Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (6 March 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 648-702.
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MONDAY, March 6, 1865.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Before the debate on the resolutions in your hands, Mr. Speaker, is continued, I wish to say a few words. The Government is well aware that the House must naturally feel anxious and desirous of information—and that no doubt questions will be asked, as to the course which the Government will pursue in consequence of the news that has been received from the Province of New Brunswick, with reference to the result of the elections in that province. (Hear, hear.)
The Government are quite prepared to state their policy on the question before the House, in view of that information. Although we have no official information as to the result of those elections, and would not be justified, constitutionally, in making up our minds as to that result, until the Legislature of New Brunswick has declared itself either for or against the Confederation scheme; yet we know, as a matter of fact—and we cannot shut our eyes to the fact—that the Premier and several of his colleagues in the Government of New Brunswick have been defeated, and that so far there has been a declaration against the policy of Federation.
Of course, in a general election, it is not to be supposed that the question of Confederation is the only one discussed at the polls. Being a general election, there was the usual fight between the ins and the outs, the Ministerialists and the Opposition; and, of course, a lot of other influences were at work, such as questions between the Intercolonial Railway on the one hand, and lines of railway to connect with the United States on the other. Still, we should not be treating the House with candor if we did not state that we must consider the result of those elections as a check upon the Confederation project. The Canadian Government however, I may say at once, do not consider that the result of these elections should in any way alter their policy or their course upon this question. (Hear, hear.) They wish it to be most decidedly understood, that instead of thinking it a reason for altering their course, they regard it as an additional reason for prompt and vigorous action. (Hear, hear.)
We do not consider that in these events to which I have alluded, there is any cause whatever for the abandonment of the project, or for its postponement. In fact, the only reason why we should consider them to be a matter of grave import is, that they form the first check that the project has received since the question was submitted to the people of these provinces, at the time of the formation of the present Government of Canada. If we only look back to June last, and then regard the present condition of the question, we cannot but feel surprise at the advance which has been made. In June last we would have been satisfied if we could have contemplated that so soon as this the question would even have been favorably entertained by the governments of the different provinces.
But, within the short period which has since elapsed, a conference has been held, and the measure framed by that conference has received the sanction of the governments of all the provinces, and each of the governments of the five colonies is pledged to submit, not only the question of Confederation, but the scheme as prepared by the Conference, to the legislature of each of those provinces. And we have gained more than this. Not only has every government of every colony been pledged to the scheme, and pledged also to use all its legitimate influence as a Government to […]
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[…] obtain the endorsation of the project by their respective legislatures, but we have also obtained the sanction and approval of the Government of the Mother Country. (Hear, hear.)
That approval has been conveyed to us by a formal dispatch from the Colonial Office, and in addition, we have had, subsequently, the approval of the British Government as expressed in Her Majesty’s own words in the Speech from the Throne in opening the Parliament of Great Britain. And not only this, but we know that it has met, or will meet, with the unmistakable approbation and sanction of the Parliament, the press and the people of England. (Hear, hear.)
Therefore, instead of being at all surprised that the whole scheme should not have been begun, carried on, and ended without one check, we should be well satisfied that we have only received one such check from the commencement. The obligations under which the Canadian Government entered at the time that the Conference was concluded, and those resolutions finally agreed to, still remain in fall force, and we feel that force. We feel it our duty to call upon the Legislature of Canada, and to use all the legitimate influence of the Government to obtain from the Legislature of Canada a favorable opinion upon the resolutions that have been submitted for its consideration (Hear, hear.)
And, sir, in view of the intelligence that has reached us from New Brunswick, we think it of more importance than ever that the scheme should be carried out as a whole—that it should be dealt with as a treaty, to be endorsed without one single amendment or alteration, (Hear, hear.) As every hon. member of the House who is desirous of carrying Confederation must see, it is now more especially necessary that that course should be taken, so that no other province shall have the opportunity of saying, “Why, even the Province of Canada itself, through its Legislature, does not approve of the scheme as settled by the Conference.” We must give no excuse to any one of the colonies to say, “It is open to us to deal with the question as we like; for even the Province of Canada, which pressed the subject upon us of the Lower Provinces, did not express its approval of the scheme, but propounded a new one of its own, which it is open to us either to accept or reject.” (Hear, hear.)
Sir, not only do we feel that the obligation and expediency of pressing this measure upon the attention of the Legislature remain as before, but we feel it all the more necessary now to call for prompt and immediate action. The Government will, therefore, at once state, that it is our design to press, by all proper and parliamentary modes of procedure within our power, for an early decision of the House—yes or no—whether they approve of this scheme or do not. (Hear, hear.) One great reason, among others, calling for promptness, is to provide as much as possible against the reaction which will take place in England from the disappointment that will pervade the minds of the people of England, if they get the impression that the project of the union of the provinces is abandoned. (Hear, hear.)
I believe that if one thing more than another has raised British America, or the Province of Canada, its chief component part, in the estimation of the people and Government of England, it is that by this scheme there was offered to the Mother Country a means by which these colonies should cease to be a source of embarrassment, and become, in fact, a source of strength. This feeling pervades the public mind of England. Every writer and speaker of note in the United Kingdom, who has treated of the subject, says a new era of colonial existence has been inaugurated, and that if these colonies, feeble while disunited, were a source of weakness, they will, by forming this friendly alliance, become a strong support to England. The disappointment of the corresponding reaction would be great in the Mother Country, if they got the idea that the project was to be given up; and we appeal to honorable gentlemen not to fall away from the position we have obtained by the mere submission of the scheme to the Government and the people of England, and not to allow Canada and the whole of British America to lose all its vantage ground by showing any signs of weakness, any signs of receding on this question. (Hear, hear.)
Another reason why this question must be dealt with promptly and an early decision obtained, is, that it is more or less intimately connected with the question of defence, and that is a question of the most imminent necessity. (Hear, hear.) No one can exaggerate the necessity which exists for the Legislature of this country considering at once the defences that are called for in the present position of affairs on this continent. I need not say […]
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[…] that this subject has engaged our anxious attention as a Government. The Provincial Government has been in continued correspondence with the Home Government as to the best means of organizing an efficient defence against every hostile pressure, from whatever source it may come. And, as this House knows, the resolutions themselves speak of the defence question as one that must immediately engage the attention of the Confederation.
We had hoped that the Confederation scheme would have assumed such an aspect that the question could have been adjudged of as a whole, and that one organized system of defence could have been arranged between the Federal Government and the Imperial Government at an early day. But we cannot disguise, nor can we close our eyes to the fact that the course of events in New Brunswick will prevent an early united action among the provinces ou the subject of defence; and, therefore, that question comes up as between Canada and England, and we feel that it cannot be postponed. (Hear, hear.) In fact the subject has already been postponed quite too long. (Hear, hear.) It is time, high time, that it was taken up and dealt with in a vigorous manner. (Hear, hear.) These are two of the reasons which, the Government feel, press for a prompt decision of the House upon the resolutions before it. (Hear, hear.)
Then there is a third reason, which is found in the state of the commercial relations existing between Canada and the United States. The threatened repeal of the Reciprocity treaty, the hazard of the United States doing away with the system of bonding goods in transit, and the unsatisfactory position generally of our commercial relations with the neighboring country—all this calls for immediate action. And the fact of the union of these provinces being postponed, and of the construction, therefore, of the Intercolonial Railway being put off indefinitely, renders this all the more imperative. It is, therefore, the intention of the Government—and they seek the support of this House and of the country to the policy which I now announce—first, to bring this debate to an end with all convenient speed, with a view to having a declaration of the House upon the question of Confederation. The Government, to this end, will press for a vote by every means which they can properly use. Then, secondly, as soon as that is obtained, it is the intention of the Government to ask the Legislature for a vote of credit, and prorogue Parliament at the earliest possible date. (Hear, hear.)
It is their intention to provide that all the unfinished business of the present session shall be so arranged, that it can be proceeded with next session, from the point where it is dropped at the close of this session. Upon the prorogation of Parliament, the Government will send a mission to England at once, for the purpose of discussing and arranging these important points to which I have alluded—the question of Confederation, under its present aspect—the question of defence—and all matters bearing upon our commercial relations with the neighboring country; with instructions to press their work forward with the least possible delay, with the view of enabling the Government to submit the result of the mission—which we hope will be satisfactory, to this House at an early summer session. (Loud cheers.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said—The manner and spirit in which the Government have made the announcement of their decision is so far satisfactory. They have, however, adopted a new policy and announced a change of tactics, and one which this House is to be called upon to enforce. They have departed widely from the policy that they decided upon not long since. I beg leave to call the attention of the House to the words used by the Hon. Premier of the Government himself [Étienne Pascal Taché], at the opening of the session. He says:—
They had assumed the charge of affairs with an understanding that they would have a right to appeal to the country; and while they were consulting about it, they received an intimation from the real chief of the Opposition, through one of their own friends, to the effect that he was desirous of making overtures to them, with the view of seeking to accommodate the difficulties.
The hon. gentleman and some of his friends then came into contact with the leaders of the Government, and it was agreed between them to try to devise a scheme which would put an end to the misunderstandings, and at the same time secure for Canada and the other provinces a position which would ensure their future safety, and procure for them the respect and confidence of other nations. They arranged a large scheme and a smaller one.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I wish to call the attention of the House to this point. “If the larger failed, then they were to fall back upon the minor, which provided for a Federation of the two sections of the province.” […]
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[…] The larger scheme, Mr. Speaker, is evidently a failure. (Hear, hear.)
And I will tell you why I think it a failure. This scheme was to be agreed to by all the provinces, and the different Governments were to bring it down for the consideration of their several Houses of Parliament. The leaders of the Opposition in New Brunswick, as well as the Government of that province agreed to a treaty, as it is called, and went back to submit that treaty to their Legislature for approval. But being defeated in New Brunswick, it is not possible for the arrangement to be carried out What reason has the Government for believing that those who have been just elected in New Brunswick as opponents of the scheme will allow it to be brought down for the consideration of their Legislature? How can it be expected that a free people will agree to a scheme, from the terms of which they entirely dissent?
It seems to be the idea of honorable gentlemen opposite, that if this Legislature adheres to the scheme, it will be forced upon the unwilling people of New Brunswick—that some process will be found by which the Government of that province will be induced to submit it to their Legislature. They seem to imagine that the rejection of the Tilley Government, and, consequently, of their Confederation scheme, by the people, is a matter that can be traced only to the annexation proclivities of a large section of the people of New Brunswick. If that is so, we ought immediately to appoint a day of general thanksgiving, in this appropriate time of Lent, for the blessing of being relieved from any danger of union with such a people. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
It would be one of the greatest misfortunes that could happen our province to be connected with those annexationists.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—But it is not true that the annexation feeling was the cause of the defeat.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I do not say it is so, but I am referring to what members of the Government have said about this defeat being caused by the disloyal and annexation proclivities of the people of New Brunswick.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Who did?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, I find their organ of this morning attributing it to that cause. And what did the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. McGee) say on Friday night, on the reception of the news? He said there were many in that portion of the province who were influenced by a desire for connection with the United States, and that there were capitalists from Boston and from Maine where interests lay in having New Brunswick more closely coupled with the destiny of the United States. If these are the feelings that induced the gentlemen who have been elected to repudiate the proceedings of the Convention, then, I say again, they are a people with whose views we of Canada should have no sympathy. If the gentlemen on the Treasury benches suppose that by passing these resolutions they will compel the gentlemen, who have been returned to that Parliament on the express condition that they shall oppose the treaty or Convention scheme, to turn round and support it, then what shall we say of such men? What shall we say of men who, after having obtained the suffrages of the people as opponents of the scheme, shall turn round immediately after they have got into office, and in effect perjure themselves? (Hear, hear.)
We have, unfortunately, enough of that class of legislators in Canada, without linking our destinies with like persons from New Brunswick. If that is the character of the people to whom we are to be united, then all I can say is, that they are not a desirable class to have added to Canada. If it is contemplated that they are going to compel those gentlemen to vote approval of the scheme, who have been elected specially to oppose it, it would be very interesting to know by what process it is to be done Are they to be bribed into acquiescence, or forced into submission? If the latter, then we must presume that they are not of the race of British freemen who, elsewhere, would resent with indignation—nay, rebel—before yielding up their independence; and in that view, they are again unworthy of association with us.
There is no doubt that the gentlemen who have been elected in New Brunswick have deliberately considered their position, and whether it is attempted to bribe them or coerce them, they will manfully resent it. I do not believe it is desirable to have a Confederation adopted by either course. What are we to gain by compelling such a community to come in with us? Will they not, for all time to come, cast upon us the reflection that they became part and parcel of the Confederacy without their consent? Is it desirable to have to do with neighboring […]
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[…] colonists, who have been either forced or bribed to accept what is repugnant to them? Will they not always be a source of discord by endeavoring to make the scheme work badly? (Hear, hear.)
But, Mr. Speaker, we have before us an instance of the danger of men undertaking to make treaties without authority. This is the kind of penalty which they pay,and I think we have an instalment of the punishment that is justly due to them, and which they will receive. Sir, we find that in New Brunswick. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a union took place between the Government and the Opposition for the purpose of arranging a plan by which those provinces should be joined together. They had the authority of their respective governments and legislatures before entering into that Conference. They met together by deliberate pre-arrangement, with full consent, unlike the manner in which the gentlemen opposite precipitated themselves into a union fever, growing out of a political contingency.
When the delegates went to Charlottetown, from their respective provinces, to treat of matters of great importance to the people of those provinces, and considered it to be a desirable object to obtain the union of the Maritime Provinces, they were interrupted in their deliberations by the members of the Canadian Government—greater inducements were then offered them, and they were filled with higher hopes and expectations of the good things to be derived from the Confederation of all the provinces. Lieutenant-governorships, chief-justices, and life-memberships of the Legislative Council were all held out in the prospective by the Canadian Ministers. By these means they inveigled these men from the object for which they met, and undermined the purpose they were assembled to promote.
The Canadian Ministers said:—“Never mind your union of these provinces. Come away from Charlottetown with us, and we will show you plans by which your ambition may be better gratified, although you may thereby betray the trust of the people who sent you here They may not be satisfied, but never mind them—they can be managed in some way afterwards. We will show you the way.” This, in effect, was the language used towards the delegates. They took the bait offered them, and the next thing we heard of was the adjournment of the Convention to Halifax, where the delegates enjoyed the “feast of reason and the flow of soul” for a week. They then sped off to St. John, where convivialities were renewed, and finally they all agreed to come to Quebec, and we all recollect the subsequent feastings in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto and Hamilton.
I will not allude to the meeting that took place here, because it is well known what the result of the Conference was; but I will speak of the sequel to these proceedings—the events that subsequently happened in the Lower Provinces. Hon. Mr. Tilley knew he could have submitted the scheme of the Quebec Conference to the people of New Brunswick—that he could have summoned the Parliament of that province and ascertained what their wishes were—as early as the Canadian Government could. But he did nothing of the kind. He knew he had violated the trust reposed in him, and that he had given reason for a withdrawal of the people’s confidence; but he thought that by bringing on an election in the country, he could gain his own ends by the unsparing use of all the influence a government can employ on such occasions, and by employing all the arts of cajolery for the purpose of deceiving the people and winning them over to his own selfish purposes.
Well, what is the result? Hon. Mr. Tilley and his followers are routed horse and foot by the honest people of the province, scouted by those whose interests he had betrayed and whose behests he had neglected; and I think his fate ought to be a warning to those who adopted this scheme without authority, and who ask the House to ratify it en bloc, without having sought or seeking to obtain the sanction of the people. (Hear, hear.)
I come now, sir, to a matter personal perhaps more to myself than to any one else. I would ask the House who was it that assailed the Government of Canada more by his speeches and letters than this same Hon. Mr. Tilley? Who was it that charged the Government of this country with a breach of faith towards the Lower Provinces in reference to the construction of the Intercolonial Railway; and whose statement was it that was re-echoed on the floor of this House over and over again, that Canada had lowered its character and dignity by failing to go on with that undertaking? Was it not the Hon. Mr. Tilley who made these false accusations, and were they not, on his authority, repeated here by an honorable gentleman now in the Government, at the head of the Bureau of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. McGee)? Recollecting these things, sir, I have a pleasure—a mischievous pleasure—(hear, hear, and laughter)— […]
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[…] I have a mischievous pleasure, I say, in knowing that the Hon. Mr. Tilley has been defeated. (Ironical cheers.)
I repeat that I have experienced to-day a considerable degree of happiness in announcing that the man who, at the head of the Government of New Brunswick, betrayed the trust of the people, who failed to carry out their wishes in respect to the union of the Maritime Provinces, who exceeded the authority with which he was entrusted, who betrayed the interests of his province and abandoned everything that he was sent to Charlottetown to obtain—the man who went throughout the length and breadth of his province crying out against the good faith of the then Canadian Government—I say I have happiness in announcing that he has been disposed of by the people. (Hear, hear.) Hon. Mr. Tilley came to Quebec in 1863, with Hon. Mr. Tupper, and although he made the charge of bad faith against the Canadian Government, he knew as well as Hon. Mr. Tupper that the agreement of 1862 respecting the Intercolonial Railway was to be abandoned, except so far as the survey of the line was concerned.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Hear, hear.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—The honorable gentleman cries “Hear, hear,” but can he say that, while a member of the Government, he did not write a letter to a gentleman in this province, in which he said that the scheme of 1862 was abandoned by the Canadian Government.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—The honorable gentleman has made that charge once before publicly, and I denied it publicly. If he can get any such letter of mine, he is fully authorized by me to make it public. Hon. Mr. Tilley, so far from believing the scheme abandoned, went back to New Brunswick with a very different impression; and I ask the honorable gentleman whether he did not say to him while here:—”I declare to God, Tilley, if I thought by resigning my office we could get the Intercolonial Railway, I would do it.” The honorable gentleman is out of office now, and perhaps he will say whether he made this declaration or not. (Hear, hear.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I do not deny that. I was then, and always have been, in favor of the Intercolonial Railway, and am desirous that it should be built. I think that an outlet to the ocean on British soil, at all seasons of the year, is a very desirable thing to be obtained, and upon that point I have never changed my opinion. But I do say that Hon. Mr. Tupper and Hon. Mr. Tilley understood that it was not to be proceeded with at that time, and a memorandum was drawn up by Dr. Tupper at the time (I am now speaking in the presence of my late colleagues, who are aware of all the facts), embodying the decision at which the Government arrived, but which was not signed, because Hon. Mr. Tilley asked that Mr. Fleming might be considered as engaged to proceed with the survey, and wished to reserve it for the formal ratification of his colleagues when he went back to New Brunswick. When he did go back, his colleagues dissented from the views he had formed, and, in order to get himself out of the awkward position in which he was placed, he took the ground that the abandonment of the project was owing to the bad faith of the Canadian Government.
Now I say it is a matter of great satisfaction to me that the honorable gentleman who circulated this charge, and gave ground for honorable gentlemen now on the Treasury benches to attack the Government of which I was a member, and accuse it of bad faith to the sister provinces, has for these bold and audacious statements met his just deserts. He has been scouted and rejected by his own people. He has lost their confidence, and with that loss of confidence this great scheme of Confederation has come to woeful grief. I say punishment has overtaken him. It was a long time coming, but it has come at last with terrible effect. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] says that the Government will ask for a vote of credit, but he has not told us how long this vote will extend. He does not tell what they will do if the Confederation scheme fails, as it is pretty sure to fail. He does not say that it is going to carry, nor does he say that it will be succeeded by any other. Where, I would like to know, is the smaller scheme—the pet scheme of the member for South Oxford [George Brown]—of a Federation of Canada first, to be followed, it need be, by a Federation of all the provinces? What the honorable gentleman to do with this scheme? Is it to be brought down to the House, or, the larger one having failed, is it to be kept in hand for use at some future time? Have we not a right to know what this scheme is and what the Government proposes to do in regard to it? (Hear, hear.)
Are the people of the country to be left in a feverish state of excitement, because the Government has no definite policy, until the mission spoken of goes to England, in the hope that the people of the Lower Provinces will in the meantime repent the […]
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[…] action they have taken? Why, sir, not only have the minds of the people of Canada been unhinged by the proceedings of the past year, not only have they been made dissatisfied with the institutions under which they have lived and prospered for a number of years, but political parties have also been demoralized. (Hear, hear.)
Yes, the Reform party has become so disorganized by this Confederation scheme, that there is scarcely a vestige of its greatness left, hardly a vestige of that great party that demanded reform for a number of years, but which unfortunately, in 1864 as in 1854, went over to the other side when its leaders could no longer endure to remain in the cold shades of opposition. (Hear, hear.)
Is it too much to ask honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches to tell us something of the scheme for federating these two provinces, to give us an inkling of what is to be done, now that the other scheme has failed, and of the liabilities to be assumed by the respective sections of Canada? Are we to be kept in ignorance on these subjects? Are the affairs of the country to continue in the unsettled state in which they now are? Is all legislation to remain at a stand-still until the more and more doubtful prospect of Confederation is realized? (Hear, hear.)
What amount of money is required by the Government to meet the danger that is said to have suddenly threatened us? Are the people not to know what preparations are to be made and what sums are to be expended in our defence? I am not opposed to any proper measures being taken to defend the country, but at the same time prudence dictates that we should know what they are to cost before we blindly vote for them, if Confederation is not to take place, what is the use of going on with measures of defence that depended upon Confederation being carried? Why not come down now with a scheme that will apply to Canada alone, and let us know precisely what burdens the people will have to bear for their defence, what additional taxation will be required, and all other information connected with the subject? (Hear, hear.)
I do say that it is anything but satisfactory to be told that we are to postpone the promised scheme for our defence at this time, to adjourn over till summer, and in the meantime to send commissioners home to treat with the Imperial Government. If the danger is so imminent as it is said to be, why this long delay? (Hear, hear.) Sir, I never was myself an advocate of any change in our Constitution; I believed it was capable of being well worked to the satisfaction of the people, if we were free from demagogues and designing persons who sought to create strife between the sections. (Hear, hear.)
I am not disposed to extend my remarks further at present. All I can say is, that the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] has done the House justice if he has given us all the information in his possession with regard to the present aspect of the Confederation question; and yet it appears to me somewhat absurd to proceed with the debate, when even the Government itself admits the measure to be a failure. (Hear, hear.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I think the announcement made by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] must have taken the House a little by surprise. (Hear, hear.)
The policy agreed on by the Government in June, 1864, was certainly not the one carried out at the opening of this session, and still less that which has just been announced. The policy, as we find it in a memorandum then communicated to the House, was that a measure for the Confederation of the two Canadas, with provisions for the admission of the other provinces, should be brought before the House this session. I will give the terms of the memorandum, in order that there may be no doubt about it. When explanations were given in June last, by the present Government, two memoranda were communicated to the House. One was a memorandum that had been communicated to the Hon. the President of the Council [George Brown], and marked “Confidential.” It was in these words:—
The Government are prepared to state, that immediately after the prorogation, they will address themselves, in the most earnest manner, to the negotiation for a Confederation of all the British North American Provinces.
That, failing a successful issue to such negotiations, they are prepared to pledge themselves to legislation during the next session of Parliament for the purpose of remedying the existing difficulties, by introducing the Federal principle for Canada alone, coupled with such provisions as will permit the Maritime Provinces and the Northwest Territory to be hereafter incorporated into the Canadian system.
That, for the purpose of carrying on the negotiations and settling the details of the promised legislation, a Royal Commission shall be issued, composed of three members of the Government and three members of the Opposition, of whom Mr. Brown shall be one, and the Government pledge themselves to give all the influence of the Administration to secure to the said Commission the means of advancing the great object in view.
