Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (16 February 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 225-245.
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THURSDAY, February 16, 1865.
Hon. Mr. Moore said—Honorable gentlemen, it is with a great degree of diffidence that I rise to address this House, after the very able speeches that have been made on both sides of this question, but I shall endeavor, honorable gentlemen, as briefly as […]
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[…] possible—for I do not feel able to address you at any length—to speak in that moderate tone in which I conceive the question before us ought to be dealt with. In the discussion of so important a question as the change of the Constitution of the country, the laying aside of the old Constitution and the adoption of a new and very different one, we all ought to endeavor to find common ground of agreement. It is important that no party, or at least no sectional interest among political parties, should betray itself in the discussion of so important a subject. I shall now endeavor to take a brief view of the scheme, as it is presented, and endeavor to give an exposition of the views which I entertain with regard to this matter. (Hear, hear.)
It appears to me, in the first place, that the origin of this scheme was not what it ought to have been. It did not emanate from the people, but from the fact that certain political difficulties existed in Canada, in consequence of the political parties being so equally divided that it was found impracticable to get on with the government of this province. The scheme emanated from the Government of this country in consequence of those political difficulties, and had not its origin with any movement among the masses of the people.
It is very well known that at the last general election, in 1863, this was not among the questions that were brought before the country. It was not one of those questions that the people were called upon to decide in returning members to represent them in the Legislature. It is very true that the scheme of a Federal union of all the provinces has been spoken of for a quarter of a century by eminent men of all shades of politics. We may refer to the convention that was held at Kingston, at which the British American League was formed. That convention was convened by the Conservative party of Upper Canada. Subsequently, the great meeting—if I may use that expression—that was convened in the city of Toronto, referred to the same question. But I go back and appeal to the fact that at the last general election, it was not one of those questions that were referred to the arbitrament of the people to decide by their votes as to the desirability of union.
I think every honorable gentleman will agree with me that this was the fact. Now, honorable gentlemen, I desire to speak in a temperate tone and manner in regard to this scheme. I believe the gentlemen that now constitute the Government of Canada, as well as the gentlemen who constitute the different governments of the Lower Provinces, are all able men, and I believe they are all honest and practical men, and it was by and through the instrumentality of honorable gentlemen constituting the Government of Canada in connection with the governments of the Maritime Provinces that this scheme, if it had not its origin, at least was by them put before the people of this country in the shape in which it now presents itself in these resolutions. I therefore observe that this is a measure emanating from the minds of the foremost men in Canada, and probably the foremost men on the continent of America. Still, it is not a measure that has emanated from the people, and I would ask you all, honorable gentlemen, in reference to the change of a country’s Constitution, if history does not bear me out in asserting that all such changes are preceded by a rising of the people in favor of the change.
The people, feeling oppressed by the existing state of things, rise in their majesty and put an end to its continuance, and demand a new Constitution. But in regard to a change effected in the manner in which this is proposed, by the united wisdom of the several governments, without any convulsion, I hold that under those circumstances the people of the whole country to be affected by the change ought to have an opportunity of considering the great change. It is not sufficient in my mind that a few of the leading spirits of the land should be able to control and bring about so great a change without the initiatory steps being taken on the part of the people. Now, honorable gentlemen, I would refer to the representation in the first conference—the conference in which the initiatory steps were taken—at Charlottetown.
All honorable gentlemen are aware that the governments of the several Maritime Provinces had decreed by resolutions passed during former sessions of their several parliaments, that they were to send delegates to meet at Charlottetown, for the purpose of uniting their several governments under one government; in other words, to consolidate their governments into what would be termed a legislative union. We could all understand from the position of those several local governments that it was a matter of very great importance that they should unite their governments under one to obviate the necessity of having different rates of duty; and in fact their interests were so blended that we can understand that union was of very great importance to them. The Government of Canada met the delegates at Charlottetown, and […]
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[…] by the representations that were made to the representatives of the Lower Provinces, they abandoned their project of meeting together for the purpose of consolidating their governments, and took up the larger question of a Federal union of all the provinces. I believe, honorable gentlemen, that if the inducements held out to the delegates convened at Charlottetown to abandon their first scheme were fully known, it would be found that chief among them was the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. It strikes me very forcibly from all that I heard in the Lower Provinces during a recent tour, that if there was one thing more than another to which the people gave prominence, it was the Intercolonial Railway. Now, with reference to this subject, the plan previously adopted was, that Canada was to furnish five-twelfths of the money, and the Maritime Provinces seven twelfths. It appears by the resolutions laid on the table of this House, that if the Confederation scheme is carried out, the Intercolonial Railway is to be built.
I admit it is a matter of necessity that it should be built in that case. There is no doubt about it. We cannot have union without it. But the fact does exist, that instead of Canada contributing five-twelfths of the cost of construction, it will be called upon to contribute about ten-twelfths. (Hear, hear.) I merely mention the fact to show that it appears to me that some strong inducement must have been held out to the delegates from the Lower Provinces to enter into this great scheme, when we find, as it is very well known, that the Intercolonial Railway has been one of those objects that has been first and foremost in the minds of the people of almost all the Lower Provinces. It would open up for them a vast section of new country, and the benefits to be derived would certainly be paramount to them above anything Canada could derive from its construction. It is therefore evident to my mind that this inducement has been held out in order to induce those provinces to come into the proposed union. Again, with regard to representation in the Conference—I refer now to the Conference at Quebec—there were twenty-one honorable gentlemen constituting the delegation from the Lower Provinces. Am I correct?
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—I believe that is correct.
Hon. Mr. Moore—There were twelve delegates from the Province of Canada. We were told by my honorable friend the Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] that they did not vote by numbers but by provinces. Well, in voting by provinces, I think there was nothing to be gained, so far as the advocacy of certain measures in the interests of the Province of Canada was concerned in this Convention. For if they voted by provinces, the little Island of Prince Edward, and Newfoundland, would equal the votes of the Province of Canada. Now, honorable gentlemen, when we consider the position of Canada, our resources, and the amount that this province will bring into the common treasury, it does appear to me that Canada was not equitably represented in the Convention. I would not for one moment attribute to the delegates from Canada neglect of their duty in any particular, but when there became a necessity that certain arrangements were to be made with the Lower Provinces, then I can understand that if they were more favorable to the Lower Provinces than to Canada, the vote would preponderate in favor of the former. There is another point, honorable gentlemen, to which I would like to draw your attention, namely, the increase of the expense of government under the new arrangement. It does appear to me, that if the scheme is adopted, it will necessarily increase the burdens of the people, and, I believe that we will be obliged to resort to direct taxation to sustain the local governments. It appears to me impossible to have so many local governments, and, also, a General Government, without greatly adding to the expense.
There is yet another point on which I feel more deeply than on any of the preceding. It places Lower Canada in a false position. The Anglo-Saxon race of Lower Canada is nearly one-fourth of the population, and in the Local Government they will be completely under the control of the people of French origin; not that I believe but that the latter would endeavor to give all their just due, but still it does appear to me that it places the people of Anglo-Saxon origin in a false position. Then the French population in the Federal Government is placed in a false position, for there they will be in a very small minority—in the same position, relatively, as the Anglo-Saxon race in the Local Government. The honorable gentleman who addressed the House so very ably and eloquently last evening—the honorable member for Erie [Hon. Mr. Christie]—said he preferred taking the scheme as it was rather than risk any alteration. It has also been said by honorable gentlemen of the Government, that they could not permit any alteration, or suggestion of amendment, to be made in the resolutions now before the House. […]
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[…] But it does appear to me, honorable gentlemen, that inasmuch as there are five different legislatures to take those resolutions into consideration, if any one branch of either of those legislatures should be able to suggest any improvements, and the resolutions should be changed before their adoption by that branch, such a step would not defeat the whole scheme. It would be only offering so many suggestions on the part of the representatives of the people. Of course any alterations suggested in this manner, would go before the Imperial Parliament as a basis upon which to construct an Act of Union. It would afford the Imperial Parliament an opportunity of knowing the people’s sentiments, and would not in any way really interfere with the proposed union being carried out. Therefore I think that any amendment that may be made in this branch of the Legislature, or in the other branch, or in either of the branches of the legislatures of the Maritime Provinces, would only go before the Imperial Parliament as so many suggestions that might very properly be considered by the Imperial authorities in dealing with so very important a subject. Now, admitting, as I do admit, that the gentlemen who constituted the delegation from Canada in the Convention, were the first men of our land—I believe men of patriotism, and who desired to do only that which was for the best interests of the country—still they are not infallible.
