arguments of that kind to further it. If it is so, then these gentlemen who assert that they are looking out for the interest and the advantage of Canada, are proving traitors to the trust reposed in them, are doing a wrong to their country, and are doing that for the sake of their own self-aggrandizement.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Allow me to make a remark. A little while ago the honorable gentleman quoted from a speech of Hon. Mr. Tilley, in which that gentleman supposed the case, that on some evil day Upper Canada, actuated by selfish motives, would endeavor to obtain the passing of some measure that would be conducive to her exclusive aggrandizement. “In that event,” said Hon. Mr. Tilley, addressing himself to his people below, with the view of meeting that hypothetical case, “you will have the sixty-five members from Lower Canada and the forty-seven from below, to unite in resisting any attempt of the kind.” On that account the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] has stated that he is opposed to this scheme of Federation. He prefers a legislative union; but of course with a legislative union there would be the same ratio of representation, and his opposition, on this particular ground, ought to apply to the one system as much as to the other.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I will give you a practical illustration of how this may affect our interest. It is a part of this scheme, or ought to have been a part of it, that the opening up of the North-West should be included in it; that improvements should be made in that direction so that we might have the advantage of the vast mineral wealth which exists there, and of the great stretch of territory available for agricultural purposes as well. But this is not given to us now. The Intercolonial Railway is made a portion of this scheme. It is made, so to speak, a part of the Constitution—a necessity without which the scheme cannot go on. Now, suppose we ask in the Federal Legislature for the improvement of the North-West, because we consider it for our interest to have that territory opened up and improved, […]
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[…] shall we not find a verification of the language of this gentleman—sixty-five members from Lower Canada and forty-seven from the Lower Provinces, whose interests are identical, will be united against us, and we will not be able to accomplish a work of that kind. (Hear, hear.)
In considering a question of this nature—in considering a change of the Constitution—I presume every man ought to have the interest of the whole at heart, and not the interests merely of individual parts—that every man from the Lower Provinces who seeks this union should desire it, not because it is going to advantage the Lower Provinces merely, but because it is going to advantage Canada as well. The argument should be, that it is to be for the advantage of the whole. It should not be an argument that $2.75 is the sum that will be paid by the Lower Provinces under the arrangement, when they are paying now $3.20 a head to the public revenue. Arguments of that kind should not be used to show that an advantage is gained by one portion of the proposed Confederation at the expense of another; for example, that the subsidy obtained by the Lower Provinces from the Federal Government will be so great, that it will meet all their expenditures, and leave them $34,000 the gainers. (Hear, hear.)
Now, I ask, are we contributing to that in the same proportion that we are contributing to the subsidy to Lower Canada—and is that honorable gentleman who has taken the advocacy of Upper Canadian interests so peculiarly under his own control, acting for the interests of Upper Canada when he consents to an arrangement of this kind? (Hear, hear.)
The President of the Council [George Brown] has used this language with reference to the matter. He says:—”It is not a question of interest, or mere commercial advantage; no, it is an effort to establish a new empire in British North America.” That is the honorable gentleman’s statement. But, for my own part, I think it would be better to get out of the debt which now burdens us,—to reduce the expenses the people are suffering from,—to lighten the taxation we are laboring under—than to endeavor to establish an empire such as my honorable friend the President of the Council [George Brown] speaks of. It would be much better for us to endeavor to reduce our expenditure, and live within our means, than to attempt to establish a new empire; because, unless he means by that that we are going to establish our independence, we are already, as subjects of the British Crown, sharers in all the glories of the British nation. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. gentleman also said—and this was the argument he addressed to the House as a reason why his friends from Upper Canada should unite with him in supporting this scheme—”We complained, that immense sums were taken from the public chest and applied to local purposes, in Lower Canada, from which we of Upper Canada derived no advantage.” Now I ask, have we ever seen an attempt made by Lower Canada to obtain so great a subsidy as $175,000 a year in perpetuity?
And yet, that is what the hon. gentleman, by this scheme, actually concedes to them, apart from the greater expenditure we will have to pay in connection with the administration of the general affairs of the whole Confederation. Let us see what the seventeen additional representatives we of Upper Canada are to obtain, will cost us. I make it that for each representative we will have to pay only $16,397 per annum. I make that out in this way. The contribution by the Lower Provinces to the General Government is $1,929,272. The contribution of Lower Canada is $2,208,035. The contribution of Upper Canada is $4,416,072. I am speaking now of the contributions that go to meet the expenditure of the Federal Government. The contribution of Upper Canada is thus in excess of the Lower Provinces, $2,486,800; in excess of Lower Canada, $2,208,037; and in excess of both, $278,765, which, divided by 17, will give $16,397 as the cost of each additional member we are getting.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Hear, hear.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Well, this matter is not left to us either, as the representatives of the people, to pronounce an opinion upon it. We are to take the scheme as a whole. We are not to be allowed to amend it in any particular. But the Government come down and tell us, that in consequence of the union of political parties which has taken place, they feel themselves so strong that they can say to the representatives of the people: “Just take this, or you shall have nothing, and revert back to inevitable ruin.” That is the position in which they put us. Yet, if the statement made by the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt] is correct, our revenue has increased, so that we have a surplus of $872,000, after making up the deficiency of the previous year. He tells us the revenue of Canada has increased by a million and a half of dollars; and that the revenues of New Brunswick and Nova […]
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[…] Scotia have increased $100,000 each—being an increase for the whole provinces of $1,700,000. Would we then revert back to ruin, if these statements be correct? If our income has really increased so much as has been represented, would we, if we remain as we are, go back to ruin? (Hear, hear.) It has been said that there has been a deadlock in the affairs of the country for a considerable length of time; but I think the province has not been going to ruin, if it has been getting an increase of revenue to the extent of a million and a half, notwithstanding that dead lock. I am not sure but the province would do better if this House were closed up for ten years and hon. members sent about their business. (Ironical ministerial cheers.)
Then it has been said that we are bound to accept this scheme, if we cannot show some better means of getting out of our difficulties. With reference to that, I would say that if any of those hon. gentlemen were really the patriots they represent themselves to be, let them exemplify the virtue of resignation—let them leave their places in the front ranks of the ministerial benches, and let new men be introduced to take their places—let them do this, and I have no hesitation in saying that parties in this country are not so bitterly hostile but a government or any number of governments could be formed to carry on the affairs of the country. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. gentlemen who have been in the front of the political affairs of this country for years back, have fancied that the whole of the political wisdom of the country was centred in them, and that this country must of necessity go to ruin, if they were not at the helm of affairs. This, I think, is claiming too much. However, I do not mean to say that they are not exceedingly able men. But I would say that the Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier], and his colleague the Attorney General for Upper Canada [John A. Macdonald], who have been so much opposed and vilified by the honorable gentlemen who are now associated with them in the Government, must have felt exceedingly gratified when they found that after all the charges of corruption which had been brought against them, these pure patriots from our section of the country were willing to place themselves side by side with them to carry on the affairs of the country. (Hear, hear.)
The Honorable Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] in a political contest that he and I had together—and which represented it?—When we were in the field, we carried on pretty pleasantly, notwithstanding there had been some rather sharp passages at arms on the floor of this House between us—that honorable gentleman, in excusing himself before the electors for the change he had made in his views on the question of representation by population, said the financial crisis of the country had become so much more imminent than the constitutional, that it was absolutely necessary to take office—in fact, to join the gentlemen of Lower Canada, who made representation by population a close question. We must look after the purse strings, he said, or the country will go to ruin. It is very gratifying now to find that honorable gentleman now in a position in which he is going to create so much larger a debt than before.
It is quite gratifying to find him now seated on the Treasury benches advocating the additional burdens, to the extent of millions of dollars that will be cast upon us by this union and the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. At one time, and it was not long since, this country was agitated from one end to the other with the statement that the public debt was so great as to amount to a mortgage of $25 upon every cleared acre of land in the province, and now those who made this statement wish to add millions more to the debt by this railway, and to add as it were $5 more to the debt per head of every man in the land. (Hear, hear.)
Now, if the Honorable Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] was sincere in his argument that retrenchment was necessary to save us from ruin, how can he reconcile it with his sense of duty and propriety that he should be found advocating this vast extravagance at this time, when there is no imminent danger to call for it, but, on the contrary, a degree of prosperity that should make us exceedingly careful how we adopt experimental changes.
I find honorable gentlemen complaining of the incapacity of our railways to meet the commercial requirements made upon them—to do the business of the country properly. It is true the crops are not so abundant as they were; no foresight or management will ensure us a plentiful harvest, but still, even according to these honorable gentlemen, the trade of the province is growing, and their statements altogether in this respect do not show that we are going to ruin. A people who are increasing in population as we are increasing, who are growing in wealth as we are, and who, over and above all our expenditure, have a million and a half surplus revenue, are not rushing to ruin in the manner that has […]
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[…] been represented by some honorable gentlemen. I say, then, that we ought not to hasten on a change that may prove injurious to us, without asking the people themselves whether they approve of it or not. (Hear, hear.) So anxious are the honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches to have it carried, that they even quarrel amongst themselves as to the parentage of the scheme; and the House was amused the other day when the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] took the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] to task because that honorable gentleman presumed to say that it was his Government that had first brought the matter up. (Laughter.) They appear to take great pride in the child, but this country of ours, the mother of the bantling, is travailing in agony from fear of the burdens that these honorable gentlemen are endeavoring to put upon it. (Hear, hear.)
The Honorable Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee] the other evening called our attention to the affairs that are occurring in the United States, and spoke of the army of contractors and tax-gatherers that was springing up there. He said that the cry of “Tax, tax, tax!” came up perpetually from the tax-gatherers, and the cry of “Money, money, money!” from the hordes of contractors who are fattening upon the miseries of the people; and while he was talking of the message conveyed to us in the sound of every gun fired in the United States, he may have thought perhaps that in the formation of this union and the building of this Intercolonial Railway, we too shall hear the cries of “Tax, tax, tax! money, money, money!” in the same way. (Hear, hear.)
It is said again, in reference to this scheme, that every line of it shows a compromise. The Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee], if I remember right, used an expression of that kind. But I would ask the President of the Council [George Brown] and those who with him have been advocating the interests of Upper Canada, where is there any concession to Upper Canada in it? If they can point out one solitary instance, with the exception of the seventeen additional members given to the west, where anything has been conceded to that section, then I will say the scheme is deserving of my support. But I hold that the additional number of representatives given to Upper Canada is no boon or concession. The differences between the two provinces of Canada were not merely national differences, but were of a sectional character. It was the West arrayed against the east, rather than nationality against nationality, for was it not a fact that the sixteen English-speaking members from Lower Canada united themselves with the French-Canadian majority, and not with the majority of their own race in Upper Canada?
The English members from Central Canada did the same; and I contend, therefore, that the differences we had were sectional in their nature, and that we had no national differences that rendered a change at this time necessary. Are we going to get rid of these sectional differences by this scheme? Will not the thirty additional members called into this legislature from the east unite with the Lower Canadian majority, and will not the same preponderance of influence he cast against Upper Canada as before? (Hear, hear.)
Now, if a union of free people is to be brought about, it should be because the people desire it and feel that it is advantageous on the whole; and I am quite satisfied that if, in these provinces, we are to have a union that will confer any advantage upon us, it ought to be a Legislative and not a Federal union. We should feel that if we are to be united, it ought to be in fact as well as in name; that we ought to be one people, and not separated from each other by sections; that if we go into a union, it ought to be such a union as would make us one people; and that when a state of things arises favorable to such a union, we will have an opportunity of forming a union that will give us strength and protect our interests in all time to come.
The Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] thinks that we should enter the union proposed for the purpose of protecting and defending ourselves. I would like to know of that honorable gentleman if he thinks that we, with a population of two millions and a half, can create a sufficient armament, and raise a sufficient number of men to repel the millions of the United States, should they choose to attack us? (Hear, hear.)
I do not suppose, Mr. Speaker, that there would be any more ready to defend the honor and integrity of Great Britain in this country than those who feel as I do in reference to this matter; and I am satisfied that, even with the knowledge of certain destruction before us, if attacked by the United States, we would have defenders springing up at any moment—defenders to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and to fight inch by inch before they would be compelled to surrender the honor of the British Crown. But still, sir, we cannot help feeling the vast disparity of numbers between us and the United States; we can form no armament that could repel them from every portion of our territory, and spending millions now […]
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[…] in that direction is but crippling our resources and weakening us for the time of need. If these moneys we now propose to spend in that way were carefully husbanded, we will have them when the necessity arises, and be able to use them to better purpose than in defending ourselves. (Hear, hear.)
Some say that Canada is defensible, and others say that it is entirely defenceless; but I apprehend that there are certain points in the country which could be so fortified that they could be held against any foe. While so held, the rest of the country would probably be under the control of the enemy, and would remain so until the fate of war decided whether we were to remain as we were or be absorbed in the neighboring union. Now, it was said by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee] that we are to have fortifications at St. John, New Brunswick; and if this union is to be brought about in order that we may be taxed for the purpose of constructing fortifications in New Brunswick, it will certainly be of little service to the people of Canada in preventing their country being invaded and overrun by an enemy.
Fortifications in St. John, New Brunswick, would not protect us from the foe, if the foe were to come here. They, of course, would be an advantage to the country at large and aid in sustaining the British dominion in this part of the continent, and so far we would not object to contribute to a reasonable extent to an expenditure of that kind; but I do say that it would be quite impossible by fortifications to make the country so defensible that we could resist aggression on the part of the United States at every point. To endeavor to make it so would be a waste of money.