This was the first memorandum that was […]
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[…] communicated to the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown]. It was a proposition on behalf of the members of the then Government to the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], to the effect that the Government would be prepared, immediately after that session, to take measures for obtaining a Confederation of all the provinces, and, failing in that scheme, to bring into the House at the next session—that is the present session—a scheme for the Confederation of the two Canadas, with a provision that the Maritime Provinces might come into the union when they saw fit. But this proposition was not accepted, and another memorandum was submitted to the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] in the following terms:—
The Government are prepared to pledge themselves to being in a measure next session for the purpose of removing existing difficulties, by introducing the Federal principle into Canada, coupled with such provisions as will permit the Maritime Provinces and the Northwest Territory to be incorporated into the same system of government.
This, then, is what the Government pledged itself to do. The first memorandum to open negotiations for a Confederation with the Lower Provinces was rejected by the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], and he agreed to go into the Government on this pledge, that it would be prepared to bring in a measure, this session, for the purpose of removing existing difficulties, by introducing the Federal principle into the Government of Canada, coupled with such provisions as would enable the Lower Provinces to come in at any subsequent time. This is the measure that was promised by the Government; this is the measure that honorable gentlemen on the other side, at the end of last session, said they would be prepared to introduce to the Legislature this session. But instead of that the whole scheme has been altered. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Read the balance of the statement.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—There is nothing in the remainder of it to qualify the pledge then made by the Government. (Hear, hear.) It is a distinct and positive pledge given by hon. gentlemen in their places on the Treasury benches, that at this session of Parliament they would bring in a measure for the Confederation of the two Canadas, leaving it to the other provinces to come in if they pleased. (Hear, hear.)
Certainly there is this addition at the end of the memorandum:—
And the Government will seek, by sending representatives to the Lower Provinces and to England, to secure the assent of those interests which are beyond the control of our own legislation, to such a measure as will enable all British North America to be united under a General Legislature based upon the Federal system.
We find, from these explanations, that a measure for the Confederation of the whole of the provinces did not suit the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] and the Liberal party in Upper Canada, that it was rejected by him and his party as not the proper remedy for our difficulties, and that another measure was accepted by him, applying the principle of Federation to the two Canadas; and in order to secure to that measure the acquiescence of those interests which were beyond the control of the Government of this country, delegates were to be sent to confer with the Lower Provinces with the view of bringing them into this union.
Well, sir, I must say that if the honorable gentlemen opposite had not been untrue to their pledge, if they had brought—to this House the measure they then promised—we in this country would, at all events, have been saved the humiliation of seeing the Government going on its knees and begging the little island of Prince Edward to come into this union, and then going to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and supplicating them to relieve us of our difficulties; and saved the humiliation of seeing these supplications and the bribes in every direction with which they were accompanied, in the shape of subsidies to New Brunswick and Newfoundland, and of the Intercolonial Railway, rejected by those to whom they were offered. Canada would, at all events, have held a dignified position, and not suffered the humiliation of seeing all the offers of our Government indignantly rejected by the people of the Lower Provinces. The Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] says that the scheme of Confederation has obtained the consent of the governments of all the provinces; but where are those governments now? Where is the Government of New Brunswick? Where is the Government of Prince Edward Island? (Hear, hear.)
As for the Government of Nova Scotia, it pledged itself to bring the scheme before the Legislature; but it is well known that it dare not press it, and still less appeal to the people upon it. The members of that Government were wiser than the Government of New Brunswick, and would not appeal to the people. And here I must say that I […]
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[…] compliment the Government upon the wisdom it shows in not appealing to the people of Canada. Honorable gentlemen have shown far more sight in this matter than the Government of New Brunswick, in refusing to let the people have an opportunity of pronouncing upon this scheme, for the petitions coming down daily against it show conclusively that the people, of Lower Canada at all events, are almost unanimously against it, and that an appeal to them would meet, as regards the members of the Lower Canada Administration, with the same fate which befell the members of the New Brunswick Government. (Hear.)
I do not wish, sir, to prolong this debate more than necessary, out I must say that I am surprised to hear the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] say that the defences of the country require such immediate attention that the matter cannot be delayed for a moment. If I mistake not, the Government have had in their hands a report from Col. Jervois upon the defences, since the 12th of October last, and yet since that time not a single thing has been done towards defence. We are now told with startling emphasis that the country is about to be invaded, or is in most imminent danger; and all at once, now that the great scheme of Confederation is defeated, we learn that not an hour’s delay can be allowed, and that we cannot even wait to vote the supplies, so urgent is the necessity of sending a mission to England about this matter. Between Friday last and this morning the Government has discovered that this imminent danger threatens us, and so anxious is it about it that we cannot even stop to vote the ordinary supplies, but must pass at once a vote of credit, (Hear, hear.)
And, sir, while I am on the subject of the defences, I must say it is most astonishing that although we have repeatedly asked for information on the subject, in connection with this great scheme, we can not get it. (Hear, hear.) At the earliest moment alter the commencement of the session, the honorable member for Drummond and Arthabaska (Mr. J.B.E. Dorion) made a motion for any despatches, reports, or communications, or for extracts thereof, which might be in the possession of the Government on the question of the defences of the country, and the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] rose and replied that to give this information would endanger the safety of the province. The Ministry of Canada therefore refused us that which we now find in the report which comes from England.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Not the report.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—If not the report, at all events the substance of it. There they do not find that it will endanger the safety of the country by giving the House of Commons such information as will enable Parliament to take the necessary steps to provide for the defences of any part of the British Empire. I moved another Address at a later period, asking for such information on the subject of our defences as the Government might deem it proper to give; and although that Address was voted a full fortnight ago, I have been unable to obtain an answer to it up to the present time. Nor can we get information in regard to the finances—in fact every kind of information which is necessary to enable us to form proper and correct judgments is refused. But, sir, I must say that at the present moment I am unaware of any reason which could be urged for our being called upon to act with such precipitate haste as to grant a vote of credit to hon. gentlemen. (Hear, hear.) The session has been called at the usual time, rather earlier than the usual time for holding our meetings of Parliament—and I say it is a most extraordinary thing that we should be asked by the honorable gentlemen on the other side to give them a vote of credit. (Hear, hear.)
Why, sir, is the whole business of the country to be thrown into a condition of derangement in order to allow the honorable gentlemen to get themselves out of a difficulty—not to get the country, but themselves, out of the difficulty which they have acknowledged to have overtaken them? (Hear, hear.)
Are all the affairs of the province to be thrown over, for such a reason, until next session, which may not be held for six months or nine months, or until the honorable gentlemen choose to call us again together? Because “an early summer session” may be the month of August or the month of September, or it may mean even a later period than that. Do they expect a vote of credit of six millions of dollars to enable them to construct these defences which are spoken of by Col. Jervois?
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—No, no.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Then, if we do not pass a vote for that purpose, what is to become of the country in the meantime? (Hear, hear.) We are told that there is urgent necessity for expending money on our defences, and that the danger is imminent. Well, sir, I apprehend if there is imminent danger, we ought to be kept sitting here until provision […]
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[…] is made to meet that danger, or at all events, affairs ought to be placed in such a position that, at any moment, we can be called together to provide for the danger. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—We want to avert it.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What is the danger?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—It puzzles the honorable gentlemen to reply. I think that they themselves never discovered there was any cause for alarm until Friday last, when there was imminent danger of the defeat of their scheme, and imminent danger also of the loss of their position. (Laughter.) This, sir, is the real danger the hon. gentlemen want to avert, and they proceed to do so by asking us, in lieu of granting the ordinary supplies, to pass a vote of credit. We will then be sent away, with the prospect before their friends and supporters of another session this summer, when the additional sessional allowance will of course be welcome to all. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
I simply rose, sir, to protest against the continuance of this scheme by the honorable gentlemen opposite. I think they are bound to proceed in some other way, seeing that this scheme cannot be carried, as it certainly cannot. It has been rejected not only by New Brunswick, but by Prince Edward Island, one of whose delegates to Quebec, Mr. Whelan, has been holding meetings, and all that he has been able to accomplish is the passing of resolutions of confidence in himself, and the assertion that no such scheme should be given effect to without being first submitted to the people. That is the most favorable expression of opinion that can be obtained in Prince Edward Island. It is well known, too, that the Legislature of Nova Scotia is against the scheme by a large majority. And now we find that New Brunswick has pronounced against it also. Will hon. gentlemen go to England and press on the scheme under such circumstances? Will they argue that because we are 2,500,000 and they only 900,000, we ought to swallow them up by pressing them into Confederation against their wishes? (Hear, hear.)
I do not suppose honorable gentlemen on the other side purpose attempting to coerce, by means of their influence with the Imperial Government, the Lower Provinces to come into this Confederation. Therefore it is that I say that this scheme is killed. (Hear, hear, and derisive Opposition cheers.)
I repeat that it is killed. I claim that it is the duty of hon. gentlemen opposite, and particularly is it the duty of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], to insist upon their colleagues keeping to the pledges they have made. It is the duty of the Liberal members generally to insist on these pledges being redeemed, without which they would have refused to sanction the taking of office by the three Liberal members of the Government, and in accordance with which alone they could justify that step before their constituents. It was only the knowledge that, failing the success of this measure, they would carry out a scheme which was within the power of the Government to carry, that the Liberal party of Upper Canada approved of their three friends making part of the Government. The Administration could not give a pledge that they would carry the Confederation of all the provinces, but they could pledge, and did pledge themselves to bring in, in the event of the failure of that scheme, a measure for the federation of Upper and Lower Canada.
And, sir, not only was this promise made at that time, but we have since seen, this session, the head of the Government, Hon. Sir E.P. Taché, renewing the pledge then given in these words:—”They arranged a large scheme and a smaller one. If the larger failed, then they would fall back upon the minor, which provided for a federation of the two sections of the province.” And it was expressly stated that during this session, if the present scheme failed, they should bring in a measure to federate the two provinces. (Hear, hear.) That was the promise given to the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], and, if it is not redeemed, I fear his position will be a most un-enviable one in the country. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—There is another point, Mr. Speaker, upon which I desire to see an understanding come to before we proceed further with this discussion. Honorable gentlemen opposite have attempted by their professions to manufacture a little cheap pocket loyalty, and to that end I find the most atrocious sentiments expressed in this morning’s editorial of their organ, the Quebec Chronicle. I will read the paragraph.
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—You need not; we have all read it.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—It will bear reading again for the information of the House. It is as follows:—
A telegram from New Brunswick on Saturday night says Tilley and Watters are defeated: majority 250. These gentlemen were the Confederate candidates for the city of St. John. Knowing the influences at work, we are not greatly surprised at the result; but our conviction in the […]
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[…] alternative of confederation or annexation is more than ever confirmed when we see how completely American influence can control elections of the provinces.
These sentiments are calculated to introduce into political discussion in this country a dangerous element, a mischievous cry. I would like to ask the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], who has to some extent endorsed this sentiment, whether I was right in understanding him to say that it was the influence exerted by American railway men on the elections which led to the defeat of the Confederation candidates?
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—What is that?
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—I understood the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] to state that the American railway influence had had some effect upon the St. John’s elections.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I will repeat to the honourable gentleman what I did say. It was this: that I had no doubt the question. of Confederation was one of the subjects which influenced the people of St. John. But I did not pretend that that was the only one. There were other local questions which, I have no doubt, had their due weight of influence. There was, for instance, the usual struggle between the ins and the outs, and I presume there was the influence to be contended against of those who were in favor of the railways to the American frontier—the Coast Line or Western Extension Railway, as opposed to the Intercolonial Railway interest.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—I wish to nail this forgery to the counter before it goes further, and to that end I desire to be permitted to read a few extracts from one of the leading papers in the Lower Provinces (the Nova Scotian), and which are as follows:—
But not quite so fast, good friends. This is not the first we have heard of this “military” railway. Last summer, a committee of Congress, composed mostly of shrewd New Englanders, came from Washington to examine and report as to the expediency of constructing a “military” road to the frontier of New
Brunswick. They were not allowed, however, to stop at the frontier, for when they arrived there they found an invitation inviting them to go on to St. John. They went, and St. John was in a perfect furore of interesting excitement. A public meeting was called; we are not sure whether Mr. Tilley was present or not. We think he was accidentally absent from some inevitable cause, but sent a message with his compliments and sympathies. The mayor occupied the chair; the viands were excellent; the champagne flowed “à la Ottawa;” the speeches were eloquent; and although St. John had but recently been all in a blaze with sympathy with the poor suffering Southerners, somehow it happened, under what genial influences we cannot say, that they managed to create a most agreeable impression, not only upon the stomachs, but upon the loyal hearts, of the committee of Congress.
But this was not all. The provincial railway was placed at their disposal free of expense, and they were chaperoned over it by leading men, to Shediac and back to St. John. Mr. Tilley, we think, was on this trip; and after all was over, they went back with a wondering appreciation of the “good lord, good devil” versatility of our New Brunswick friends.
Again the same paper remarks:—
The New Brunswickers understand this, and with Mr. Tilley at their head, cooperating with the shrewdest men of New England, are bidding in a spirit of commercial enterprise for the great stream of passenger traffic across the Atlantic, which they (the Americans) desire to turn into our good city (Halifax). Apart from all its other advantages, they propose, it appears, to purchase our railroads, and thus release, for our disposal in other railways, the capital employed in its construction.
In another article, the same authority places this story about the American interference in the St. John elections in a stronger light. I will read it for the benefit of the credulous:—
Strange to say, we find Mr. Tilley, not only investing the public funds of New Brunswick in the construction of a military road from Portland to St. John (of course only the Yankee end of the line is military), but the delegates themselves have actually made special arrangements with that gentleman to enable him, in event of the present scheme of Confederation being consummated, to construct the New Brunswick portion of this proposed railway. Now, we would like the delegates to explain this little matter to the satisfaction of the old ladies whom they have been frightening with horrible stories of Yankee devastations, smouldering homesteads, and blazing churches.
In the face of these extracts is it not idle to say that Hon. Mr. Tilley was defeated by American railway influences? The presumption would be the contrary. Looking to their interest those shrewd New Englanders spoken of would have supported the candidate who is willing to invest the funds of New Brunswick in a railway connecting with their line. Hon. Mr. Tilley, the leader of the New Brunswick Government, was defeated, not through American influence, but because of the unpopularity of the Federation scheme, […]
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[…] as presented to the people of his province; and it is wrong to introduce this new cry into our politics. Canada has been cursed with party cries, and it is time for us to clear the political arena of such false issues and dangerous contests. To introduce this new element of discord can only gain for its promoters a temporary relief, whilst the damage it will inflict upon the best interests of the country are positive. Our critical relations, at this moment, with the American people are mainly traceable to cries of this kind. By rendering the people suspicious of such influence, the promoters of the cry are hastening the accomplishment of what they pretend to oppose. Once render the people of this country dissatisfied with the working of their system of government, and there will be danger of their continuing what will then seem inevitable. If there be any who desire annexation, they could not better forward their views than by raising the false cry of American interference in our political contests. Once destroy public confidence in our institutions, and it is impossible to predict what extremes may not be resorted to.
If the Ministry have information of the kind alleged, of an interference by foreigners in the political contest now going on in New Brunswick, they are bound to lay it before the House. Such an interference could not be tolerated, and the country should know the truth of the obligation at the earliest possible moment. If the vote of credit asked for is for military purposes, for fortifications, the Government will find their hands strengthened by the support of every hon. member of this House. It is not necessary to cry loyalty to obtain the vote, no more than it is necessary to cry annexation to secure the passage of an act to unite the provinces. I have been surprised at the alternative that has so often been put by hon members—Federation, or Annexation. Yes, and by hon. members who, in 1858, helped to laugh out of the House the resolutions of the present Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt], on the ground that if they were carried and confederation follow, there would be a movement in the direction of annexation. (Hear, hear.)
I ask where is the consistency of the two positions—in 1858 federation was a move towards annexation, in 1865 it is the only measure that will prevent annexation? The language of Her Majesty and of some “noble lords” has been referred to as a reason why this scheme should be accepted without enquiry. But it should be remembered that this is not the first time that language has been put in an Address from the Throne, to palliate the sacrifice of the true interests of Canada. We are as capable of judging here, on the floor of this House, what is for the true interests of the country, as any of the noble lords of the realm. If their speeches contain the sum of wisdom in regard to our affairs, pray how is it that our frontier has been in times past so extensively sacrificed? Everyone who has given any attention to the subject will see that under the Ashburton treaty our frontier was shamefully surrendered to the Americans, and that it received the sanction of noble lords at home; and now we have to build our railway over the rocks of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to the seaboard. (Hear, hear.)
This question of Federation is a question which concerns our country, which concerns our allegiance, which concerns our connection with the Home Government and the future of this country; and when our interests are at stake, we are the proper parties to judge of what is best. (Hear, hear.)
Therefore, to raise a false cry to enable hon. gentlemen on the opposite side to carry out their measure without amendment and without consulting the people of this province, is unjust in practice and wrong in principle It is a dangerous experiment. Had hon. members been aware of the whole circumstances of the New Brunswick elections, they would perhaps have reflected before placing Hon. Mr. Tilley in a false position.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—It is all a mistake.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—The extracts read are confirmatory of this view. I know something of the railways of New Brunswick, and I am aware that a scheme was favored by the people of St. John to extend their railways to the American frontier, as Canada has done in several instances. It was their interest to connect with the Portland road, just as it was the interest of Canada to connect the Grand Trunk with the road from Montreal to Portland. And with Hon. Mr. Tilley as the advocate of such extension, is it reasonable to infer that the American railway men opposed his election? The scheme before us is fraught with a job of greater proportions than the New Brunswick people ever thought of. The lurking influences of the Grand Trunk Railway, or of the well known contractors, who are uppermost whenever this union is spoken of, are at work. (Ministerial laughter.)
Ministers may laugh, but it is patent to all that the railway, […]
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[…] by the longest route it will be possible to find, is the pivot on which the scheme revolves. If it be the desire to get to the seaboard, and not to give certain contracting firms a job, why is not the shortest, cheapest and best route, from every point of view, selected? Why climb over the mountains of the centre of New Brunswick, or along the seacoast, when a road can be constructed by a better but shorter route, for much less money, by the valley of the St. John? I contend that the route this road is to run should be made known to this House. It is a question involving the expenditure of millions, and if the cheaper route be built, the saving to Canada will also be many millions of dollars. I know that certain honorable gentlemen are prepared to vote on this question phlegmatically. (Laughter.)
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—What is it to vote phlegmatically?
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—An hon. gentleman asks me what a phlegmatic vote is? I would inform him it is to vote on this question, which so deeply concerns our future interests, without inquiry. It will cause some honorable gentlemen to give the lie to their whole political lives. It is to vote away, without enquiry, our rights to the Northwest territory. It is to seal up that country hermetically for all time to come. That is what I call giving a phlegmatic vote. (Hear, hear.) We find that the representatives at the Conference from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick made it a point of the proposed Constitution to construct the Intercolonial Railway, also took good care to make the opening of the North-West contingent upon the state of the finances, and the Confederation will commence life with a debt of $150,000,000. It is evident, therefore, that the North-West is hermetically sealed, as far as Canada is concerned. What shall we gain by this particular scheme of Confederation?
We have been running with railway speed into bankruptcy, and this scheme is one which will add immensely to our debt, and especially to our debt on account of unproductive and useless railways, and of which we do not even know the route, although, now that the elections in New Brunswick are over, it cannot affect the position in that province to give the information we are seeking. (Hear, hear.)
I am in favor of a union of the British North American Provinces. But the union that is desirable is a union in fact, not an organized system of discord, with a number of petty legislatures that will only serve to create strife and prevent our moving forward in the career of civilization and improvement. The scheme of the hon. gentlemen, to some extent, will give us the advantages of a legislative union, but it is encumbered with objectionable details—details which, in their importance, amount to principles, and to secure their rejection or amendment I shall employ what energy I can bring to bear.
The scheme has been submitted to the people in New Brunswick, and it has there been admitted, as well as in Nova Scotia, that it was subject to amendment. Why should Canada not have the same right accorded? Why should we take the scheme in its entirety, when its authors cannot justify certain provisions which specially relate to this country? It is treating Canada with contempt, and hon. gentlemen will be held responsible. I have very great confidence in several of the hon. gentlemen opposite. I have very great confidence in the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] and the two other hon. gentlemen whom he took into the Ministry with him. But, when the Hon the President of the Council [George Brown] consented to go into the Administration without getting a fair representation in it, of the party with which he was acting, both in Upper and in Lower Canada, he miscarried. (Laughter.)
That may account for some of the objectionable features of this measure. It may account for Canada consenting, and for the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] giving his consent, that the voting at the Conference should be by provinces, instead of by numbers. They took very good care to arrange that we should pay according to population. (Hear, hear.)
But they voted by provinces, and in that way hampered the scheme with many objectionable details. And I think, therefore, it is now competent for this House to criticise those details, and to take such steps as will ensure their exclusion from the Imperial Act. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Before these explanations are over, and I have no desire to prolong them further than is necessary—I would like to ask the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] as to the course to be pursued with reference to the Lower Canada School Law, which was promised to be introduced this session. We are now told a prorogation is to take place, and I would like to know whether the pledge given by the honorable gentleman at Sherbrooke [Alexander T. Galt], on behalf of himself and his colleagues, […]
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[…] and renewed several times in the House since the session commenced, is intended to be carried out, or whether it is to be modified—because it must be obvious that that matter has an important bearing on the question of Confederation, with which it has been connected by honorable gentlemen opposite.
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I think the statement made this afternoon by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] is perfectly explicit The Government intend to ask for a vote on the resolutions now in the hands of the Speaker. With regard to the School question, the Government are under the same pledge as they have always been: it will be legislated upon by this House.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—This session?
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It will not be legislated upon this session, because, as the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] has stated, it is the intention of the Government to prorogue the House at the earliest date. But all the conditions connected with the resolutions will be legislated upon as a matter of course.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I understand, then, that the pledge to bring down that question this session is withdrawn, the policy of the Government on that point having been modified by the result of the elections in New Brunswick.
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—There is no change in the policy of the Government on the subject of Confederation, or any of the other measures connected with it.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—But the honorable gentleman must permit me to recall the nature of the pledge given by himself and his colleagues at Sherbrooke and in this House that there would be a bill brought down by the Government during this session of Parliament, for the amendment of the Lower Canada School laws. This was repeated by the Honorable Solicitor General East [Hector-Louis Langevin], on behalf of the Government, in the course of certain interpellations made on this subject in the absence of my hon. friend the Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt]. And the conclusion of the whole matter now is, that the hon. gentleman states emphatically that this is not to be done.
The people of New Brunswick, therefore, among the other mischiefs they have wrought by the free exercise of their franchise in the rejection of the Government which undertook, without legislative or other authority, to enter into arrangements for revolutionizing the country, among other mischiefs they have wrought has been this, that the Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] and his colleagues conceive themselves to be relieved thereby of the obligations they undertook to the country and to the House—
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—No! no!
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The obligations they undertook to the country and to the House to bring in an amendment to the Lower Canada School laws during this session of Parliament. The hon. gentleman knows full well—none better than he—the point of these remarks. It may not be appreciated by die House generally, especially by the members from Upper Canada, but the hon. gentleman knows well the importance of it, and that the English Protestants of Lower Canada desire to know what is to be done in this matter of education, before the final voice of the people of this country is pronounced on the question of Confederation. The assurances given by the hon. gentleman led them to believe—and in point of fact they do generally believe, that that measure is to be brought down before the final vote of this House is taken on the question of Confederation. That is the point of the whole matter.
And the honorable gentleman now tells us, through his leader, that the Confederation resolutions are to be put through this session immediately, and that commissioners are going to England to press legislation founded on those resolutions, while on the other hand he himself, the great Protestant champion of Lower Canada, who claims the confidence of Lower Canada Protestants in an especial manner, now tells them that this promised legislation is not to be had until next session of Parliament, when it will be too late perhaps to petition this House, or even to send popular petitions to the Imperial Parliament against this measure.