They may have made mistakes, and may have omitted some things that, even if they were again to go into conference after six months had elapsed, might be placed in the resolutions that would very much improve them. My honorable friend from Peel [Hon. J.H. Cameron] has stated that although he approved of most of the resolutions, he desired to see amendments made, but inasmuch as he saw their introduction by this House would be fatal to the whole measure, he would take the whole as it stood. I disagree with that honorable gentleman, and with the position taken by the honorable gentlemen representing the Government in this House. I think it is a mistake, and it is insulting to both the House and the country to suppose that, because a certain number of men met together and deliberated for fifteen or eighteen days, there should be no improvement made upon the result of their deliberations.
Now, honorable gentlemen, I am one of those who, if I can be convinced that a Federal union is going to promote the stability or welfare of Canada, will go with it most heartily, but I do think it becomes necessary not to make out altogether an ex parte, case, because I think the resolutions that were passed by the delegates, though sent out to the country, ought to be accompanied by the other side of the question, which has not been fairly heard. There is still another matter to which I wish to refer, and in doing so I might remark that I am aware that this is looking at the darkest side of the picture, I think that the engrafting of this system of government upon the British Constitution has a tendency to at least introduce the republican system. It is republican so far as it goes, and that is another reason why I do not approve of it. If we commence to adopt the republican system, we shall perhaps get the idea of continuing the system until we go too far. It is also said that we are to have a new nationality. I do not understand that term, honorable gentlemen. If we were going to have an independent sovereignty in this country, then I could understand it. I believe honorable gentlemen will agree with me, that after this scheme is fully carried into operation, we shall still be colonies.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—Of course.
Hon. Mr. Moore—Now, that being the case, I think our Local Government will be placed in a lower position than in the Government we have now. Every measure resolved upon in the Local Government will be subject to the veto of the Federal Government—that is, any measure or bill passing the Local Legislature may be disallowed within one year by the Federal Government.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—That is the case at present as between Canada and the Imperial Government.
Hon. Mr. Moore—I beg to differ slightly with the honorable gentleman. Any measure passed by this province may be disallowed within two years thereafter by the Imperial Government. But the local governments, under Confederation, are to be subjected to having their measures vetoed within one year by the Federal Government, and then the Imperial Government has the privilege of vetoing anything the Federal Government may do, within two years. The veto power thus placed in the hands of the Federal Government, if exercised frequently, would be almost certain to cause difficulty between the local and general governments. I observe that my honorable friend, Sir Etienne P. Taché, does not approbate that remark.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—You understand me correctly.
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Hon. Mr. Moore—It will be conceded that the question of the veto power was very ably discussed, at one time, in the United States Congress, and that discussion led to a qualification of the veto power in the Constitution of the United States, so that now any bill passed by both Houses may be vetoed by the President within ten days thereafter, by assigning reasons for doing so. Both Houses may then, however, again take up the measure, and if they pass it by a two-third vote, it becomes the law of the land, independent of the President’s will. Now, I would have the veto power applied in a similar way in our new Constitution. Exercising it in an arbitrary manner, as the Federal power is privileged to do, it must, from the very nature of things, create dissatisfaction and difficulty between the two governments.
Again, honorable gentlemen, it is said that by this union we are to strengthen our defensive capacity. I really cannot see the force of this argument, unless it were possible that in uniting with the Lower Provinces their population was to be brought nearer to us. If nature were to make the necessary effort and move their territory up alongside of us, and thus make a compact mass of people, I would at once agree that it would strengthen us in a military point of view. But the fact is, the union will give an extension of territory far greater in proportion to the numbers of the population than now exists in Canada. From that circumstance, I argue that it will weaken instead of strengthen us. (Hear, hear.)
Unfortunately, if a war should take place between the United States and Great Britain, the Lower Provinces have a thousand miles of sea coast open to attack, and I apprehend they would be very jealous about having their militiamen sent to Canada for our defence from border incursions. And it would be very natural for them to desire that all their own force should be kept at home for their protection; and the same with regard to Canada. If a considerable portion of the militia of Canada were ordered to proceed to the Lower Provinces, it would most certainly weaken and cause great dissatisfaction in Canada. But, setting that aside, does it increase our numbers and our means of defence? Have we not the same territory exposed? We shall have no additional men by the union for the defence of Canada. Perhaps, after the union takes place, emigration will flow into the country, but I do not know that there would be any very great inducement, after a union, above the inducements that now exist.
It appears to me that that question and fact would remain in very much the same state as at present. Honorable gentlemen, in conclusion, I would say that I have thus endeavored to point out some of the objections to the scheme as presented that have occurred to me. We have all a common interest in this matter. (Hear, hear.) I think that no political or party feeling should have any bearing upon its consideration, and if, after a free and full discussion of its merits and demerits, and the people and the members of Parliament come to fully understand the question, it is found that it is going to be an advantage to the country, I will certainly give it my cheerful support. But I do wish to have some things respecting it made more clear to my comprehension than they are at present, and it is for these reasons that I have taken up the time of the House in making these few remarks. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. McMaster said—The resolutions before the House have been so ably discussed in nearly all their different bearings, that it appears to me that but little can be advanced on either side in addition to what has been already said. I shall therefore only occupy the time of the House for a very few moments in explaining my reasons for the vote I intend to give on the amendment of the honorable member for Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn]. When the Confederation of the provinces was first proposed, I, although favorable to the principle of the scheme, entertained grave doubts as to whether, if carried, it would be of any real benefit to that section of the country in which I am more immediately interested. Much, however, depended upon the details, and after giving them a good deal of consideration, I have been unable to come to the conclusion that the scheme, as a whole, will be a remedy for all the evils complained of by the people of Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.)
The appropriations to be made annually to the local legislatures out of the general revenue I regard as being most objectionable. (Hear, hear.) This, I believe will go far to neutralize some of the advantages which would have resulted from the scheme had the governments of the different provinces been obliged to provide for all expenditure of a strictly local character. The building of the Intercolonial Railway must also be regarded as a very questionable part of the project; indeed to my mind it is the most objectionable of the whole. (Hear, hear.) We are told by honorable gentlemen that the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty renders this road an indispensable necessity in order to […]
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[…] secure an independent outlet to the sea-board; but, if this view of the ease be correct, why do not our merchants and millers forward their produce during the winter months to New York, Boston or Portland, by our or any of the other different railway lines which have long been open to these points? The reason is obvious. The freight by railway is so expensive that they find it to be for their advantage to pay interest, storage and insurance on their wheat and flour until the opening of the navigation. And if they do not now avail themselves of the shipping ports referred to, neither of which are more than six hundred miles from Toronto, will they send their produce double that distance over the Intercolonial road to Halifax? Most assuredly not. (Hear, hear.)
If the Reciprocity Treaty even should be abrogated, the great bulk of our produce in the west will then, as now, continue to be stored at the different places of shipment along our canals and lakes until the opening of navigation, so that whatever may be said in favor of the Intercolonial road in a military point of view, or however it may be urged as a necessity in order to furnish easy and convenient intercourse between the provinces in the event of their being united, I hold that as a commercial speculation it will prove an entire failure, which must necessarily add greatly to our already large unproductive investments. (Hear.) And how the honorable gentleman from Toronto (Hon. Mr. Ross) could say as he did the other day, that Upper Canada alone had better build the Intercolonial Railway than be without it, is what I cannot comprehend.
Hon. Mr. Ross—I say so again.
Hon. Mr. McMaster—Well, if the honorable gentleman would resign his seat and present himself to any constituency west of Kingston, giving the views he has enunciated about this railroad a prominent place in his address to the electors, I fear this House would be deprived of his valuable services. (Laughter.) The change proposed in the constitution of the Legislative Council, by which the nominative is to be substituted for the elective system, I cannot but regard as a retrograde movement; and were the resolutions providing change, and authorizing the building of the Intercolonial Railway, and the annual subsidy to the different local legislatures, submitted separately, and under ordinary circumstances, I should, if Standing alone in the House, feel it to be my duty to record my vote against them; but when viewed as part of a general scheme, embracing other provisions, which may have an important bearing upon the future interests, the peace and prosperity of the province, I feel bound to consider the resolutions in that spirit of compromise which is absolutely necessary in framing any measure or constitution that will be at all likely to remedy our sectional difficulties. (Hear, hear.) I need hardly remind honorable gentlemen that nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the state of our public affairs for a long time past.