Archibald McKellar [Kent]—What would you do then? Surrender to the enemy?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—No, I would not.
Archibald McKellar [Kent]—What would you do if you neither spent money nor surrendered?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—We would do as many brave people have done before when they were attacked; and the country from which the honorable gentleman comes is a marked example of what a small nation can do against overwhelming numbers, without fortifications, such as it is here proposed to put up. (Hear, hear.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It is something new that a country can be defended without fortifications. (Hear, hear.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I do not know whether honorable gentlemen mean that this country is capable of undertaking the expenses that would be necessary to put it in such a state of defence as to enable it to resist the aggression of the United States. I want to know whether with two and a half millions of people, we could cope with an army of millions—because the United States have shown that they are capable of raising such an army—or make fortifications that could resist it. (Hear, hear.) The Hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] has spoken on the floor of Parliament as well as to the electors in the country, to the effect that it was retrenchment we needed more than constitutional changes; and yet now he says that the people are not to have one word to say in reference to these vital changes that are proposed, and the vastly increased expenditure that is to take place.
In addressing this House in 1862, he said—”The finances of the country are growing worse and worse, and a check must be applied. It was chiefly for this cause that the people of Upper Canada desired a change in the representation.” Now, I should like to understand how a union with 800,000 people, with immense expenditure, is going to improve our finances, which, according to the honorable gentleman, are “growing worse and worse.” (Hear, hear.) I have not heard in what has been yet said on the subject of these resolutions, anything to show me how this great increase and improvement is going to take place by a union with less than a million of people; but arguments for the union, when directed merely to the material interests that will be served by it, are arguments ten-fold stronger in favor of union with the United States. (Hear, hear.)
The arguments of honorable gentlemen all point that way, because they say it is to our interest to be joined with the 800,000 people of the provinces, who will furnish us with a market for our produce, when we have on the other side of the line thirty millions of people to furnish us a market. Arguments of this kind, urgiog the measure because our material interests will be promoted by it, are, therefore, arguments for union with the United States rather than with the Lower Provinces; but union with the United States, I hope, will never take place. (Hear, hear.)
Still I cannot help believing that this is the tendency of the measure; for when we have a legislature in each province, with powers coordinate with those of the Federal Legislature—or if not possessing coordinate powers, having the same right at least to legislate upon some subjects as the General Legislature—there are certain to arise disagreements between the Local and the General Legislature, which will lead the people to demand changes that may destroy our connection […]
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[…] with the Mother Country. The Federal character of the United States Government has been referred to prove that it has increased the prosperity of the people living under it; but in point of fact the great and relentless war that is now raging there—that fratricidal war in which brother is arrayed against brother, filled with hatred toward each other, and which has plunged the country into all the horrors of the deadliest strife—is the strongest comment upon the working of the Federal principle—the strongest argument against its application to these provinces. (Hear, hear.)
The French element in Lower Canada will be separated from us in its Local Legislature and become less united with us than it is now; and therefore there is likely to be disagreement between us. Still more likely is there to be disagreement when the people of Upper Canada find that this scheme will not relieve them of the burdens cast upon them, but, on the contrary, will subject them to a legislature that will have the power of imposing direct taxation in addition to the burdens imposed by the General Government.
When they find that this power is exercised, and they are called upon to contribute as much as before to the General Government, while taxed to maintain a separate Local Legislature—when they find that the material question is to weigh with them, they will look to the other side of the line for union. I feel that we are going to do that which will weaken our connection with the Mother Country, because if you give power to legislate upon the same subjects to both the local and the federal legislatures, and allow both to impose taxation upon the people, disagreements will spring up which must necessarily have that effect. (Hear, hear.)
Then again, by this scheme that is laid before us, certain things are to be legislated upon by both the general and the local legislatures, and yet the local legislation is to be subordinate to the legislation of the Federal Parliament. For instance, emigration and agriculture are to be subject to the control of both bodies.
Now suppose that the Federal Legislature chooses to decide in favor of having emigration flow to a particular locality, so as to benefit one province alone—I do not menu this expression to be understood in its entire sense, because I think that emigration in any one portion will benefit the whole, but it will benefit the particular locality much more at the time—and if provision is made by the General Legislature for emigration of that kind, and grants are made from the public funds to carry it out, it will cause much complaint, as the people who are paying the greatest proportion of the revenue will be subject to the drafts upon them as before. Suppose again, for instance, that arrangements are made for emigration to a particular part of Lower Canada or New Brunswick, and a grant is made for the purpose, who is to say whether it is for the local or general good? It is the Federal Legislature that has to pronounce upon it.
The expenditure and the benefit would be received by a portion of the province lying remote from that which pays the largest proportion of the money, and so we would not be relieved from the difficulties that have existed between Upper and Lower Canada. This being the case, the reasoning on which this whole scheme is based falls to the ground. (Hear, hear.)
But this question has been of some service. It has enabled us to ascertain what our debt is. This we have never previously been enabled with certainty to find out. Our highest authorities have widely differed in footing it up. I recollect the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] asserting that our debt was eighty-five millions of dollars.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—When did you hear that?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I heard it in one of the speeches which you made on the floor of this House. You remarked that you had gone to the Auditor that very morning and found the debt to be eighty-five millions.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The honorable gentleman is mistaken in the first figure. It was seventy-five millions that I stated.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I think the honorable gentleman has made a mistake. I will show him that his memory is short on this occasion.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Very good.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—You said the debt was $85,000,000, but that there was the Sinking fund and the Municipal Loan indebtedness which together would amount to some fourteen or fifteen millions of dollars, which would reduce the amount to about $70,000,000 of direct debt.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—(Hear, hear.) Why did you not say that at first?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Well, I did not design to catch the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] in the trap that he had laid for himself. (Hear, hear.) We have now found that our debt is not so much as that honorable gentleman led us to suppose it was. The fourteen or fifteen millions did not belong to us at all. But the honorable gentleman, since […]
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[…] he has been so closely connected with those old corruptionists, has discovered that it is only sixty-seven and a half millions. Well, the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] has also said, and has acknowledged it too, that he was very much, opposed to the Intercolonial Railway, and when the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] made the observation that he learned from a brief paragraph in a paper called the Globe, that Messrs. Sicotte and Howland were about to return, having accomplished the object of their mission, viz: to throw overboard the Intercolonial Railway, the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] remarked, that that was “a very sensible thing—the most sensible thing they ever did.” But now the honorable gentleman goes so heartily into this matter, that he will build this vast railway which it was so sensible to throw overboard at that time, and I think he went so far as to say he would build five intercolonial railways rather than that the scheme should fail.
Several Hon. Members—Six; he said six.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Will, we will give him the benefit of one, and yet I have not been able to hear him express in pounds, shillings an pence the practical benefit there is to be derived by this country as compensation for the expense of building that useless thing that it was so sensible to throw overboard two years ago; sensible even though the persons who went home were charged with acting falsely by the people of the Lower Provinces, and the honorable gentleman commended their throwing it overboard at the risk of our being charged with a breach of good faith. (Hear, hear.)
Now, looking at this scheme politically, I do not see that we gain any advantage from it. I do not see that it secures to us peace for the future. I do not think that it secures us against the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] coming forward again as the member for South Oxford [George Brown] or for some other constituency, and shaking our whole political fabric by his violent agitations. I do not think it prevents our having political firebrands in this country such as we have had. I do not think it prevents our having the same difficulties on the floor of the Federal Legislature as we have had on the floor of this House. (Hear, hear.)
We may have, with all the additional expense we shall have gone to in order to obviate it, the same thing enacted over again. (Hear, hear.) Commercially, it does not promise to give us an advantage that will warrant the expenditure. We are only to supply 800,000 people with our products. But it is said the Lower Provinces will have lands of a fertile character, and that when the railway is built they will be able to grow enough produce to support themselves, and we must find a market far beyond the market that the Lower Provinces could possibly give us. And it is said that it would be desirable to create a trade with the West Indies; but that may be done just as well without going to the expense of a union with the Lower Provinces and a double set of parliaments. Let us have a union in which we are each looking out for the common interest, and not each for his own individual benefit.
Commercially, then, it does not hold out such inducements that we need to have all this haste in pushing it through and preventing the people from pronouncing upon it. In a military sense it does not hold out the inducement that we will get by it from the Lower Provinces either such assistance in men or money as to make it an object to unite with them. (Hear, hear.)
In a sectional point of view the people of Lower Canada can see what they are to get. I cannot see that the people of Lower Canada are to be any better protected from the means that honorable gentleman has made use of to create all the difficulty between Upper and Lower Canada that has existed so long, and to get rid of which this expensive scheme is proposed. Upper Canada, it is said, will have the control of the expenditure, because they will have seventeen members more in the Federal Legislature than Lower Canada; but how easily their influence can be checked and completely swamped by the addition of forty- seven members from the Lower Provinces! (Hear, hear.)
Looking at it in all these aspects, I am at a loss to understand what great benefit there is in the Confederation scheme to call for its being put through in such a hurried manner. Hon. Mr. Grey said in the Lower Provinces that it might be years before the change would come into effect; that it would take years to think about it. He said, “It is not intended to hurry the proposed scheme into actual life and operation; it is not to be carried out to-day, but years may roll by before it is carried into effect.” This quotation occurs in a speech made by Hon. Mr. Grey at St. John, on the 17th November last. Now that honorable gentleman also takes a very different view of what is being boasted of here, the imposing of direct taxation for the support of the local governments, of which he disapproved. Honorable gentlemen […]
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[…] here, however, have said that they were in favor of direct taxation for the support of the local governments, because it would lead those who have to pay the taxes to look more closely into what was going on, and the manner in which their money was expended. (Hear, hear.)
There seems also to have been a feeling in the Lower Provinces in favor of a legislative union, and the Hon. Mr. Grey seems to be combatting that idea. He says that with a legislative union, municipal institutions, and direct taxation in every province, would be the only means of getting along. He expressed himself as opposed to that and in favor of a Federal union, which he thought would afford them all the advantage that could be attained, commercially, by union, and would allow each province to retain control over its own local affairs. The local legislatures, he said, were to be deprived of no power over their own affairs that they formerly possessed.
But in Canada it was represented that the local legislatures were to be only the shadow of the General Legislature—that they were to have merely a shadow of power, as all their proceedings were to be controlled by the Federal Government. That is the position taken by the advocates of the measure on this floor. So it seems that those gentlemen who have represented to us that they acted in great harmony, and came to a common decision when they were in conference, take a widely different view of the questions supposed to have been agreed upon, and give very different accounts of what were the views of parties to the conference on the various subjects. (Hear, hear.) In the Lower Provinces they were strongly opposed to direct taxation, while here it was present end as one of the advantages to accrue from the Federation. (Cries of No, no.)
Well, Mr. Speaker, I say yes. That view of the case has been taken. If the amount allowed for the expenses of local legislation—the 80 cents per head—was found insufficient, the local parliaments must resort to direct taxation to make up the deficiency, while in tile Lower Provinces, it seems, nothing of that kind was to follow. Now, all the gentlemen who have spoken on the Government side of the House have declared that this scheme was a grew-it scheme; but they have declined to allow us to understand what sort of a local legislature we are to have They will not tell us how our Executive is to be formed. They will not tell us whether we are to have legislative councils in Upper and Lower Canada, and whether or not they will be elected councils.
They will not tell us what number of members will constitute the Executive Council of the Confederation, nor what influence each individual province will have in that government. They will not bring down the scheme for the local legislatures. They tell us that it is better to withhold those details—that we are dealing with Federation alone, and have no business discussing local governments What is the object of all this vagueness? Is it politic or statesmanlike to tell us that we, the representatives of a free people, are not to know anything about these things, but vote with our eyes shut? I hold that we ought to have the whole scheme before us, but they say we shall know nothing about it. And yet they continue to say it is a great scheme. Well, if it is a great scheme, and they continue to deal with it and with this House in this way, are not they, the architects and fabricators of this great scheme, fairly entitled to be called great schemers? (Laughter.)
Are they not treating us as a lot of school-boys? As an evidence of the excellence and popularity of their scheme, they point to the circumstance that they have formed a strong government upon the question, with a majority of seventy in this House, while two governments preceding them could each only muster a majority of two. And because they are so strong they feel themselves at liberty to deny to the people’s representatives the right to have information on a most important matter of this kind—information they would not have dared to withhold if they were weak. (Hear, hear.)
When a motion is placed on the notice paper of this House for several days, requiring a statement of the portion of the debt which Lower Canada and Upper Canada respectively will have to pay, they tell us that they cannot submit to the House any information of that kind. Is it possible that the hon. gentlemen composing the Government have not determined that question at this stage of the proceeding, and that they have not yet made up their minds respecting it? If they have not, it shows that they have been trifling with their position, and have not been discharging the duties devolving upon them. It has also been represented that this matter has been so fully before the country for a great length of time, that it is not necessary to submit it to a vote. I would ask in what way has n been before the country? Why, it was declared, in the first instance, by the […]
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[…] press, that it was not possible the measure could be passed until it had been submitted to the people; it was looked upon as a thing which was quite impossible. There is no doubt the organ of the Ministry in Toronto—the organ more particularly of the President of the Council [George Brown]—did declare from the first, as if throwing out a feeler, that it would not be necessary to submit it to the people. But the press generally took a different view of the question, when out came that remarkable circular from the Provincial Secretary’s [William McDougall] office—(hear, hear)—which had such a magical effect, that at once the story was changed, and the advocacy was begun of disposing of the question without submitting it to the people, although the people themselves never dreamt that it could be carried through this House and become a fixed fact until that step was taken. I do not see how any man, who does not desire to make himself amenable to the charge of a breach of the trust reposed in him, can come here, and without consulting those who sent him, change a Constitution affecting the well-being of millions. (Hear, hear.)