Therefore it is, I repeat, that among the many curious results of the free exercise of their franchise by the people of New Brunswick, we have this, that the Protestant champion of Lower Canada is not going to do that which he undertook to do on behalf of his follow countrymen and co-religionists—that which he promised this session, but now postpones till another session, when all the circumstances may be changed. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance].—I think the interest evinced by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] in this matter is somewhat remarkable. I feel grateful indeed to him for the kind solicitude he expresses on my behalf, that I should cause no disappointment to the class which to a certain extent looks to me. Still, […]
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[…] I think he is guilty of rather a paltry quibble in the statement he has just made. The position of the Government was most distinctly stated by the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], and no misunderstanding can exist with regard to it. It is admitted frankly that the events in New Brunswick call for some special action by this Government, and the action which they propose to take was stated in the most distinct terms by the Government. As regards the education question, statements have been made already as to the nature of the amendments which are to be proposed to the existing School law. The Government will unquestionably take care that that law shall be amended in the sense of those statements before the Confederation scheme finally becomes law in Canada. I think no further statement is necessary. I can add nothing to the assurances which have already been given on that subject. (Hear, hear.)
John Cameron [Peel]—There is one point on which I should like an explanation from the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]. He says there will be a vote of credit asked from the House, until the next meeting of the Legislature. That, I suppose, will not be until July or August, but the appropriation for the services of the volunteer force on the frontier expires in May. Will that vote of credit include the amount necessary to continue the volunteers on their present service, if the Government find that they require it to be continued up to a subsequent period, say the first of August? I should like an answer to this question, if the Government have made up their minds on this part of the subject.
I may remark, also, that one cannot help feeling it to be a matter of regret that the public business of the country could not go on. Of course, if the Government determine that the question of Confederation shall be pressed to a speedy decision by the House, and the Hon. Atty. Gen. West [John A. Macdonald] and other members of the Government proceed immediately thereafter to the other side of the Atlantic, it will be necessary that the House should rise, without getting through the ordinary business of the country. At the same time, a few weeks more would enable the House to get through all that business, and when we meet again in July or August, we would be able to devote our whole time to the measures which the Government may submit to us, as the result of the mission to England. If this debate is to be pressed as rapidly as the Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] indicates, I have no doubt we would be able to dispose of it, and also to get rid of the whole of the public and private business on the Orders, so as to allow the prorogation to take place before the first of April. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I will answer the question put by my honorable friend to the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]. The intention of the Government is to ask such a vote of credit from this House, as in their opinion the necessities of the country will demand, until the period when Parliament may again be called together. With reference to that, I would remind the House that the ordinary supplies have been voted up to the 30th June, and this will have to be borne in mind in considering the sum the House will be asked to vote. The Government will unquestionably have in view the continuance of the protection of the frontier. (Hear, hear.)
As the Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] has stated the intention of the Government is to meet Parliament again, so soon as they are in a position to state to them frankly the views of the Imperial Government; and that of course, to a certain extent, depends on the time during which they may be delayed in London in getting a final answer. But the intention of the Government is to lose no time in meeting Parliament again. (Hear, hear.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I have a word or two to say. The Government have changed their policy so quickly, that we can now place no reliance on the statements of Ministers of the Crown. I have not the slightest doubt that hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches at this moment contemplate—and I ask the attention of the House to what I am saying, because it is a bold statement I am to make—I say it is my deliberate opinion, that if we pass these resolutions, the gentlemen on the Treasury benches will go home and find a justification in England for manufacturing a bill of perhaps an entirely different character, that will cover all points, and that they will come back and force that on the people of this country at all hazards, having embodied in it whatever regulations they please as to schools, and whether there shall be one House or two Houses in the Local Parliament, and all other such matters. I am satisfied that that is their plan. They know well they cannot go to an unwilling people […]
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[…] with this scheme, they dare not submit it to the country—and they propose, therefore, to steal a march on the people, and will come back with a bill manufactured in London, as was done in 1840, and press it on the people of Canada.
We know how it was in 1852 or 1853, when an act came over to us, making an alteration in our Constitution, with respect to the increase of representation in Parliament, of which no one to this day has been able to trace the origin. What was done on that occasion may be done again. They will be met in England by gentlemen from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and they will manufacture there a Constitution for the people of Canada—which the people of Canada will be compelled to take, or else expose themselves to be called traitors and rebels.
They will come out with the authority of the Government, and invoke the name of the Queen, and will attempt to impose the Constitution thus manufactured on all the colonies, stigmatising as traitors all who oppose them. This is not the first time that that game has been played. Honorable gentlemen, failing to obtain the assent of an unwilling people here, will take that course—especially when, as is well known, the people and Government of England are only too anxious to throw upon us a large burden for the defence of this country. Influenced by the attentions and blandishments they will receive in England, Ministers will sacrifice our interests, and, as the price of it, will perhaps come back with high-sounding titles. (Laughter.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That has been done already.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—And what has been done before may be done again. They will go to England as if armed, as they suppose, with a carte blanche from the people of this country, because of the adoption of the scheme by this House to obtain a Constitution, such as is shadowed forth in these resolutions, imperfectly as they themselves admit—for Upper and Lower Canada and the provinces generally. The English Parliament will say, “We have here the best intellects of the provinces, the leaders of both parties, the men who have played their part before the country for the last eight or tea years, with the confidence of their respective parties.” But, if they were to read at the same time what these leading men have in that period said of one another, they might well question whether the men who had branded each other with infamy and disgrace, were the men Lest fitted to unite in framing a bill to secure the peace and quietness of this country—a measure, in the language of the hon. member for South Oxford (Hon. Mr. Brown), forever to settle the difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
I protest vehemently against these attacks on our rights. I protest against our being asked thus blindly to vote away our rights and liberties. However clever these gentlemen may be, we know to our cost what our cleverest financiers have done and will do again when they get out of the reach of public opinion, for the moment. When the country got tired of them, they entered into this Coalition to strengthen themselves. These are the men who will give us a new Constitution made in England. I do not pretend to be a prophet; but I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to remember, that I have declared now what is my deliberate conviction as to the game that will be played by hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches. (Hear, hear.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It does astonish me that an hon. gentleman in the position which the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] has occupied for so many years, should deliberately rise and make such statements as we have heard from him, after the grave announcement made from the Treasury benches with the assent of the Governor General of this province. The hon. gentleman has been told that the Government intend, if the House sanction this measure, to carry it home with the honest intention of giving effect to it, and of having arrangements made with reference to the other grave matters which have to be considered there.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—What are they?
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The question of defence, and the question of the commercial relations between these provinces and the United States. He has been told that it is the intention that members of the Government should go to England; that on their return, at the earliest possible moment, Parliament shall be called together and have submitted to it the result of the negotiations. And after all this, the honorable gentleman has the rashness—I shall not use a harsher word—to get up here and impute to the whole members of the Government, and to the head of the Government, who has […]
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[…] sanctioned the making of this announcement to the House—
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I rise to a point of order. I ask if it is in order to bring before the House the authority and name of the Governor General.
Mr. Speaker—The name of the Sovereign cannot be introduced in this way, but I do not know that the rule extends further.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I am quite in order. I apprehend it is quite impossible that we could have made to the House the statement with regard to the prorogation, and the intention of sending members of the Government to England, in the way we propose, unless we had the direct sanction of His Excellency.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—You advised him of course.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Of course. With the duty we owed to His Excellency, it was impossible we could make such a statement, without first obtaining His Excellency’s sanction. The hon. gentleman knows it well, and when he ventured to get up and make the rash charge that the whole thing is a trick, to get some scheme entirely different from this carried through the Imperial Parliament, he assumes a liberty that is entirely unworthy of a member of this House. (Hear, hear.) And I can tell the honorable gentleman and my honorable friend from Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion], who are so anxious about the position which has been taken on this side by myself and by my hon. friends the Postmaster General [William Howland] and the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], I can tell them that we are quite alive to the position in which we are placed, and that we have no tear with regard to the course we have taken, are now taking, and shall continue to take, till this measure is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, but we will be able to justify ourselves in the eyes of those who placed us here. (Cheers.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The statement just made by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] is one, I conceive, of very great importance, as it puts a meaning on the declaration made by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], which some of us, at all events—myself among the rest—did not catch when the hon. gentleman made his statement. We are to understand now, by the declaration of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], that the Government do not intend to have anything concluded in this matter of Confederation till the next meeting of the House.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I did not say anything of the sort.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Then what was the point of attack on the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]? That hon. member indicated his fear and his belief that a Constitution would be framed in England, at the instance and, perhaps, under the supervision of certain of the hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches, which would prove to be utterly distasteful and unpalatable to the people of this country. And the Hon President of the Council [George Brown] gets up and repels that with the greatest possible indignation. It appears to me that, if there is any point in his indignation, it must be here—that some further action is to be sought from this House before any effect is given to the question of Confederation. I take it, that is the fair inference from the statement now made by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown]. I ask whether that is the inference to be deduced—whether that is what the hon. gentleman meant? (A pause.) The honorable gentleman declines to answer.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Go on, and finish your speech.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I would like an answer now.
Alexander T. Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—No, no. Finish your speech.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The honorable gentleman knows well that this is not part of the regular debate. I did not rise to make a speech. The Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] did not rise to make a speech. No one has done so. The Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald], on behalf of the Government, made a statement. That statement has led to some observations, and some enquiries, that the House might understand its full purport. The regular debate is to be resumed by my honorable friend from Quebec (Hon. Mr. Alleyn), who, having moved its adjournment, is entitled to the floor, and I should be sorry to keep it from him, by making a speech. But I want those points to be clearly understood, for it is in the interest of all parties that they should be. Though I do not go quite so far as my honorable friend from Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] in his observations.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Hear, hear.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Though I do not go so far as he has done, yet I thought there might be some danger, but I look upon the statement made by the Hon. President of the […]
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[…] Council [George Brown], and the indignation with which he repelled the charge of my honorable friend from Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], as calculated to reassure the House. And I merely rose for the purpose of asking honorable gentlemen whether we are really to understand from the supplementary statement made on behalf of the Government by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], that the further consideration of this House is to be invited to all these measures, to the new Constitution for the country, as well as the arrangements that may be come to with respect to our defences, and with respect to our commercial relations.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—If I supposed for a moment that the honorable member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] really required an answer, he should get it. I have no doubt the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] would gladly give an answer, if he really thought he had any information to give to the honorable gentleman. But no one understands better than the honorable member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] the way in which the case was put. The honorable member for Cornwall (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) rose, and in rather an unparliamentary way—after a statement had been formally made to inform the House and the country what was the policy of the Government—upon his honor declared his belief that the Government were not sincere in the explanations they had made, and that their design was to get a bill passed by the Imperial Parliament, contrary to the feelings of this country and of the Lower Provinces, and to force that upon the people. That was the declaration of the honorable gentleman. I do not know if he was sincere in making it. He seemed to be sincere, and pledged his honor and his conscience to it. (Laughter.)
But his doing so only convinces me, that, if he had been in office himself, that is the course he would have adopted; no such suggestion would have risen to any man’s mind, unless he had thought it a feasible one. (Hear, hear.) For our part we do not consider such a course to be in accordance with our position in this House, or in accordance with our principles as men of honor; and the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] rose to repel the dishonoring insinuation with that just indignation which was felt by every man who heard it, and to declare that the belief of the honorable gentleman was utterly untrue, unfounded, and unwarranted.
But I shall repeat the announcement in a way that it may be understood by the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]—in language that will be plain to the meanest capacity—(laughter)—so that no man can mistake it. Our intention is to get the sanction of this House to the Address I have moved, and this having been done, the two branches of the Legislature will have given their votes in favor of the Confederation scheme, and there is the end to that, so far as Canada is concerned. We will then go over to England with that in our hands, and will say to the Imperial Government:—”Canada has agreed to this, New Brunswick has not agreed to it, and we wish to take counsel with the Imperial Government as to our position. This is the unmistakable voice of the people of Canada through their representatives, and we, as representing the Government of Canada, which has three-fourths of the whole population of the provinces, come to consult with the authorities of the Mother Country what is best for the interests of these provinces.” (Hear, hear.)
We shall also discuss the question of defence, and, I have no doubt, we shall be met in a most large-hearted and liberal spirit by the English Government, and that England will now, in justice to Canada, pledge herself to her utmost resources in men and money for our defence. (Hear, hear.)
Then there is a third question, that of the Reciprocity treaty; and we will also take counsel with the British Government as to the best means of treating that subject. And the honorable gentleman knows—at least he ought to know, for I cannot answer for the limits of his understanding—that we can only discuss that through Imperial avenues, that we can have no direct communication in such matters with the American Government.
Having taken counsel with the Imperial Government on those three points, we shall call the House together at the earliest period, I hope long before the current half-year terminates, that is, before the 30th June. We will submit the result of our mission, and it will then be before the House for discussion. Though another session, it will be in effect a continuation of this session, and when we have debated and disposed of the most pressing subjects, we will then take up what remains of the Confederation scheme—such as the constitution of the local governments and the school question, with regard to which, as the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] has stated, we shall propose to carry out to the letter the pledges we gave at the Conference, and which we ask the House to endorse, and hope it will. (Hear, hear.)
We will also submit the result of our negotiations on the question of defence, and on all those matters […]
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[…] connected with the relations between Great Britain and the United States, so far as British America is concerned, and on which we are authorized to take action by the Imperial authorities. We cannot know at what stage the negotiations between the Imperial Government and the United States Government may have arrived when the House meets again; but the result of the mission of those members of the Canadian Government who go home, will be submitted to the House. We shall lay before the House all that the British Government resolve upon, after hearing what we have to say as to the question of Confederation in its general aspect, and in its relation to the position it may have assumed in the other provinces. We shall then lay before the House the scheme of the local governments for the two Canadas. We shall lay before them the action necessary to be taken with reference to the School question, the matter of defence and the Reciprocity treaty.
The honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] gets up, and, because he finds the Government are resolved to take a firm and proper course in this matter, he chooses to throw improper and insulting remarks across the floor. But the House has learned what value is to be attached to the honorable gentleman’s statements, when a little while ago it heard him—an honorable gentleman who professes to be such a patriot—stating with reference to this scheme, in favor of which a large majority of the people of Canada had declared, that he had a “mischievous satisfaction” in seeing it checked. It was in the same spirit of causeless, senseless mischief that he got up to prophecy all sorts of improper conduct on the part of the Government. (Hear, hear.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Whatever views may be entertained by the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] of my capacity, I suppose I have got along in my own way as he has got along in his way. But I think the House may thank me for having obtained at last, notwithstanding—the castigation the honorable gentleman has dealt out to me, and which I hope I shall be able to survive, as I have borne up heretofore under similar avalanches of hard words about my want of judgment, want of capacity, and so forth. I think the House may thank me for having obtained at last from the Honorable Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] the explicit statement he has made, that the scheme is to come back again for the consideration of this House.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] did not say that.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—He said, if not the scheme itself, that all the arrangements connected with it, as to the local governments, the proportions we are to assume of the defence of the country, and the School question—which the Honorable Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt] told us, but for this untoward affair in New Brunswick, would have been submitted before this session closed—that all these things will be brought back and be submitted next session, before the Confederation scheme is finally concluded. This was not so explicitly stated in the honorable gentleman’s first speech. I have been accused of being so unpatriotic as to take a mischievous pleasure in any check upon the scheme.
What I said was, that I had mischievous pleasure in seeing that the honorable gentleman who had charged the Canadian Government with bad faith had been defeated and ousted from his place. And I say that, if this scheme were likely to prove for the advantage of the people of this province, no one would rejoice more than I in seeing it carried. But I have always felt, and do now feel, that the Constitution of this country can be well worked out. I have never given a vote for Federation. I have never given a vote for a legislative union.
An Hon. Member—Or for annexation.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—No; I did not sign the annexation manifesto. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) I have not assented or given countenance to any scheme for changing our present Constitution, and it is not right for the honorable gentleman, because I do not choose to assent to this scheme without knowing all the details, to taunt me with being unpatriotic. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable gentleman would have the House to understand that I was ignorant of the fact that this Government could not deal directly with the American Government with regard to the Reciprocity treaty. And yet in the face of this charge, he must have known that the only record which an Address of this House brought down the other day was a Minute of Council addressed to the Secretary of State by myself and colleagues, on the subject of reciprocity.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—And what have honorable gentlemen opposite done since?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—They have done nothing since,of course. We were attacked by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] because we did nothing with regard to the Reciprocity treaty.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The honorable gentleman […]
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[…] is entirely mistaken. He is thinking of the time when I privately urged upon him, as Prime Minister, the necessity of taking steps, and prompt steps, for ascertaining what was the mind of the Washington Government, and whether or not a new treaty could be negotiated. He explained to me the obstacle that stood in his way; and, though I considered the difficulties in his way ought to have been overcome, yet the circumstances were such that I never blamed him.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—We did all we could in the way of making representations to the Imperial Government. And what have honorable gentlemen opposite done since?
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—We have been acting in the same direction ever since, and I think it would have been well for the interests of this country if we had not been fettered as we have been.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, I say that this explanation of the Honorable Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] is more explicit and much more, elaborate than the explanation we had from him in the first instance. In commenting upon that first explanation, I hope I did not make use of unparliamentary language. But I am entitled surely to draw deductions from the announcements made to us from the Treasury benches, and I am not bound to mince matters if I feel alarmed at the consequences which may result from the giving of this dreadful blow to the Constitution we have so long lived under. It is surely not unseemly that I should feel keenly on this subject, and that, before the Constitution to which I am sincerely attached is swept away, I should express that indignation which I may have expressed somewhat warmly this afternoon. (Hear, hear.)
Much stronger language has been expressed on the floor of this House, when the motives of the honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches have been questioned by honorable gentlemen whose intellect perhaps as far transcends mine as day outshines night. (Laughter.) But I think the country and the House will yet thank me for stating, even in the earnest manner I did, my alarm in connection with this matter. At all events, I have a sincere belief in the truth of what I stated. (Hear, hear.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The explanations given to-day by the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] are fuller than those at first given; yet I am afraid that there is still some misunderstanding. The Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] stated that the scheme for the constitution of the local governments would be submitted to the House next session. Is it the intention of the Government, or the delegation when in England, to press the scheme upon the Imperial Government without the concurrence of the Lower Provinces? If the Lower Provinces do not come in, will the Government press the adoption of the scheme so as to apply it to the two provinces of Canada? For, if I understood the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], he said that next session they will bring in the constitutions of the local legislatures. Now, if they are not to press the scheme at all, there would be no necessity for local legislatures. (Hear, hear.)
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I desire simply to state, as I have said before, that after these resolutions are carried, those who go to confer with the Imperial Government will doubtless adopt such steps as they think are best suited to us. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Arthur Rankin [Essex]—I feel obliged to the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] if he elicited the explanations just given, though I cannot approve of what he said otherwise. To me the intelligence is most acceptable. (Hear, hear.) I learn that it is the intention of the Government to go on without regard to the action of the Lower Provinces, and to press this measure through without being influenced by the action of New Brunswick. I hold that it is common sense for us to remember that we are considering the interests of the people at large, and this scheme, if acceptable to the people of Canada, is acceptable to four-fifths of the people of British North America.—(Hear, hear.)
It must be evident to the meanest capacity—(to make use of the words of the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] a few minutes ago)—that one of two destinies awaits us: either we must extend and strengthen British influence and British power on this continent, or these provinces must, one by one, be absorbed by the neighboring republic. (Hear, hear.)
That has been my opinion for years, and it is my opinion still. However, Mr. Speaker, I simply rose for the purpose of soliciting more distinct information upon one point on which I have heard nothing said, although the explanations may have been given before I came into the House. I wish to know what is the intention of the Government with reference to the volunteers now on the frontier—whether they have provided the means to maintain this force, if required, beyond the 1st of May next?
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An Hon. Member—That question has already been answered.
Arthur Rankin [Essex]—I only hope the Government will ask the House for means to keep up whatever force may be thought necessary, not only till June, but till October if requisite. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas Gibbs [Ontario South]—I think that the policy of the Government, as announced to-day by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], is bold, manly, and straightforward, and such as will entitle them to the confidence of this House and of the country. (Hear, hear.) It shows that they, at least, are in earnest on this great question of Confederation which they have introduced, and whatever may have been the opinion of the Opposition as to the motive which induced them to lay this measure before the House at the opening of the session, I think it must be utterly dispelled by the announcement just made to the House. (Hear, hear.)
If the scheme was worth anything when the Government, in the opening Speech this session, declared its intention of asking the consideration of the House for it, the same scheme must be worth as much now, and I trust that none of the difficulties which may for a moment interpose, will prevent the Administration from carrying it through. (Hear, hear.) It has been said that the measure which they should have brought down was the smaller one, whilst they have introduced the larger. Now, sir, I hold that the greater always includes the less; and that the Government, instead of being blamed for the course they have taken, are entitled to the thanks of this House for bringing down the more important one at the outset. (Hear, hear.)
It is not often that questions of the importance of that now before the House are carried without considerable opposition. I need only refer, as an example, to that of the Clergy Reserves, during the discussion of which there were fights, fierce and numerous, lasting for many years, until the measure was carried at last. And now, as we are about to obtain what Upper Canada has sought for years—representation by population—we find, unfortunately, difficulties interposing; but I hope that notwithstanding these, the Government will not falter, but will carry out the wish of the majority of the members of this House and of the people of the country, and consummate the scheme of uniting the British North American Provinces. (Hear, hear.)
I am very happy to find that the Government have taken into consideration the negotiations on reciprocal trade with the United States. That is a most important question, and I should have been glad, for that alone, if the Confederation scheme had been carried out successfully, because it would have been much easier to discuss the matter through the British Government by means of representatives from the General Confederacy, than by representatives from the various disunited provinces. Now I say, Mr. Speaker, that the course the Government have pursued must inspire confidence in them on the part of their supporters, and I believe that the country will approve of it too. (Hear, hear.) I hope they will relax no effort to see the scheme carried to completion. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas Parker [Wellington North]—If I understand correctly the statement just made by the Government, they propose to send a delegation to England for the purpose of discussing the three questions of the Reciprocity treaty, the defences, and the scheme of Confederation now before the House. The Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] says that the question of the defences is very pressing, and that immediate action should also be taken with, regard to the Reciprocity treaty. If these subjects are so pressing, they should be dealt with at once, irrespective of whether this scheme is carried or not. (Hear, hear.)
A period of constitutional changes is most unfavorable for the proper consideration of these questions; and if the necessity is as urgent as represented, they should be taken up and considered at once, even in advance of Confederation. Earl Russell, then Lord John Russell, was severely ridiculed by the British press because he introduced a Reform bill during the Crimean war. I deprecate most strongly the attempt made to coerce constitutional changes upon this House and the country under the pressure of danger and coming war. (Hear, hear.)
He is no friend of Canada who is constantly creating alarm and raising the cuckoo cry of loyalty. (Hear, hear.)
This Government was formed for the express purpose of discovering a remedy for our constitutional difficulties, and I hold them to that engagement. This scheme is to unite the whole of the British North American Colonies; and if the treaty is adopted by the Imperial Government, if an Imperial Act is passed on the basis of these resolutions, and the Maritime Provinces persist in their present refusal to come in, in what position are we then placed? Is this plan of Federation to be applied to the two Canadas? Sir, this is […]
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[…] not the constitutional remedy we desired and sought? And I ask the House if it is prepared to accept this union for ourselves? (Hear, hear.)
I think that the Government should have confined themselves simply to the constitutional question, and should not have tacked on to it our commercial and defensive relations, for the purpose of obtaining a little prestige. They have not put the question before Parliament fairly, or as it has been placed before the legislatures of any of the other provinces. I think the House should look at the question in this way—is an Imperial Act to be passed, establishing a Confederation of the two Canadas on the basis of these resolutions? I am not prepared to accept that as the constitutional remedy. I do not want it in that form. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—The hon. gentleman who has just sat down says that we have put this question before the House as it has not been put in any of the other provinces. Now, my information, which perhaps is as correct as his, leads me to believe that the same course has been pursued here as has been or will be adopted in three of the other provinces—Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The last information received shows that there is, as I am informed, a fair chance of the resolutions being adopted in Newfoundland In Nova Scotia the resolutions were brought down by the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], and it was then stated that the adoption of the resolutions would be moved, on a future day. So Dr. Tupper, the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], stated.