The Legislature has been called together year after year, and the usual sessional expenditure incurred—which is always very large—but the sectional majorities arrayed against each other in the other Chamber, rendered useful legislation almost, if not altogether, impossible. Whatever government was in power lived, as it were, by the day, and being engaged in a constant struggle for existence, the very natural desire to obtain increased strength frequently led to the distribution of patronage and the expenditure of public money in a way that could not be justified. All admit we cannot go along as we have been doing, and that some change is necessary; and in the absence of anything better being submitted, I feel inclined to give the scheme proposed a trial, believing that there are reasonable grounds to hope that the Constitution which is to be based on the resolutions before the House will, at least to some extent, remedy those sectional difficulties which have operated so much to the prejudice of the country. (Hear, hear.)
It will secure to the people of Upper Canada the entire control of their local affairs, which I regard as being of the utmost importance. It will put an end to the system of duplicating in one section of the province large amounts of money granted to the other for colonization roads and other local objects, on which vast sums have been squandered. It will secure to the people of Upper Canada representation by population in that branch of the Federal Legislature which controls the purse-strings. It will also give to them all the unsold Crown lands in the western section of the province. And I trust the promises made with reference to the widening and deepening of our canals, and the opening up of the North-West Territory will be carried out in good faith. (Hear, hear.) Indeed no Government can afford to treat with entire neglect works of so much importance to Upper Canada, and at the same time incur the large expenditure required for the Intercolonial Railroad. (Hear, hear.) When I look at these advantages, and think of the critical […]
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[…] position in which the province is now placed, and the serious consequences that might possibly follow, should the Confederation scheme be rejected, I shrink from the responsibility of becoming a party to any amendment which may have the effect of defeating the measure. (Hear, hear.) Holding these views, and looking upon the resolutions of the Quebec Conference in the light of a treaty entered into by five provinces, which must be either approved as a whole or rejected, I feel that in giving them my support, I am, all things considered, acting in the interest of the province generally, and doing what is best for my constituents. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Simpson said—I think it was said by a wise man that there is nothing new under the sun. But had Solomon the scheme now before the House presented to him, he would probably have changed his opinion. Possibly nothing new can be said on the subject of representation by population, or even on the scheme now before the House; but representing, as I do, one of the largest and wealthiest constituencies in Upper Canada, I think it necessary for me to give my reasons for the position I have felt it my duty to take in reference thereto. It has been stated that the elections which have lately taken place have gone in favor of the Government; but, even if such were the case, how could it possibly be otherwise, seeing that men of all shades of polities have united in forming a happy family.
We have seen those who have been for almost a lifetime antagonistic to each other opening their arms, as was so well and eloquently depicted the other evening by the honorable member from Montreal (Hon. Mr. Ferrier), and embracing each other; and we have been led to imagine that the millennium, so long predicted and anxiously looked for, has, so far as Canada is concerned at all events, at length arrived. (Laughter.) We are to have no more discord and no more strife, but are henceforth to live in harmony the one with the other. It has been asserted that in regard to myself I owe my return without opposition to the fact that I avowed myself in favor of the Confederation of the provinces on the basis submitted. This is not correct. I held no meetings—I made no speeches—and in no instance was I asked what were my views in regard to the scheme; and, if honorable gentlemen will permit me, I will read a portion of my short address to the electors. It is as follows:—
You will reasonably expect me to give my views on the important constitutional changes that are now contemplated. No one at all acquainted with the effects produced upon our legislation and on the general prosperity of the country, by the unhappy sectional difficulties existing between Upper and Lower Canada, but must have felt that some remedy should be found for those evils. Whether the very able gentlemen who have so strangely united to solve and remove these difficulties will be able to accomplish their praiseworthy task, time alone can tell. We need the details before being able to pronounce an opinion; but heartily (and I hope in common with every well-wisher of their country) I most earnestly pray that they may succeed.
It will be seen that here I simply state that the gentlemen who had so strangely come together would be entitled to the thanks of the country if they were able to agree upon a scheme which would solve the admitted difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada. But as I have read from my address, so I still maintain that, before we can be expected to express an intelligent opinion, we ought not simply to have half a scheme, but the details of the scheme in its entirety. If we refer to the election in North Ontario, where the Honorable Provincial Secretary [Hon. Mr. McDougall] had been the representative, and who returned for re-election after accepting office in the present Government, we find that he was defeated by a gentleman (Mr. M.C. Cameron) who is known to be an opponent to the project. And if we take the more recent election which occurred in South Ontario, we find the contest between two gentlemen, both personal friends of my own, and both of whom were favorable to the principle, but who pledged themselves that before it became an accomplished fact, it should, so far as their vote would extend, be submitted for the approval of the people. And I would be greatly deceived if the gentleman who has now the honor to represent that riding in the other branch of the Legislature (Mr. Gibbs) shall be found supporting the scheme unless that course be first taken. We need the details before it is possible that we can pronounce upon the scheme and consider it on its merits.
Hon. Mr. Ross—You have the details.
Hon. Mr. Simpson—The details are unfortunately the very things that are wanting—they are the marrow of the whole affair. (Hear, hear.) When the agitation for representation by population was first started in Upper Canada, I stated that I had no confidence in it as a cure for the evils […]
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[…] we complained of, and I then, and have ever since, felt that it would be better for the two provinces to separate than to create sectional jealousies and strife by the demand for an increased representation, and the religious cries associated with it. For my part, I have never, like some honorable gentlemen of this House, attended and presided over that kind of political organizations known as conventions, not believing these to be the proper means of redressing the grievances under which the country labored. The effect of those conventions was to add fuel to the agitation which was already sundering the country. That such should be the result I deeply regret, inasmuch as some of the dearest friends I have in the world are not only Lower Canadians, but adherents of a different faith. The fruit of this sectional hostility and discord we now see in the demand which has sprung up for Federation with all its concomitant burdens.
I can lay no blame to my conscience for having assisted to bring about so unnatural a state of things, and whatever may be the consequences of the new condition of political existence towards which we are apparently drifting, my skirts, I rejoice to say, are clear, for I have had no hand or part in it. We are told that if this scheme is carried out, Upper Canada will be entitled to the great advantage of having in the House of Commons of the Federal Government 17 additional members. But what real advantage is this to be to the country? Do we desire 17 additional members for the purpose of crushing Lower Canada—is that what is meant if I answer, no. But even supposing we have 17 additional members—supposing representation by population is conceded in the new order of things—what will be the gain to Upper Canada? Will these 17 new members cure the evils of which we complain? Will they be able to reduce the excessive expenditures under which we are now laboring, and which have been one of the causes of the agitation for constitutional changes? I do not believe a word of it. Supposing Upper Canada has a larger representation by that number than Lower Canada, you must remember that Lower Canada, with the eastern provinces, is entitled to 112 members; so that Upper Canada would still be in a large minority of the whole House.
My honorable friend the member for Niagara (Hon. Mr. Currie) has brought before the House a number of valuable statistics bearing on this question, and I must say I deeply regret that the members of the Government sitting in this Chamber have not attempted to refute them. If these figures were wrong, they were easily susceptible of being so proved, especially by so able a gentleman as the Honorable Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell]. But he has not attempted the task, inasmuch as he knows it would be a hopeless one. I hold in my hands a statement furnished by the Auditor General to the Minister of Finance [Hon. Mr. Galt], from which it appears that our debt amounts to $75,578,000, and deducting sinking fund and bankers’ balances, $7,132,000, leaves a balance of $68,446,000 as the actual debt of Canada, to be borne by the people of this province under any scheme that can be concocted. If we assume that the cost of the International Railway will be $20,000,000—and from the experience afforded by the Grand Trunk there is too much reason to fear it will be double that amount—the proportion which Upper Canada would have to bear would be $15,000,000, and this added to the already existing debt, would make our direct debt $83,446,000. This increase in our debt will be one of the fruits of Confederation.