Those who have to pay for all this—who provide the revenue for carrying on the affairs of the country—are not at liberty to express their views on the subject in the legitimate way known to the Constitution. It is argued that there have been no petitions presented against Confederation; but where, I ask, has there been any agitation in reference to the question?
Where has it been contested at the polls? I stand here an elected member, who ran against the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], when, as a member of the government formed for the purpose of carrying out this scheme, he returned to his constituents for re-election, and I succeeded in defeating him. So far, therefore, as the people of North Ontario have spoken at all, their pronouncing, in one way, has been against it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear! hear!
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I do not mean to say, Mr. Speaker, that they did pronounce definitely against it—
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear! hear!
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—For when it was being discussed, I told them I was not prepared to pronounce against it myself—
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear! hear!
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I said that I must know what the scheme was before I could say whether I would vote for it or against it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear! hear!
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—But this much is certain, that the President of the Council [George Brown] who took the trouble to go into the riding, to stump it, to hold meetings there, and to speak against me at every meeting he held, took the opportunity of declaring that unless the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] was returned, it would seriously damage and endanger the scheme. And notwithstanding all these warnings, the people thought fit to return me (Hear, hear.)
William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—Will the hon. gentleman allow me to interrupt him? Does the hon. gentleman mean to convey to this House the impression that he did not declare himself in favor of the policy of the Government on the subject of Federation?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I mean very distinctly to say that I did not declare myself in favor of the policy of the Government. (Hear, hear.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Oh! oh!
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I declared there as I declare here, that I was in favor of a union of the provinces. But whether the union contemplated was a union which could be approved of, or whether it would be to the advantage of the country, I was unable to say until I more fully understood the scheme, and the hon. gentleman was not in a position at that time to explain the scheme, or to say what it was.
An Hon. Member—How about the elections to the Upper House?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I think there were two elections only for the Upper House in which the question was a test one.
An Hon. Member—Which were they?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I think Saugeen was one.
Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Oh, but Saugeen would have been carried by us, no matter whether there was Confederation or no Confederation. (Laughter.) Everybody knows that.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Be that as it may, I am quite satisfied the people were under the impression, and that the candidates who appeared before them were also under the impression, that this thing would never become law—that this Constitution of ours would never be changed, without the constituencies having an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. It was never supposed that the people’s representatives, sent here for an entirely different purpose, would presume or assume to set aside the Constitution, to make a complete revolution in the affairs […]
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[…] of the country, to involve them in a much larger expenditure, to change the constitution of the Upper House completely, to bring in an additional number of representatives from Upper Canada, and to add a new element of forty-seven members altogether to the Lower House. I say I am persuaded the people did not understand that this was to be done without their having an opportunity of speaking upon it, and of saying whether they approved of it or not. (Hear, hear.)
And I scarcely can believe that we will be able to find, at this late day of the world’s history, in a free country such as Canada, among a people who understand what are their rights and liberties, a government prepared to act in so unconstitutional a manner—a government ready to tyrannize and to assume the part of an oligarchy. (Hear, hear.)
But this Government is prepared to act thus. They tell their followers that they are at their peril to accept the scheme just as it is, that they are not at liberty to change a single word of it, and if they do so they will defeat the whole project. That, however, is not the way in which hon. gentlemen in the Lower Provinces deal with this question. Hon. Mr. Tilley, in Nova Scotia, only two or three days ago, made the declaration that if the people’s representatives choose to alter the resolutions, they were at liberty to do so. (Hear, hear.)
And yet we in Canada are gravely told that we are not to be allowed to exercise any judgment or to pronounce any opinion upon it. (Hear, hear.)
I regard the scheme itself as having been got up hastily, for it bears upon its face the evidence of haste and of compromise. Indeed, it is a complete piece of patchwork, and as we are all aware, it is a piece of patchwork in which we are not to be’ at liberty to change the patches in any respect so as to make it look better to the eye or more enduring to those who will have to wear it. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
On the subject of the Legislative Council, it does strike me that the language is not such as to convey the idea that hon. members of this House have said it ought to convey. The 14th section reads thus:—
The first selection of the members of the Legislative Council shall be made, except as regards Prince Edward Island, from the legislative councils of the various provinces.
You will observe the language—”From the legislative councils of the various provinces.” That is, from the legislative councils now in existence. “So far,” the clause goes on to say, “as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing to serve; such members shall be appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the General Executive Government, upon the nomination of the respective local governments.” Honorable gentlemen say that means, upon the nomination, so far as Canada is concerned, of the present Government. I presume that in the nature of things, the hon. gentlemen who are at present administering our affairs anticipate that they will be the controllers of our destiny, for some time at all events, in the Federal Government.
So that they are going themselves to nominate to themselves. Is that the object of the clause? In point of fact, would it be such in its operation, because before these nominations can take place, I assume that the Executive Government must be in existence, and that when the Federal Government comes into existence, the present Government will cease co-instant I take it that so soon as the Imperial Act passed, there would be an end to the present arrangements, and that the local legislatures and the General Legislature would be brought into existence at the same moment. The present Government of United Canada would cease to exist. And how then would the nominations to the Legislative Council take place, from this Government to the Executive Government of the Confederation? (Hear, hear.)
In one way, these resolutions maybe considered as only an outline of the Constitution. But they seem to have descended to very small details. For instance, they say that a member who is absent from the Council for two sessions shall vacate his seat. This is a very small piece of detail, and I regard it also as a very unjust piece of detail, because the cause of a member’s absence may be sickness, and it may be the case that a member would boo sick during the period of two sittings of Parliament and well immediately afterwards.
An Hon. Member—In that case he might be excused
Another Hon. Member—Or he could be re-appointed.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—There is no provision for any such thing; and I hold that when they went into detail such as this, the details ought to be full enough to prove what is meant. But if it is not detail—if it is mere skeleton—why did they introduce this at all? Why not simply say that the […]
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[…] Legislative Council should be nominated for life? We are also told that we are to have under the control of the federal and local governments the sea-coast and inland fisheries. Of course it is impossible for me to say what they mean to do with these things, but this is a clause out of which, at all events, disagreements might arise. To show what little care has been exercised in the wording of these resolutions, in one place they speak of the seal of the General Government, and in another place they speak of the seal of the “Federated Provinces.” I presume there is no such thing as a seal of a general government. It is the seal of the nation—of the country in its entirety; the same as we speak of our own seal as the Great Seal of the province.
There may not be much in this; but it shows, at any rate, a want of care in the compilation of this document; it shows that they have not studied each resolution with a desire to make it a perfect thing. Then it is said:—”The Local Government and Legislature of each province shall be constructed in such manner as the existing legislature of each such province shall provide.” I do not understand from this whether it is competent or not for us in this Legislature, before there is a Federal union, to make provision for the Local Government and Legislature, or whether we are to await the action upon the subject of Federation of the Imperial Government. Our action, one should suppose, ought to be taken after the Imperial Government has pronounced. Perhaps this is the intention. Mr. Speaker, they refuse to tell us anything about it. It may be that, as soon as these resolutions are carried, we will be sent about our business; that the Imperial Legislature will be invited to pass an act, and that they will convene us again, provision being made for that course, and so in point of fact, having once affirmed the principle of Federation, we will have to accept such local legislatures as they choose to give us. (Hear, hear.)
I find the Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt], in speaking of the construction of the local legislatures, saying: “It was known, at all events in the Lower Canada section of the province, that there would a Legislative Council as well as a Legislative Assembly,” constituting thereby a very expensive machinery of government for the local administration. I do not understand that this is the view Upper Canadians take of this matter. If we are really to have a Local Legislature, we want it to be as inexpensive in its character as possible—we want to construct it as much as possible with a view to economy, in order to the public burdens being lessened to the lowest practical point. (Hear.)
Giving this question the best attention in my power, desirous if possible of seeing something accomplished by which the semblance of a cause for faction may be done away with, I would have been willing to support this scheme had I seen that the Government in forming it had an eye to the true interests of the country, and not an eye to the creating of a number of legislatures, and the carrying on of works most expensive and burdensome in their character—works which will be of but little value as a commercial undertaking, and of very little value for military purposes, but which, no doubt, are absolutely necessary for bringing us into contact with the people of the Lower Provinces. It seems to me that it would be much better had this Intercolonial Railway been built without forming this union at all. (Opposition cheers.)
Had we gone on building the railway without a union, it would have been less expensive in its character to us; we would have gained more by it, and we would have had the control of our affairs, without being swamped, so far as Upper Canada is concerned. (Hear, hear.) As it is, we shall get no more benefit from it, commercially, than if it had been built without a union of the provinces.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—We should have had the railway, without bringing in those who may limit our western extension.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I do not know what will be done under the new arrangement. But under the old arrangement we were to have paid five-twelfths of the cost, and the charge upon us now will be at least double that sum. So that in whatever way this matter is looked at, it will be seen that there has been no design for the purpose of advantaging Upper Canada, whose people are to find the means by which all this extravagance is to be carried on. In the formation of this scheme, it has been truly admitted that compromises have been made. The Lower Provinces have laws which are not in accordance with our own in Upper Canada, and it has been thought very desirable that they should be brought into unison and, if possible, consolidated.
Well, provision has been made for the consolidation of these laws; but observe how religiously the laws of Lower Canada are guarded from interference. The […]
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[…] 33rd sub-section gives to the General Government the power of “rendering uniform all or any of the laws relative to property and civil rights in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, and rendering uniform the procedure of all or any of the courts in these provinces; but any statute for this purpose shall have no force or authority in any province until sanctioned by the legislature thereof.” So that in reality no such law will be binding until it has the sanction of the Local Legislature of the province particularly affected thereby. Such being the guarded terms of the resolution, why is it not made applicable to Lower Canada as well as to the other provinces? Nothing could be done respecting its peculiar laws without the consent of its Local Legislature, and it is quite possible to my mind, that there are some laws which it would be advantageous to all parts of the Confederation to assimilate. But they emphatically declare in these resolutions that there shall be no interference with the laws of Lower Canada. So that while it is proposed to assimilate the laws of the other provinces, there is a large section of intervening country which is to have, for all time to come, laws separate and distinct from the rest. (Hear, hear.)
There is a great deal of difference in making a provision of this kind, which is to give the people the option, and which is not to be binding for all time to come unless sanctioned by them, and declaring that a law shall be forced upon the people whether they liked it or not. (Hear.)
I can easily understand the feeling of the French people, and can admire it—that they do not want to have anything forced upon them whether they will or not. But that they will not allow you to contemplate even the possibility of any change taking place for the general weal, and with their own consent, in their laws—that they will not allow anything to be introduced into this measure by which, under any circumstances whatever, we can meddle with the laws of this particular section of the country—I do not understand. And having feelings of this kind, and manifesting them so strongly as they do in this document, it appears to me that in going into this union, we do not go into it with the proper elements. We go into it with elements of strife and dissension, rather than of union and strength. (Hear, hear.)
That is to be regretted; for if a change is to be made affecting the destinies of the people of this country, it is lamentable that we do not find patriotism enough among the representatives of the people to be willing to give and take, so that we may have such a union as will be beneficial to the whole, and not one burdensome to the whole, because one portion of the country says, “We have peculiar institutions which we dare not entrust to the care of you, gentlemen, who are to be united with us.” Having given this whole matter the best attention I could, with the most earnest desire that any man could have to come to a just conclusion, I have not been able to satisfy myself that there are not the elements of ruin rather than of safety and strength in this scheme; that there are not the elements of the dismemberment of this country from the Empire to which we belong, and have pride in belonging; that there is not the means here of causing us to drift right into the vortex of annexation to the United States, whether we will or not.
So far as I am concerned, I should sooner see perish root and branch everything belonging to me, than I would become a party to a union with that power. Feeling no hostility to the people there—feeling as friendly to them as to any other people, still I have that attachment to British institutions—I have within me that feeling of allegiance to the British Crown, which would not allow me to throw off British connection under any circumstances whatever, or even to accept the disruption of that connection, if it were offered to us by Great Britain.
I feel it would be a curse to this country, if we were forced into that union—forced to adopt the licentiousness of conduct which we find there, and habits and manners totally distasteful to us. To be brought into that union would seem to me the greatest injury which by possibility could happen to us. In adopting the scheme before us, I feel we would be sowing the seeds of discord and strife, which would destroy our union, instead of its being cemented by this measure. I am therefore opposed to the scheme, because I believe that politically, commercially, and defensively, as a matter of economy or of sectional benefit, it will not be one tittle of service to this country, but on the contrary will inflict on it a vast and lasting injury. (Cheers.)
Christopher Dunkin [Brome] said he desired to take part in the debate, but did not wish to commence at this late hour, and if no other honorable gentleman was disposed to speak, he would move that the debate be adjourned.
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William McGiverin [Lincoln]—As I know the honorable member for Brome (Mr. Dunkin) is unwell, I am willing the relieve him by taking the floor. At the same time, I rise with much diffidence to make the few remarks I intend to offer on this occasion, after the able and eloquent speech to which we have just listened. But, although I may not be able, perhaps, to place before this House any views on this subject which have not already been ably placed before the House and the country by honorable gentlemen who have preceded me, still I feel I would be wanting in my duty to my constituents were I not to explain the reasons which induce me to take the course which I propose to take with reference to this question. The subject is certainly a very important one, and, from the momentous character of the interests involved in this proposed change of our Constitution, deserves the earnest attention of every true Canadian. (Hear, hear.)