Thomas Parker [Wellington North]—Head His Excellency’s Speech.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Well, it was a very proper one. But the hon. gentleman will see that out of the four provinces he is wrong in regard to three of them. Then, my hon. friend the member for North Hastings (Mr. T.C. Wallbridge) repudiated the idea that American influence had anything to do with the result of the elections in New Brunswick. Now, I may say to my hon. friend that one of the successful candidates is the agent of the American line of steamers—the International line—which does all the carrying trade to New Brunswick; and there is not, I am told, a pound of the stock of that company held in New Brunswick. (Hear, hear.)
Does any one suppose that the influence of that company was not used for his election? Both steamboat and railway, and mining and fishery influences were brought to bear; and I think it will not be saying too much—and I have no hesitation in saying, for my part—that in that portion of the country, as well as in others, that the fight was between parties pro-Yankee and pro-British. It was a fair stand-up fight of Yankee interests on the one side and British interests on the other; and those who are here ungenerously and unwisely rejoicing over the defeat of Hon. Mr. Tilley, are in reality rejoicing in the triumph of Yankee interests. I state this from the knowledge I have obtained from ten different visits to that country, and I am quite sure, if my hon. friend had been there all the times that I have been, and had the same opportunities for observation, that he would understand that there are influences there quite apart from the real merits of Confederation. (Hear, hear.)
Among other cries, Hon. Mr. Tilley was assailed because it was said that Hon. Mr. Macdonald had stated the Intercolonial Railway could not be made—as of course a railway could not be made—a part of the Constitution. That is a sample of the cries against hon. Mr. Tilley. In fact, it was a contest between prejudice and patriotism; between ignorance and intelligence; between Yankee influence and the broad principles of British North American policy. (Hear, hear.)
Those who rejoice over that state of things may congratulate themselves if they choose, but it is for us to stand by the true public opinion of the country; it is for us to show an example of firmness and good faith in carrying out this scheme; it is for us to show the rest of the Empire that we are determined to adhere to our original resolution, and that we are not a people who do not know our own minds for three weeks, and make proposals one day or one week to breathe them down the next. (Hear, hear.) I am sure if my honorable friend from North Hastings [Thomas Wallbridge] only knew that country as well as I do, that he would come to the same conclusions.
After the recess,
Charles Alleyn [Quebec City West] said—Mr. Speaker, those whose fortune it has been to sit since 1851 in the reformed Legislature of Canada, have had to deal with and settle matters of the highest importance to the province. Questions which in other and older lands have loosened the bonds of society, have caused bloodshed and almost led to anarchy, such as our Seigniorial Tenure and Clergy […]
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[…] Reserve Acts, have been finally and peaceably disposed of, not possibly without injustice to a few, but certainly to the satisfaction of the community at large. Yet all those things, though of the greatest importance to us in Canada, sink into insignificance in comparison with that now before this House. While they related to our own affairs only, and were designed to promote the peaceful working of our own province, the question which we have now to pronounce upon concerns and relates to a Constitution for all the provinces of British North America, and for a country which may eventually comprise half a continent, and extend in one unbroken chain from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. (Cheers.)
But although the consideration of this great question has consumed a good deal of the time of this House, and though it is one of such great importance, and so wide in its extent that it does not excite those strong personal and party feelings in the minds of honorable members which much less important questions, of a more local nature, generally excite, still, sir, I think there is no one who looks at the future of this country for which we are called upon to act, who can avoid coming to the conclusion that the question is one deserving of so much deliberate consideration at our hands, that no amount of time can be considered wasted in debating and deciding upon it.
Yet Mr. Speaker, this is no new question. It has been brought up several times in Parliament, and before the people, and has occupied the attention of our ablest men, more or less, for the past forty or fifty years. It has been presented, theoretically, to the minds of the public of every province in British North America, in articles and pamphlets that have been written upon it; but now for the first time, by an extraordinary combination of events such as may never occur again, it presents itself to those empowered to deal with it practically and to give it life and vitality. (Hear, hear.)
We have a great responsibility resting upon us with reference to the decision we shall come to on this important question. When I say that there has been an extraordinary combination of events, I think not the least extraordinary was the coming together of the leading men from all parts of the provinces, entertaining widely different and hostile views, yet determining to keep those views in abeyance while they devised a scheme for the benefit of our common country. When before has the spectacle been witnessed of the leaders of adverse political camps surrendering that advantage which a resistance to any great change must always give in party politics, and meeting together to settle upon a common ground of action? This we saw last summer in the meeting of the delegates from all the provinces. Many of these gentlemen must have known that they risked their political positions, and we now know it in a practical way. But far better for a public man to be defeated in a great cause than to succeed in a bad one. (Hear, hear.)
We cannot look upon the action of those men without conceding to them, first of all, a great amount of credit for the honorable and patriotic spirit which they evinced. Whatever views we may hold of their judgment, it must be conceded on all hands that their conduct deserves a high need of praise. (Hear, hear.)
But when we see this question taken up in all the provinces, and receiving so much attention in England, and even in other portions of Europe, in so short a period of time, I think we must feel that there must be some great overruling cause at work to induce so vast an amount of attention to be given to the subject. I have examined the question carefully in this aspect, and I venture to express an opinion respecting the cause, by reference to the history of nations. I recollect in a speech from Lord Macaulay, in addressing the University of Aberdeen I think it was, speaking of the events of 1848, the remark occurs that since the invasion of the Huns civilization never ran such risks as in that year. (Hear, hear.)
Its dangers passed away, but the results remain. The wave which threatened to submerge, obeying a natural law, retired beyond low-water mark, and has left exposed more than one coast. Small nations seem not to be considered, the faith of treaties is laughed at, and in this boasted age of civilization the doctrine that might is right prevails as strongly as in the seventeenth century. (Hear, hear.)
The Danes, a brave and virtuous people, have been exposed to a hopeless war with Austria and Prussia, chiefs of the Teutonic race, while England and France remonstrated, by words and protocols, but acted not. The iron heel of Russia has crushed out the last sparks of freedom in Poland—long-suffering Poland, for whom so much sentiment has been expended, and free England […]
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[…] and generous France stood silent lookers on. (Hear, hear.)
From the Caucasus we have had the exodus of a nation from the land they defended for centuries, in bitter pilgrimage, losing thousands and tens of thousands on the way, to seek in the wilds of Asia for subsistence and freedom. On this continent the great nation which adjoins us has resorted to the bitter arbitrament of the sword, and an internecine and deplorable combat is being waged on a scale unknown since the Russian campaign and the great Napoleonic wars. These things, according to the stern rules of statecraft, may be right, and nations possibly cannot break the hard law of non-intervention; but when we see such events passing around us, must we not come to the conclusion that power must of necessity increase and encroach, or that it is as unreasonable now as it ever has been, and that pure justice and abstract right, without armed battalions to support them, will neither preserve integrity of territory nor secure protection of person.
Again, in the discoveries in the arts and sciences, we can perceive how much the power of great states have become increased as compared with the smaller ones. The telegraph has annihilated time, railroads and stealers have devoured space. War can only be waged by nations possessing vast resources in money, warlike engines and materials. One ironclad man-of-war, with her complement of Armstrong guns, would cost the year’s revenue of a province. (Hear, hear.) And if we look around us we see this principle of territorial aggrandizement, this gathering together of the disjecta membra of nations; this girding up of the loins of empires for coming events is steadily carried out. The principle of centralization is rapidly going on, is pressing together the great nations, and rendering it necessary for smaller nations and provinces to unite, and centralize for their common defence. (Hear, hear.)
The subject is not one of theory, but of fact. Look at Italy, such a short time ago a weak and scattered congeries of states, now united into one powerful government. Victor Emmanuel is King of some twenty-five millions of people; France has Nice and Savoy and possibly a portion of Central America; Prussia and Austria have robbed Denmark; Russia has absorbed the Caucasus and is advancing into Central Asia; Mexico is springing into a powerful empire; the United States are, in men and the materials of war, showing a power which the world has seldom seen excelled. Such things passing round us, it would ill become us not seriously to consider our position, and, if possible, profit by the occasion. (Cheers)
What I have already said applies to all the provinces and to all small powers; but we in Canada have had peculiar difficulties of our own. Usually great questions strengthen governments. Aaron’s rod swallows up the rods of the magicians; but, though we have settled great questions, our governments have fallen like houses of cards. Coalition and party governments alike have met the same fate, and it had become seriously to be considered as to whether responsible government was not a failure in Canada. Before the cry for an increased representation for Upper Canada, several of our best public men were driven from political life; and it must have become clear to those who watched events that there must soon have been a readjustment of the representation based partly, at least, on numbers, or a dissolution of the union. I think, sir, that those who have read and profited by the events of the past, and have considered what is likely to occur in the future, must be satisfied that a repeal of the union between Upper and Lower Canada would be a very great misfortune. And as to representation according to population, the appeals to prejudices and passions, and possibly well grounded fears which must result from granting that to Upper Canada, would be most disastrous. (Hear, hear.)
We should have had, in Lower Canada, a very large amount of discontent and even disaffection; and, therefore, I consider it a great advantage to Canada that the adoption of Confederation will meet these difficulties without causing the discontent and disaffection which either of the above measures would inevitably arouse. (Hear.) But, sir, I may be asked, will these provinces, if united, become a great power? Sir, I shall frankly answer that I think not at present, nor will I venture to predict what the future has in store for us; but I think thereby we obtain a greater chance of obviating the evils to which I have referred, and we in Canada shall also overcome our peculiar difficulties—and this I say, that united, we shall possess advantages which separate, though portions of the same empire, we cannot realize. (Cheers.)
We shall be one to deliberate, to decide and to act. We shall have but one tariff; trade will be unshackled, our intercommunication will be unbroken, the Lower Provinces will give us a seaboard, while the manufacturing capacities […]
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[…] of Lower Canada and the agricultural wealth of Upper Canada will be theirs. A worthy field will be opened for the ambition of our young men, and our politicians will have a future before them, and may fairly aspire to the standing and rewards of statesmen. (Cheers.) I therefore think it cannot but be a very great advantage to all the provinces to be united together, and I think that we in Canada especially have peculiar reasons for desiring Confederation. If united, with the assistance of Great Britain, and true to ourselves, not calling on Jupiter without putting our shoulders to the wheel, we need fear no foe, and if the day should come when it shall be necessary for us to stand among the nations of the earth, we shall do so under far more favorable circumstances than should we remain till then separate provinces. (Hear, hear.)
I forbear to criticize the details of the scheme; in the nature of things one portion or another must be displeasing to each of us; but I am ready to accept the lesser evil for the greater good. I know, too, when worked out the united Parliament will alter and amend ai the evils become serious. Holding these opinions, it is needless for me to say that I shall vote for the Address and the resolutions unchanged. On Friday night I heard an hon. member (Col. Haultain) declare that the Protestant minority of Lower Canada entertained apprehensions with regard to their religious liberty, and that hon. member expressed grave doubts as to the toleration of Catholics in matters of religion.
While I give the hon. gentleman full credit for his sincerity and the temperate manner in which he expressed himself, I think it would have been far better had that portion of his speech been omitted. It would certainly have had much greater weight with the country without that portion than with it. I do not believe the Protestants of Lower Canada fear persecution, and there are those in this House, their natural representatives, yielding to none here in talent and knowledge, well able to speak for them.
But, sir, had the hon. gentleman read history as carefully as he seems to have studied polemics and theology, he would not have fallen into the error into which he has. He would have found that all sects of Christians have had reason to blush for the persecutions of their fellow-men, and that the best course we can pursue is to allow the veil to fall over the errors of the past. (Hear, hear.)
But, sir, he would have learned this, also, that those who laid the foundations of the British Constitution were Roman Catholics; that the barons who wrung the magna charta from King John were Catholics. (Hear, hear.)
It was a Catholic Parliament, the Diet of Hungary, that alone granted full, free, unrestricted and unqualified emancipation to Protestants, and Catholic Bavaria has followed the example. In America, the Catholic State of Maryland first adopted, without limit, religious toleration. Had the hon. member visited Rome he might have seen a Protestant Church, and have attended service every Sunday in the year under the eyes of the Pope.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—There is no Protestant Church in Rome. I have been there, and speak from personal knowledge.
Charles Alleyn [Quebec City West]—It is not in a central place, but it is in Rome as properly understood.
Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—It is not in the city proper. It is outside the gates, in a garret.
Charles Alleyn [Quebec City West]—Not in a garret, though the church is not attractive, but there is full tolerance in respect to the service. But this is only a little incident growing out of the remarks of the hon. member for Peterborough [Frederick Haultain]. In making the observations I have, I trust he will not think I have intended to say any thing that might prove personally disagreeable to him or to any hon. member, because the manner in which he stated his propositions to the House was all that could be expected or desired from an hon. gentleman of his position, and I should be very sorry to say anything that would be considered offensive. My hon. friend asked me if I ever went to church.
In reply I would say that I only go when I can be sure the preacher is a properly admitted clergyman. Had the hon. gentleman travelled in France, he might have found the Protestant clergyman received from the state an allowance of one-fifth more than his Catholic brother, on the ground that he may have a family to support. In Lower Canada a Catholic Legislature gave equal rights to Jews a generation before enlightened England emancipated Catholics. (Hear, hear.) And, sir, the history of the Jews cave a terrible warning to all who persecute for belief’s sake. They, God’s own people, set […]
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[…] that bad exemple [sic]. For belief they crucified, and during a thousand years for belief they were oppressed and wronged as no nation ever suffered. Sir, it has not been by persecution that while all other denominations of Christians scarcely number 120,000,000, the members of the Roman Catholic Church are at least 150,000,000. Had her’s been a rule of intolerance and persecution, by an inevitable law they would long ere this have caused the destruction of that which used them, and Macaulay would not have been obliged to write with regret, as he admits, that the Church of Rome,—
As she saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world, there is no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot in Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temples of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall in the midst of a vast solitude take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge and sketch the ruins of St. Paul.
In reading this extract and bringing it to bear in this connection, I hope my hon. friend will not think I intended to shock his feelings by alluding to an early fall of London Bridge, or a speedy decay of the cathedral of St. Paul. (Laughter.) I quote this passage alike for its novelty as knowing it will be particularly agreeable to my hon. friend the member for Peterborough [Frederick Haultain]. I can assure my hon. friend the feeling pervading the Catholics of Lower Canada is a disposition to give the utmost tolerance to all religious sects. For my part, Mr. Speaker, persecution for religious belief I know to be a crime against humanity, and I therefore believe it to be a sin against the Creator. I have to say, however, once more, in conclusion, that I shall vote for the resolution now before the House. (Cheers.)
Hope Mackenzie said—As there seems to be a lull in the debate, Mr. Speaker, I will embrace the opportunity of briefly stating what I have to say in reference to this scheme. And to begin, I congratulate the Government upon the stand they have taken on this matter. There was a degree of anxiety, a feeling of uncertainty amongst the friends and supporters of the Administration, as to the mode of dealing with this question after the reception of unfavorable news from the Lower Provinces.
For my own part I have not shared in that feeling, but continued to have confidence that the Government would pursue the only proper course, and ask the House to pronounce upon the scheme on its merits. If the result of the first elections held in New Brunswick is a true indication of the state of feeling in that province, then it is plain that defeat awaits the present proposition for union in that quarter; but as yet no province has pronounced upon it, either for it or against it; and the intelligence received that the union party have met with unlooked for reverses at the New Brunswick elections, however dampening to the prospects of early success, is no sufficient reason why we, the originators of the scheme, should set the bad example of summarily giving it up. We have a plain duty to discharge in regard to the proposition laid before Parliament by the Government, and that is, either to accept or reject it as a whole. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, I will not occupy the time of the House so long as I probably would have done, had I spoken at an earlier stage of the debate, and that for two reasons, because the ground has been all gone over by those who have spoken already, and because I think the Government have good ground for urging upon the House the propriety of bringing the debate to a close as soon as possible. I can easily understand that it is a matter of paramount importance to have the views of the Canadian Parliament laid before the Imperial Government at the earliest possible moment. I cannot, however, feel it to be consistent with a proper discharge of my duty to give a silent vote. Having spent some time amongst my constituents prior to the opening of this session, and had conversations with the people in reference to this scheme, at my meetings with them I gave expression to certain objections which I felt in my own mind to certain details of the scheme, if I did not express those objections on the floor of the House. (Hear, hear.)
But, Mr. Speaker, while I discussed freely and candidly what appeared to me the objectionable features of the scheme, I stated most distinctly to my constituents that in the event of no alteration being agreed toby the governments of the several provinces, the scheme as a whole, just as it stood, ought to be accepted; and that in the event of the alternative being offered to Parliament of accepting or rejecting the scheme as it stood, I should feel it my […]
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[…] duty to vote for it. (Hear, hear.)
And I may say here in regard to the question of an appeal to the people upon this subject, that I at any rate can vote freely against any proposition of that kind. I stated to the people of North Oxford that in my opinion an appeal to the people upon this scheme was entirely uncalled for, and they agreed with me. I may, perhaps, take the liberty of saying to those honorable members who clamour for a dissolution, merely for the sake of ascertaining the mind of the people upon the measure, and who do not take to the untenable ground of denying the right of this Parliament to legislate on the subject, that if they did not consult their constituents with a view to obtaining an expression of public opinion, they ought to have done so. They had the scheme before them in all its details for months, and I think they ought to be in a position, when they came here, to know whether their constituents were in favor of the scheme or against it.
In the meetings which were held in my county, I met with only two individuals who were prepared to go the length of denouncing the scheme in toto, although many would prefer to see it, in some respects, different from what it is. So well disposed did the people show themselves to be towards the union scheme, that in the town of Woodstock, where a very large and influential meeting was held, the editor of a newspaper that had been, up to that night, urging the necessity for a dissolution of Parliament before the adoption of the scheme, was the first to rise to move a resolution approving of the scheme in all its features, and neither in his speech nor in his resolution did he even hint at an appeal to the people; and that meeting voted for the scheme without a single dissentient voice. (Hear, hear.)
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—The circular had been sent to that editor, perhaps. (Laughter.)
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—Well, if so, I am not aware that it has done him any good or produced any change in his political course. I am quite satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that the people are perfectly willing that this Parliament should deal with this Confederation scheme, I will now, sir, state briefly what I think of the general features or underlying principles of the scheme. The honorable member for Brome [Christopher Dunkin] the other night entertained the House by a very elaborate examination of the scheme, and, among other things, he proposed to show that the proposed Constitution was an entire departure from the British model, and had in it so large an infusion of the republican system of the United States as to render it obnoxious to Britons; but, in opposition to his own premises, he succeeded in proving to a demonstration, if he proved anything, that in scarcely a single particular is it modelled after the pattern of the republic. He even denounced this scheme because it is so very different from and, in his opinion, inferior to the United States Constitution. Well, sir, I accept of it because of its British and monarchical features—I accept of it because of its monarchical character. (Hear, hear.)
I look upon it as a scheme more national than federal in its character—as looking more to a national union of the people than a union of sections, and it is chiefly because of this feature of it that it commends itself to my judgment. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly] dissented from this view the other night, and argued that unless the supreme power was placed in the hands of the separate provinces, it could not be acceptable to Lower Canada, as otherwise their institutions would be endangered; and yet oddly enough, he elaborated an argument to prove the fleeting and unstable character of federations established upon the only principle that he seems disposed to accept for this country. In the course of his remarks on this head, he said:—
The Hon. Minister of Agriculture said of Federalism, that it was on account of the weakness of the central power confederations had failed: and it was argued in our case, that there would not be so much weakness in the central power.
This was precisely why the French-Canadians—(his fellow-countrymen)—looked with suspicion on the proposition to establish a Confederation with a central power—a power so strong that the local parliaments would possess, so to speak, no power at all. (Hear, hear.)
All the confederations he had referred to had at least this excuse, they were sovereign states, and, when menaced by other powers, leagued themselves together for the common interest.
Now, sir, while the honorable member will have nothing to do with it, because of the supreme central power that is provided in the scheme, I take it just because of that controlling central power. I stand as an advocate of national unity, and I would not accede to the principle of state sovereignty in this Confederation, the provinces delegating certain powers to the General Government and reserving the residuum of power to themselves. (Hear, hear.)
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[…] need not go to the history of the South American republics, as the member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly] did, to find an illustration of the working of the principle of Confederation as applicable to our case. Being not only republican in their character, but based upon the principle of divided sovereignty, and inhabited by a people who had no aptitude for working democratic institutions, they can bear no comparison with this proposed Constitution. But if the hon. gentleman desired to travel to South America to find something approaching a parallel to this scheme of union, he could find it in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil, where the wide-spreading provinces of the empire have their local parliaments for their local affairs, and a central parliament and executive over all—elected and chosen pretty much as our Central Parliament and Executive will be, and exercising similar powers; and he would find that while the republics founded upon the doctrine of state sovereignty were in a state of perpetual turmoil, and whose daily bread was, according to the hon. member, anarchy and revolution, the Empire of Brazil was flourishing and showed signs of stability that predicted its future greatness. (Hear, hear.)
But to come nearer home, sir, we have abundant evidence of the dangerous character of the doctrine of state supremacy in a confederation. I would remind the House of the early ruin that threatened the United States under their first Constitution, which was an embodiment of this vicious principle, and how clearly the great men of the first year of the republic foresaw the ruin it threatened to bring upon them. Washington, perceiving the rapid decline of the Confederation, was incessant in his correspondence with the leading patriots of the day to obtain their opinions upon a new Constitution, and Madison replies as follows:
Conceiving that an individual independence of the states is totally irreconcilable with their aggregate sovereignty, and that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is unattainable, I have sought for some middle ground which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities wherein they can be subordinately useful.
Mr. Jay’s convictions in favor of central supreme authority are equally strong. He says:—
What powers should be granted to the Government so constituted, is a question which deserves much thought. I think the more the better, the states retaining only so much as may be necessary for domestic purposes.
Hamilton, likewise, speaking of Federation such as men had hitherto been familiar with, and such as then existed in America, and equally anxious with his co-patriots to save his country from the anarchy and ruin that he saw approaching as the inevitable result of a partitioned sovereignty, thus addressed the head of the republic:—
All Federal governments are weak and distracted. In order to avoid the evils incident to that form, the Government of the American Union must be a national representative system. But no such system can be successful in the actual situation of this country, unless it is endorsed with all the principles and means of influence and power which are the proper supports of government. It must, therefore, be made completely sovereign, and state power, as a separate legislative power, must be annihilated.
I read these extracts to show how rapidly the Central Government of the United States was falling into contempt because of its subordination to the separate states, and to show that the leading minds of America, while the republic was yet in its infancy, felt that the doctrine of state supremacy was one calculated to foster anarchy, and that was sure to bring the early destruction of the fabric they had reared, and also to show how earnestly they labored to remove the evil and transfer the sovereignty to the Central Government, as their only hope of maintaining permanent peace and order, and of imparting stability to their system.
I think, sir, it becomes us in framing a Constitution for these provinces to profit, not only by the early but by the later experience of our neighbors—to enquire how far they succeeded in eradicating the evil from their new Constitution, and to what extent their present troubles are chargeable to what is left in their system of the dangerous principle referred to. Let us profit by the wisdom of the framers of the American Constitution, and by the experiences of that country under it—not to copy their work, but to help us when framing a Constitution for ourselves to steer clear of evils that they have felt. Believing that the Quebec Conference has done so and have presented to us the framework of a Constitution, the leading features of which are in unison with the constitutional principles of the British monarchy, and consistent with that allegiance […]
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[…] which we all owe and cheerfully yield to the Throne of Britain, I cheerfully endorse the scheme. (Hear, hear.)