But it may be said that the road will yield a revenue, though every member of the House who knows anything of railway statistics, and the character of the country to be traversed by the Intercolonial Railway, must know that this is impossible. My honorable friend from Toronto (Hon. Mr. Ross) when he issued his flaming prospectus to the capitalists of England fondly hoped that the Grand Trunk would pay 11 1/4 per cent, on the investment. But we know how these expectations have been disappointed by the actual result, and so far from there being grounds to hope that the Intercolonial Railway will occupy a better position, there is too much reason to fear that it will be still worse. Why, the cost of its maintenance could hardly be less than $500,000 per annum beyond all its receipts. How then could such a work be considered to be of benefit to the country?
Hon. Mr. Ross—In the same way as the canals—by cheapening the cost of transportation.
Hon. Mr. Simpson—This is impossible. It costs two cents per ton per mile to move freight by rail, and as the distance from Toronto to Halifax is 1168 miles, it would cost $2.23 per barrel to move flour from Toronto […]
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[…] to that port; while a barrel of flour can now be sent via the St. Lawrence at 50 cents or under, and via New York at 53 cents. Taking another view of the scheme, in its financial aspect, we find that Canada now contributes, in all firms, to the support of the General Government, over $10,000,000 per annum. No one will say that we shall be called upon to contribute less under Confederation. And if we add to this sum the interest, at five per cent., on the additional debt of $15,000,000 created by the proposed railway and the expense of two local governments, assuming them to cost $1,000,000 each, which is below the mark, with $1,000,000 to be expended annually on the militia, as well as our share of maintaining and running the railway, we will find that the people of the two Canadas will be called upon to contribute $14,200,000 annually, instead of the $10,000,000, as at present. And I would ask honorable gentlemen if the country is in a position to bear this additional burden? (Hear, hear.) Really, looking at the question of expense, I am not sure whether I would not be in favor of returning to the primitive system of administering the affairs of the country—in preference to having this scheme—by a Governor in Council. (Laughter.) For there is no question that our annual expenditure will be, under Confederation, at least many millions more than at present, with the cost added thereto of maintaining and running the Intercolonial Railway—a work which can never pay.
Hon. Mr. Ferrier—It was predicted when it was proposed to build the Rivière du Loup section of the Grand Trunk that it would never pay, but the fact is that for the last two years it has not only paid expenses, but has given a profit.
Hon. Mr. Simpson—I should not contradict the honorable gentleman, because he knows more about Grand Trunk matters than I do, or most other people; but my late respected friend, Mr. Freer, who was the lessee of that section during two or three years, told me that, while receiving a subsidy of $18,000 per annum for running it, with the free use of four engines, and with a suitable equipment of rolling stock, it would have ruined him had he continued to work the line even on those apparently favorable terms.
Hon. Mr. Ferrier—It is perhaps useless for me to say anything more, as the honorable gentleman will not believe what I say (Hon. Mr. Simpson—Hear, hear)—but all I can state is, that a premium was offered for the lease of the line, but the company determined to take possession of it.
Hon. Mr. Simpson—But the real question is, what was the cost of original construction, the interest on that amount, and the cost of maintenance? Take these charges into account, and it would require a pretty large rental to cover them, much larger, I think, than any responsible person would offer for a lease of the line. As to the Intercolonial Railway, we have no information from the government respecting the route to be followed or the length or cost of the road; but from figures I have been able to obtain, the following may be taken to be nearly correct:—
|Miles built.||To be built.|
|From||Halifax to Truro||65||..|
|”||Truro to Shediac||..||90|
|“||Shediac to St. John||108||..|
|“||St. John to St. Andrews (under contract)||..||75|
|“||St. Andrews to Woodstock||50||..|
|“||Woodstock to Rivière du Loup||..||160|
The total length of road from Rivière du Loup is 548 miles; add from Rivière du Loup to Quebec, 120 miles; Quebec to Montreal, 170 miles; Montreal to Toronto, about 330 miles; so that we have a total of 1,168 miles over which it is gravely proposed to send flour and other heavy produce during the winter months. (Hear, hear.) As has been already stated, before a barrel of flour could reach Halifax from Toronto, it would be nearly eaten up in expenses. [An honorable member—There would be nothing left but the hoops. (Laughter).] It has been urged that under Confederation an active trade would spring up between Canada and the Maritime Provinces. A trade in what? What have we to send them excepting flour and the coarser grains? The former, as has been shown, cannot be sent, and the latter they do not require. The principal articles of export from the Lower Provinces are fish, timber and ships. We can take a moderate quantity of fish; but our forests supply us with an abundance of timber, and the ship yards of Quebec turn out some of the finest sailing ships in the world. The true markets for the principal staples of export for these provinces are New York and Boston. Small vessels from […]
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[…] thirty to fifty tons, laden with fish, run from the Maritime Provinces to these ports, where they dispose of their cargoes and purchase with the proceeds, corn meal, flour, pork, molasses and other necessaries. But it has been left for our Canadian statesmen to propose new political alliances in order to divert trade and commerce from their natural channels.
It is yet further said in favor of Confederation that it will increase our power of defence. In the ordinary acceptance of the term, union undoubtedly is strength; but there are cases in which union, instead of being a source of strength, is in reality an element of weakness. If we could attach the territory possessed by the moon to these provinces, and obtain the assistance for our joint defence of the man who is popularly supposed to inhabit that luminary, we might derive strength from the Confederation. (Laughter.) But although John Bull is accused of doing many foolish things, I am persuaded that the Mother Country is far too wise to entrust the lives of her valuable soldiers when sent to our defence—as in case of need I feel well assured they would be—in passing over a road so liable to attack and so easy of destruction by our neighbors on the other side, should we unfortunately ever become involved with them in war, which I sincerely pray may never occur. (Hear, hear.) In conclusion I have simply to say that I cannot possibly vote for the scheme before the House, and thereby deprive the wealthy and intelligent freemen, who have twice elected me unanimously, of a Constitution obtained by long years of struggle, without knowing what we have to offer them in its stead. (Cheers.)
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—Before the question is put, I have a few remarks to make on the general question, and particularly on the motion of amendment which is now before the House. I have copious notes which I will not refer to now, but which I will make use of at another stage of the debate. Questions have been put to me by several members, which I will answer in due season; and explanations have been asked, which I hope also to be able to give. But, at present, my object is merely to make a few remarks in reference to the amendment which has been brought forward by my honorable friend from Wellington (Hon. Mr. Sanborn). When the gentlemen who composed the Conference met, they had to lay down a broad basis, as it were, for the foundation of their superstructure.
Well, it so happened that the corner-stone was that which concerned the representation in both Houses. It was agreed on the one hand that in the House of Commons of the Confederate Government representation should be according to numbers, and that in the other branch of the Legislature it should be fixed that this representation should be equal for all the provinces—that is to say, Upper Canada, and Lower Canada, and the Maritime Provinces, grouped into one, should each be allowed to send the same number of representatives, so as to secure to each province its rights, its privileges, and its liberties. We acted upon this principle, because we felt that if the House of Commons’ representation was based upon population, equality should be secured in the other branch of the Legislature. My honorable friend from Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] has gone over almost every detail of the scheme of Federation, and he thought also he would try his hand a little at constitution-making, by improving that part which has particular reference to the Legislative Council. Well, honorable gentlemen, I think the saying is pretty correct that it is easy to find fault, but it is not so easy to do better. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable gentleman no doubt thought in his own mind that he was going to improve the scheme of the Conference, but I think he has made it so bad that I believe I can show in the course of the few observations I have to offer, even if we had the power to make amendments, no member of this House either from Upper or Lower Canada would consent to them for a moment. I have just said the agreement was that there should be equality in the representation in the Legislative Council. But the honorable gentleman has moved that the elective members as they now stand should form the Legislative Council in the Federal Government, and that also the life members should continue for the remainder of their days; and, as a set-off against the life members, he proposes to allow the other provinces a certain number of new members who should have the right to sit in the Legislative Council of the Federal Government. But what does he do? Does he preserve the proportion as laid down at the Convention? Not a bit of it.