In the first place, I feel some explanation should be given of the reasons which have induced myself, in common with a large number of the liberal members of Upper Canada, to take the course we have seen fit to take with reference to the present Government, and the policy they have laid before the country. In Upper Canada—I believe in almost every constituency—there has long been an agitation having reference to the sectional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada. This agitation, instead of diminishing, has continued to gather strength. Ever since the union of 1841, Western Canada has felt—and I think justly felt—that it did not receive that justice to which its wealth and population entitled it. On the other hand, the French population of Lower Canada believed, or professed to believe, that an increased representation of Upper Canada in the Legislature would tend to destroy their language, their laws, and their religion.
The difficult position into which we were brought by this antagonism was such, that when the proposition came from the Government that the Honorable the President of the Council (Hon. Mr. Brown) should unite with them to see if some means could not be devised by which these unfortunate sectional difficulties might be arranged, I felt it my duty—however unpleasant, however strange it may have seemed that we should alienate ourselves from the liberal section of Lower Canada—yet, satisfied that some change was necessary in the management of the public affairs of this country, I felt it my duty, as an Upper Canadian—I may say as a Canadian—to do, as far as I possibly could, what might tend to remove from our country the unfortunate difficulties under which we have labored. (Hear, hear.)
I believe that the people of Upper Canada at least—I may say of Canada generally—have become tired of the strife in which we have been involved for many years, and which has put a stop to that practical and useful legislation which the country required for the development of its resources. I believe the people of this country, in consequence of the position in which we found ourselves, had become earnestly desirous of a change; but the change they looked to was not in the direction of a union with the United States. (Hear, hear.)
The change they looked for was in the direction of a union with the other British provinces; one which should embrace—I hope at no distant day—the British colonies on the far Pacific coast, as well as those to the east of us, bordering on the Atlantic. (Hear, hear.)
I believe that this scheme of union now proposed—though I feel that it has many imperfections—is still a step in the right direction. It is perfectly impossible that the people of this country should be satisfied to remain in the agitated state, politically, in which they have hitherto been, and which might ultimately land them in difficulties, for which no other solution could be found than that to which our neighbors on the other side of the line have unfortunately been compelled to resort. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for Hochelaga (Hon. Mr. Dorion) truly said, so long ago as 1858, that the country was then almost verging on revolution, and that a change was necessary. The necessity for such a change, instead of diminishing since, has increased. (Hear, hear.) As far as I have been able to ascertain the feelings of the members of this House, I have not as yet understood one honorable gentleman to state that he was opposed to a union with the other provinces. Even the honorable gentleman who has preceded me has stated that he advocates such a union, and believes it would be beneficial to this country; only he did not like the manner and the details of the present scheme. But, while he and other honorable gentlemen have condemned that scheme of union which is now submitted to the House, while professing to be in favor of union in the abstract, I have as yet failed to find one of them offering anything as an improvement upon it. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—We have a right to amend this scheme.
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George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—You had better print your amendments.
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—The honorable member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron) has stated, that while he is an advocate of union, he believed that a Legislative would be preferable to a Federal union. It is easy for honorable members to make that assertion. There are few, at least, of the English-speaking of this country who would not also be favorable to the principle of a legislative union. But can we get it? We have tried year after year to obtain representation by population, with a view to bettering our condition in the western section of the province, by getting a fair and equal distribution of the public moneys of the country, according to our wealth and population, and the measure in which we contribute to the public revenue. Few, I think, will deny that the western section—for whatever reason, whether because of its being more favorably situated, and having a better climate and more fertile soil, or from whatever other cause—the fact is indisputable that the western section of this province produces more and consumes more than the eastern section. And this formed the ground of complaint, the reason of the agitation, that notwithstanding this fact, we of Upper Canada were not placed on an equal footing with the Lower Canadians in the legislature of the country, and in the administration of its affairs. Hence it is that popular opinion in Upper Canada has declared so emphatically that a change is necessary. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] favors a kind of union which, though desirable in many respects, most people believe to be impracticable. Are the French population, who are entitled to claim just and equal rights, willing to concede it? I believe not. Even the liberal section of Lower Canada refused to concede to us a fair legislative union. The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]—a gentleman for whom I entertain the highest respect—I believe a more liberal or high-minded man does not sit in this House—even he, whilst we were acting with him politically, when appealed to time after time to join with the Liberal section of Upper Canada in some policy that would remove these unfortunate difficulties, constantly refused to do so, and told us it was impossible for him and his friends to meet us on that ground.
Therefore, when at the close of last session, the people of Upper Canada were met, as they were met, by the other political party of Lower Canada, telling us—”Here, we are willing to yield you what you desire, only instead of conceding representation by population pure and simple, we believe a Confederation of the whole British American Provinces, with that principle recognised in the General Government, would be preferable; or, failing that, we are willing to have a Federation of the two provinces of Canada,”—when that was offered us, would we have been justified in rejecting it, simply because in accepting it we were compelled for the time to allow party feelings to remain in abeyance, or because we had to work in harmony for a time with the men to whom we had been opposed politically, whom perhaps in time past we had strongly denounced?
Should we, when offered that for which we, as a party and as a people, had worked and agitated year after year, have refused it, singly because it was not offered by those with whom we had hitherto acted politically? (Hear, hear.)
I for one felt—whatever opinions any might entertain of my conduct—I felt that, as an Upper Canadian and in justice to my country, I was bound to set aside party feeling and take that course which was for the best interests of our common country. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] has stated with reference to this Confederation—and similar language was held by the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]—that commercially, politically and defensively the union of these provinces, constituted in the way proposed, would be a failure. It was also stated by the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], that instead of our preparing ourselves for the contingency of difficulties arising with our neighbors, we should remain quiet; we should, in other words, lie down and allow them to ride over us and trample us in the dust. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Speaker, that was not the sentiment, those were not the feelings which actuated the noble veterans of 1812—(hear, hear)—who, though few in number, with a country sparsely settled and an immense extent of frontier, bravely did all that lay in their power to resist the foe; and they not only resisted but repelled him. (Hear, hear.) Though we are still comparatively few in number, we have nevertheless increased since that period in wealth and in population in an equal ratio with the United States. And though this war has developed great military resources on their part, I think I shall be able to show that with the resources we have—with the force we can bring into the field of at least six hundred thousand armed men if needed—(hear, hear)—and with, the aid […]
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[…] Great Britain will always extend to us, if we show that we on our part are prepared to do our duty—I believe that we are in quite as good a position to hold our own as those who successfully resisted the invader in the war of 1812. (Hear, hear.) On this point we can take an encouraging lesson from history. When the American colonies which now form the United States rebelled against Great Britain, their population was not over one or two hundred thousand in excess of the population of the five colonies that are to form our proposed Confederation. (Hear, hear.)
At that time they had certainly viewer resources in every respect than the people of this country now possess, and yet they resisted, and successfully resisted, one of the greatest powers in the world, and wrested from it their independence. Here, in the event of an attack, we are placed in a precisely similar position. One man in this country is equal to three invaders. (Hear, hear.)
It has been demonstrated in the struggle now pending between the North and the South, that on account of the difficulties the country attacked presents to the enemy, and the advantages it gives to those defending it, one man is equal to three in resisting an invading army. The South—although they have been blockaded on the sea-cost—although they have had an immense extent of frontier to defend—although they have had the internal weakness of four millions of slaves to contend with—and although the white population is little more than that now possessed by the provinces which are to form this Confederation; have nevertheless resisted for four years—I may say successfully—all the power and influence and available resources which the United States have been able to bring against them. (Hear, hear.) I sincerely trust and pray, and it should be the desire of every true Canadian, that we may continue in peace; but to say that it is impossible for us to contend against a force that may be brought against us, is to say that from which I for one must dissent. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, I believe that in a commercial, agricultural, and defensive point of view, the union would be desirable. Placed as we are now, with the abrogation of the Reciprocity treaty threatened, does it not become our duty, I ask, to make some effort to change and improve our condition?
As I stated, sir, the subject has been so ably placed before this House by honorable gentlemen who have preceded me, and who are so much more capable of dealing with it than I am, that I will not attempt to repeat the arguments in favor of this scheme, commercially, financially, and politically, which have already been adduced. But there are one or two points as to the resources of the whole of British North America, to which I would for a moment invite the attention of the House. The union is desirable with a view to the development of our mineral resources. In British Columbia and Vancouver’s Island the gold fields equal, if they do not exceed in value, those of any other part of the world. Iron we have in that vast extent of country lying between the Rocky Mountains and Lake Superior, a country equal if not superior, for the purposes of settlement and cultivation to any we have in Canada, and whose area is estimated at from eighty to one hundred million acres.
Then, again, we have magnificent iron and copper mines in Canada, while the Lower Provinces possess vast mineral resources, extensive coal fields, and valuable fisheries. We have all the natural wealth to make us a great people if we pursue a course to develope it. (Hear, hear.) To illustrate my argument, I will mention some of the figures showing the resources of the different countries adjacent to and forming part of that great district, with an identity of interest. (Hear, hear.) In Nevada, in 1860, the population was 6,857, and in 1863, 60,000. About eleven millions of dollars have been invested in the opening up of roads and in other improvements, and the resources of the country in 1863 amounted to $15,000,000. Victoria, in Australia, in 1861, had a population of 540,322, and they have constructed 350 miles of railway.
The revenue was $15,000,000, and they have their magnificent cities and splendid homesteads, with every comfort and luxury. In Utah, where perhaps there are many difficulties to retard the growth of the country, we find that in 1860 the population was 41,000—an increase in ten years of 254 per cent. The value of property in 1850 was $986,000, and ten years afterwards, in 1860, it was five and a half millions—an increase in this period of 468 per cent. Iron and copper mines have been more developed in that territory than gold, although they possess gold as well. In 1864 the population was estimated at 75,000. Colorado has a population of 60,000, and the production of gold in 1864 was fifteen millions of dollars. Agriculture also is being rapidly developed. I wished to mention these facts to show what we may look forward to if we carry out this union honestly and fairly, as I believe the Government […]
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[…] intend to carry it out; not simply a union with the Maritime Provinces, but a union of all the British colonies in America from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. (Hear, hear.) If I felt that honorable gentlemen who have now the control of the public affairs of this country did not intend honestly and faithfully to carry out the union in this sense, and to take measures for the opening up of the great North-West territory, for the enlargement of our canals, and for the general improvement of our internal water communications, I for one would not hesitate to give my voice, and whatever influence I possess, to oppose them. (Hear, hear.) I wish to be understood that I mention these gold-bearing countries, and countries possessing mineral wealth, to illustrate that we have all that wealth in our own possession if we only develop it.
The gold produced from Australia, British Columbia and California during the last six years has been estimated at nearly two thousand millions of dollars. The political divisions of British North America are as follows: Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Vancouver’s Island, British Columbia, Red River Settlement, and the Hudson Bay Territory. The combined territory is equal to a square of 1,770 miles, or more than three millions of square miles. This vast area is peopled by about four millions of inhabitants, of whom nearly three millions are contained in the Canadas. That, Mr. Speaker, is what I understand to be the contemplated union; that is the union which I understand the Government are pledged to this House and to the country to carry out, and I say that if I did not believe it was their honest intention to carry that union into effect, I would not have the slightest hesitation in giving my vote against them. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, I would allude to British Columbia and its resources. British Columbia embraces an area of 213,500 square miles. Its exports in 1862 amounted to $9,257,875, chiefly in gold and furs, and its imports were valued at $2,200,000. Vancouver’s Island embraces an area of 16,000 square miles, with a population of 11,463. In 1862 its imports amounted to $3,555,000. The Hudson Bay Territory embraces an area of 1,800,000 square miles, with a population of 200,000.
Now we come to the Lake Superior region, which has been entirely or almost entirely neglected by the people of Canada, whilst our neighbors on the American side, more energetic and more enterprising I must confess than we have been, have built up an immense trade. In 1863 the amount of capital employed to work the mines on the American side was $6,000.000. The amount of copper produced in 1863 was nine thousand tons, and of iron a hundred and eighty-five thousand tons. The total exports were $10,000,000, and the imports $12,000,000. But whilst this vast trade has been produced on the American side, little or no attention has been given by the people of Canada to the mineral section on our side, and I mention these figures to show what wealth we possess still in an undeveloped state. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Speaker. I regret that I am not able to place my views so clearly before the House as other honorable gentlemen who have addressed it. I regret that on this occasion, not having intended to speak to-night, I have not been able to interest the House more than I have done. (Cries of “Go on.”) But I think that what should occupy the attention of this House, and of the people of the country, is the practical consideration of the question now under discussion. (Hear, hear.) Sir, the resources of Canada it is unnecessary for me to allude to. They are well known to every member of this House. But it has been said, in reference to those of the Lower Provinces that the people will not bring into the union a reasonable proportion of wealth. Mr. Speaker, it has been stated that they have nothing to bring us but fish and coal. I believe that their resources will compare favorably with those of this province or of the United States. (Hear, hear.)