I will now, Mr. Speaker, look at the scheme in its sectional aspect; and, in my judgment, it is in this respect a fair one. The apportionment of the debt and other financial arrangements is a theme upon which many remarks and explanations have been made in this, as well as in the other branch of the Legislature; and charges are made of having bribed the Lower Provinces into the scheme, and that the Canadian Delegates in the Conference sacrificed the interests of Canada in their eagerness to consummate a scheme that had its origin in their political necessities. One hon. gentleman complains that population is not the proper basis upon which to distribute the burden of the public debt, and that by adopting it Canada has been saddled with many millions more than her share. “Revenue,” it is contended, “is the true test of ability to pay, therefore revenue is the basis upon which the apportionment should be made.”
Were the taxation alike in all the provinces, there would, at least, be the appearance of justice in the argument; but with revenue raised under the operation of different tariffs, in the several provinces, I think population is a juster basis than revenue. Taking, however, the revenues as we find them under existing tariffs, and adjusting the debt by that standard, we find that it will differ but little from the apportionment that has been agreed upon; and were the tariffs of the Maritime Provinces somewhat higher than they are now, I apprehend, sir, that the consuming ability of these provinces would demonstrate not only their ability to pay according to this test, but also that Canada is in no way imposed upon in regard to the amount of debt with which these provinces are to be permitted to enter the union. I believe that every one of the five provinces has had its interests well consulted in this scheme, and that it is so well balanced throughout in reference to those interests, that there is very little to complain of. (Hear, hear.)
But speaking from an Upper Canadian point of view—, which I deem it my duty to do, as one of the representatives of that section—I will glance at one or two of the objections urged by the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], very briefly. That honorable gentleman accuses Upper Canadians of disregarding and forgetting their former professions on the representation question, and broadly asserts that the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], as the leader in the agitation for representation by population, has agreed to a measure that is a mere delusion, that in point of fact puts Upper Canada in a worse position than she now occupies. He says that instead of occupying a position of equality in the legislature, as now, she will be found in the new union with a majority of thirty arrayed against her. The honorable gentleman builds his argument upon false and erroneous premises, when he says that Upper Canada does not get by this scheme what its people have long sought, representation according to its population; and when he points out that all the other provinces, unitedly, will outvote her in the General Legislature by thirty votes, I submit, sir, that his argument is exceedingly unfair, and is founded on the assumption that Upper Canada asked for an increase of representation for the purpose of obtaining supremacy in the Government.
Now, I deny that most emphatically on behalf, not only of myself, but of every man from Upper Canada who demanded a change in the representation. We did not advocate that change for the purpose of gaining the supremacy, but simply and solely as a measure of justice to the people of Upper Canada, and to place them on an equal footing, man for man, with the people of Lower Canada. We had certain grievances and wrongs which we complained of, and which the granting of representation would not of itself redress; we complained that a larger proportion of the public revenues, to which we contributed seventy percent, was spent in Lower Canada than in Upper Canada; we complained also of legislative acts passed by majorities from Lower Canada and which concerned Upper Canada chiefly; we did not ask representation by population because we believed it, of itself, would sweep away all this injustice, but because it would, give us this advantage, that we would in this House have our due proportion of the representation, every man in Upper Canada having an equal, and no more than equal, voice in the Legislature with every man in Lower Canada.
This was all we asked; we never demanded more than what was just; we asked but fair play—(British fair play)—an equal representation, man for man, and we would be willing to take our chance in the political struggle for the redress of the evils we complained of. We never sought or wished for supremacy, but only our just and fair influence according to our numbers and the public burdens we bore, and having obtained […]
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[…] this we were willing to take our chance whether that influence, employed in a legitimate and constitutional way, succeeded in removing our grievances or not. (Hear, hear.) To say now that we do not obtain what we have contended for—to say that we do not got representation by population because the Lower Provinces, including Lower Canada, will have thirty more votes in the General Legislature, is simply doing Upper Canada an injustice and a wrong; and the history of the British parliamentary system and our own experience in Canada, warrant the conclusion that in the General Legislature we shall not have, as alleged by honorable gentlemen opposed to the scheme, parties divided against one another because of the provinces which they represent.
Under our present Constitution we are not divided sectionally, but as political parties, for we find gentlemen from both sections taking sides according to their political predilections, irrespective of sectional considerations; and so it will be under the proposed Confederation. We have conservatives and radicals, and always will have them. Do we not find men of both races in the province voting on both sides politically? It is true the demand for constitutional changes has to some extent, but only to some extent, divided us as the representatives of sections in this House; but on all other questions such as commerce, banking, customs tariffs, excise, and other questions—we find gentlemen voting according to their political views, and not as representing sections. So it will be under the Confederation. People will be divided into parties by their political opinions and leanings, and not by sectional considerations. (Hear, hear.)
In claiming, then, that under it there will, on all questions, be a majority against Upper Canada, is to assume that Upper Canada will be at war with all the other provinces, and that they will be continually at war with it. Well, what right has any man to assume that this will be the case—that Upper Canada will be the Ishmael of the Confederation? I think he has none whatever. (Hear, hear.)
The addition of seventeen members to Upper Canada in the outset, with the proposed arrangement for re-adjustment every ten years according to the increase or decrease of population in each of the provinces, is substantial justice to all, and is all that Upper Canada ever asked for or expected.
But, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] not only accuses the Upper Canadians who support this scheme of an abandonment of their principles on this point, and of offering to the people of Upper Canada the very opposite of what they asked for, but charges that we have sacrificed our cash as well as our principles. An honorable member of the other House has taken similar ground, and charges in effect that the Lower Provinces have been bribed into this scheme at the expense of Upper Canada, and that as regards Lower Canada, we undertake to pay her in perpetuity a subsidy of $167,000 a year; and the honorable gentleman asks if ever Lower Canada asked for anything like that under our present system? He tells us, too, that for each of the seventeen additional members we get in the Federal Government, we pay at the rate of $16,000 each.
As regards the Lower Provinces, I submit that it cannot be shown that their union with us will be to our detriment in money matters. They will contribute as large an amount per head to the general revenue as we do in Upper Canada, and if any financial effect will be felt by Upper Canada in consequence of the union of these provinces with us, I think it must be in the direction of lessening their burdens; such, at all events, is the conclusion I have arrived at, and such, I think, is the conclusion any man will arrive at who will take the trouble to inform himself of the position of these provinces as regards the financial questions between Upper and Lower Canada. I do not know where the honorable member gets his figures, nor can I very well understand them, but in regard to the subsidy of $167,000 a year that he speaks of, what are the facts of the case?
Let it be borne in mind, sir, that as Upper Canadians we claimed that we were paying an enormous price for the present union with Lower Canada, and that we urged this as one reason why we were entitled to the concession of representation by population as an act of justice, that we might have our due share of influence in controlling the expenditure of the revenues of the country to which we contributed so largely. We complained, and it was advanced in this Assembly over and over again, as one of the reasons for demanding representation by population, that our money was given away to sections which contributed little or nothing to the general revenue; that while we paid seventy per cent, of the revenue and Lower Canada only thirty percent, an equal proportion of the expenditure was enjoyed by Lower Canada; and that under this system Upper Canada was paying not only for its own local improvements […]
- (p. 678)
[…] and sustaining not only the cost of carrying on its own local affairs, but contributing largely as well to the local wants of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
Now, it was in reference to these local matters that the evil was chiefly felt and that complaints were louder than with reference to general expenditure, for they were tangible grievances, things that were easily understood, and that presented themselves as an injustice every year in the estimates presented this House. There was a sum of two millions, or more voted every year for the support of local interests and to promote local works or improvements, including such items as the support of education, hospitals and charities, and the opening up of colonization roads; and of this sum one-half was applied to local purposes in Lower Canada.
Now, our argument was, that of this money taken out of the public chest, Upper Canada contributed seventy per cent., and Lower Canada the remainder. If this was true—(and I think it was incontrovertibly so)—then it was perfectly clear that we in Upper Canada had to pay not only the appropriations made for local purposes in that section, but also nearly one-half of the appropriations for local purposes in Lower Canada. Let me remark here that I do not think any man will complain that we in Upper Canada are paying this large portion of the public revenue.
Under our system of indirect taxation, or indeed under any system, it must be that the richest part of the community shall bear the largest share of the public burdens, and they have a right to do so. I do not complain that the people of Upper Canada pay a larger amount of the revenue of the country than those of Lower Canada, because if they choose to consume the imported articles upon which duties are levied, they do so because they are able to pay for them. They are not required to consume them, but if they do, and are made to pay indirectly to the public exchequer, they have no right to complain that the people of Lower Canada, more frugal and economical, consume less dutiable goods and therefore contribute less to the revenue.
We in Upper Canada do not complain of this, but we give it as a reason why we should have our just share of influence in the legislature and government of the country. We do not argue that because we contribute more we ought to have a larger representation than Lower Canada; but we say that if we really do pay more to the public exchequer, it is an additional reason, our population being greater—that we should have an equal voice with Lower Canada, in proportion to our numbers, in controlling the expenditure of the country. (Hear, hear.)
Well, this being the case that Upper Canada contributes the largest share of the revenue, it is perfectly clear to my mind—and I think it will be to that of any man who examines the subject intelligently—that Upper Canada pays to Lower Canada, under our present system, a considerable sum of money, amounting to half a million of dollars yearly, for the support of its local interests and institutions; and if the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] will balance the proportion that Upper Canada pays of the eighty cents per head proposed to be paid to Lower Canada with the amount now paid to it by Upper Canada, he will find that a large saving will be affected by the plan now proposed for our acceptance. (Hear, hear.)
We have thus, I think, gained by this scheme, not only representation by population, saving us from the imputation of having sacrificed this principle in order to obtain Confederation, but we have also, by the same measure, gained a substantial redress of the grievances to remove which representation by population was demanded. (Hear, hear.)
Not only has a saving of money been effected, but also a removal from this Legislature of those subjects upon which angry, intemperate, and painful discussions have taken place in times past. For these reasons, I think it is a most desirable thing that the scheme should be carried out. (Hear, hear.)
It is marvellous how inconsistent some honorable gentlemen show themselves to be in their desire to oppose this measure. The honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly], speaking of it from a sectional point of view, has also, I think, exposed himself to this charge. He charges the Honorable Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] with inconsistency, if not something worse, in occupying the position he now does as affecting the interests of Lower Canada, forgetful of his own relative position. He said:—
If the member for South Oxford had earned his popularity by attacking the institutions of Lower Canada through the agitation for representation by population, it might be said of the Hon. Attorney General East that he had risen to popularity by defending or by affecting to defend those institutions. (Hear, hear.)
He had so well succeeded in obtaining the good graces of the people of this section of the province, and in securing their confidence, that it was extremely difficult for any of those who were politically opposed to him to attempt to speak in the interests of their fellow-countrymen. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for South Oxford (Hon. […]
- (p. 679)
[…] Mr. Brown) is here represented as having earned his popularity by attacking the institutions of Lower Canada, and the honorable member for Montreal East (Hon. Mr. Cartier) as having earned his by defending these same institutions, and the insinuation is that he has now abandoned the defence of these institutions and handed them over to the tender mercies of the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown]. Let me ask the honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly], if being in company with the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown] be evidence of hostility to the institutions of Lower Canada, how he explains his own position, and that of his party, when they cast in their lot with the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown], while earning his popularity by, as he says, attacking the institutions of Lower Canada, and abandoned the Honorable Attorney General East when doing battle in defence of those institutions? (Hear, hear.)
I think the question is one not easily answered. The honorable gentleman must either have been politically dishonest before, or politically dishonest now, and he can take either horn of the dilemma he pleases.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—I never supported the Honorable Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier], and if I have been forced upon the same side as the honourable member for South Oxford [George Brown], it was because we were united together in opposition to that honorable gentleman. That was the only bond of union that connected us together. On the question of representation by population we were always divided. What I meant in the observation I made, that has been alluded to by the honorable member, is this, that the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] had gained the position he occupies now by attacking Lower Canada, and the Honorable Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] his, by assuming to defend it; and when at length they found that the game would no longer answer, when the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] saw himself excluded forever from a seat in the Ministry if he continued to play it, they banded together, and we now see the result. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—At all events, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes it clear that he has changed sides. For when the Hon Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] was defending the institutions of Lower Canada, he opposed him, and now he opposes him because he says he has adopted the contrary policy.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—I opposed him for other reasons—not for that reason.
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—At all events the hon. member has contributed his mite to the influence the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had in this House, by attacking, as he declares, the institutions of Lower Canada. I have already said that all parties are not satisfied with this scheme; and while on this point, I wish to allude for a moment to the constitution of the Legislative Council. It is the only reference I shall make on this branch of the subject. When addressing my constituents, I took exception to this portion of the resolutions. I did so, not because I cared very much whether we had in this country a Legislative Council nominated by the Crown or elected by the people, but, the nominative system having been superseded by the elective, I preferred to have it as it was. It was in these terms that I spoke to the people.
After having addressed one or two meetings, I saw the despatch of the Colonial Secretary, and I noticed that this matter of the constitution of the Council was pointed out as one which required revision; and I took it for granted that communications would be opened between the several Colonial Governments such as would possibly lead to a change. Doubtless there are sufficient reasons why this has not been done. But, although I would have liked it to have been so, and although it would have concurred more closely with the views of Upper Canada, I do not think it of sufficient importance to warrant me in rejecting the scheme on that account. (Hear, hear.)
If it involves the rejection of the whole scheme, I do not feel myself warranted in pressing for an amendment on the point. (Hear.)
In framing a constitution of this kind, everybody must be aware that an agreement could never have been arrived at except on the principle of compromise and concession. It is perfectly useless—it is worse than useless—to suppose that any of the several sections of a wide-spread territory could come together with a view to the formation of a union among themselves, unless each one of these sections was prepared to sacrifice and give up something. What right, I would ask, had we to expect that all the other colonies would agree to the views of Upper Canada, or to the views of Canada as a whole? What right had we to expect that the Province of Nova Scotia would agree with us in our views with reference to every particular matter?
What right had we in Upper Canada to expect that in framing this scheme we would be able to expunge the separate school clauses from the School Act? If that could […]
- (p. 680)
[…] be done, it would no doubt be agreeable to the people of Upper Canada, because we think that in our Common School system there should be no element of sectarianism. As a people, we are desirous of having our School law without any provision for separate schools. It is perhaps a bold statement to make, but I believe the people of Upper Canada as a whole, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, would be content with our school system without a particle of sectarianism in it.
We could scarcely expect that if we were to succeed in framing a basis of union under a new Constitution, we could get the sectarian clauses of the School Act removed, if they were insisted upon as sine qua non by the Roman Catholics in Lower Canada in conjunction with the adherents of the same faith in Upper Canada. But notwithstanding this, although it is a sensitive point in Upper Canada, and particularly among my own constituents, I venture to say that the people of the west generally, in their willingness at all times to listen to reason, will be quite content to accept the scheme as a whole, as it has been presented to us. (Hear, hear.) I hope that no attempt will be made to increase the privileges of the advocates of separate schools, but that the question will be left where we now find it. (Hear, hear.)
It is worth while, perhaps, to read a single passage, written by a distinguished man, in reference to this principle of concession. I have already instanced the views of framers of the American Constitution when they set to work to do away with the first Federation scheme and to adopt a new Constitution. When they had framed the new Constitution, we find Washington accompanying the document with a letter, in which this passage occurs:—
It is obviously impracticable in the Federal Government of these states to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances as on the object to be attained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered and those which may be reserved.
Doubtless, sir, the members of the Quebec Conference encountered the same difficulties as the framers of the American Constitution did. They must have found it difficult to draw the line exactly where it should be drawn. I presume it could not be done, and that each one felt it incumbent upon him to make certain concessions, and that all they could hope to do was to have some broad margin, some neutral ground, on which to draw the line, so as to be able to say they did the best they could to unite the sectional interests of the provinces and to further something like a nationality for the country. (Hear, hear.) I do not desire to trespass upon the House; I have purposely passed over much that I intended to have said, had the Government desired to encourage discussion at greater length; and I pass on rapidly to a conclusion. (Cries of “Go on!”)
I think the union desirable, not only as a benefit to ourselves, but as a means for consolidating the British Empire on this continent, and to save us from a degrading dependency on the United States, especially as we have the means within ourselves of making them to a certain extent dependent upon us. Look at the map of this country, look at the position we occupy geographically; see the outlet we possess to the ocean; look at the magnificent St. Lawrence, with the vast grain growing country beyond it. Is it not in our power to draw the trade of the Great West through this its natural outlet to the ocean? Is it not possible to so improve this channel as to bring the produce of the great Western States to market through our territory? Is it not possible, by means of a little judicious outlay, to make the people of the United States dependent on us, instead of us being dependent on them? (Hear, hear.)
There is much that could be said on this subject, and the means that might be resorted to for securing to us these benefits of trade and commerce. It is not so much to the enlargement of the Welland and St. Lawrence canals, although that is necessary, as to the construction of a ship canal to Lake Huron through the Ottawa country, that in my opinion we must look for the ultimate commercial greatness of this country, as furnishing the shortest and safest route for the conveyance of the contents of the great granaries of the west to foreign markets. The proposed Ottawa canal may not run through a country as fertile as the valley of the St. Lawrence; it is of a different geological formation; nevertheless, I believe it to be a country of great riches, whose resources are as yet undeveloped. I think that […]
- (p. 681)
[…] a ship canal from Georgian Bay in that direction would not only furnish a satisfactory outlet for the produce of the west, but would lead to a splendid market for the lumber trade, and find employment for a class of vessels to which we cannot at present give profitable occupation; and, besides, it would open a channel for such vessels and implements of war as may be necessary for the defence of the country, (Hear, hear.)
I would conclude by saying that I think union desirable, not only because of its present advantages, but on account of our future prospects. Looking at the future, I do not think it desirable that one government should exercise sway over the whole of the North American continent. (Hear, hear.) Nor do I think it desirable that such a government should be a republican government. (Hear, hear.) Taking this view of the case; looking back to the history of the past; reflecting upon the evils which have followed hasty constitution-making, and the troubles that have occurred in consequence of blundering at the outset, it becomes us to consider whether the scheme which has now been laid before us has in it the elements of stability. I think it has, so far as human foresight can determine. (Hear, hear.)
Geographically this country covers a vast extent of territory. We can lean our backs on the snows of the north, and from that quarter no enemy can attack us; and if we have no great breadth from north to south, we have a large expanse westwards. Although, too, we are in a northern clime, although our latitude is higher than that of our southern neighbor, yet this is no obstacle to the growth of population or to the increase of prosperity. (Hear, hear.)
Teeming millions will in future inhabit this land, and we are called upon now to lay deep and broad the foundations of a great empire. Let us show that we value the free institutions of Britain transplanted to this soil; institutions founded upon principles of freedom and universal toleration; institutions that have made the parent land great, and that mark it out as the one bright spot in the old world to which the eyes of the nations turn when their liberties are imperilled, and as the city of refuge to which crowned heads, as well as the victims of their misrule, can alike flee for safety in the hour of their misfortune. (Hear, hear.)
I have no hesitation, Mr. Speaker, in endorsing the scheme before us. I do so because I believe its leading principles are in harmony with the principles upon which the British constitutional system is founded, and because I think it is a fair arrangement between all the provinces; and, as an Upper Canadian, I accept it because I think it concedes to us the status we are entitled to occupy. I accept it, further, because of the prospect it holds out to us of building up a great nationality here, and of handing down to our children institutions which our fathers have bought with their blood. (Loud cheers.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I wish to show the honorable member for North Oxford [Hope Mackenzie] the figures upon which I have based my calculation. I find that under the scheme—
Of the aid to Lower Canada—
|The Maritime Provinces contribute, say 1-5th||$177,706|
|Upper Canada contributes 2/3ds of the balance, or||473,884|
|Lower Canada contributes 1/3rd do||———|
Of the aid to Upper Canada—
|The Maritime Provinces contribute, say 1-5th||$177,706|
|Lower Canada, 1/3rd of balance||298,025|
|Upper Canada contributes 2/3ds do.||596,051|
|Contribution by Mar. Pro. according to Mr. Galt||$1,929,272|
|Contribution by L.C., at 1/3rd of balance||2,208,035|
|Contribution by U.C., at 2/3rds of balance||4,416,072|
|U.C. in excess of Mar. Prov.||$2,486,800|
|U.C. in excess of L.C.||2,208,035|
|U.C. in excess of both||$278,765|
This sum divided by 17, the additional representatives to Upper Canada, makes the cost of each $16,397 annually.
- (p. 682)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Mr. Speaker, the intelligence received from New Brunswick since the last sitting has caused the question of Confederation, now under discussion, to lose much of its interest. Everyone is now convinced that it is a question which no longer has any real existence, and which may safely be shelved for some time to come at all events. I deem it, however, to be my duty to make a few observations in reply to the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon], and to allude in passing to the speech of the Hon. Solicitor General East (Honorable Mr. Langevin).
The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] began his speech by saying that the members of this House ought to raise their views above all paltry considerations of a personal or party character, and discuss the question of Confederation upon its own merits, that thereby its advantages or disadvantages might be made apparent. And yet the honorable member has devoted at least one-third of his speech to calling to mind and discussing what I may or may not have said in past times.
I have already said, and I repeat it, that I defy any member of this House to cite a single passage from any one of my speeches, or one single line of anything I may have ever written, to prove that I have ever been in favor of a Confederation of the British North American Provinces. In order to produce a semblance of proof, and with the view of making me contradict myself, it has been necessary to torture my words, to falsify my speeches, to make false translations of them; and even then with all the skill that has been used, the attempt has been unsuccessful. The speech which has been quoted with the greatest complacency, to show that I was in favor of the Confederation of all the provinces, is that which I delivered on the 3rd May, 1860. This speech, which occupied nearly two hours in its delivery, was reported in about twenty-five lines of the Morning Chronicle, and only occupied a column in the Mirror of Parliament. These two reports are completely at variance one with the other, and neither of them is exact; but they are sufficient, nevertheless, to establish the contrary of what it has been tried to prove.
When it was desired to show that I was in favor of representation based upon population, a part of the report in the Mirror has been cited, and when it is sought to establish that I was in favor of Confederation, the report of the Chronicle is triumphantly brought forward. But the portion of the Mirror report, which is cited in relation to representation, is so absurd that it suffices to read it to be convinced that I could never have made use of the expressions which it contains. For instance, on the occasion of a discussion which has but an incidental relation to representation based on population, but which relates to a Confederation of the two provinces, I am made to say that I have always been opposed to representation by population, but that if Upper Canada desired to have it, that I was ready to concede it.
This is nearly the contrary of what I said on that occasion, for I invariably make my speeches coincide with my votes; and as I have invariably voted against every proposition tending to the concession of representation based upon population, so I have never declared that I was in favor of that measure, but on the contrary, I have always declared that Lower Canada could never consent to such a proposition, because it offered no guarantee for her institutions. (Hear, hear.)
But now that the question of Confederation is under discussion, the Mirror report is set aside and that of the Chronicle is quoted. This report made me say, in substance, that I looked upon the Federal union of Upper and Lower Canada as the nucleus of the great Confederation of the British North American Provinces, that everyone foresaw must sooner or later be affected. The expression used in the report is “to which all looked forward.”
The hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon], who has brought this report to light, although he could not be ignorant that an entirely different one was contained in the Mirror of Parliament, has given the text of it by substituting the word “he ” for the word “all,” and has translated it so as to make me say, in speaking of the Confederation of all the provinces, “que je l’appelais de tous mes voeux,” and in translating this last expression into English, in the pamphlet written by him in 1865, he makes me say, “which (Confederation) I strongly desire to see.”
It is enough to read the report in the Mirror, imperfect though it be, to shew that I never said anything of the kind. This is what I said in speaking of Confederation:—
He urged that the principle of the double majority could only be applied by giving to each section of the province the control of its local affairs, and that when populations differed so […]
- (p. 683)
[…] much as did those of Upper and Lower Canada, it was the only way to govern them in a satisfactory manner. He hoped, however, that a time might come when it would be desirable to effect a Confederation with the Lower Provinces, but the time had not yet arrived for a measure of this kind.