The proportion agreed upon at the Convention was one-third to the Maritime Provinces; the Lower Provinces grouped together had a right to send one-third of the representatives. The honorable gentleman, however, I suppose out of the fullness of his good disposition— […]
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[…] I am sure it was not pressed upon him by the delegates from the Maritime Provinces—comes forward and says, “I will give you ten members as a set-off against the twenty-one members who are now members for life in the Canadian Legislative Council.” If I am not wrong in my arithmetic, ten are not a third of twenty-one. If the honorable gentleman had given seven members to the Lower Provinces as a set-off against the life members of this House he would have acted with strict justice, but he is generous enough to give them three more—ten, or nearly one half.
Hon. Mr. Sanborn—Ten are nearer one-third than the seven you propose.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—I think the honorable gentleman is wrong in his calculation. I say we have 21 members sitting here for life, and if the other provinces are entitled to one-third of that number, it is clear to my mind that they would have a right to no more than seven. (Cries of “no, no,” and “yes, yes.”)
Hon. Mr. Currie—They are entitled to a third of the whole. Do you refer to the elective members?
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—The elective members are a fact accomplished. On the elective principle it is proposed to give a third of the members of the Legislative Council of the Federal Government to the Maritime Provinces. But there are twenty-one life members of this House, and you want to give the Maritime Provinces an equivalent for them.
Hon. Mr. Currie—But not one-half.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—You should only give them seven.
Hon. Mr. Sanborn—No, ten.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—We will have to get a schoolmaster. (Laughter.) If seven is not a third of twenty-one, I do not know what a third is. (Laughter.) I am not very fluent in speaking the English language, and when I am met right and left, behind and before, with interruptions like this, I assure you I feel it a hard trial, and if honorable gentlemen have remarks to make, I trust they will wait until I have delivered mine. (Hear, hear.) Well, honorable gentlemen, admitting that the third of twenty-one are not seven—(laughter)—I say admitting, for the sake of argument, that ten are the third of twenty-one—(laughter)—I have another objection, and a very serious objection, which I do not think will advance very much the case of the honorable gentleman who has moved this amendment.
Many of us have been appointed for life in this House, and some of us were so appointed many years back. Here, for instance, is my honorable friend on the left (Hon. Mr. Hamilton) who has been a member of the House some twenty-four years—who was among the first appointed by Lord Sydenham; and I see on the other side, honorable gentlemen also far advanced in years—men who, in the ordinary course of life, cannot expect to be very long with us. Will the honorable gentleman propose to give to the provinces below the right to appoint old gentlemen? Not a bit of it. They would send here young men—men who are in the prime of life—and when we shall have gone to our last home, these young men from below will be found sitting in your places and in my place. Where, then, would be the equilibrium? The equilibrium would be lost, and lost for ever. (Hear, hear.)
And the honorable gentleman thinks that his amendment would be a great improvement to the scheme of the Conference. Well, for my part, honorable gentlemen, I believe it is a great failure in the way of improving the scheme of the Confederation—a very great failure indeed. The honorable gentleman has had the opportunity of speaking several times in this House, and very often he has made allusion to me since the opening of Parliament. He has endeavored to place me in contradiction to myself. He has stated that, in 1856, I was a member of the Government conducting the affairs of the House, and that I was the party who brought in the measure to extend the elective principle to this honorable House, and he says that I am here again, nine years later, endeavoring to destroy that which I had a hand in erecting so long ago as I have stated. But, honorable gentlemen, I think that when I shall have explained the circumstances which then forced the Government to bring forward the measure to render this House elective, you will agree with me that it was not on account of any fancy or predilection on their part that the elective system was proposed, but that it was necessitated by the circumstances in which the country found itself placed.
It is from no levity in the minds of the members of the Government, or in my own mind; nor is there any inconsistency in what I then did and in what I am now doing. But we will have something more on that point in the course of a few moments. The honorable gentleman, the other day, said we ought to speak freely on this subject, the measure […]
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[…] being one of very great importance. He did speak freely himself, and gave expression to the fear that the Protestant English element of Lower Canada would be in danger if this measure should pass. He said as much as this, that in the Legislature of Lower Canada acts might be passed which would deprive religious educational institutions there of their rights, and even of their property. Another honorable gentleman, who spoke yesterday, also gave expression to the fear that vested rights and privileges might be wrested from the hands of the English-speaking population of Lower Canada—that there was nothing secure to them under the new Constitution.
Well, the honorable gentlemen who could see, in the future, such dreadful consequences flowing from this union, and who make such sinister predictions, must make them upon some data. But I would ask honorable gentlemen if since 1791, when the Constitution was given to Lower Canada, there is, in all the records of the Legislature of Lower Canada, a single act to be found in which it can be shown that the Lower Canadians—the Papists of Lower Canada—ever attempted to commit a single injustice towards their fellow subjects of English origin professing the Protestant religion? I say, honorable gentlemen, that the act is not to be found. But acts of generosity, acts of liberality, acts of tolerance are to be found everywhere. (Hear, hear.)
When you predict things of the future you ought to have at least an inch of ground to stand upon. You ought to be able to say that at such and such a time you did such and such unlawful acts. But I defy the honorable gentleman to point to one such act. (Hear, hear.) As it was well asked by my honorable friend, Sir Narcisse F. Belleau, who was it that emancipated the Jews in 1808, much earlier than they were emancipated in England? Why, a Lower Canada House of Assembly. Who gave Protestant dissenters the right to keep records of marriages and burials? Well, it was a French Canadian—a Papist—House of Assembly. And that House had a great deal of difficulty, and why? Because they were opposed in the Legislature of Lower Canada by the Protestant English minority.
Hon. Mr. Sanborn—Not by an elective majority.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—Perhaps it is well that we have now responsible government, because responsible government is a cure for many evils. Well, the bill to give Protestant dissenters in Lower Canada certain rights was opposed again and again in the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, and opposed by English Protestants. But this was no less a proof of the liberality of the French Canadians. (Hear, hear.) The honorable gentleman behind me is not at all satisfied with the electoral divisions as they stand in Lower Canada. He says there is no security whatever afforded by them to the Protestant community. But I wish that honorable gentleman had taken the trouble to look a little into the facts upon which he had based his conclusions in regard to these very electoral divisions. Honorable gentlemen, I feel warm on this subject. And why? Because the limits of the counties in Lower Canada were devised by one of the most intelligent, upright and liberal men it has ever been my fortune to meet with. If a model of human perfection can be found in Canada, it must be in the person of the honorable Judge Morin. (Hear, hear.)
Before laying his project before the Executive Council, that gentleman did me the honor to consult me in the matter, and on two occasions I attended by appointment at his office to advise with him on the details of his scheme. The divisions of the other branch of the Legislature were worked out so as to give our Protestant English fellow subjects everything which could be considered fair in every sense of the word. I say also that the same spirit was manifested in regard to the working out of the divisions of the Legislative Council. I assisted to work them out in conjunction with the Hon. Mr. Cauchon, and I do assert here most solemnly that our whole trouble and study was to try and devise some means so as to give the English portion of the community of Lower Canada something like fair play.
And when I am conscious of having done these things, I feel it comes hard on me to hear honorable gentlemen say that there is no security for them in the future, but that the French—the Papists—may do anything they choose in the lower branch of the Legislature. But, honorable gentlemen, if the lower branch of the Legislature were insensate enough and wicked enough to commit some flagrant act of injustice against the English Protestant portion of the community, they would be checked by the General Government. But the honorable gentleman argues that that would raise an issue between the local and the general governments. We must not, however, forget that the General Government is composed of representatives from all portions of the country—that they would not be likely to […]
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[…] commit an unjust act—and that if they did so they would be met by such a storm of opposition as would sweep them out of their places in a very short time But, honorable gentlemen, to come back to the electoral divisions.—I wish to look at them a little more closely, to show the results already produced. I will be obliged to make a comparison, but believe me, I do not wish to make invidious comparisons. When, however, honorable gentlemen complain that they have no guarantee for the preservation of their rights and liberties, I act on the suggestion of the honorable gentleman and speak my mind freely. Now, how does the population of both Canadas stand in reference to religious creeds? We have in Upper Canada 1,396,090 souls, according to the last census, and of that number there are 258,141 Roman Catholics. I should like to know how many Roman Catholic representatives these 258,000 Roman Catholics return to this House? I don’t know one. I say that there are 258,000 Roman Catholics in Upper Canada who are not represented by one of their own faith on the floor of this House—except, indeed, there are those of the Roman Catholic faith of whom I am not aware. (Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Crawford was understood to say in a jocose way that he was a Catholic. (Laughter.)