The revenue of New Brunswick in 1850 was $416,348; in 1860, $833,324; and in 1862, $692,230. Now, sir, I think that these figures will show that New Brunswick was increasing in an equal, if not greater, ratio than this country. Being isolated from this province, being almost entire strangers, and having little or no intercourse with each other, we find that nearly all the trade has gone to a foreign country. The trade in 1862 was, with Canada—imports, $191,522; exports, $48,090. Nova Scotia—imports, $861,652; exports, $341,027. Prince Edward Island—imports, $82,240; exports, $80,932. Newfoundland– exports, $11,855. United States—imports, $2,960,703; exports, $889,416. Under the union, Canada might expect to get the trade of all these provinces. The trade with Canada is almost entirely in flour, shipped through the United States to these provinces. The agricultural products of New Brunswick in 1851 and 1861 were as follows:— […]
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[…] Wheat, 1851, 206,635; 1861, 279,778. Barley, 1851, 74,300; 1861, 94,679. Oats, 1851, 1,411,164; 1861, 2.656,883. Buckwheat, 1851, 689,004; 1861, 904,321. Maize, 1851. 62,225; 1861, 17,420. Peas, 1851, 42,663; 1861, 5,228. Hay, 1851, 225,083 tons; 1861, 324,160 tons. Turnips, 1851, 539,803; 1861, 634,360. Potatoes, 1851, 2,792,394; 1861, 4,011,339. Butter, 1851, 3,050,939 lbs.; 1861, 4.591,477 lbs Horses, 1851, 22,044; 1861, 35,830. Meat Cattle, 1851, 157,218; 1861,92,025. Sheep, 1851,168,038; 1861,214,096. Swine, 1851, 47,932; 1861, 74,057.
The area of New Brunswick is 27,710 square miles, or 17,600,000 acres, of which 14,000,010 acres are fit for profitable cultivation. Prince Edward Island embraces an area of 2,131 square miles, or 1,365,400 acres. Its population has been increasing steadily. In 1798 it was 5,000; in 1833,32,292; in 1841,47,034; in 1851, 55,000; in 1861, 80,552. In 1860, its imports amounted to $1,150,270; in 1861, $1,049,675; and in 1862, $1,056,200. The exports in 1860 amounted to $1,272,220; 1861, $1,085,750; 1862, $1,162,215. The agricultural products in 1860 were—Wheat, 346,125 minots barley, 223,195; oats, 2,218,578; buckwheat, 50,127; potatoes, 2,972,235; turnips, 348,784; hay, 31,100 tons; horses, 18,765; meat cattle, 60,015; sheep, 107,242; hogs, 71,535.
The area of Newfoundland is 40, 200 square miles, or 25,728,000 acres. In 1857 the total number of inhabitants was 119,304. In 1862 its trade was as follows: With Canada, imports, $50,448, exports, $19,001; Nova Scotia, imports, $90,596, exports, $37,019; New Brunswick, imports, $2,351; Prince Edward Island, imports, $11,720, exports $909; United States, imports, $345,797, exports, $47,729. The total imports in 1857 amounted to £1,413,432; in 1858, £1,17 ,862; in 1859, £1,324,136; in 1860, £1.254,128; in 1861, £1,152,857; in 1862, £1,007,082. The total exports were, in 1857, £1,651,171; in 1858, £1,318 836; in 1859, £1,357,113; in 1860, £1,271,712; in 1861,£1,092,551; and in 1862, £1,171,723. The principal export is fish. Nova Scotia is 350 miles in length by 100 miles in breadth. Its population in 1838 was 199,028; in 1851, 276,117; and in 1861, 330,857. The revenue in 1852 was $483,522; expenditure, $483,895; imports, $5,970,877, exports, $4,853,903?
In 1862, the revenue was $1,127,298; expenditure, $ 1,009,701; imports, $6,198,553; exports, $5,646,961. The agricultural products of 1851 and 1861 were as follows:—Wheat, 1851, 297,159; 1861, 312,081. Barley, 1851,196,007; 1861, 269,578. Oats, 1851, 1.384,437; 1861, 1,978,137. Buckwheat, 1851,170,301; 1861,195,340. Maize, 1851, 37,475; 1861, 15,592. Peas, 1851, 21,633; 1*61,21,335. Rye, 1851, 61,438; 1861, 59,706. Hay, 1851, 287,837 tons; 1861, 334,287. Turnips, 1851, 167,125; 1861,554,318. Potatoes, 1851, 1,986,789; 1861, 3,824,864. Butter, 1851, 3,613,890 lbs.; 1861, 4,532,711. Cheese, 1851, 652,069 lbs.; 1861,901,296. Horses, 1851, 8.789; 1861, 41,927. Meat cattle, 1851, 243,713; 1861, 151,793. Sheep, 1851, 282,180; 1861, 332,653. Swine, 1851, 51,533; 1861, 53,217. Coal, 1851, 83,421 tons; 1861, 326,429. I merely allude to these figures to show hon. gentlemen that these colonies have other and very valuable resources besides those which have been stated by some members, namely, fish and coal. (Hear, hear.)
It was stated by the honorable member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron)—and I think ingeniously stated—that this union would produce an enormous increase of taxation on the people of Canada; that the partnership would be a very unprofitable one to us. Now I think he failed to make a point on that. It has been shown that we enter into this union with a debt of twenty-five dollars a head, and that the Lower Provinces, instead of bringing a load upon us by coming into the partnership, occupy a decidedly favorable position with regard to this country. (Hear, hear.)
The hon member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] also stated that the union of the provinces would involve this country in a great local debt, a statement which I think is also erroneous. He is favorable to a union, but would prefer a legislative one. But does he pretend to say that such a union would tend less to the swamping of Upper Canada, which he fears under the Confederation? His financial argument, that our debt and our taxation would increase, has failed, except thus far, that the machinery of the Government may be too expensive. If the present Government fail to discharge their duty and adopt an unduly expensive machinery, it is by that means alone that an increased expenditure can arise. It does not depend on the fact of the union; it rests entirely on this, whether this union is carried out fairly and properly. (Hear, hear.) The next point is the construction […]
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[…] of the Intercolonial Railway, and to that the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] is favourable, except that he would rather see it built without the union than with it, because the union will add so much to the expenses of the country. In reference to that, the increase of the expenditure will depend entirely on the hon. gentlemen who have now the charge of the government of the country. If they are extravagant; if they have a governor with a retinue, and for each of the provinces an expensive staff, and ill the appliances of royalty, then I believe that the union would add greatly to the expenses of the country. But I do not understand that such is their opinion. I believe their desire is—and I am satisfied that if they have not this desire the people will require it of them—that it shall be conducted on principles of economy, and in such a manner that increased taxation will not necessarily be the result. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, in reference to this great country which I have briefly adverted to, I wish it to be distinctly understood by the members of the Government that I for one support them on this understanding, and on this understanding only—that the union of the provinces and the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, the opening up of the North-West and the enlargement of our canals, shall be considered part of this scheme, with a view to developing our great natural resources and placing this country in a prominent position, not only as a colony but as a community, that will command the respect of nations. (Hear, hear.) We must have these promises respecting the North-West and the canals fairly carried out, and not be placed in such a position that after the Intercolonial Railway shall have been constructed, there will be a combination of eastern interests to prevent the accomplishment of these other works and swamp the great North-West. If there is to be a doubt upon that point, I for one, without any hesitation, will state that I will not support a scheme that will admit of it. (Hear, hear.)
I am most decidedly opposed to the Intercolonial Railway as a commercial undertaking. I believe it never can be made a profitable commercial work. But this I do, that situated as we are, with the probability of being shut out from the markets of the United States by the abrogation of the Reciprocity treaty—of being restricted in our commercial intercourse with the world by the repeal of the bonding system—of being crippled by every step the Americans may take with the view of forcing us into closer political relations with them, it is our duty for purposes of self-defence, and with a view of placing ourselves in an independent position and having our resources developed, fairly, properly and honestly to carry out this scheme with the construction of the Intercolonial Railway as part of it. As a commercial work, I have looked into it in all its bearings, and have failed to see the advantages it will confer. The farmers of the grain-producing districts of Upper Canada have the same market to sell their surplus products as the farmers of the States, that is, the English market.
Now, I think it is impossible to show that the produce of Upper Canada can be conveyed by this Intercolonial Railway to the seaboard, and thence to Liverpool, as profitably as the Americans can carry it to the seaboard at New York and thence to the English market. If by the one route the grain cannot be carried as cheaply as by the other, it is impossible for the Canadian farmer or merchant to be placed in as good a position as the American. But if, having constructed the Intercolonial Railway, our Government says, “We will compete with the Americans; we will put the rates of transportation so low as to offer our farmers as cheap a route by it as by the States,” then the cost of this will have to be borne by the people in another way, for the road failing to pay even expenses, the excess of expenditure will become a charge upon the country for years. View it then in any light, and the proposed road cannot be made profitable. But for purposes of defence, and as a means of communication, if we desire to be united with the Lower Provinces and retain our connection with Great Britain, the construction of the road is a necessity. (Hear, hear.)
I desire, Mr. Speaker, to state what in my opinion will be some of the commercial results of this union. If the North-West contains land, as I believe it does, equal to almost any on this continent, it should be placed in precisely the same position as regards Canada that the Western States occupy in relation to the Eastern. I believe we should endeavor to developed a great grain producing district; for whatever may be said, there is not any appreciable quantity of grain-producing land in the hands of the Government not now under cultivation in Canada, for the benefit of our increasing population. It is a melancholy fact that for the want of […]
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[…] such a country, our youth seek homes in a foreign land, who would remain under the British flag if homes were open to them there. (Hear, hear.) If we had that country open to them, to say nothing of the foreign immigration it would attract, it would afford homes for a large population from amongst ourselves now absorbed in the Western States. Again, we shall have the trade of that country carried through our midst, and profit by the transportation to the seaboard of the produce of a land which I look upon as one of the greatest grain producing countries on the continent, equal in this respect to any of the fertile states of the west. (Hear, hear.)
If we look at the marvellous growth of those states, we may form some idea of what our North-West territory may become, if properly developed. In 1830 the whole of that vast country was a wilderness. Now we find its exportation of grain, in addition to the quantities consumed, amounting to 120,000,000 annually. The population within a short period has increased from 1,500,000 to upwards of 9,000,000. We find it now, in fact, an empire of itself, possessing all the resources of wealth that any country could desire. What then may we not expect, our great North-West to become? If we had it opened up, Canada would be the carriers of its produce, as the Middle States are the carriers of the Western States, and the manufacturers of its goods as the Eastern States are now the manufacturers of the goods consumed by the west.
We would occupy towards it precisely the same position as the Eastern States occupy towards the Western; the produce of the North-West would find a profitable market amongst us, while our manufactories would increase and prosper, and we would be placed entirely independent of the United States in our commercial relations. (Hear, hear.)
As we are now situated, the United States afford us a market, especially for our coarser grains, which will not bear the expense of long transportation. They have taken of our produce twenty millions annually since the Reciprocity treaty was negotiated. That trade must necessarily seek other channels.
If we can open up the North-West; if we enlarge and improve our inland water communication—if we can build up a fleet of vessels to ply on our inland waters and owned by this great empire of provinces, then, instead of being dependent upon the United States, we would be in a position of entire independence; we would then have in ourselves the substantial elements of progress; and we would have the advantage of loading our vessels at any of our own ports, and sending them direct to the Lower Provinces, the West Indies, and Europe. Then the Lower Provinces would have a profitable trade with us in oil, fish and other products, and a large fleet of vessels which would be employed in valuable commerce and increase the common prosperity of the whole country. (Hear, hear.)
The union, if based on correct principle’s and carried out in honesty of purpose, will be for the advantage of all; and if our statesmen approach and finally consummate the work as enlightened and patriotic statesmen should do, their names will be handed down in the history of the Confederation with honor. (Hear, hear.)
If, on the other hand, they fail to carry it out in this spirit; if by the union they entail an enormously increased expenditure, with extravagance and wild speculation, then they will do much to injure the country and check its prosperity. There is doubtless room for extravagance and speculation in connection with this scheme. The history of our railways shows beyond a doubt, that a large portion of the immense sum expended was spent in a very unsatisfactory manner—(hear, hear)—and that they might have been constructed without entailing such a large indebtedness upon the country; and if, guided by the experience of the past, the work now proposed is carried out in a proper manner, they will deserve the gratitude of the people. (Hear, hear.)
In looking over the life of Franklin, I found this passage, which occurs to me as illustrating a position very similar to that in which we are now placed:—
No sooner had it become clear to Franklin that the French meant war, than his mind darted to the best means of resisting the attack. The French power in North America was wielded by a single hand, and all their measures were part of one scheme. The power of England, on the contrary, was dissipated among many governments, always independent of one another, often a little jealous, and never too cordial or neighbourly. “We must unite or be overcome,” said Franklin, in May, 1754.
Just before leaving home to attend Congress at Albany, he published an article to this effect, and appended to it one of those allegorical wood-cuts. It was a picture of a snake cut into as many pieces as there were colonies; each piece having upon it the first letter of the name of a colony, and under the whole, in large letters—”Join or die.”
Mr. Speaker, I believe that our position […]
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[…] is similar at the present time. I believe that it is really the desire, the object and the aim of our neighbors ultimately, whether by force of arms or by the course they have recently adopted, to bring us into the American union. By crippling our resources, by destroying our trade and by threatening us with invasion, they hope to bring about, sooner or later, a feeling of dissatisfaction among the people of Canada and a desire for union. There is no question that, unless we take proper steps, the people of Canada will become dissatisfied. By union with the Lower Provinces, it is evident that we will be enabled to increase our trade to the amount of five or six millions of dollars, which is of itself a very strong inducement, aside from the other considerations that I have alluded to. I believe there are many members of this House in favor of the scheme, but who look upon it as so large a question that it ought, they say, to be submitted to a vote of the people. (Hear, hear.)