* * * * * *
But those who were in favor of a Federal union of all the provinces ought to bear in mind that a Federal union between Upper and Lower Canada was the best means of establishing a nucleus around which the great Confederation might be formed when the proper time arrived.
If in this citation the word “believed” were substituted for the word “hoped,” my idea would be correctly given, in very nearly the language I made use of in May, 1860. As is quite clear, there is a great difference between what I said and the report given by the Chronicle, which the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] has been obliged to disguise in citing it, and which he has translated in the most absurd manner, and all to make it appear that I had expressed myself in a manner favorable to Confederation, and thereby show that I have contradicted myself.
That I may have declared that at some future period, when the population of the different provinces should have so increased as to render the settlements contiguous, when the means of communication should have been improved, and when, by commercial intercourse, our interests should have become identical, and the different populations should constitute, so to speak, one united people, it might be of advantage to have a Confederation of all the provinces, this I am quite willing to admit; but there is a great difference between this anticipation and the expression of a desire for a Confederation to which I have always been opposed, because I did not consider it advisable under present circumstances.
I find no change in the circumstances of the country to lead me now to desire what I expressed my disapproval of in 1860. I again assert that I no more pronounced myself in favor of Confederation then than I have since; only speaking of a proposition for establishing a Confederation of the two Canadas, and after several members had spoken in favor of a Confederation of all the provinces, I made use of the very natural argument, “That for those who desired the great Confederation, there could be no objection to the proposition then tinder consideration, because that Confederation would be the nucleus around which the other provinces might gather when the proper time arrived.”
The hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] has spoken of the contradictious which he has imagined to exist between the opinions which I expressed in 1856, 1858 and 1860, and those which I entertain at the present time on the subject of the Confederation of the provinces. But these contradictious do not really exist. I have never expressed an opinion in favor of a Confederation of all the provinces, but of the two Canadas only, and that Confederation to which I would have agreed as a remedy for the difficulties created by the question of the representation, had no resemblance whatever to that which is now proposed to us. By that plan Lower Canada would have had complete control of all her local affairs; under the present scheme her control is surrounded by so many restrictions, that in fact it is the central government which has the control, not only of what relates to all the provinces, but also of what may relate to one of the provinces only. (Hear, hear.)
Before speaking of contradictions, the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] ought to bear in mind that he is more vulnerable on this head than anyone else. He ought to remember his two pamphlets—one published in 1858, and the other in 1865; one going to prove the absurdity of a Confederation of all the British North American Provinces, and the other pointing out the advantages we should derive from, such a Confederation.
In the first of these pamphlets the hon. member, after having proposed 27 questions with a view to examine under all its different aspects the question of a Federal union of the two Canadas and that of a Federal or Legislative union of all the provinces, rejects alike both these projects, because he only saw in them the annihilation of Lower Canada. The hon. member was so thoroughly convinced of that, that of all the propositions he gave the preference to a legislative union, because it would come to an end all the sooner. He found it more logical, looking at the immediate results of the union.
“In fact, if we must have a union of some kind of all the provinces, and if Lower Canada is destined to lose the little influence which she yet exercises on legislation under the existing union, it would be better to attain our object by a machinery more simple, less complicated and less costly.” And a little further on he adds, “As far as we are concerned, we are opposed to it. We want no union under any form, as it is certain to attain the same […]
- (p. 684)
[…] end, no matter under what form it may be imposed upon us. ” That is the conclusion at which the hon. member arrived in 1858, after a careful examination of the whole question.
In 1865, matters are completely changed, and the hon. member has discovered that the only possible safety for Lower Canada is to be found in that very Confederation of all the provinces which he rejected with all his might in 1858. This is the conclusion at which he arrived in his latest pamphlet. “After having carefully considered the various schemes of union with their various conditions of existence we, have proved that Confederation was, in our present circumstances, the system best calculated for our protection and for securing our prosperity in the future.” The hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] explains this complete change in his views since 1858, as follows:—
Until lately we admit we were more in favor of a Confederation of the two Canadas than of the grander scheme, because then we had no national aspirations, and we believed that we should find in it more protection for the interests of Lower Canada. We acted as though we had to deal with present or probable enemies, and like a good tactician we desired to have as few enemies arrayed against us as possible; but since our constant communications during the sittings of the Convention with the eminent statesmen of the Atlantic Provinces, many of these apprehensions, and indeed the motives of opposition, have been dispelled from our mind.
So that the mere contact which the hon. member enjoyed with the political men of the Maritime Provinces, during the fifteen days they were here, has been sufficient to dispel all his apprehensions for the fate of the institutions of Lower Canada in the Confederation of all the provinces. It is the confidence with which these gentlemen have inspired him, and not the guarantees offered by the plan of Confederation, which have changed his opinions of 1858. I find in the Journal de Québec, a newspaper edited by the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon], a few very amusing passages upon the question of the confidence which ought to be reposed in political friends. These articles also date from 1858. The honorable member was then in opposition. It is true that he did not look at the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown] and myself in such an unfavorable light as he has since done. At that time he was laying the whip pretty severely upon the shoulders of his present friends. But the doctrines he then held appear to be still applicable. On the 26th of August, 1858, the honorable member wrote an article under the heading “Les Amis les Ennemis,” in which he said:—
The friends, the ministerial supporters from Upper Canada, have endeavored, during the present session to impose upon us representation based upon population, and the abolition of separate schools. A minister, Mr. Smith, even voted for representation based on population! The enemies—(the members of the Opposition)—have left the initiative of these odious matters to be taken by our friends the ministerialists; and moreover, to prove that though they were enemies, they would treat us better than our friends the ministerialists, they were willing to pay the seigniors all the casual rights due by the censitaires (£500,000). After that we do not ask too much when we ask that our enemies may have justice
And a little further on he adds:—
Mr. Cartier galvanises a corpse, which starts up in its hideousness only to fall back never to rise again. The lamp in going out-casts some few pale and feeble rays, and soon we shall have the darkness of night. The days of the very worst government which has ever weighed down the destinies of Canada are numbered. There are not many of them, and all the ie-constructions that are possible will not add one to their number.
On the 28th August, in an article on representation based on population, the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] expressed himself as follows:—
* * * * * * * * *
But friends may do anything they like; whatever they do is well done! Mr. Ferguson, a ministerialist, will demand the abolition of separate schools; he is a friend; one must have confidence in him and kiss the Orange hand which strikes the blow. Mr. Malcolm Cameron will ask for representation by population; he is another friend, and Mr. Brown is the criminal, Mr. Brown is the enemy.
The Administration, for the first time in our parliamentary annals, makes the question of the representation an open question. The Ministry is composed of ten of our most ardent and loyal friends; will they deceive and betray us? Mr. Smith, the first among them, votes in the face of astonished Lower Canada for representation by population. He is an Orangeman, one of our kindest friends, and of course in his extreme friendship it is his duty so to vote. The members from Lower Canada ought to accept all this, and they have accepted it with gratitude! But for a rouge an enemy, to seek even the tenth part of all this, is odious, it is immoral, it is to sap the foundation of the country, it is to deserve the shame and death of Calvary. And would you believe it?—All this indignation is expended for the benefit of a power which has soiled, blemished […]
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[…] and corrupted everything in the order of morality and political integrity.
The hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] then proceeded to speak of his present friends, and of the excuses offered by the Ministerial supporters for blindly voting for and approving whatever their friends desired them to vote for. Did an Orangeman demand anything at which their Catholic consciences might take alarm, their consciences were soon quieted by the fact that “it was a friend,” and the Orangeman obtained at once what he sought; and the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] declared that all this had been done by a power which had soiled and corrupted everything in the order of morality and political integrity. Now, he heartily approves of all that he then held to be abominable and atrocious, so long as it was proposed by his friends. Then he was opposed to Confederation of any kind, because it was a certain means of obliterating the influence of Lower Canada, and he preferred a legislative union to a Confederation. But now his friends propose a Confederation of all the provinces, and he heartily approves of it. I quote again from what he said on the 28th August, 1858:—
During this session Confederation was found to be so unpopular, that Mr. Galt did not dare to ask a vote on his informal resolutions. But hardly had he obtained power and his views were triumphant, and Canada is to bow her head to a new order of things which an instant before had been considered replete with danger and ruin. The policy of the Government as regards Confederation is not more defined or tangible than that of Mr. Galt on the same subject, and yet the men who, two days before, furiously demanded that Messrs. Brown and Dorion should give explicit explanations, accept it with confidence and with closed eyes, doubtless because it came from their friends and friend Galt. Friendship has the power of transforming principles and things, good into evil and evil into good, immorality into morality, injustice into justice, and consciences into inert machines, bending to the movement given to it by the firm hand of friends.
I quote from the paper of the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon].—I do not say this myself:—
More than this, the Ministry take upon themselves to make a Constitution for the people, and to change the condition of Canada without consulting them, without taking the trouble even of telling them what they are going to do for them. Not less than four members of the Government, they say, are going to negotiate our destinies either in Downing-street or in Lombard-street,
but most probably in the latter. If Confederation suits the ideas of the Grand Trunk, depend upon it we shall have it, even though the whole of Canada should reject it. The Journal asks what will become of the French element in the Confederation. Eh! grand Dieu, you may see its fate already in the fact that out of four Ministers sent to negotiate the transformation, not a single one is French, the happy individuals being Messrs. Galt, Ross, Macdonald and Rose.
At that time the enemies, that is to say the present friends of the hon. member, were desirous of changing the Constitution without consulting the people and he considered that an atrocity; but now they propose to effect a revolution in our political institutions without giving the people an opportunity of pronouncing on their scheme, and the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] warmly approves. It seems, when the other day I asserted that this scheme of Confederation was planned by the Grand Trunk Company, that I did but express the opinion of the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon]. It was he who first made this assertion, and not I. “If the Grand Trunk,” said he, “wants Confederation, we are sure to have it.” In those days his friends the enemies desired to sell the country; now he seeks to save it by exactly the same means that they took to ruin it. Now he no longer seeks to ascertain whether the plan of Confederation is good or bad; he only looks to see that it comes from his friends,and that is sufficient to secure for it his hearty approval. This scheme being proposed by the friends and supporters of good principles, it cannot contain anything that may endanger the institutions of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
But formerly it was quite a different matter, when the same scheme was proposed by enemies, the present friends of the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon]. What constitutes the excellence of this scheme in the eyes of the honorable member, is that it is not submitted by rouges or annexationists, but by the representatives of good principles, the guardians of the interests of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Besides, the delegates from the Lower Provinces, whom he had looked upon as enemies to Lower Canada, inspired him with such confidence during the dinners and balls of the Conference, as to have removed any apprehensions under which the honorable member may before have labored. He told us so himself.
For my part I do not believe that the communication which the honorable member enjoyed with the delegates from the Lower […]
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[…] Provinces during their sojourn here had the effect of changing his opinion on this question. He looked to see from what side the proposition came, and seeing that it came from the side on which his friends sat, he was at once convinced that it contained nothing that could endanger the institutions of Lower Canada. It is evident that he votes for it with certainty. In 1858 he reproached those members who, like the honorable member for Montcalm (Mr. Jos. Dufresne), look quietly to see from which side measures come before pronouncing upon them, with only thinking and acting according to word of command given by the present Ministers. Has not he also been obliged to write a pamphlet of 150 pages in 1865 to refute the one of forty pages which he then wrote? Then he held to be absurd all that was connected, either nearly or remotely, with Confederation; now he holds everything to be right and perfect; he is quite satisfied, and gets the promise of all his members to vote for the scheme before us without amendment. He throws his hat in the air and exclaims:—”Let us vote for Confederation and for our friends.” (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
That honorable member may be able to discover contradictions in my conduct. He sees a mote in his neighbor’s eyes and seeth not the beam in his own. But let us continue our examination of that pamphlet of 1858. It contains most precious information. At page 15 I find the following passage:—
The best possible condition under which Confederation could exist, would be that in which the two chambers would be elected and would both have population as the basis of their number, for no other system excepting that of having but one chamber only with the number of its members based on population, would give us absolutely one vote in three in the Federal Legislature.
So in 1858 he found that the best we could hope for, under Confederation, was that we might have two elective chambers, with a number of members proportioned to the population in each province, which would have given us one vote in three. It was the elective system, with representation based on population in each chamber. In view of the Confederation of all the provinces, that plan was decidedly better than the one now proposed to us, in which Lower Canada is only to have 65 out of 194 in the Lower House, and 2-1 out of 76 in the Legislative Council, less than the proportion which we should have had under the elective system, without taking into account, that as the legislative councillors are to be appointed by the General Government, Lower Canada will exercise but little influence as regards the appointment of her councillors.
But let us see what the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] now thinks of the elective system. After having, in 1856, himself brought in the bill to render the Legislative Council elective, and having thus done more than anyone else to effect the change which then took place in the constitution of that body, and after having, in 1858, declared in writing that “the best possible terms that could be obtained in Confederation would be the making of the two chambers elective,” in 1865 he says, at page 65 of his second pamphlet:—
It was in obedience to the general sentiment, and not by conviction, that he who now writes gave up, in 1865, an opinion which he had always held, and himself drafted the present constitution of the Legislative Council, and it is with genuine satisfaction, and a conviction strengthened by experience, that we greet the revival of the principle of Crown nomination to the Legislative Council under conditions superior to those of former times.
It would seem, then, that in 1856 the honorable member altered the Constitution, not as the result of conviction, and because he considered it was defective, but in obedience to the general sentiment; that is to say, that being a Minister, he did not wish to displease his friends, who demanded that this change should be made, and that, rather than sacrifice his portfolio as a Minister, he preferred to sacrifice his principles and convictions. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Now, the honorable member has no other sacrifice to make than that of his personal dignity; this is but a trifling one; and he returns to his old opinions, so as not to displease his present friends. He clung to power in 1856; to-day he pays homage to it; that is the whole difference. When the wind blew in the direction of reform, the honorable member was a Reformer, not from conviction but from interest; and when it blows in the direction of absolutism, the honorable member becomes by instinct Conservative and a Tory. So he who, in 1856, obtained the passing of an act to render the Council elective; who, in 1858, again pronounced himself in favor of the elective principle as applied to the Council, tells us in 1865 that he greets with genuine satisfaction the revival of the principle of Crown nomination of the Legislative Councillors. (Hear, hear.)
Ministers went on their knees to the Lower […]
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[…] Provinces beseeching them to come to an understanding as regarded a change of the Constitution, and with respect to a scheme of Confederation. Explanations were the result, which have only been given on a few important points; the delegates of the Lower Provinces, after having obtained the most favorable financial stipulations for those whom they represented, have still further imposed their views and have modified the scheme of Confederation in a manner at variance with the views of our Ministers; and yet, after the Maritime Provinces have repudiated the action of their delegates, the Government still obstinately persists in obtaining the adoption of the scheme without any amendment whatsoever.
If that resolution passes, we shall ask England to change our Constitution, and to give us one which will not be in accordance with the views of our ministers, and still less with those of the people of this province. But let us see what the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] said in 1858 on this subject. I cite from page 12:—
To ask England to change the Constitution is to give her an opportunity of changing it to suit her own views or those of our enemies. Nay, more, to ask that we should take the first step is to claim it for all the provinces, it is to call upon them too to say upon what conditions they will accept the Federal union.
But in the conflict of all these voices one only will never be heard from the Imperial Throne, because it would be in the French language. It is no prejudice, it is but the history of our fifty years of trial and sorrow.
Have circumstances so greatly changed since 1858? What has occurred since that period to give the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] more confidence now in the justice of England, or in the efficacy of our petitions than he then had? Is not the history of our fifty years of sufferings vivid in the memories of all? When we asked the Imperial Government to change the constitution of the Legislative Council, did they not unnecessarily, and without our having sought it, repeal the clause which rendered necessary a two-thirds vote to change the basis of the representation? That safeguard of the interests of Lower Canada was taken away from us without our knowing, and at the present moment we do not know at whose instance that clause of the Union Act was expunged. Have we not similar reason to fear that they may impose on Lower Canada a new Constitution, with conditions which will encroach upon the rights solemnly guaranteed to us by treaty?
And this is the more probable from the fact that, this scheme having been rejected by the Lower Provinces, England will not be desirous of enforcing it upon them, and that if it is adopted by the Imperial Parliament, it can only be so adopted with such modifications as will make it applicable to Canada alone, leaving to the Lower Provinces the right of accepting it hereafter; and Heaven alone knows what these modifications will be, and how they may affect our institutions. (Hear, hear.)
If the Imperial Parliament thinks proper to take up this Constitution without the acceptance of it by the Maritime Provinces, it will come back to us, as did the answer to the Address in relation to the Legislative Council, entirely different from the Address we are about to vote.
François Evanturel [Quebec County]—I thought I understood, when explanations were given to-day by the Hon. Atty. Gen. West [John A. Macdonald], that the Government intended to lay before Her Majesty the Address to be passed by this House, then to ask the advice of the Imperial Government as to what they had better do under the circumstances, and then return and report to the House.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I enquired, in language as explicit as it was possible to use of the Hon. Atty. Gen. West [John A. Macdonald], whether the Government would submit a new Constitution for ratification by the Legislature, and he only replied that the Government would submit the whole matter to the Imperial Government, that is to say, the Address to be passed by this House, and an explanation of the present state of matters in view of the defeat of the scheme of Confederation in the Lower Provinces. He refused to say that the Government would come back to the House with the measure.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] would like to make the House believe that it is the intention of the Government to cause a measure to be passed by the Imperial Government against the wishes of this House; but no such conclusion can be drawn from the explanations given by my honorable friend the Hon. Atty. Gen. West. He stated that a deputation would go to England, and that they would submit to the Imperial Government the addresses of the two Houses, containing the plan of Confederation adopted by the delegates of all the provinces, and that they would urge upon the Imperial Government to bring down a measure that should apply to all the provinces.
Maurice Laframboise [Bagot]—That is […]
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[…] not saying, however, that the new Constitution will be submitted to the House on the return of the deputation. (Hear, hear.)
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Nor is it saying, either, that it is without the consent of the House.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—What I wish to say is, that it is perfectly clear that the House will not be called upon to pronounce upon the new Constitution which is to be given to us, no matter what changes may be introduced into the resolutions on which we are now called upon to vote. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. Atty. Gen. East [George-Étienne Cartier] cannot say that the Government will submit to the House the result of the advice which they may receive from the Imperial Government. (Hear, hear.) All that we can understand from the Government is, that they will press the adoption of the measure by this House, and that, if they can pass it, they will ask the Imperial Government to give us a Constitution based on these resolutions, and that this Constitution will be imposed on the country without either the House or the people being called upon to ratify it, even although it be altogether different from the resolutions now submitted to us. (Hear, hear.)
As in 1856 we saw the clause of the Union Act, which required the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the House to authorize a change in the basis of the representation, repealed without any application on our part for its repeal, so we shall perhaps see in this new Constitution which is to be given to us, that the principle of Confederation will have been sacrificed in order that a legislative union, pure and simple, may be imposed upon us. (Hear, hear.) And this is the more probable now, that it is well known that the Maritime Provinces have repudiated the plan of Confederation in its present shape.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—We shall make a small Confederation by dividing Canada into four parts. (Laughter) That is what the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] promised the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown] when he formed his Government. There should be little men, little provinces, and a little Confederation. (Laughter.)
A Voice—Now-a-days the Government has only great projects.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Yes; we propose great measures, and what is more, we carry them.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Yet the Honorable Attorney General [George-Étienne Cartier] has undertaken to grant a little Confederation, and to divide us into little provinces if the grander scheme does not pass, and he has a very fair chance to come back to little matters. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon], after having expressed his opinion with respect to the constitution which ought to be provided for the Legislative Council, in order to the protection of our interests, said in that pamphlet of 1858, on the subject of Confederation:—
The object of Confederation is external protection; it can defend itself from enemies from without, but it could not defend itself against itself. It was not with a view to social improvement, not to attain a more perfect and complete internal political organization, that the American colonies and the small states of Germany, who wished to remain independent, had recourse to Confederation; it was for mutual protection against enemies from without, and for that only. Now we have England to protect us, the political Confederation of the provinces is therefore absurd. But if it be at once absurd and fatal, why should we persist in demanding it?
Were we to have a Confederation of the provinces, they would soon range themselves into two distinct camps; and if we are to judge of the past by the present, it is needless to say to what dangers Lower Canada would be exposed. [And a little further on, he adds]: When once we have admitted a principle, not only we have to admit the consequences, but even to suffer them to our ruin. The consequences of Confederation would be the ruin of Lower Canada.
The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] was convinced that the Confederation of the provinces could not be effected without having recourse to direct taxation, which loomed up constantly before his eyes—(hear, hear ):—
Direct taxation for the maintenance and to carry out the objects of the local legislatures, are a necessity of the Federal system; and if Lower Canada was to refuse to tax herself to pay the expenses of its Government and Legislature, it would be forced into doing it; bearing in mind the refusal in days past of its House of Assembly to vote the supplies, they would treat her as they did in 1840.
Thus the great Confederation, so fatal and absurd, would be the ruin of Lower Canada. Now for a little description of our new friends in the Maritime Provinces:—
What advantage can Canada hope to obtain in the consolidation of the revenues of all the provinces? * * * * Whilst the united revenues of the four Atlantic provinces hardly reach the sum of four hundred […]
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[…] thousand pounds, and whilst not one of these provinces has much in the future with the exception of New Brunswick, Newfoundland with its cold climate, its barren soil, like that of the north shore of our Lower St. Lawrence, will never be more than a fishing station, to which, besides, we have access in common with all the other nations of the world. Nova Scotia is another fishing station, to which also we have access in common with everyone else. It has no soil fit for cultivation. Its revenue remains stationary, or diminishes like the population of its capital, Halifax (although situated at the extremity of one of the most magnificent harbors in the world), which, in 1840, had 25,000 inhabitants in its woolen houses, and which now affords shelter to fifteen thousand human beings only.
* * * * * * * * *
They are poor, and seek an alliance with the rich. They have good reason; were we in their place, we would do the same.
That is his account of the new allies he now proposes to give us. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) And now passing to the question of religion, this is what we find:—
In the existing union the Protestants are slightly the most numerous, at least according to the census of 1850. The proposed union would increase the Protestant strength, for the very great majority of the populations of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is Protestant, and Newfoundland, in which Catholicism prevails, is too poor, both at present and in prospective, with its barren soil, to give any strength, or even hope, to Catholicism. Protestantism would thus be more powerful in a union of all the provinces than it is now in the existing union of the Canadas.
I think I need say no more. I think that the reasons adduced by the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] from the French-Canadian point of view, against the union of the provinces in 1858, exist at the present day, and that they have greater force now than they had then; and this is the more evident when we see all the members from Upper Canada declare that Confederation is not what they want, but that they would prefer a legislative union. This fact ought to add to our alarm, and convince us of the danger to which we should be exposed by this union.
The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] now encourages his friends to proceed to England and obtain its adoption by the Imperial Government, and its imposition on the Maritime Provinces as well as upon Canada. It is an appeal to Great Britain to pass a measure upon the application of the Canadian Government, and to impose it upon the Lower Provinces, after making such modifications to it as would satisfy them. The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon], in reflecting upon a letter which I wrote last autumn to my constituents, in which I asserted that no precedent existed for a Federal union between mere colonies, has cited, in refutation of my statement, the case of New Zealand.
New Zealand is composed of three islands, divided into eleven provinces, each of which possesses a sort of municipal council which is called a government, just as the municipalities are called provinces. Each province has a head or executive officer, elected by the people, and charged with the carrying out of. the laws. The municipal councils have the power of legislating, but their powers are restricted within very narrow limits. They cannot interfere even with the laws relating to wills and successions, whilst, on the other hand, the Central Government has the right to legislate on all matters affecting the colony. The political system of New Zealand is exactly like our county and parish municipal system.