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché said—No; you are an Orangeman—we have shaken hands together already, and I hope we may shake hands again, but when the honorable gentleman says he is a Catholic, I fancy he must be joking. (Laughter.) I wish, honorable gentlemen, for you to pay a little attention to what I am saying, because it is facts that always tell. A tree is known by its fruits, and it is the fruit I wish to place before this House and before the country. The total population in Lower Canada at the last census was 1,110,000, and of these 942,724 were Roman Catholics, leaving of all other religious persuasions, know-nothings, if any there are, heathens and other unbelievers, 167,940. That is to say, honorable gentlemen, that the Protestants in Lower Canada are less in number than the Catholics in Upper Canada, by 91,201. Here, then, we have Protestants in Lower Canada to the number of 167,000, and the question arises how are they represented in this House? Well, they are represented by three members; besides, there are two other honorable gentlemen from Lower Canada who have English names, but I really do not know whether they are Protestants or Catholics.
I do however know, as I before stated, that there are three honorable gentlemen, Protestants, representing in this Council the 167,000 Protestants of Lower Canada. The honorable gentleman by my side, who has moved these amendments, is one of them; an honorable gentleman who sits opposite to me is another, and an honorable gentleman who sits behind me, is the third; and there are two other honorable gentlemen with English names whom I do not know whether to classify as Protestants or Catholics. I therefore say that in comparing the representation of the two sections of the province, the hon. gentleman has no cause to complain. I have ever labored to secure to my fellow subjects of English origin, of the Protestant faith, in Lower Canada, their rights and their liberties; and that my labors have not been in vain is proved by the fruits I have adduced. But that is not all.
Hon. Mr. Moore—There are five Protestants in this House from Lower Canada.
An Hon. Member—But they are not all elective.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—I speak of the elective members, because the argument has reference to the electoral divisions. Now let us look at the other branch of the Legislature; and I assert that the principle has worked equally well there. There are 258,000 Roman Catholics in Upper Canada represented in the other branch of the Legislature by only two Roman Catholics, and one of these, I am told, like my honorable friend opposite who has avowed himself a Roman Catholic, never goes to mass. (Laughter.) He is, however, a good Catholic, because he has an accomplished and charming wife and most beautiful daughters, the whole of whom are zealous Christians and good Catholics, who go to church and confess regularly; so that I am bound to take the head of the family as a good Catholic also. (Laughter.) Then, how does the case stand for the Protestants in Lower Canada? In Upper Canada we have just seen that 258,000 Catholics are represented by just two members of their own faith in the lower branch of the Legislature. How are the 160,000 Protestants in Lower Canada represented? Well, honorable gentlemen, they are represented by no less than 14 members. (Hear, hear.) That is to say more by fifty per cent, than they would be entitled to according to strict rule of three. (Hear, hear.)
I would ask are all these things mere matters of accident? Is it chance or Dame Fortune that brings about […]
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[…] all these things? I believe not. (Hear, hear.) Causes invariably produce effects; and they are the effects mainly—I do not say entirely—of the pains we have taken to give our fellow-subjects of English origin the whole of their rights and fair play in every respect. The rest is due to French Canadian liberality. After stating these facts, I really do not think the honorable gentleman who represents the division of Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] has much cause to complain. We judge of the tree by its fruit, and the fruit I have endeavored to place before you.
If I have made any mistakes in my facts, I am ready to be corrected. But besides these 14 gentlemen representing the Protestant element in Lower Canada in the other branch of Legislature, I find three other English names, but whether they are Catholics or Protestants I cannot say, and therefore, not being certain of their creed, I have classed them as doubtful; but added to the 14, they would make the number 17. I think all this is pretty good proof of the liberality and the spirit of justice of the Lower Canadians; and if they have acted so for three quarters of a century, how is it to be supposed, now that they are about to form the majority again in the Lower Canada Legislature, they will all at once change their mode of acting, and become ready to tyrannize over and commit acts of injustice on their fellow-subjects of English origin in Lower Canada? I do not believe it. I do not believe there is such a thing as vandalism in their minds, and I believe they are as ready as ever to render equal and impartial justice to their fellow-men and fellow-subjects. (Hear, hear.)
I must now pass to another portion of my remarks. Honorable gentlemen say I was inconsistent in that at one time I erected a monument, and since then I have been trying to pull it down. Well, honorable gentlemen, to understand how we stood in 1856 it is necessary we should take the history of the Legislative Council a little further back—from the time of its formation immediately after the union. We had not responsible government at the time of the union, but then it was that the whole system was put in practice. The first batch of councillors were appointed in 1841, and were 25 in number; but two of them never attended. Out of these 25 there were 18 conservatives and five reformers. In 1842 seven new councillors were added, five conservatives and two reformers. In 1843 the Government changed, and the change made a little difference in the political bearing of the appointments, so that in 1843, there were appointed one conservative and five reformers. In 1844-45 there were two appointments—two reformers. In 1846 there was one conservative. In 1847 there were four conservatives. Therefore, in 1848, when the Liberal Government came into power—the Lafontaine-Baldwin Administration—the fact was that their partisans in the Legislative Council were fifteen less than the opposite party. (Hear, hear.)
What were the Reform Government to do? They were forced to appoint a large batch this time. They appointed no less than twelve gentlemen. But still it left a majority to the conservative party of three. And if the conservatives had been true to themselves—and I wish to God they had been, and I will tell you, by and by, why—they could have prevented a good deal of trouble and a good deal of agitation in the country. Supposing that what is called the Rebellion Losses Bill had not been passed in 1849, would the country have suffered a great deal from it? But if the conservatives had been true to themselves they would have stopped the bill. It would have been discussed in all the public prints.
The Montrealers would not have been entirely reconciled to the measure, but they would have waived their opinions as dutiful subjects of the Queen, and we should not have witnessed the scandal we had in Montreal—the burning of the Parliamentary buildings and the Representative of the Queen pelted with stones and almost murdered, followed by the annexation movement. But I say if the conservatives had resisted and just postponed the bill for another year, all this trouble might have been avoided. Now, honorable gentlemen, what was the spirit which actuated the appointments to the Council from 1841 to 1848? It was a spirit of partisanship, and where there is partisanship there can be no justice. (Hear, hear.) Where there is partisanship there can be no stability—you can depend upon nothing. (Hear, hear.) It is only when justice is rendered to all parties that you can reckon upon stable and permanent governmental institutions. (Hear, hear.) To show the difference between the spirit which actuated these nominations, from 1841 to 1847, and the spirit which exists now, it is only necessary to refer to the resolutions of the Conference. The fourteenth resolution says:
The first selection of the members of the Legislative Council shall be made, except as regards Prince Edward Island, from the Legislative Councils of the various provinces, so far as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing […]
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[…] to serve; such members shall he appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the General Executive Government, upon the nomination of the several local governments, and in such nomination due regard shall be had to the claims of the members of the Legislative Council of the Opposition in each province, so that all political parties may, as nearly as possible, be fairly represented.
This shows you the spirit in which these resolutions were framed. Certainly the gentlemen who composed the Conference were, like ourselves, liable to err, but there is no doubt in my mind that they acted conscientiously from beginning to end. Well, honorable gentlemen, after the burning of the Parliament House in Montreal, the greatest possible excitement was created all over the province. Those who were most displeased at the passing of the Rebellion Losses Bill, condemned in the most violent terms the swamping, as they called it, of the Legislative Council, though after all it was nothing to be condemned, seeing that it simply, to some extent, re-established the equilibrium. But it was called, in the furor of the moment, the disgraceful swamping of the Legislative Council, and there was great agitation all over the country.
Well, by means of the press constantly hammering away upon what had been done by the Government, and representing those who had been appointed as mere machines and tools of the Executive, although they were really among the most respectable and intelligent in Canada—but party passion does not reason—the people were led to believe that the Legislative Council had been disgraced by the appointment of these twelve additional members. But during the time that the conservatives were, on the one hand, thus battering down the Legislative Council, what had we on the other hand?