It has been said by several members, and by the honorable gentleman who preceded me—”Shall we take away the rights of the people? Shall we enter upon a scheme of this importance without allowing them a voice? Have there been any petitions in favor of this scheme?” (Hear, hear.) That would certainly appear an argument that had great force; but if we take into consideration the effect of the agitation of any question in this House upon which the people feel strongly, we have a right to ask why has not a single petition been presented against it? We have the effect of this question well illustrated in the introduction, by the honorable member for West Brant [Edmund Wood], of a railway bill. That question the people of Western Canada have very strong feelings upon, and I think they have good reasons for it. We scarcely find that measure placed on the records of this House before we have petitions from all sections of the west, denouncing the bill as an attack upon the liberties of the people. They fear the power that it proposes to place in the hands of the Grand Trunk Railway Company.
Now, if the people of Canada object to this great scheme—and it has been placed before them in almost every light—the resolutions have been printed in almost every paper in Canada—months have been given for their consideration, and the whole subject has been placed before them in an eloquent manner by several of the honorable members of the Government—why have they not petitioned against it? The fact that they have not done so shows that they almost unanimously acquiesce in what is being done. Since the Government pledged themselves to bring down a scheme for Confederation, the subject has been brought before nearly fifty constituencies in Canada, either by elections or by its being submitted to the consideration of the people by honorable members of this House, and the people of Upper Canada, at least, have if no instance voted disapproval of it. (Cries of “No, no.”)
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—At a large and popular meeting held in Toronto, a few evenings ago, only one man could be found to vote against it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Since the present Government was formed, and its policy announced, there has not been one election contest in which more or less importance was not attached by one candidate or another to this question. There have been no fewer than fifty-one constituencies, or portions of constituencies, appealed to since our policy was placed before the country, and in every instance that policy has been sustained. (Hear, hear, and cheers.)
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—I feel that I am at perfect liberty to support this measure. Perhaps I was the first to agitate and to lay the question before the people of the west in my own county. I stated to the people that I was in favor of representation according to population as a principle of justice, but that I believed that that question could be settled, and with it all our difficulties could be arranged by means of the larger project of the union of all the provinces.
Many honorable gentlemen who oppose this scheme freely admit the importance of some change, but they have not proposed any substitute that would improve the scheme. I am satisfied that if the question were brought before the people of Canada, side issues, political and personal feeling and party questions would enter more largely into its consideration than Federation itself, and that therefore a correct verdict might not be obtained. I have endeavored to inform myself as to the precedents for submitting such a question to the people, and I have failed to find one precedent in its favor, while I have found several in favor of the method of dealing with it as proposed by the Government. The first I shall take the liberty of reading is from Hansard, volume 85, as follows:—
At the time Sir R. Peel proposed the change if the repeal of the corn laws to a House of Commons which had been elected in the interests of their maintenance, it was urged that he should have […]
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[…] advised a dissolution of Parliament before submitting this proposition, and that it was unprecedented and dangerous for the existing House to deal with the question. Sir R. Peel took high grounds against the doctrine, declaring that whatever may have been the circumstances that may have taken place at the election, he never would sanction the view that any House of Commons is incompetent to entertain a measure which is necessary for the well-being of the country.
He cited in proof of the soundness of this principle Mr. Pitt’s observations when a similar doctrine was proposed at the time of the union of. England and Ireland, as it had been at the time of the union with Scotland.
This view had been maintained in Ireland very vehemently, but it was not held by Mr. Fox, and only slightly hinted at by Sheridan, in reply to whom Mr. Pitt defended the constitutional system that Parliament, without any previous appeal to the people, had a right to alter the succession to the throne, to disfranchise its constituents or associate others with them.
“There could not,” observed Sir R. Peel, “be a more dangerous example, a more purely democratic precedent, if I may so say,than that this Parliament should be dissolved on the ground of its incompetency to decide on any question of this nature.”
I think, sir, that that is a very strong argument; and here is another, from volume 35, page 857, of the Parliamentary History of England:—
The Parliament of Great Britain that had agreed to the legislative union with Ireland, incorporated with itself the members for Ireland, and then commenced the first session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by electing a new Speaker and observing all the formalities usual upon the commencement of a new parliament without any previous dissolution.”
Next, Mr. Speaker, I will take a quotation from an eminent authority of one of the most democratic countries in the world—a country whose people boast that nothing can be done without their sanction. I refer to the United States of America, and the work I now cite is Sedgwick on Constitutional Law. Speaking of “cases where the Legislature has sought to divest itself of its real powers,” he says:—
Efforts have been made in several cases, by state legislatures, to divest themselves of the responsibility of their functions by submitting statutes to the people; but these proceedings have been held, and very rightly, to be entirely unconstitutional and invalid. The government of the state is democratic, but it is a representative democracy in the legislature.
I shall make another extract from the Constitutional History of England, page 316, on the same subject:—
Upon this prevalent disaffection, and the general dangers of the established government, was founded that measure so frequently arraigned in later times, the substitution of septennial for triennial parliaments. The ministry deemed it too perilous for their master, certainly for themselves, to encounter a general election in 1717; but the arguments adduced for the alteration, as it was meant to be permanent, were drawn from its permanent expediency. Nothing can be more extravagant than what is sometimes confidently pretended by the ignorant, that the legislature exceeded its rights by this enactment; or, if that cannot be legally advanced, that it at least violated the trust of the people, and broke in upon the ancient Constitution.
Sir, I think that these are pretty strong precedents on the subject, especially as I find not one precedent for submitting the question to the people. I do think that we owe and ought to pay to the wishes of the people every deference; and if I believed that any large portion of the people of Western Canada, or of the constituency which I represent, were in favor of having it submitted to the electors, I would feel it my duty to bow to their will and vote for its submission. But I am babe in saying that I have not conversed with one prominent individual in my county who was not strongly in favor of the proposed union. I will admit that the political ties that bind men together are strong ties, and approach to a great extent to the feeling of friendship, and perhaps there is no one values them more than I do; but when I aided, at the meeting of the Liberal party, a year ago, in bringing about the present movement, I did so believing that it was for the best interests of the country, and if properly carried out many of us will live to see this country become one of the greatest, happiest and freest on earth, because it possesses all the resources and all the material for wealth and prosperity that is found in any country. Nature has bountifully given us all she could well give towards making us a great and prosperous people. (Hear, hear.)
Honorable gentlemen must admit that it is time a change should be brought about by some means, for it was a most melancholy sight to see the two sides of this House so evenly balanced against each other as they were door in the two last sessions, the members spending night after night in useless discussion on personal grounds, instead of promoting useful legislation. Mr. Speaker, I fear if this course were continued for any length of time it would lead to serious results. There are certain bounds and limits, both to individuals, communities and nations, beyond which they cannot go with safety. I believe we had almost […]
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[…] arrived at that point in this country. Who would have thought, a month before the attack on Fort Sumter, that a devastating civil war would have resulted from the angry discussions which took place in the Congress of the United States? Up to that time everyone professed to believe that the hard words bandied to and fro between the representatives of the North and South were mere characteristics of the people. And who knows but that the fearful scourge which bag overtaken them might not have befallen us, had our sectional discussions continued with increasing bitterness and acrimony? These dreadful consequences are happily averted by the scheme now before us for reconciling our differences. (Hear, hear.) I am one of those alluded to by the honorable member for Hochelaga (Hon. Mr. Dorion) as being an Upper Canada liberal who joined in supporting the Macdonald-Sicotte Government, and who, in so doing, gave up the demand for representation by population, which had for years agitated the western section of the province.
For my part the feeling I had at the time was this: the Macdonald-Cartier and the Cartier-Macdonald Governments, which had for years, in different forms, ruled the country, had refused to give us representation by population. Our natural allies also, the Liberal party in Lower Canada—who, I believe, desired, and honestly desired, to do the best they could to meet our wishes—in like manner declared the impossibility of conceding to us this principle. Meanwhile the Liberal party from Upper Canada felt that the country was in a state of financial embarrassment, and that an amelioration of her condition was urgently needed.
A change was absolutely necessary. It was wisely thought that it was better to have half a loaf than no bread. But I have failed to see, and I yet fail to see, that the Liberal party of Upper Canada have ever given up the advocacy of representation by population. We found all parties in Lower Canada—both the English-speaking population and French-speaking population—refusing to concede to us what we conceived to be this just and proper principle; and when the opportunity was offered to us of relieving the country from its difficulties, we felt that no party considerations or party ties should be allowed to interfere with what we conceived to be our sacred duty to our constituents and our country. (Hear, hear.)
Notwithstanding the high personal feeling I entertain for the liberal members from Lower Canada, I cannot help saying that I think it was wrong of them to have refused us the concession of the principle for which we had so long contended, and I feel now that we have higher aims and motives than those of a mere partisan character, that we owe a duty to our constituents and the country which should carry greater weight with it than party ties and party feelings. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron) has made an attack on the President of the Council [George Brown] for having hitherto denounced the construction of the Intercolonial Railway; and there is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that if honorable members now in opposition were desirous of entertaining this House for a few hours, they could do so with a good deal of effect by reading the past speeches of that honorable gentleman and the articles that have appeared from time to time in his influential paper, the Globe, not only upon this question, but upon many others which have engaged the attention of the public mind. But I believe there is no man who felt more strongly than he did on account of the difficulties with which the country was surrounded, and all honorable gentlemen will agree with me when I say that I am persuaded that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] did not feign the feeling he manifested in this House when he arose and avowed his intention, for the good of his country, of joining with the men whom he had previously denounced. (Hear, hear.)
But did he so act without a purpose, without receiving anything in return? No. The principle advocated by him and his party for years was conceded; and in addition to that, in my opinion, whatever may be the opinion of others—and it is an opinion I have held for years—by adopting the larger scheme we attain the same result. I ask, then, should the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] be denounced now for the position he has felt it his duty to take; and, especially, should he be denounced by the Liberal party—by those with whom he has worked all his political life—both in Upper Canada and in Lower Canada, for taking the course he has taken in common with others, when by so doing he has attained that for which he has been struggling for years? (Hear, hear.)
I believe that no man can leave his political party,—can leave that party with which all his political sympathies are identified and with which he has been working for years,—and step across to the other side of the House without deep feeling. And I do believe that the President of the Council [George Brown] experienced […]
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[…] acutely the position he felt it his duty to take at that time. And I can safely say for myself that such is my own feeling in regard to the question now before the House. If this were a question which could have been carried by the Liberal party of Upper and Lower Canada without their coalescing with the conservatives, I should feel more happy in my position than I do now. But to revive the old feeling and associations, to return to the criminations and recriminations, to revert once more to the bitter attacks we have heard in this chamber, could not boo justified for a moment. And the Liberal party wisely came to the understanding that, pending the settlement of this question, they would let by-genes be by-genes. I earnestly hope that this scheme will be carried out without political acrimony or personal feeling. Whatever may be its result hereafter, time alone will determine. But as a Canadian, I feel—and the views I have entertained for many years only strengthen that feeling—that whatever my personal feelings may be, it is my duty to aid to the extent of my ability in the consummation of this great project. (Cheers.)
It has been said that information will be brought down relative to the constitution of the local legislatures. Well, perhaps, that may accord with the views of this House. But it would have been more satisfactory to me could the scheme have been brought down while woo are discussing the resolutions now before the House. If, however, the Government have not matured that scheme, or if they feel it is to the public interest that it should not be submitted at this time, on them must rest the responsibility. In voting for these resolutions, I am simply voted to affirm the principle of Confederation of the provinces; and if the propositions which shall hereafter be brought down for the formation of the local governments and Legislatures are not satisfactory to me; if I conceive them to be unjust in principle or opposed to public interest and policy, I shall feel myself at perfect liberty to vote against them. (Hear, hear.) I look upon the two as distinct propositions.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear, hear.
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—There are many things in these resolutions I would like to see eliminated; but where there were so many parties to the contract or partnership, and where there were so many contending views to harmonise and interests to serve, I believe it was utterly impossible for each province to get just what it wanted. We have the best evidence of this fact from the peculiar views taken by the non-contents in the Lower Provinces at this time. They say they are going into this union with Canada, which is a bankrupt province, and that they will be mined by the connection. And we heard only a day or two ago the strange idea expressed that the Intercolonial Railway was opposed to the true interests of Lower Canada, but from an Upper Canadian stand point it was just the thing that is wanted. (Laughter.)
We find a section of the people in Lower Canada opposing the work on the ground that it will tend to destroy their language and nationality; and we find also the British element in Lower Canada complain that in the arrangement for the Local Legislature their rights and privileges will be swept away. (Hear, hear.) On the other hand, Upper Canadians are opposing the scheme as injurious to their true interests, and asserting that the financial difficulties likely to arise under it will be detrimental to the welfare of the west; so that where there is such great diversity of opinion, it was impossible to mature a scheme which should be in all respects perfect and satisfactory.
No doubt Upper Canada has some cause to complain. For instance, the eighty cents per head for carrying on the local governments appears unfair in principle to Upper Canada, and as such they have reason to feel dissatisfied. This apportionment is on the present basis of population, and whatever may be the increase in numbers of the western section of the province, if even we increase during the next ten years in the same ratio that we have been increasing for the past ten years; if we double our population we shall still only get the eighty cents per head for the present population. There is no doubt this is an objectionable feature.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Will my honorable friend allow me to assure him that he is slightly in error, and to show him how he is so? Supposing we increase in population, the other provinces will increase also, and the only unfairness that could possibly exist in the case supposed would be in so far as the population of Upper Canada was relatively greater than that of the other provinces.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It is a matter of ratio.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Yes, it is simply a question of ratio. My honorable friend will see how the principle works. At the rate we are proceeding now, some 2 1/2, 3, or 4 per cent., it would take a great many years before […]
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[…] any injustice to Upper Canada could arise. And then my honorable friend will see how it is to be distributed afterwards in the way of population, so that although there might be a little loss in the first instance, there would be an immense gain in the end.