Our county municipalities represent the central power, and our parish municipalities represent the local governments. Had the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] examined the Constitution of Belgium, he would have seen that there, there are provinces which each have a Governor and a Local Parliament, and these parliaments have much greater powers than the local councils in New Zealand, and are much more important; yet no one has ever ventured to assert that Belgium was a Confederation, although it was divided into provinces. Neither is the French Empire a Confederation, although its departments are governed by Préfets. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] has told us that our interests would be perfectly protected by the proposed Constitution. I find that the powers assigned to the General Parliament enable it to legislate on all subjects whatsoever. It is an error to imagine that these powers are defined and limited by the 29th clause of the resolutions. Were it desirous of legislating on subjects placed under the jurisdiction of the local legislatures, there is not a word in these resolutions which can be construed to prevent it, and if the local legislatures complain, Parliament may turn away and refuse to hear their complaints, because all the sovereignty is vested in the General Government, and there is no authority to define its functions and attributes and those of the local governments.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—What do you understand by sovereign power, please explain?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I will tell you in a […]
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[…] moment. I say that the Federal Parliament will exercise sovereign power, inasmuch as it can always trespass upon the rights of the local governments without there being any authority to prevent it. “What authority have you constituted which can come forward and say to the Federal Parliament:—”You shall not do such and such a thing, you shall not legislate upon such and such a subject, because these matters are reserved to the local governments.” There will be no such authority, and consequently it will have sovereign power, and cm do all that it pleases, and may encroach upon all the rights and attributes of the local governments whenever it may think proper. We shall be—(I speak as a Lower Canadian)—we shall be at its mercy, because it may exercise its right of veto on all the legislation of the local parliaments, and there again we shall have no remedy. In ease of difference between the Federal power and the local governments, what authority will intervene for its settlement?
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—It will be the Imperial Government.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—In effect there will be no other authority than that of the Imperial Government, and we know too well the value assigned to the complaints of Lower Canadians by the Imperial Government.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The delegates understood the matter better than that. Neither the Imperial Government nor the General Government will interfere, but the courts of justice will decide all questions in relation to which there may be differences between the two powers.
A Voice—The Commissioners’ courts. (Hear, hear.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Undoubtedly. One magistrate will decide that a law passed by the Federal Legislature is not law, whilst another will decide that it is law, and thus the difference, instead of being between the legislatures, will be between the several courts of justice.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Should the General Legislature pass a law beyond the limits of its functions, it will be null and void pleno jure.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Yes, I understand that, and it is doubtless to decide questions of this kind that it is proposed to establish Federal courts.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—No, no! They will be established solely to apply and adjudicate upon the Federal laws.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—In Great Britain, Parliament is all-powerful, everyone admits it—and I would like to know whether it is proposed to give to the Federal Parliament the omnipotence enjoyed by the Imperial Parliament. Without that, the system proposed to be established is no longer a political monarchical system, but rather a vast municipality. If all the courts of justice are to have the right of deciding as to the legality of the laws, the Federal Parliament will not be able to make them without a justice of the peace or commissioner of small causes setting them aside, under the pretext that they are not within the jurisdiction of the central power, as is now done in the case of a process overhaul of road work. That is not the monarchical system; it is the republican system.
In England, as it is here at the present moment, the Legislature is all-powerful, and I believe that that was the principle which it was sought to adopt. If the differences between the Federal and the Local Parliaments are not to be submitted to the decision of a Supreme Federal Court, I do not see who can possibly decide them. (Hear, hear.)
We are told that the Federal Court of Appeals will not be charged with the decision of matters in dispute between the legislatures, but they will only have to give final judgments in cases decided by the local inferior courts. Well, for my part I cannot approve of the creation of this court. The great inconveniences of it to us Lower Canadians may easily be seen.
Thus, when a cause shall have been argued and decided in all our courts, we shall still have to go before a Federal Court of Appeal composed of judges of all the provinces, and in which we shall probably have only one judge, who may be selected out of the English population. And this is the protection afforded to us. I repeat that I see no protection whatever for our interests, as Lower Canadians, in the constitution of the political and judicial powers, for the Federal Parliament can encroach upon our rights without any authority having the power to interfere, and then we shall have a Federal Court of Appeal in which we shall only be represented by one judge against six or seven of other origins. (Hear, hear.)
There is another and very important question to be considered, and that is as to what is meant by paragraph 30 of the 29th resolution, in relation to marriage and divorce. I see, not without apprehension, that it is left to the General Parliament to legislate on all matters relating to marriage and divorce. The question of marriage is intimately connected with a large portion of our […]
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[…] code and civil rights, for upon marriage depends the settlement of family interests and successions, and the civil condition of the population. If the right of legislating on all matters connected with marriage is left to the Federal Parliament, it will have the right to declare that a marriage contracted elsewhere will be valid in the Confederacy, provided it has been contracted in accordance with the laws of the country in which it took place, as stated by the Honorable Solicitor General East [Hector-Louis Langevin], for it is a principle of international law perfectly understood in every country of the civilized world, and which it would be impossible to alter, and it was of no use whatever to insert it in the Constitution.
I say, then, that not only will the Federal Government have this power, but they will also be able to change the civil conditions of marriage which now constitute a part of our code. But if it is sought to remove from the local legislatures the right of legislating respecting the conditions under which a marriage may be contracted, the age at which marriage is to be allowed, the degree of relationship which shall be an impediment to marriage, the consent of the relations, and the requisite dispensations which are now required to be obtained from the ecclesiastical authorities, then I can understand why this article has been inserted in the resolutions, and that the right to do all this is to be vested in the Federal Parliament. If it is desired that a minor should be allowed to marry, as he can in countries in which the laws of England prevail, without the consent of his relations, I can conceive the reason for placing the right to legislate respecting marriage in the hands of the Federal power; but if that was not the object in view, I see no reason why the right to legislate on this subject has not been left to the local governments. (Hear, hear.)
I should see with considerable apprehension and alarm this power given to the General Parliament, because it will be composed of men who have ideas entirely at variance with ours in relation to marriage. As regal is the question of divorce, we have had every kind of explanation as to the moaning of the resolution of the Conference. The Honorable Solicitor General of Lower Canada (Hon. Mr. Langevin), who last year made so great a fuss because a divorce suit came before the House, and who even moved the rejection of the bill at its first reading, has been brought to terms on the subject, and has discovered that it would be a good thing to have an authority for the settlement of this matter.
Last year he said that it was impossible for a Catholic to sanction even the first reading of a divorce bill, and he made us a long speech on the subject, but he has found out his mistake, and he is unwilling that the local legislature should legislate on divorce, but he vests this right in the Federal Parliament, and authorizes it to do so. He cannot himself legislate, but he allows another to do so for him. Well, I do not think that this is any improvement on the existing state of things, and I think that divorce is more likely to be prevented by leaving the subject among the functions of the local legislatures, at all events as far as Lower Canada is concerned, than by leaving it to the Federal Parliament.
But I go further, and I say that the leaving of this question to the Federal Legislature is to introduce divorce among the Catholics. It is certain that at present no Catholic could obtain a divorce either in the present House or from the Local Legislature of Lower Canada under Confederation. But suppose that the Federal Parliament were to enact that there shall be divorce courts in each section of the province, the Catholics will have the same access to them as the Protestants. And who is to prevent the Federal Legislature from establishing a tribunal of this kind in Lower Canada, if they are established elsewhere? In that case—if tribunals of this kind are established—will not the Honorable Solicitor General [Hector-Louis Langevin] if he votes for this resolution have voted for the establishment of divorce courts over the whole country, to which Catholics and Protestants can have recourse for obtaining a divorce? That is the only conclusion it is possible to arrive at, and the legitimate consequence of the votes of those Catholics who will vote to vest this power in the Federal Parliament. (Hear, hear.)
It is evident that a Catholic who thinks that he cannot vote for a Divorce bill ought not to vote indirectly for the establishment of Divorce courts, any more than to vote directly for it. The Honorable Solicitor General East [Hector-Louis Langevin] told us the other day that he had recently obtained the annulment of a marriage, because the parties, being relations, had married without dispensation.
Hector-Louis Langevin [Dorchester, Solicitor General East]—I never pretended that that was a divorce. I said that if the case of annulment of marriage to which I referred had arisen in Upper Canada, the Ecclesiastical courts might have declared the marriage null as far as the ca on law was concerned, but not as regarded the civil laws, for the law of Upper Canada does not recognize […]
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[…] the impediments to marriage provided by the Canon law, and that the husband and wife would have been obliged to apply to Parliament to obtain their separation. And I stated that this separation couldn’t be looked upon as a divorce from a Catholic point of view, although the Act of Parliament might be called a Divorce bill.
Félix Geoffrion [Verchères]—Would Parliament grant a divorce on the ground of relationship?
Hector-Louis Langevin [Dorchester, Solicitor General East]—I can cite other cases, as, for instance, that of a Catholic married to an infidel who had not been baptized, without being aware at the time of the marriage that this impediment existed. If he discovers the fact afterwards, he is not married as far as the Canon law is concerned. If the wife is not willing to consent to the obtaining of the necessary dispensations to render her marriage valid, she may, in Lower Canada, apply to the Ecclesiastical court to have it annulled, but in Upper Canada she would also have to apply to Parliament.
Félix Geoffrion [Verchères]—Could a divorce be obtained from Parliament on the ground of relationship?
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—It would be proved before Parliament that the marriage contracted under these circumstances is null as regards the Canon law and the law of Lower Canada. There are ecclesiastical authorities in Upper Canada just as there are in Lower Canada, but as the Civil law there is not the same as it is here, the couple whose marriage would be void under the Canon law but not under the Civil law—for in the eyes of the law the marriage would be valid and binding, and neither husband nor wife could remarry without having obtained a divorce—the couple, I say, would have the right of applying to Parliament, who might legally declare that marriage null which had been so declared by the ecclesiastical authorities. But the nullity of the marriage must first be proved to the satisfaction of the ecclesiastical authorities and under the Canon law, and then Parliament might annul it on that evidence, for it would be omnipotent.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Then the Federal Parliament will be omnipotent?
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Yes, in that respect.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—But even supposing that the Federal Parliament would interfere in such a case, which is a matter of doubt, the Local Government would also have had the right to interfere if the power so to do had been given to it. Moreover, this would not be a case of divorce; it would simply be the declaration that no marriage had ever taken place, which is quite a different matter. In Lower Canada the Canon law forms part of our Civil law, but in Upper Canada it is not so, and the law there does not recognize the right of the ecclesiastical authorities to declare a marriage null. (Hear, hear.)
I think, then, that the explanation of the Hon. Solicitor General [Hector-Louis Langevin] is not of more value than that which he gave us on the subject of marriage, for it does not in the least prove that the Federal Parliament have not the power to establish Divorce courts in all the provinces, and the resolution does not admit of the construction that the Federal Parliament will only have the right of declaring void marriages declared to be so by the Catholic ecclesiastical authorities. (Hear, hear.)
I perceive that the subject of immigration is left to the General Government, concurrently with the local governments. I think that danger lies in the provision that the General Government is to appoint all our judges. It is said, as the Honorable Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] stated the other day, that there will be French-Canadians in the Executive of the Federal Government, but their number will be limited, and if the Executive is composed of fifteen members for instance, there will only be one or two French-Canadians at the most. Well, suppose the French-Canadian Ministers recommend the appointment of a person as judge, and that all their colleagues oppose it, the former will have the right to protest, but the majority will carry the clay, and all that the minority can do will be to retire from the Government. But in that case they will be replaced, and things will go on as before. That is all.
The same argument applies to the appointment of legislative councillors; and when I call to mind all the injustices committed by the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, which was nominated by the Crown, and in a spirit hostile to the great mass of the population, I cannot conceive that French-Canadians can be found who are willing to return to that system. Will they not remember that it was that system which closed our common schools, by refusing to vote the supplies granted by the Legislative Assembly, and thereby delayed, for years and years, the progress of education in Lower Canada. The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] says that we must have a conservative chamber, and that our Legislative Council, under Confederation, will be less conservative than the Belgian Senate, because […]
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[…] the elective qualification of the Belgian senators is higher than that of our legislative councillors. The Belgian Senate is elected for eight years, and is renewed by one-fourth at a time.
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—Every four years, by one-half.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Yes; the honorable member is right. The term for which each senator is elected is eight years, and the elections take place for one-half of them every four years, and another change in the composition of the Senate can also take place, because it may be dissolved like the Lower House. Now, under these circumstances, there can be no clashing of any duration between the two Belgian Chambers, and the Senate cannot obstruct, for an indefinite period, the action of the Lower House. If a difference should arise between the two bodies, the Government can remedy it by new elections, by which senators would be returned favorable to the views of the people.
Thus the Senate is not conservative, from the sole fact of the electoral qualification of the senators being very high. What I consider excessive and of a too conservative character in the constitution of the Legislative Council of the Confederation, is that no power exists which can change its composition in the case of a collision between it and the House of Commons. The councillors will be appointed for life, and their number is fixed. By what means shall we be able to prevent the Legislative Council from stopping the progress of business if a difference should arise with the Lower House? The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] says that the obstacle will be broken down; but if no other remedy than that is provided, I say that the principle is faulty. It does not do, when we frame a Constitution, to open the door to obstacles which can only be surmounted by breaking them down. (Hear, hear.)
In England, where the House of Lords is very conservative, the Crown has power to name new peers, and it is precisely the possession of that power of creating new peers which has prevented the breaking down of the obstacle—which prevented a revolution in 1832. The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] himself admits that at that period England was on the eve of a revolution, and that it would have happened if the House had any longer refused to sanction the measures of reform passed by the House of Commons and demanded by the people; and that revolution was only avoided because the King, having declared that he would create new peers, a certain number of the lords, to escape this danger, absented themselves and permitted the passing of the Parliamentary Reform Bill. (Hear, hear.)
There are two or three other matters which are left to the joint jurisdiction of the Federal and Local Legislatures, such as agriculture, emigration, and the fisheries; but the laws of the Federal Parliament will always prevail in these matters over those of the local parliaments; thus, for instance, a Local Legislature may pass a law in relation to agriculture, but it may be overridden the next day by a law of the Federal Legislature. (Hear, hear.)
I shall not touch upon the question of the finances, but I must say that the figures given by the Hon. Solicitor General East [Hector-Louis Langevin] do not agree with those in the Public Accounts. I do not know where he obtained them, but for my part I have been unable to find them. When I enquired whether Lower Canada was to pay the Municipal Loan Fund debt, he did not think proper to answer. When I asked the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] whether Lower Canada would be charged with the debt contracted for the redemption of the Seigniorial dues, with the Common School Fund, the Municipal Loan Fund, and the indemnity payable to the townships, amounting in the whole to $4,500,000, he replied that he would bring down a proposition at some future period for the settlement of these questions, but he has not thought proper to give any explanations.
Well, I have stated that besides the debt of $67,000,000 due by the province, there are more than $3,000,000 due to Upper Canada as compensation for the Seigniorial indemnity, and that in fixing at $62.500,000 the debt to be assumed by the Federal Government, there will remain about $9,000,000 to divide between Upper and Lower Canada. With the amount of the Municipal Loan Fund debt and of the other items which I have mentioned, Lower Canada will find herself charged with a local debt of $4,500,000. (Hear, hear.)
When we entered the union we had a debt of $500,000; we have expended since the union, on public works in Lower Canada, about $13,000,000, and we go out of the union with a debt of $27,500,000 as our proportion of the Federal debt, besides our own special debt of $4,500,000, whilst Upper Canada will go out of it without any local debt on giving up the indemnity to which she is entitled under the Seigniorial Act of 1859. Well, I assert that it is an unjust […]
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[…] treaty, and that it is also unfair that the Ministry should refuse us all explanations on this point, before we are called upon to give our votes on the resolutions. (Hear.)
The Hon. Solicitor General East [Hector-Louis Langevin] told us the other day that in the plan of Confederation which I had proposed for the two Canadas, I intended to leave the administration and ownership of the Crown lands to the General Government, and he said that under Confederation the Crown lands would belong to the local governments, and this, in his opinion, was a great improvement on the plan which I proposed. Well, it must be observed that a very large amount is due on sales of Crown lands; there is about $1,000,000 due in Lower Canada, and $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 in Upper Canada. If these lands had remained in the union there would have been about one million from Lower Canada, and five or six millions from Upper Canada towards the payment of the general debt.
We should have benefited to that amount by the extinction of so much of the public debt; instead of that, under the plan of the Government, Upper Canada is to have the benefit of the five or six millions due on the lands sold in Upper Canada, whilst Lower Canada will only have one million of dollars at the outside. If it were only the public lands, there would be no injustice in leaving them to the local governments, but the difference in the amounts due on the lands sold gives a considerable advantage to Upper Canada. There is another very serious objection to the Constitution of the Legislative Council.
The honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] said that the Legislative Council would serve as a protection and safeguard to the interests of the French-Canadians, because in it we would have an equality of members with the other provinces. A curious equality that will be! That of which the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] spoke when he pronounced himself in favor of two elective chambers, because in that case we should have one member in three, was infinitely preferable. In the Lower House we shall not have one member in three, nor shall we in the Upper House either, for wo shall only have twenty-four councillors out of seventy-six. Thus we shall have equality neither in the Lower House nor in the Council. (Hear, hear.)
But then the General Government will nominate the councillors, and we shall be in a great minority in the Executive Council. Another objection is that the nomination of the legislative councillors on the recommendation of the Executive Council of the General Government, and this offers no guarantee for the institutions of Lower Canada, because the predominating influence in that Council will not be that of the majority of Lower Canada. To offer an effectual guarantee, it would be necessary that they should be elected by the people, or, at all events, only appointed on the recommendation of the local governments. These resolutions, we are told, are only as it were the headings to the chapters of the new Constitution, and the new Constitution may be anything else than what is now under consideration. It will come back to us in the form of an Imperial Act, to which we shall have volentes volentes to submit. (Hear, hear.)
Supposing even that the scheme should not be modified, I could not approve it. I cannot with a joyful heart give up the imprescriptible rights of the people who have sent me here to represent them. I cannot consent to a change which is neither more nor less than a revolution, a political revolution it is true, but which does not the less, on that account, affect the rights and interests of a million of inhabitants, the descendants of the first settlers in America, of those who have given their names to the vast regions which they discovered, and whose careers have been rendered famous by so many heroic traits. (Hear, hear.)
I am opposed to this Confederation in which the militia, the appointment of the judges, the administration of justice and our most important civil rights, will be under the control of a General Government the majority of which will be hostile to Lower Canada, of a General Government invested with the most ample powers, whilst the powers of the local governments will be restricted, first, by the limitation of the powers delegated to it, by the veto reserved to the central authority, and further, by the concurrent jurisdiction of the general authority or government. Petitions, with more than 20,000 signatures attached to them, have already been presented to this House against the scheme of Confederation.
Numerous public meetings have been held in nineteen counties in Lower Canada, and one in the city of Montreal. Everywhere this scheme has been protested against, and an appeal to the people demanded; and yet, in defiance of the expressed opinions of our constituents, we are about to give them a Constitution, the effect of which will be to snatch from them the little influence which they still enjoy under the existing union.
We are about, on their behalf, to surrender all the rights and […]
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[…] privileges which are dearest to them, and that without consulting them. It would be madness—it would be more, it would be a crime. On these grounds I shall oppose this scheme with all the power at my command, and insist that under any circumstances it shall be submitted to the people before its final adoption. (Cheers.)
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—Mr. Speaker, I received intelligence this evening that the Hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] was about to reply to my speech of the 2nd of March, and that is why I came here. Otherwise, as I have not yet quite recovered, I should have remained at home; but I frankly acknowledge that if I had foreseen that I should have had to listen to such a speech as that which we have just heard, I should not have put myself out of the way for so little. Any one hearing him speak must have said: “Either he is not a very powerful reasoner, or this hon. member has but a poor idea of the intelligence of this House and but little respect for his colleagues.” But for my two pamphlets and for the speech of the Hon. Solicitor General [Hector-Louis Langevin], which he read and commented upon as he knows how to do, ho would very speedily have found himself aground; but by deriving assistance in the way I have mentioned, he contrived to find the means of speaking for three hours. (Hear, hear.)
Is it necessary for me to repeat that I have never denied the opinions which I held in former days? Nor will I deny them to-night. I acknowledge freely that my opinions on certain matters have changed. Of what advantage, then, can it be to him to spend his time in repeating what I admit myself? If I proved to him that he had changed several times himself, I did not do so to lay blame upon him, but to reproach him with denying his past career, in order that he might be more at his ease in that which he is at present following. (Hear, hear.) But, for that matter, what does it signify to the country that he or I held one opinion yesterday and that we hold another today? What the country requires to know is whether the scheme of Confederation which is submitted to us by the Government is good or bad. (Hear, hear.)
The man who declares that he has never changed his opinion on any subject whatever is, to my thinking, a simpleton. The public requirements change with circumstances, and necessarily bring with them other ideas. (Hear, hear.) We do not eat when we are no longer hungry, nor drink when our thirst is satisfied Did the hon. member, for instance, put in practice, when in power, the doctrine which he enunciated respecting the double majority, when he was seated on the Opposition benches?
When the House was engaged in debating a resolution, the object of which was to affirm the principle of the double majority, the present Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] having got up to say that he would never have governed Upper Canada by means of a Lower Canada majority, the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] rose in his turn to declare that he also would never consent to govern in opposition to the will of Lower Canada, And yet, in 1858, did he not enter a Cabinet which was refused by nearly all. the members from Lower Canada?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I said that at the time of the formation of the Brown-Dorion Ministry. I told the Hon. President of the Council (Hon. Mr. Brown) that I would not undertake to carry through the Legislature the four great measures which were then in question, without the consent of the majority of the representatives from Lower Canada.
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—Ah, yes! An excellent reason can always be found for retaining power when we have it, in spite of our own declarations. In 1862, did he not form part of a Government situated in the same position? And from 1863 to 1864 did he not govern Lower Canada with a rod of iron, supported only by a weak Lower Canadian minority?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The only measure passed in 1863, that relating to Separate Schools in Upper Canada, was carried by a majority in both provinces.
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—That is not so, as the Upper Canadian majority voted against that bill, which owed its safety to Lower Canadians only. But it is the principle which is in question here, and the hon. member cannot divert the attention of the House from that fact. If the double majority was good in one case, it must be so in all cases, in legislation as in administration, but more especially in administration, which cannot and ought not to be based on anything except public opinion. Now, the hon member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] certainly governed his country despite the majority of its representatives. (Hear, hear.)
He has spoken to us of the petitions presented to this House against the scheme of Confederation, […]
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[…] but what do those petitions amount to? The way in which they were covered with signatures is well known. (Hear, hear.)
I shall here cite an anecdote relating to the parliamentary history of Upper Canada, at a period shortly before the Union. A member was talking a great deal about petitions in a debate upon a bill. “Petitions!” said his opponent, “I will undertake within a fortnight to present a petition to this House praying that you may be hanged, and which shall be covered with good and valid signatures!” The challenge was accepted, and at the end of three weeks the petition arrived, praying for the hanging of the man who had so much faith in the virtue of petitions! How had it been obtained? By posting at a tavern situated at four cross-roads a skilful and knowing agent, who incessantly said to the frequenters of the tavern—”Do you like good roads?” “Yes .” “Well, then, sign this petition.” All signed, without reading it. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Exactly in this manner were obtained most of the signatures against Confederation. At Montreal, agents went from tavern to tavern and induced all who were there to sign, or signed for those who resided in the vicinity without even consulting them. (Hear, hear.) Have we not also seen petitions coming from counties in which the Opposition were not even able to find candidates? They nay easily obtain signatures of this description, and by this means; but that does not constitute an expression of the opinion of Lower Canada, and those petitions will not carry elections. The hon. member ought to know something about it, he who was in power at the time of the last general election. (Hear, hear.)