We had the old Reform party in Lower Canada beginning to recall their old hatred to the Legislative Council. Although there was no reason to complain after the introduction of responsible government, yet people followed not their reason but their prejudice. So that the Legislative Council received a cross-fire from both sides. It was being battered down by public opinion on either hand, and what could it do? Nothing, but come down lower and lower in public estimation. Although the consciences of the members reproached them nothing—although they could walk the streets with their heads erect, yet the Legislative Council had been so much reduced in public opinion, that those gentlemen were really, I will not say ashamed, but reluctant to attend in their places.
But, besides, they came not to receive remuneration or salary. From the time they were appointed in 1841, they sacrificed their time and their money, and gave their services gratuitously to the public; and they were met, as I have already stated, by this universal deluge of abuse which was levelled against them. (Hear, hear.) There was therefore no great encouragement for them to attend in their places in the Legislative Council. But what have we seen since? Session after session, day after day, week after week, we saw the Speaker come into the Council with great pomp, as the Speaker always does come into the Council—(hear, hear, and a laugh)—preceded by the mace; and after the Speaker had made his usual dutiful bow to the Throne, he would take his seat and remain quietly in the chair for the space of one hour. At the end of the hour, he would consult his watch, and saying there was no quorum present—although surely the quorum was a very small one, being ten members only—he would declare the House adjourned until the following day.
It being six o’clock, the Speaker left the Chair.
[Editor’s Note: The Legislative Council stopped for dinner recess.]
After the dinner recess,
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché continued his remarks. He said—Honorable gentlemen, when the clock struck six, I was stating that, in one session after another, the Speaker of this honorable House had day after day to declare that there was no quorum, and the Government of the day had to employ all sorts of means to induce honorable gentlemen to attend in their places. The prestige of the Legislative Council had gone, and the members, notwithstanding the offer to pay their expenses, &c, remained at home, and the business of the country suffered very much. Towards the end of the session, we could muster a few gentlemen. But they did not take much interest in the business of the country—in fact, they were disgusted with it, and they got through legislation at railroad speed. Under those circumstances, what had the Government to do? They were obliged to resort to some means to restore, if possible, the status laid prestige of this House. There was one unanimous cry on the subject from one end of Lower Canada to the other—both conservatives and reformers being as one in pointing to the elective principle as a cure for the state of things in which this province was placed; and the Government, in consequence, consulted with the English authorities with a view of obtaining leave to extend to this House […]
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[…] the elective principle. This was not, as I have stated already, because of any predilection on our part for the elective principle. It was not because we thought that the elective principle was much better than the system of appointment by the Crown—at all events before the introduction of responsible government. Before that, the gentlemen who nominated members of this House were responsible to no one. The appointments then were all made on one side. Even after the union, but before responsible government was established, or before it was put in a thoroughly practical working state, the appointments had been made in a partial manner. (Hear, hear.)
And it is not surprising that we experienced the difficulties we did until that period. After the establishment of responsible government the position was very different—the resolutions of the 3rd September, 1841, having declared that no Government could be carried on except by heads of departments having the confidence of the representatives of the people in the lower branch of the Legislature. If, from that moment, bad appointments happened to be made to the Legislative Council, then the Government for the time being was responsible to the people for those appointments. And, when the people wanted an elective Council at that time, they did not base the demand upon constitutional principles, but were led by their passions, which had been excited by their recollections of the past. They did not reason the thing out; and, in fact, the great majority of the people here, as everywhere else, are not able to reason out constitutional points—they are led by those who are at the head of the different parties. In saying this, I have no wish to be unjust to my countrymen. For even in countries like the United States, which boast much of their education, the immense mass of the people are led by prominent men.
They do not reflect, they do not think for themselves—and so it was with our people. The Government for the time being were thus, by the force of circumstances, obliged to bring forward the measure for altering the constitution of the Legislative Council. The measure was passed by a pretty large majority; and I think that until now the elective principle has worked remarkably well indeed, and that the electors have sent to this House gentlemen who would do honor to any deliberative body in the world—I care not where, whether in England, or on the continent of Europe, or in America.
But difficulties have arisen since the passing of the Act of 1856, and the Government of the country came almost to a dead-lock. Some remedy had to be found, and gentlemen of opposite parties wisely came together with the view of devising a plan which would not only cure our domestic difficulties, but give greater power and force to the British North American colonies. To bring this about we determined that we would endeavor to obtain a Federal union of all the British American Provinces. Delegates from below, and the gentlemen composing the Administration of Canada met together. Some of us might have preferred still to retain the elective principle, but then we had to meet those gentlemen from below, and we had to give and take. We could not carry everything our own way. (Hear, hear.)
The gentlemen from the Lower Provinces were opposed to the elective principle, and went strongly for the system of appointments by the Crown. At the same time some among ourselves were not very much enamoured with the present system—(hear, hear)—and those who were anxious to retain the elective principle, were obliged to yield. Thus, honorable gentlemen, what is now proposed comes before you, not as the act of the Government of Canada—(hear, hear)—but as the mixed work of the delegates from all the provinces, in the form, as it were, of a treaty. I do not think, after the explanations I have given that I can be accused of a great deal of inconsistency, or of that levity which would make a man build up something to-day which he would be anxious to demolish to-morrow.
No, honorable gentleman—but circumstances forced the Government in 1856 to bring on their measure for rendering this House elective; and the circumstances of the country in 1864 required that we should have recourse to some other means to put an end to the dead-lock in which the Province was placed. (Hear, hear.) I am sorry that I do not see the honorable gentleman from Grandville (Hon. Mr. Letellier) in his place. The Hon. Sir Narcisse F. Belleau the other night made some remarks as to the difficulty of finding candidates for the Legislative Council. Now, for my own part, I should be exceedingly sorry to say anything that would wound the feelings of any one. And where could I look—before me, or behind me, or at my side—to find any one against whom I could bring the least reproach?
No—I repeat it again—that those whom the elective principle has sent here are gentlemen who would compare well with the members of any legislative body that could be mentioned. But then there are difficulties inherent to the […]
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[…] working of the principle itself. I would especially mention the difficulty which arises from the constituencies being so large. I know not whether this has been felt in Upper Canada, but I know that it has been felt in Lower Canada. Many of you, honorable gentlemen, have spent laborious days and laborious nights in canvassing these immense divisions, where sometimes the internal communications are exceedingly difficult. You know the wear and tear thus imposed on the human body, and that some gentlemen after canvassing these immense divisions, have found their graves in consequence of the exhaustion brought on by these efforts. (Hear, hear.) But, honorable gentlemen, it is not merely this tear and wear of the human constitution which you have had to encounter. This country, I need not say, is not very wealthy. In point of wealth it does not resemble the Mother Country. There are gentlemen there with £200,000 or £300,000 a year, who think nothing of spending several thousand pounds, provided that by that expenditure they can put themselves in a conspicuous position before the country. But here our fortunes are limited. That is the case in Lower Canada. I hope it is not so in Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—It is worse there. (Laughter.)
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—Your fortunes in Upper Canada may be much greater than ours. (Cries of “no, no.”) But I can tell you how it is generally among ourselves—speaking not so much for the district of Montreal as for the portion of the country in which I live myself, the district of Quebec. Where I reside, some forty or fifty miles below Quebec, the fortunes are not very large, and the farmer who by his industry has been able to accumulate some £8,000 or £10,000 is a very wealthy man. My honorable friend beside me (Hon. Mr. Campbell) suggests that it is the Ottawa gentlemen who are able to afford a contest. (Laughter.)
If so, I tell honorable gentlemen that we cannot afford it below. It is but few whose fortunes reach £6,000 or £8,000—perhaps half a dozen in a large parish. It is true that some of our merchants in Lower Canada, by their industry and aptitude in trade, have accumulated very handsome fortunes—but these are the exceptions. Well, a man who, after fifteen or twenty years of hard labor, has accumulated £6,000 or £8,000 for his family, or for his old age—knowing how a candidate is bled—(laughter)—is not very willing to go and spend half of it in an election. You cannot persuade such a man to come forward—but you may engage other parties who have not got much money to lose to do so.