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—I am glad to hear all these explanations. As I said before, I wish for the fullest and freest discussion. I may not have made myself acquainted with all the details of the scheme, and a question of this importance ought to be discussed in all its bearings. This is a point, however, which did occur to me as objectionable. Then the imposition of an export duty in regard to the productions of some of the provinces, appears to me to be contrary to the true principles of government. But it is said that this has been imposed simply in the way of a stumpage. (Hear, hear.)
There are, no doubt, various objections which may be brought against these resolutions. There are grounds enough for honorable gentlemen in the opposition to make excellent speeches against them. But what I would wish to impress upon the House is this, that we should approach this subject in a spirit of candour, honestly desiring to meet the question fairly in all its bearings. The question is simply this, Shall we vote for these resolutions, notwithstanding their imperfections?
I freely admit that, in my view, there are imperfections in the scheme. But shall we, on that account, take the responsibility of throwing out the resolutions? That, I think, is the question we have to consider. Honorable gentlemen may differ from me, but I feel that the advantages of the contemplated union are such, that notwithstanding the objectionable features in the scheme, I would not be doing my duty to my constituents, I would not be discharging the duty I owe to my country, were I to vote against it, and thus lend my influence to prevent the consummation of that union. (Hear, hear.)
I thank the House for the indulgence accorded to me, and I only add this, in conclusion, that I would ask every honorable gentleman, in considering this scheme, to look at it in all its possible bearings, free from personal or party prejudices; to look at the position we occupy and have occupied for years past in this country; to look at the wretched spectacle we presented here, night after night, when placed in antagonism to each other by our sectional feelings and jealousies; and to say whether it is possible that we can be placed in a worse or more humiliating position than that which we have occupied hitherto on account of those sectional antagonisms.
Let honorable gentlemen consider the matter in a proper spirit, desiring to take that course which is for the best interests of the country. If the principle of this union is wrong;, the scheme should boo rejected; if, on the other hand, it is right, it deserves our support. And as yet I have not heard one honorable member of this House declare himself opposed to the principle of union. The objections have been only to details. And I do say that when honorable gentlemen oppose a scheme of this sort, while admitting that they are favorable to a union of all the provinces, they ought to propose their own scheme, and submit it to the House for its approval or rejection. (Cheers.)
Christopher Dunkin [Brome] then moved that the debate be adjourned.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay], in seconding the motion for the adjournment of the debate, said—I am sure the House has listened with very great pleasure to the speech of my honorable friend the member for Lincoln (Mr. McGiverin). I certainly did. It is true that, towards its conclusion, he halted somewhat in his logic. Still, on the whole, it was an able and spirited speech. (Hear, hear.) But there is one point to which I desire to call the attention of honorable gentlemen opposite, as arising out of the speech of my honorable friend, and, as bearing on the future course of this debate, it is a matter of very great importance. He said that he should oppose this scheme—that he should vote against this proposition—unless he had the distinct assurance of the Government that the enlargement of our canals and the opening of the North-West territory should proceed pari passu with the construction of the Intercolonial Railroad. I ask him whether I have stated his position correctly.
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—I will explain—
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I want no explanations. I want him merely to say whether I have rendered him correctly or not. If I have incorrectly represented him, he will say so. I am quite sure I have not. While he was making that statement I emphasized it in the usual parliamentary way, and the President of the Council (Hon. Mr. Brown) emphasized it also, giving his assent to it, as I understood. Now, I think it is of the last importance that we should understand distinctly whether the Government do really take that view of the matter; whether my honorable friend correctly stated the position of the Government in that respect; and whether the […]
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[…] “Hear, hear” of my honorable friend the President of the Council [George Brown] was to be understood as implying the assent of the Government to that proposition.
William McGiverin [Lincoln]—If my hon. friend will allow me a moment to answer his question, it may save a good deal of discussion. What I said was this—that if I believed that the Government would not honestly and faithfully carry out their pledges with regard to the opening of the North-West and the enlargement of the canals, the improvement of our internal and water communications; if I believed they did not honestly and sincerely intend to carry out those measures, I would oppose them.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—”Hand in hand” was the expression used. (Cries of “No, no!” “Yes, yes!”)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I apprehend my honorable friend from Lincoln [William McGiverin] perfectly understood what he was speaking about. What he said was this—that he understood the Government were pledged, as a portion of their policy, to the enlargement of the canals and the opening up of the North-West, as well as the construction ot the Intercolonial Railway, and that he believed we were sincere in the earnest determination to go on with all those works at the earliest possible moment. He was perfectly correct in making that statement. The Government are pledged to that.
If my honorable friend has any doubt about it, he will find it there in the conditions of agreement come to by the Conference. And I apprehend it will be found that my honorable friend is not in the slightest degree more earnest in his desire to promote those improvements than are my colleagues who sit beside me, from Lower as well as Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay] and Joseph Bellerose [Laval] rising almost simultaneously,
Mr. Speaker stated that Joseph Bellerose [Laval] had first caught his eye.
Joseph Bellerose [Laval]—Mr. Speaker, before I give my vote on the great question which now engages the attention of this honorable House, I consider it a duty to my constituents and also to myself that I should say a few words on this important measure, and reply to some of the arguments put forth by the honorable members of the opposition—arguments specious in appearance, but in reality futile and unworthy of consideration. Were I to particularize all the difficulties which have threatened for some years past to bring the wheels of government to a deadlock, to relate the history of all the crises through which the various administrations which have succeeded each other have passed, to recall to your minds the state of anarchy which has for some time threatened to render all legislation impossible, it would be a waste of time and trouble, as on all sides there is but one opinion, acknowledging the lamentable position of the province, and the urgent necessity of finding a remedy for the evils which beset the future of our country.
It was, Mr. Speaker, in obedience to the voice of a whole people calling on the patriotism of their statesmen, conjuring them to seek out some remedy for the cruel distemper which pervades the body politic and threatens it with dissolution, that the members of the administration, forgetting the past, burying in oblivion all former disagreements, united together to search for the grand remedy, the value of which we are now to discuss.
Those honorable gentlemen have deserved well of their country, and I am glad that I can avail myself of the present occasion to offer them my thanks and my congratulations for the admirable and noble sentiments of patriotism of which they have given proofs—proofs well understood by the people, and certain to be repaid by their applause. I have already taken occasion, at the commencement of the session, to express my views of the general scheme of Confederation which the Government has presented for the consideration of this House.
I declared, Mr. Speaker, that I felt not the least hesitation in declaring myself favorable to the union, but that I could have wished, were it practicable, that certain of the resolutions might be amended. It would be useless, therefore, to repeat what I said on this head, and I proceed to examine the arguments of the opponents of the plan. It has been said—the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] has said, I believe—that the people had had no opportunity of expressing their opinions on this important measure. If we look back at the occurrences of the last six months, when woo look at all that has been said and done in that time, and recollect all the falsehoods and deceptions uttered and attempted to be imposed on the people by the enemies of the measure, we must arrive at a very different conclusion from that of the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] and his friends. The last session was hardly well concluded when the opponents of the present Government took the field, not to discuss in a frank and loyal spirit the promise made by the Administration that they intended to seek in the Federation of the […]
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[…] Canadas, or of all the provinces of British North America, a remedy for all our sectional difficulties, but, on the contrary, with a steadfast resolution to labor with all their might to crush the Coalition. Such was their design, and their works have been consistent. What indeed have we since beheld?
Men who for years past have devoted their pen to the unhallowed work of undermining the Catholic religion and vilifying its ministers, who have long aimed at destroying in the minds of French-Canadians all love for their peculiar institutions—the safeguards of our nationality; men who more recently promulgated dissertations on rationalism which our prelates have condemned; these men we have seen, professing to be suddenly struck and animated with flowing zeal in favor of our institutions, our religion and our clergy, take the field, and, uninvited by any, canvass the country, descending to entreat all who loved their nationality to join them in their crusade, and representing to them that those who gave in to the plans of the Government would be accessories to the annihilation of their religion, the murder of their good pastors, and the ruin of the people themselves by the load of taxes which would be laid on them.
They conjured them to lose no time in protesting against this dreadful scheme of Confederation, which was sure to ruin and destroy them. Have we not seen, moreover, a press, conducted by a spirit of unbridled license, calling itself the protector of the people, scattering insults and abuse on the heads of the members of the existing Government, calumniating some and holding up all as objects of contempt, representing the Lower Canadian members of it as ready to sell their country for filthy lucre, for the fruits of office, publishing violent diatribes condemnatory of Confederation, falsely purporting to be written by members of the clergy, &c, employing, in short, all means to excite the prejudices of the people against the scheme of the Government; and what has been the result? The people listened to them, but were so far from answering to the appeal made to them, that up to this time hardly any petitions have been presented to this House against the plan of Confederation.
Now, if the Opposition have not been able to convince the people that these constitutional changes are prejudicial to Lower Canada, when they discussed the subject without contradiction in their own way, will they find better success when the friends of the cause are at hand to refute their arguments and to shew up what kind of patriotism is theirs? I think not. I may then safely assume that the people have had the opportunity of pronouncing against the project, but have refused to do so; and the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] is mistaken when he declares that an appeal to the country is necessary in order to ascertain the opinion of the public concerning it. Year by year that honorable gentleman complains that our election laws are defective; that money prevails to the prejudice of merit in our election contests. How can he then demand that so momentous a question as this of the union of the provinces should undergo the ordeal of a popular vote, without any other view than that of involving the country in trouble and expense to the extent of several hundred thousand dollars?
I, for my part, Mr. Speaker, am opposed to an appeal to the people. Every member has had time to consult the opinion of his constituents at leisure, and aloof from the turmoil and agitation incidental to an election. In this way, when the project submitted by the Government shall have undergone the ordeal of a vote of this Honorable House, we shall have the satisfaction of saying with truth—”So would public opinion have it to be.” It is true the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] tells us that in all the counties in which meetings have been held, the people have given their voices against Confederation. To this assertion I have no need to make any answer.
All the honorable members of this House are well aware of the means used by the opponents of Confederation to procure the passing; of resolutions to their liking at meetings generally representing small, nay very small, minorities of the electors; and to cite only one example, I shall take the case of the county of Hochelaga, in which the votes are about 2,400 in number. The friends of the honorable member for that county, without any previous notice, proceeded on a certain Sunday in the month of January last to one of the parishes of that county, being that of Sault-au-Récollet, which contains about three hundred voters. There they thundered out their anathemas against Confederation, as being subversive of religion, intended to crush the clergy, and ruin the people, finishing with an appeal to the patriotism of their audience and entreaties that they would raise their voices against so objectionable a measure. Next day we read in the opposition papers: “In the county of Hochelaga, Confederation was unanimously condemned by both parties on Sunday last, at Sault-au-Récollet.” The honorable gentleman […]
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[…] (Hon. Mr. Dorion) has told us that the meeting of the county of Laval, which was held before the session, had been scarcely advertised, and that I had not ventured to put the question of Confederation on its trial. I beg to remark, sir, that the honorable member is not candid in making this assertion, and is ignorant of what did really occur. The meeting of the county of Laval was announced at the doors of the several churches in the county; afterwards an influential person in each parish, after mass on the feast of the Epiphany, urged the electors, one and all, to attend the important meeting at which the question of Confederation was to be taken into consideration. The opponents of the measure were invited to meet me, as I can sufficiently prove in due time and place, but their hearts failed them—none came. At that meeting, composed of a majority of my constituents, I stated at great length all that the opponents of the project had to say against it, and the reasons which its friends and advocates had to advance in its favor. I then asked to be informed of the views of the electors.
They desired me to give my own on the subject. I declared that unless the sense of the county was opposed to the measure, I was inclined to give it my support. This declaration was followed by an unanimous vote, approving of my conduct in Parliament, and declaring that having full confidence in me, they left me at full liberty to vote according to my conscience on this great measure. Let the hon. member deny this if he can. The hon. member (Hon. Mr. Dorion) has stated “that it was not right to change the Constitution without an appeal to the decision of the people.” As a complete answer to that assertion I shall quote the words spoken by the honorable gentleman on the 2nd February, 1859—”If he (Hon. Mr. Dorion) had remained in power, he would have proposed a measure for the settlement of the representation question, and would have submitted it to the decision of the House,” &c., &c. Has not the honorable member changed his opinions?
When a member of the Government in 1858, he did not admit that the people had the right to be consulted on the constitutional changes he wished to propose; but as a Leader of the Opposition, in 1865, he refuses to the Legislature the right of effecting such changes without an appeal to the people: Tempura mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. What a contradiction! Such is the effect of party spirit. The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] says, “that he had been accused of having been in favor of a Confederation of all the provinces of British North America, but he peremptorily denied the truth of that statement; on the contrary, he had always opposed that union as a measure calculated to bring us into trouble and to create embarrassment.”