He endeavored to explain away his contradictions by saying that he had never been in favor of the Confederation of all the provinces. I did not state that he was in favor of this Confederation of all the provinces; I only said that he was willing, as a member of the Brown-Dorion Government, in 1858, to have representation based on population, with checks, guarantees and assurances; that then, in 1859, he proposed as an alternative to that measure, in his Montreal manifesto, Confederation of the two Canadas; and then, in 1860-’61 he was ready to accept any possible change, even Confederation of all British North America. (Hear, hear.)
To prove that he was in favor of Confederation of all the provinces, I quoted one of his speeches, in which he said, on the 6th July, 1858:—
The repeal of the union, a Federal union, representation based on population, or some other great change, must of necessity take place, and for my part I am disposed to examine the question of representation based on population, with the view of ascertaining whether it might not be conceded with guarantees for the protection of the religion, the language and the laws of the Lower Canadians. I am likewise prepared to take into consideration the scheme for a Confederation of the provinces, &c., &c.
Then another, of the 3rd May, 1860, of which I gave two versions, the first from the Mirror of Parliament, and the second from the Morning Chronicle, to which I was referred as being more authentic and more orthodox by the organ of the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]:—
I hope, however, that the day will come in which it will be desirable for Canada to federate with the Lower Provinces, etc. * * * Those in favor of a Federal union of the provinces must see that this proposed Federation of Upper and Lower Canada is the best means to fora a nucleus around which the great Confederation of all the provinces could be formed in the course of time.—Mirror of Parliament.
I look upon the Federal union of Upper and Lower Canada as the nucleus of the great Confederation of the Provinces of North America to which all look forward. I believe that time will bring about the union of all the provinces.—Morning Chronicle.
Could anything be more explicit?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The word “he” is not in the report.
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—No; and I corrected that error the other night; but I maintained with reason that the words “to which all look forward” meant that all persons directed their attention towards Confederation. Now, if all persons expect Confederation; if all persons direct their attention towards it as towards the promised land, the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] must be included to a small extent in this term “all persons.” (Hear, hear.) Did he not, moreover, declare that the Confederation of the two Canadas, which he proposed, was to be but the nucleus of the great Confederation, the necessary nucleus for the Confederation of all the American Provinces, which we are considering at present?
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I did not say the necessary nucleus.
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—The hon. member always seeks loop-holes by which to escape from his speeches and to evade the consequences of his past opinions; but as I […]
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[…] did not interrupt him, I hope that he will not interrupt me either. Did he not say the other day:—
Of course I do not say that I shall be opposed to their Confederation for all time to come. Population may extend over the wilderness that now lies between the Maritime Provinces and ourselves, and commercial intercourse may increase sufficiently to render Confederation desirable.
Is not this admitting everything? Is it not saying that there is nothing between us but a question of time and of expediency? Why then should he make the opinions of us, the majority, such a crime, when he himself arrives, at the end of a four hours’ speech, at the conclusion that Confederation will be good or necessary at a time which is more or less near? In his manifesto against the scheme of Confederation he adheres so far to his previous opinions as to consider the scheme which is submitted to us as merely premature. There again, then, it was only a question of time, and in declaring himself to-day opposed to Confederation, he therefore changes his opinion as to the very basis of the question. I do not cast it up to him as a reproach; for, as I said but a minute ago, he who maintains that he has never changed, conveys but a poor opinion of his judgment and of his aptitude for public affairs. Events, in changing, absolutely compel men to change also. (Hear.)
A general was once boasting to the great Turenne that he had never committed an error of strategy. “He who boasts that he has never been mistaken,” returned Turenne, “proves thereby that he knows nothing of the art of war.” These words, which are full of wisdom, may be applied to the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion], who, by his persistence in maintaining that he has never contradicted himself nor been mistaken, proves that he is no statesman. (Hear, hear.; But, I say it again, it would have been better for him to lay aside personal questions. (Hear, hear.) On the 6th July, 1858, he said:—
Before long it will become impossible to resist the demand of Upper Canada. If representation based on population is not granted to her now, she will infallibly obtain it hereafter, but then without any guarantee for the protection of the French-Canadians.
But to-day he changes his opinion. Then he was willing to grant representation by population, or Confederation based on the same principle. It had to be conceded in order that we might not be carried away by the tempest. But today, according to his showing, the storm no longer threatens; the whole sky is calm and serene; public opinion in Upper Canada no longer threatens to break asunder the frail bands of the union, and changes are useless. Ah! and yet we have had as many as three ministerial crises in one year. (Hear, hear.)
He mistakes then; the difficulties have but increased, and it is better to-day to provide against the storm, than to be carried away by it at a later period. The greatest wisdom directs its efforts, not to cure the disease, but to prevent it; this truth is as applicable to politics as it is to medicine. (Hear, hear.) The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] talked to us of conflicts between the Federal Parliament and the local Houses, and of the sovereign power of the Central Government over the legislatures of the provinces. But what, then, is this sovereign power over the attributes of the provincial legislatures? If it exists it must be in the Constitution. If it is not to be found there, it is because it does not exist. He says that the Federal Legislature will always predominate; and why? Who then will decide between the one and the others?—the judicial tribunals being sworn to respect the laws and the Constitution in their entirety, and charged by the very nature of their functions to declare whether such a law of the Federal Parliament or of the local legislatures does or does not affect the Constitution. (Hear, hear.)
There will be no absolute sovereign power, each legislature having its distinct and independent attributes, not proceeding from one or the other by delegation, either from above or from below. The Federal Parliament will have legislative sovereign power in all questions, submitted to its control in the Constitution. So also the local legislatures will be sovereign in all matters which are specifically assigned to them. How is the question of a conflict now settled in the United States, when it arises between the legislation of Congress and that of individual states? I do not speak of the present time when nearly the whole of the territory of that great country is under military rule, and overrun in every direction by an army of 500,000 soldiers. I allude to what occurs in their normal condition. (Hear.)
The sovereign power is vested in the Federal Government with respect to all Federal matters, and in the states with respect to all matters connected with their special attributes. By […]
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[…] reading Storey, or rather the Constitution, the hon. member will ascertain that the states are not paramount with respect to questions of war and peace, the tariff, trade, treaties and all relations with foreign countries. Their authority is void so far as relates to those questions, and the sovereign power is vested exclusively in the Federal Government. If any conflict arises between the Federal Legislature and that of the states, it is decided by the judicial tribunals. I am not aware that any difficulty of this nature has ever arisen, and so far as relates to the legislative attributes of the states, that Federal legislation has ever predominated over local legislation. (Hear, hear.)
Why then should the case be otherwise so far as we are concerned? Is it because we are differently constituted, and because our nature is subservient to other laws? These are wretched arguments, and he has even been reduced to splitting hairs since ho has attended the school of the member for Brome [Christopher Dunkin], whose place he almost fills since he has been ill. (Laughter.)
The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] considered my first pamphlet much better written than my last, doubtless for the same reason that he considered my speeches of 1858 greatly superior to that which I delivered here the other day. He thinks now as I thought in 1858; he has therefore receded by six years. Alluding to my speech of the 2nd March, he appears to impute it to me as a crime, that I yielded to the influence of my relations with the delegates from the Maritime Provinces, and that under the action of that influence, I changed my opinions respecting Confederation. I admit the fact of that influence legitimately exercised. We lose nothing by coming in contact with intelligent men.
The members of this House, who last autumn visited those provinces, returned amazed at what they had seen. They were convinced that those provinces were possessed of great resources. Contact with the most eminent men of those countries could be productive of no evil, and the hon. member would have gained by it. Perhaps if he had experienced that contact, he would not to-day have recourse to the means which he is employing to cast discredit on the scheme of Confederation, and to cause it to be rejected. (Hear, hear.) Among those men there are some who are endowed with magnificent abilities, and at whose side I should be happy and proud to sit in a deliberative assembly. (Hear, hear.)
Yes, we were gainers by coming in contact with them, and I venture to believe that, on their parts, they were divested of many prejudices which they may possibly have entertained against us, just as we had some such against them. The hon. member quoted certain articles from the Journal de Québec of 1856 and 1858 to prove that I said that then the Government was the worst I had ever seen. Perhaps I was right at the time, but I could not say the same thing since it has been my lot to look upon the hon. member’s Government! (Hear, and laughter.)
If there was ever a tyrannical and dishonest Government, it was certainly that of 1863, and accordingly it succumbed before the attacks of all honest men. Except for some accident, such as that which occurred in 1862, who ventures to hope to see the hon. member return to power? (Hear, hear.)
He told us that it was not expedient to change the Constitution without first having recourse to an appeal to the people. But the first question to be decided is the constitutional question, and the question of expediency and convenience comes after. He talks to us without ceasing of consulting the electors. His doing so maybe easily understood; on the elections rest his only hopes. Always deceived in every election, he hopes, but hopes in vain, that the next will give him the victory. He ought to know, however, that our Constitution is constructed upon the model of the British Constitution, and that members do not and cannot receive an imperative order from their electors Each representative, although elected by one particular county, represents the whole country, and his legislative responsibility extends to the whole of it.
If, therefore, I am convinced that any legislative measure presented by the Government or by a member of this House, is of a nature to save Lower Canada, I must vote for that measure, even though my constituents are opposed to it. My electors might punish me afterwards, but they could not impose upon me duties which I consider to be entirely beyond their jurisdiction, and to relate to the very Constitution of the country. (Hear, hear.)
If there are any members who consider that the scheme of Confederation is a bad one and opposed to the interests of Lower Canada, even if the majority of our people think otherwise, it is their duty to oppose it on precisely the same principle. They may also, if they choose, demand an appeal to the people. But would they be justified in so doing, and ought this House […]
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[…] to demand it simply in order to compensate for that absence of opposition which gives incessant trouble to the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]? (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] spoke of public meetings held in certain counties in the district of Montreal; but those meetings are far from possessing the importance which he assigns to them. We all know how they can be got up everywhere, and what they amount to. However the case may be there, there have been none such in the district of Quebec, and even in the district of Three Rivers, against Confederation, and it cannot be said that the members who represent those districts, and who vote for this measure, are acting in opposition to the wishes of their constituents. Such meetings are only found to occur in the district of Montreal, where the party of the honorable member is most strongly represented; but an opinion may be formed as to those meetings from what is going on at Quebec at this moment. While the whole body of citizens are calling for the suspension of the present municipal council, some individuals interested in keeping it in authority are calling public meetings in the nooks and corners of the suburbs. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member made tremendous efforts to prove that the interests of our religion, our nationality and our institutions would be in a position of much greater safety in his hands than they would be in those of the majority. For my part, I am willing to leave to public opinion the care of deciding that question; and as he declares himself to hold that opinion in great respect, I must suppose that he will agree with me on this point. (Hear, hear.)
I would not assert that the honorable member is himself personally hostile to the religion and the institutions of Lower Canada; but I may say that all the tendencies of the party which he represents are adverse to those same institutions. (Hear, hear.)
There is sufficient proof of this in the writings and the acts of that party. As to my opinion respecting Confederation, I may repeat here what I have already said on a former occasion, and that is, that no one knew what that opinion was, how I should write, and on what side I should write, when I began my work. I kept silence that I might not be annoyed either by friends or by opponents, and in order that I might be able to judge of the question in the fulness of my liberty. (Hear.)
Mention has been made of the dangers of Confederation. I know that every question has its dangers, and it is probable that this one presents some such in the same way as all others do; but the greatest danger that we could incur would be the bringing on of a conflict between the Catholics and Protestants, by appeals like those which certain members on the left have made to the religious passions of our population. (Hear, hear.)
In what position should we find ourselves, we Catholics, if we provoked such a conflict? The 258,000 Catholics of Upper Canada are represented in this House by but two members, those for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] and Glengarry (Hon. J. S. and Mr. D. A. Macdonald), whilst the Protestants of Lower Canada are represented by fifteen or sixteen members; and in case of a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants, what would become of us? (Hear, hear.) From the justice, the wisdom and the liberality of our acts alone have we hitherto found our strength and our protection to proceed, and from them shall we again find them to proceed under Confederation. (Hear.)
The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] quoted a garbled portion of my first pamphlet, to give it a meaning which it does not convey; he then accuses me of having changed my opinion as to the Constitution of the Legislative Council. But I can tell him that I have never changed my opinion on that question; I have never been in favor of the elective principle being applied to the Legislative Council; and if in 1858 I prepared and introduced the law which changed the constitution of that body, it was only that I might gratify the universal opinion which desired an elective Legislative Council. But, the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] will reply, did you not write in 1858:—
The best possible condition under which Confederation could exist would be that in which the two chambers would be elective, and would both have population as the basis of their number; for no other system, excepting that of having but one chamber only, with the number of its members based on population, would give us absolutely one vote in three in the Federal Legislature.
Was the question then whether the elective principle was preferable to that of appointment? No; we were discussing a question of much greater importance, that of ascertaining in what condition of constitutional existence we should find the greatest protection, […]
- (p. 700)
[…] and having to select from two alternatives, numbers or the State, I preferred numbers, because it would have conferred upon us a larger share of representation and of influence. The words which follow, and which I will give, clearly prove my thought at that time:—
The Constitution of the United States, on which, perhaps, ours would be modeled, would not give to us Lower Canadians the same protection and the same guarantee of safety, as by it we should in reality enjoy a little protection only in the House of Representatives, in which we should be one to three.
Thus the protection would have been vested in the Legislative Council itself, if it had been created on the principle of the State and not of numbers. To shew that my mind was then filled with but one idea, that of obtaining the greatest share of influence in the Federal Legislature for Lower Canada, by any constitutional system whatever, I also wrote in the same pamphlet:—
Under the Federal principle, small and great provinces will carry equal weight in the single (general) legislature; the little island of Prince Edward as much as the twelve hundred and fifty thousand souls of Lower Canada.
Having no information to go upon, I then thought that the American system would be adopted, which gives in the Federal Senate to the little states of Rhode Island, Jersey, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut the same representation as it gives to the large states of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. But the scheme that we have before us proves that I was mistaken, as Prince Edward’s Island, instead of having as many representatives in the Legislative Council as we shall have, will only have one-sixth of the number. For the purpose of representation in the Legislative Council, the three Atlantic Provinces are grouped together, and are to be represented together by but twenty-four votes, just the same as Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
As the question was as to the establishment of equilibrium between the provinces, if the scheme of the Quebec Conference gives me the same result as an elective Legislative Council, what contradiction is there in my returning to the nominative principle, which I always preferred to the elective principle? The conditions of equilibrium being the same, I give the preference to the principle which confers on legislation the best guarantee of wisdom and mature judgment. (Hear, hear.)
But supposing—what is not the case—that I had contradicted myself, in what way could my contradictions have affected the merits of the question under discussion? If it can be proved that my opinions of to-day are not based on reasonable grounds, let it be proved. If it cannot be proved, do not let anyone imagine that he has answered me by saying: “You thought differently six years ago.” Because I reasoned in 1858 on hypotheses which are controverted by facts to-day, must I then, in order to appear consistent, adhere to those suppositions which substantive truths so completely contradict? (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] told us that the Constitution of the Belgian Senate is less conservative than that of the Legislative Council which we propose to establish under the Confederation, because the members of the Belgian Senate are in part changed every four years. To this I reply, that the conservative principle may be found elsewhere than in the manner of selecting the councillors or the senators, and that in Belgium it is found in the excessively high standard of qualification which is required of candidates for the Senate; so much so that only men of large fortune, who are everywhere few in number, can aspire to enter it. In Belgium the Constitution requires that there shall be one man qualified in every sis thousand souls of population, and that man must pay one thousand florins of direct taxes. Will it be said that the Belgian Senate, so constituted, is not more conservative than our Legislative Council will be—the Belgian Senate, in which none can sit but very rich men and large landed proprietors? (Hear, hear.)
I am answered that one-half this Senate is renewed every four years, and that the Crown may dissolve it at pleasure. But can the Crown prevent men of large fortune and large landed proprietors from entering it? It is proved that it is with difficulty that there can be found in the House of Lords any scions of the great families who flourished there under Charles II.; but that House is constantly recruited from among the territorial nobility and from among men who render great political or military services to the state. By renewing it thus with the same elements, does the Crown take away its conservative character? (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member stands in perpetual dread of conflicts and disagreements. Supposing that the House of Lords had persisted in its opposition to […]
- (p. 701)
[…] the Reform Bill in 1832, what would have happened if William IV. had refused to overwhelm it by numerous nominations to the peerage? Does anyone believe that it would have persisted to the last? No; after having long resisted, it would have bent before the storm which threatened to sweep it away. (Hear, hear.)
In 1832 the struggle was between the great proprietors and the middle classes, who wished to make their way; for the English people, properly termed the populace, have no political privileges; they are of no account in the Constitution, they hold no political position, and have no energy for the struggle, which, moreover, would not be productive of any benefit to them. It resembles in no respect the populations of the great towns in France, which make and unmake governments by insurrections or revolutions. In England it is the middle classes who make revolutions or who threaten to make them. Growing richer daily, they advance slowly but surely towards the securing of political privileges and immunities. The Radical school of Manchester at bottom wishes for nothing more, although it asserts that it is desirous of obtaining privileges for the people.
If the great nobility, in 1832, offered such determined opposition to the Reform Bill, it was because they feared that it would annihilate their influence and place them at the mercy of the will of the masses. But we have no caste here, and fortune, like political honors, is the property of every man who labors to attain it. Here every one, if he chooses, can almost without an effort become a proprietor and possess the right of having a deliberative voice in the discussion of national questions of the highest importance.
To be a legislative councillor it will be sufficient to possess real estate of the value of four thousand dollars. The legislative councillors will form part of the people, will live with the people and by their opinions, and will know and appreciate their wants; the only difference that there will be between them and the members of the House of Commons will be, that being appointed for life, they will not be as directly brought under external influence; that they will have more freedom of action and of thought, and that they will be able to judge with greater calmness of the legislation which will be submitted to them.
For what reason then would they provoke contests which would neither be conducive to their interests nor in accordance with their feelings; they will not, like the House of Lords, have privileges to save from destruction. In the Constitution they will have but one part to play, that of maturing legislation in the interests of the people. The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] said in his last manifesto, and repeated here, that if we applied to England to amend our Constitution, we should expose ourselves to having alterations, for which we do not ask, made by some mischievous hand.
The thing is possible I admit. It is possible, as it is also possible for the Imperial Parliament to change our Constitution without even waiting for us to take the initiative, as it did in 1840, but if there is any harm now in asking Great Britain for the Confederation of all the provinces, because she may subject us to something which is not contained in the scheme, why did the member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] wish for constitutional changes in 1858? Did he hope to change the Constitutional Act of 1840 without the concurrence of the Imperial Parliament? And will he be good enough to tell us by what supernatural proceeding he hoped to succeed in doing so? If there is danger in 1865, there must also have been danger in 1858. Why then should he, to day, impute to others as a crime that which he wished to do himself then? Has he forgotten all that? Does he wish to deny it? Differing slightly from the Bourbons, he has learned nothing and has forgotten everything. (Hear, and laughter.)
To frighten us, he also spoke of direct taxation, to which we should have to submit, if we had Confederation. Now, in his constitutional scheme of 1858, with which we are all acquainted, he gave to the Federal Government the customs revenue. We should, therefore, have had to have recourse to direct taxation to meet the expenditure of the local governments. The plan of Constitution which is submitted to us treats us better than that, for it gives us enough, and more than we require, to ensure the easy working of the local organizations.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Hear! hear!
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Yes, hear! hear! just so!
Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—The hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], who cries “Hear, hear,” ought to be satisfied if he thinks himself in the right; for when he was Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] he told us that in order to fill up the deficit left by his predecessors, he must necessarily have recourse to direct taxation. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] has long wept over the misfortunes […]
- (p. 702)
[…] of his country. He has long lamented, like Jeremiah, over the thought of the disasters which were overwhelming it. And at last, in 1858, enlightened by the intelligence of his luminous friend the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], he thought he had discovered in direct taxation the remedy for the evils which were bringing it to its grave. (Hear, hear.) But to-day he rejects a scheme which may save the country without its being necessary to have recourse to this extreme and objectionable remedy. (Hear, hear.)
If the scheme becomes law, not only shall we have a sufficient revenue to meet our local expenditure, but we shall also have a surplus with which, if we practise wise economy, to pay off by degrees the residue of the debt which will remain to us. The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] tells us that Lower Canada will be burthened with a local debt of more than $4,500,000; but we have clear and palpable proof that the debt of Canada, deducting the part of the Sinking Fund which has been paid, amounts to only $67,500,000. Now our share of the Federal debt is established at $62,500,000. There will consequently remain less than $5,000,000 to be divided between the two Canadas, and all the arguments of the hon. member will not change so incontestable a fact as this. (Hear, hear.)
We do not get these figures from the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt]. They are given to us by a man who is perfectly independent of all Ministers and of all parties—a man whom I myself formerly reproached with being too much so; I allude to Mr. Langton, the Auditor of Accounts. (Hear, hear.) We do not yet know, it is true, how this debt of four millions and some hundred thousand dollars will be divided between the two Canadas, but we do know, without any possibility of doubt, that the local revenues will belong to the local governments, and that they will amply suffice for all their requirements. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] complains that Upper Canada retains her public lands and what is owing to Government on those lands, and he maintains that Lower Canada ought to have her share of what those lands produce. But did those lands belong to us before the union, and have we not our own public lands, together with the revenue accruing from them? Have we not more lands to settle than Upper Canada? Since the discovery of our gold and copper mines the amount produced by the sale of our public lands has increased fivefold, whilst Upper Canada has hardly any land left to sell. Let our minds be opened, and we shall find that we have no reason to envy Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.)
Everything is well adjusted; for if we have a less considerable revenue than Upper Canada, our population is also less numerous Upper Canada possesses a more considerable revenue, but one which must diminish with the decrease of the quantity of land to be sold, whilst we have a revenue which is gradually increasing. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member would no doubt hand over the public lands to the Confederation so as to be in accordance with his plan of 1859, as set forth in the Montreal manifesto; but I am certain that Lower Canada does not share his opinion. He talked to us also of marriage and divorce. He said: “Now, you will not vote directly for divorce, but you vote to establish divorce courts.” Well! no one condemns divorce more than I do myself, and I am convinced that the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] would accept it sooner than I would. But if no mention was made of divorce in the Constitution, if it was not assigned to the Federal Parliament, it would of necessity belong to the local parliaments as it belongs to our Legislature now, although there is not one word respecting it in the Union Act. For my part, I would rather see that power removed to a distance from us, since it must exist somewhere in spite of us. (Hear, hear.)
These reasonings on the question of marriage are extraordinary to a degree, coming from a man holding a position at the bar. They are so extraordinary, and so inconsistent with all logic and all law, that I shall not take the trouble of controverting them. The explanations of the Government hive satisfied me on that point. The legislative power of the Federal Parliament in relation to marriage will only be that which is conferred by the Constitution, notwithstanding the singular assertions of the honorable member. (Hear, hear, and cheers.)
On motion of Thomas Parker [Wellington North], the debate was then adjourned.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 The Nova Scotian. Unconfirmed reference.
 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.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Essay on Ranke’s The Ecclesiastical and Political History of the Popes of Rome…which appeared in The Edinburgh Review in October of 1840. Republished in Critical, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays by Lord Macaulay (New York: 1860).
 Joly’s speech to the Legislative Assembly on 20 February 1865, pp. 357-358. Mackenzie’s summary doesn’t match the speech in any way.
 Mirror of Parliament. Unconfirmed reference.
 Ibid., p. 10.
 Ibid., p. 16.
 Ibid., pp. 20-21.
 Ibid., pp. 28-29.
 Mirror of Parliament (3 May 1860). Unconfirmed reference.
 “Provincial Parliament”, The Quebec Morning Chronicle (4 May 1860). He mistook the dates.
 Ibid., p. 15.
 Ibid., p. 11.