Mr. Speaker, either the honorable gentleman’s logic or else his sincerity is at fault. Let us examine. On reading over the speeches cited by himself in support of his denial, what do I find? “A time will perhaps come when the Confederation of all the provinces will be necessary, but I am not in favor of it at this moment.” Further on I find: “I trust the time will come when it will be desirable for the Canadas to unite federatively with the Lower Provinces, but the time has not yet arrived for such a measure.”—(Speech of 3rd May, 1860.) Now what is the conclusion, the only logical conclusion to be deduced from the honorable member’s words? None other than the following: that in all these instances he declared himself in favor of a Confederation of all the provinces, sooner or later. The honorable member therefore deceived his electors when he said to them in his manifesto of the 7th November last: ”
Every time I have had an opportunity I have invariably expressed myself opposed to any union, whether Legislative or Federal, with the Maritime Provinces.”
He wished, therefore, to mislead this House, when in his speech at the commencement of this debate he attempted to show that he had been wrongfully accused on that point, and that the expressions he had used had been tortured into every shape in order to establish the attacks made upon him. In the political letter of the honorable member to his constituents, to which I alluded a moment ago, I find the following words: “The proposed union appears to me to be premature.” If the words have any meaning at all, do they not prove that the honorable member admitted the necessity of such a union sooner or later? The honorable member was therefore not sincere when he wrote to his electors that he was always opposed to the Confederation of the provinces of British North America. (Hear.)
The honorable gentleman stated “that he could not understand how Confederation could increase our means of defence, * * * * * that if the union brought any advantage in that respect, the Maritime Provinces and not Canada would reap the benefit .”If the honorable member had taken the trouble to study the question, I think he would have arrived at a different […]
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[…] conclusion. Suppose that peace were established amongst our neighbors, and that the government of the United States decided to effect the conquest of the British colonies, does the honorable member think it would be difficult for the armies of the great republic to enter the Province of New Brunswick and conquer it, and to continue their triumphal march through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland? And what would the honorable member think of our position if, in order to find means of communicating with the rest of the world, we were compelled to solicit the permission of our powerful neighbors? I ask him whether, if these conquests were made, Canada would not find herself in a more critical position than she is to-day?,
Our position would no longer be tenable, and despite our repugnance for a union with the neighboring States, we should find ourselves so placed that there would remain to us no alternative but union with the United States.
To defend the Maritime Provinces, therefore, is to defend Canada; to protect them against invasion is, therefore, to protect Canada, to increase our own power and strength, and to augment our means of defence; viewing things in this light, what matters it that in proportion to our population the greater share of the expenditure to be undergone by the Federal Government for general defence must be met by Canada, since all that expenditure will benefit us, and since it is essentially necessary for our defence. (Applause.)
The honorable member will, perhaps, reply that all the provinces might come to an understanding and bind themselves towards one another for these critical times, and that there would then be no necessity for the proposed union.
Mr. Speaker, the honorable member knows, and every one acquainted, I do not say with the art of defence, but with the mere elements of that art which common sense itself suggests, knows that the first principle, the fundamental principle of that art is unity of authority, unity of action; and if any honorable member doubt the necessity of this, let him peruse the history of the neighboring republic and he will there see the sad evils resulting from want of unity. “The proposed changes are not at all necessary,” says the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]. I admit that it was with no little surprise I heard the honorable member express himself thus, remembering as I did that in every instance he had expressed the contrary opinion, as I shall now prove. In 1858, on the 7th July, he said:—
Ere long it will become impossible to resist the demand of Upper Canada; if representation by population is not granted now, it will infallibly be carried hereafter, but then without guarantees for the protection of the French Canadians. The repeal of the union, Federal union, representation by population, or some other great change must absolutely be carried out, and for my part I am prepared to examine the question of representation by population, &c. I am ready, in like manner, to take into consideration the project of a Confederation of the provinces, which would leave to each section the administration of its local affairs, &c, and to the General Government the administration of the public lands.
On the 10th August, 1858, addressing the citizens of Montreal, he said: “We (the Brown-Dorion Government) found that these difficulties might be smoothed away either by adopting a Federal union or some other modification of our Constitution based upon representation by population.” In his election address of the 13th August of the same year, he adds: “There was no room for hesitation and the discussion soon suggested that by means of constitutional changes, accompanied by proper checks aim guarantees, &c, or by the application of the Federal principle, it was possible to prepare a measure which would meet the approval of the majority of Upper and of Lower Canada, while adopting population as the basis of representation.” On the 2nd February, 1859, in his speech on the address, &c, the honorable gentleman said: “That if he had remained in power he would have proposed a measure for the settlement of the representation question, &c, admitting the principle of representation by numbers.”
On the 3rd May, 1860, the honorable member declared in the House: “A year ago the whole Cabinet admitted that constitutional changes were absolutely necessary, &c. But if Upper Canada desires representation by population, I am ready to grant it, for I am convinced that an ever-increasing number of representatives of the people will come here to claim it after each election, as a measure of justice. I am convinced that there will be a collision between Upper and Lower Canada.” These extracts prove undeniably the truth of the statement I advanced a moment ago. How then is the conduct of the honorable gentleman to be explained? How can any one put faith in the sincerity of the opposition he now offers to the project under consideration? Clearly, Mr. Speaker, party spirit is the motive of his opposition to the measure. When a minister, the Hon. Mr. Dorion admitted the difficulty […]
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[…] of the position; he acknowledged that a speedy remedy was required in order to prevent a collision between Upper and Lower Canada; he was prepared to seek out means of remedying these evils; but now that he is in opposition he no longer sees the difficulties; the position is a good one, the proposed changes are no longer necessary; and, in order to oppose them, to what length is he not prepared to go? The honorable member uses his influences over a respectable old man, who heretofore had remained apart from political struggles; he persuades him that his country is on the brink of an abyss; he tells him how necessary and what an imperative duty it is for all good citizens to unite for the defence of our institutions, our language, our usages, in fact our very national existence. And the good old gentleman tears himself from his beloved retirement and becomes the willing instrument of a factious opposition.
I might have believed in the sincerity of the honorable gentleman (Hon. Mr. Dorion) if I had heard him admit that he had changed his opinions and say that he had formerly entertained certain views on the difficulty of our position and the necessity of providing a remedy. But no, he comes to us with the assurance to declare that he has never changed his opinions, and yet the journals and debates of the House are before him to convince him of the contrary. What a position. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable gentleman added—”The people are satisfied with their present position.” Since last session more than twenty counties have been called upon to elect new representatives, and they have all, one perhaps excepted, elected supporters of the Government and of the scheme which is now under discussion. And yet the honorable member tells us, with an appearance of good faith which I shall not animadvert on now, that the people are satisfied with their position; and lastly, the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] says—”Confederation is direct taxation.”
The honorable gentleman is the very last who ought to have raised this objection. Does he forget that, in 1863, one of the members of his Government, the Honorable Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt], when he brought down his budget, declared to this House that the time had arrived when it had become necessary to accustom the people to direct taxation.
What possible effect, then, can this objection have in the mouth of the honorable gentleman, other than to afford a still further proof of the absence of good faith which he has displayed in the discussion of this important measure of the Federal union? Besides, the present Honorable Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt], in his learned speech on this question, has given a most lucid explanation of the question of the finances, and has made it clear to us that the local governments will receive more than they will require to meet their expenditure. Lower Canada, whose expenditure, including the interest on her share of the debt remaining charged to Canada, will amount to $1,237,000, will receive from the Central Government eighty cents a-head, making $900,000, which, added to its other revenues, will make its annual receipts amount to $1,440,000, showing an annual excess of revenue over expenditure amounting to $200,000.
The objection of the honorable member is only a pretext, which ought not to shake the confidence of the most timid. The honorable gentleman denies the correctness of the calculations of the honorable member for Sherbrooke [Alexander T. Galt], it is true, but in a matter of such vast importance, the House and the country have a right to something more than a mere denial. Let honorable gentlemen on the other side of the House prove the error of the Honorable Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt], and then, and not before, they may hope to bring conviction home to the friends ) of the scheme. I now come to the arguments of the honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly].
Since I first took my seat in Parliament, I had learned to esteem that honorable gentleman; his conduct, always so honorable, and the good faith which appeared to govern his whole conduct as a legislator, had inspired me with the highest respect for him.
But what was my surprise to see him condescend to the part which we have seen him play on the occasion of his speech on the great question now before the House! To act a comic part, to make a buffoon of one’s self, and, at the same time, discussing a scheme for a new Constitution which, it is alleged, will obliterate a whole people, and reciting from history all the evils which democratic doctrines have brought upon the human race. What a contrast! How courageous! And the Montagne applauded the recital by the honorable gentleman of all the scenes of horror, discord, revolution and civil war which democratic principles had brought about in all those parts of the world in which these notions had prevailed. What impudence? May the people, Mr. Speaker, profit by the lesson. The honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly] has told us that the Federal system carried in itself a principle fatal to its existence, and that all confederations died of consumption, Then […]
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[…] opening the volume of history, the honorable gentleman has depicted to us all the republics of ancient and modern times gradually succumbing under the pressure of the discord, civil wars and revolutions to which that form of government had given birth. The argument was specious. It is only to be regretted, as regards the honorable gentleman, that the honorable members of the Quebec Conference, convinced that, to make sure of the future, it was advisable to consult and to study the past, adopted monarchical principles as the basis of the new Confederation, instead of founding it on those democratic doctrines which proved so fatal to all the confederacies referred to by the honorable gentleman. Confederation is the obliteration of Lower Canada, the honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly] has further told us.
I am far from being of that opinion. Lower Canada has since the union beheld, for a period of twenty-four years, her institutions at the mercy of a majority different in origin, in religion, and in language. Under Confederation, on the other hand, Lower Canada will have the administration of all she holds most dear—her nationality, and I am rejoiced to find in the speech of the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] some few words which abundantly prove my proposition. “It will be impossible,” says that honorable gentleman, “for the Federal Government ever to interfere in any legislation relating to the institutions or laws of Lower Canada. If they attempted, the fifty or sixty members of French origin, uniting as one man, would very soon put a stop to any legislation, thus compelling the majority to afford them justice.” (Hear, hear.)
Lower Canada, it is true, will be in a minority in the Central Legislature, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the interests of the Lower Provinces are less identical with the interests of Upper Canada than they are with those of Lower Canada; and, moreover, our position in the centre of the state also adds to our influence. On the other hand, responsible government is essentially a government of parties; the national French-Canadian representation will have all that influence which fifty or sixty votes given to one side of the House or the other can exercise; the one party or the other will count upon the votes of the French-Canadian section, just as in England the Protestant majority in Parliament is not made up without the votes of the Catholic minority. Thus the position of Lower Canada will be a strong one, and much to be preferred to that which it holds under the existing union. Other honorable members have assigned as reasons of their opposition “the increased expenditure entailed by the proposed union.”
To this objection I have only, Mr. Speaker, to make the same reply which I have already given on another occasion. Will not Confederation, whilst remedying our sectional difficulties, contribute to the progress and advancement of these colonies? Will it not increase our means of defence, securing at the same time to Lower Canada the exclusive control of its institutions, its laws and its nationality? If to this proposition we are compelled, after careful consideration, to reply in the negative, then, undoubtedly, we ought to reject the scheme; but if, on the contrary, our answer is in the affirmative, we ought to accept it, even although our expenditure should be increased, for it becomes the means of safety—Salus populi suprema lex. Certain other members object “that the Legislative Council is to be subject to the nomination of the Crown.” For my part, I see no ground of objection in this; on the contrary,
I look upon it as an argument in favor of the scheme. I have always been opposed to the elective system in that branch of our Legislature. We have but one class in our society, we have no aristocracy. Why, then, should we have two popular chambers? In my opinion, it would have been wiser to abolish the Council than to make it elective. In the spirit of the English Constitution, the Legislative Council is a tribunal for purifying the legislation of the Commons, for weighing in the balance of experience the probable consequences of their legislation.
Those advantages, Mr. Speaker, will soon disappear under the elective system, which will cause the members of that body to lose that perfect independence requisite for the proper fulfilment of the high mission entrusted to them by the Constitution. In addition to this, the trouble of elections, the expenses which they entail, and the other difficulties inseparable from those great struggles, will very often prevent the entrance into that honorable body of the most competent men, whom the disgust inspired by all the difficulties I have just referred to, will induce to avoid public life and to remain in private life. For these reasons and in the public interest, I rejoice to see the return to the nominative principle. (Hear, hear.)
I should have liked to have replied to some of the other arguments urged by honorable members of the Opposition, but I perceive, Mr. Speaker, that I have already taken up a good deal of time, and I consider that in view of the lateness of the […]
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[…] hour, it is my duty to conclude. In conclusion I may be permitted to add that I am now more strongly in favor of the scheme of Confederation that we are now considering, than I was at the time of the debate on the resolutions in reply to the Speech from the Throne. Then I had some doubts, but the position taken by the opponents of the measure has sufficed to dissipate them. A cause must indeed be a bad one, Mr. Speaker, when such men as those whom I see on the other side cannot find arguments to support their views, which are worthy of being discussed, and who, in order to maintain their position, are obliged to resort to such means as honorable gentlemen opposite, with their friends, have been compelled to have recourse to since it has been under consideration to establish a Federal union of the British North American Provinces. (Cheers.)
On motion of Christopher Dunkin [Brome], the debate was then adjourned.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Tilley delivered the speech in New Brunswick on 17 November 1864. It was published in The Weekly Telegraph on 23 November 1864.
 Resolution 14. All resolutions found on pp. 1-6. As presented to the Legislative Council on 3 February 1865.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 The Parliamentary History of England, Vol. XXXV by William Cobbett (London: 1819), p. 857. Quote appears to be a summary.