These men will be ready to promise a great deal, though they may not be able to fulfil their promises, and are thus more likely to be elected than those who have fortunes. My honorable friend from Grandville [Hon. Mr. Letellier de St. Just], I think, misapprehended the honorable Knight on his left (Hon. Sir N. F. Belleau,) when he understood him to speak slightingly of the talent of honorable members of this House. We have no aristocracy here in the sense of a family aristocracy, but we have an equally influential aristocracy, that of intellect. (Hear, hear.) And a man of intellect and education, though not a rich man, I consider is in every way worthy of respect, and would be a most desirable addition to this House. But, suppose we have a man of respectability, of education, and of intellect, and one who is highly esteemed by his neighbors—suppose he has a little fortune besides, he is not the worse man for that. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Letellier de St. Just—He is so much the better. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—But, as I was remarking, what I am afraid of is, that men who are well qualified for the position, after having gone through one or two elections, in which they have lost one-half, or two-thirds, or the whole of their fortune, are not likely to stand another contest, and we lose the happiness of meeting them here again. And I fear that the longer the elective system is continued, the greater would be the difficulty in that respect. Let us take a lesson from history, and from what goes on around us. I recollect that, in 1855, when on board the Canada, going to Europe, I made the acquaintance of some most respectable American families, and particularly of a most interesting American woman. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) Honi soit qui mal y pense. (Continued laughter.) I met with a very interesting American woman, and, as she was conversing with me and mentioning some very preposterous laws that had been passed in her state, I said—”Madame, have you not some people of good common sense and respectability to oppose such absurd laws?” She replied, “Sir, I am an American woman, and—I am ashamed to say it—the respectable people, the people of standing in our state, have no voice in the government of their country.” (Hear, hear.)
Many of you, honorable gentlemen, are familiar with the […]
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[…] state of things in the United States, which has resulted from carrying the elective principle too far; and the fact that that principle, carried too far has worked much mischief, ought to place us on our guard. Some years ago, in Canada, there was quite a rage for the elective principle, and an agitation was got up with the view of rendering the judiciary elective. Well, a statesman of the United States, with whom I am well acquainted, and who now occupies a high position in that country, once remarked to me: “You have quite enough of the democratic element in your Constitution already, and, above all, do not make your judiciary elective, for that would be one of the greatest curses you could inflict on your country.” (Hear, hear.) The elective principle, kept within proper bounds, is very good indeed, and hitherto, no doubt, has worked well in this House. But I doubt whether, in the course of time, this House would not lose its present high status if the elective principle was continued in it for ever. As regards this, however, I merely state my own opinion, and other honorable gentlemen may hold contrary opinions, as they are perfectly entitled to do. (Hear, hear.)
Having thus, honorable gentlemen, explained the reasons which induced the Government, in 1856, to propose that the elective principle should be extended to this House, with the concomitant circumstances which assisted in bringing that about—and having also explained the reasons which have induced the Government now to look for another state of political existence, as we may call it, by Confederation with the Maritime Provinces, I think I am clear from any imputation of inconsistency or levity of purpose. Before sitting down I have a personal explanation to make. When I speak, honorable gentlemen, I speak with sincerity, but, like any other man, I may commit a mistake. The moment, however, that I find I have committed a mistake, I am ready to admit it, as any honest man should do. (Hear, hear.)
I find that I took a wrong view of the proportions of appointed members that were to be allotted to each province, in case the amendment of my honorable friend from the Wellington Division [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] should pass. I have since been convinced that I was wrong, and that it was really carrying out the principle of distribution adopted in the scheme, to allot to the Lower Provinces other ten members. I am glad to admit that my honorable friend was right in correcting me. But I still maintain that he was wrong—very wrong—in bartering old men for young ones, because, no doubt, the old men would soon disappear from their seats, while the young men from below would long retain their places, and we would thus destroy the equilibrium upon which the whole fabric of the proposed Constitution is based. I say the honorable gentleman was wrong in that, and that, if his proposal were adopted, it would certainly be no improvement on the scheme as it has come from the Conference. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Skead said—Honorable gentlemen, I claim the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I state from my point of view, as one of the representatives from Central Canada, the way in which I regard the measure now under consideration. I am an advocate of the union of the British North American Provinces. (Hear, hear.) When I came here a few weeks ago, my mind was scarcely made up as to the course I should pursue. At the same time I was desirous of taking that course which should be approved by the majority of my constituents.
In November last I received the document which was sent to members of both Houses throughout the province; but as it was marked “Private,” I felt bound by every consideration of propriety not to make it public. Having at that time been re-elected by my constituents, I had no occasion to use it in connection with securing my return to this House. But, speaking of my re-election a few months ago, I may remark that a number of my constituents felt disposed at that time to pledge me to oppose this union of the British North American colonies. For my own part I felt it would be wrong for me to do so, not knowing what was the programme that was about to be laid; I refused, therefore, to give a pledge. Probably I felt more independent on account of there being no opposition. (Laughter.)
But be that as it may, I have the same desire to act in accordance with the deliberate views of my constituents as if I had canvassed every vote in the division. I pledged myself on the hustings on the day of my election, that as soon as the scheme was published I would give it my earnest attention, and form a judgment upon it to the best of my ability. After the document was formally laid on the table of the House, I waited till it was put in type, and having ordered two thousand copies of it, I sent them, some fifteen days ago, to my constituents, with a circular calling upon them to state any objections they might have to the scheme if they considered it objectionable, and to indicate what […]
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[…] course they wished me to pursue with reference to it. I am up to this evening without any answers to that circular, with one or two exceptions which I need not take up the time of the House by further alluding to. I now take it for granted, having given such an ample opportunity to my constituents to express their opinions, that I am at full liberty to pursue that course which I think myself to be for the interests of the country. (Hear, hear.)
My feeling in the first instance was that the matter was being pressed too rapidly in this House—that we might have waited for a little—that we should have allowed the other House to go on and adopt the resolutions first, if they did adopt them, before we were called on to pronounce a final decision upon them. But I have somewhat changed my mind from hearing the able speeches of honorable gentlemen both for and against the amendment now under the consideration of the House; and I have come to the conclusion to give an independent vote, according to the best judgment I can form, since my constituents, after being invited to express their opinions, up to this hour have not responded to the request. I speak here as a representative of Central Canada, and particularly of the Ottawa country.
The people there are engaged mainly in one trade, the lumber trade; and, with reference to that trade, the promulgation of this scheme has caused us some feelings of apprehension, not to say gloom. Till within the last few hours, as late as yesterday, I was still in the dark as to the bearings of the scheme in that respect. But I have now had assurances from the Government—and particularly from one or two members of it—that the scheme is not going to inflict that injury upon the lumbering interest which we imagined. In fact the clause relating to that subject has been so explained to me, that I am now perfectly satisfied. (Hear, hear.)
My feeling formerly was that our trade was treated in a manner which it did not deserve. Here we have a trade employing many thousands of people—employing a large amount of shipping to carry away the produce of our forests, which exceeds the amount of the exported agricultural produce of the country by a value of some two millions of dollars. We naturally felt that such a trade had some right to be considered. (Hear, hear.) However, accepting the assurances of honorable gentlemen, in whom I have the utmost confidence, who compose the present Government, I am now quite prepared, as one of the representatives of the Ottawa section of country, to leave that matter in their hands. A great deal has been said in this debate on the general question of the Confederation of these provinces, and as to that I shall say but little.
As I have already stated, I am an advocate of union. I would even say that the scheme of the delegates to the Quebec Conference does not go far enough. I contend that, instead of merely taking in the provinces to the east of us, the scheme should have embraced British Columbia and the whole of the territory to the west., An honorable friend near me says that will come in good time. But I am afraid that some Downing-street or other influence may prevent it. (Cries of “no, no!”) I should like to see the Pacific as the western boundary of this young Confederation, in the same way as the Atlantic is its eastern limit, so that we should have one country stretching from ocean to ocean. (Hear, hear.)
A great deal has been said in this debate on the subject of railways. Honorable gentlemen have spoken of the cost of building our railways, of the damage the Grand Trunk has done, and of the profits certain gentlemen have made out of it. For the life of me, I cannot see the force of their arguments. True, the Grand Trunk has cost a great deal of money, but how should we feel if we had to go back to the state of things which existed when we had no railroad? What should we do if the Grand Trunk were now taken from us? I believe we could not do without it. It has become a necessity. Every man within the range of its influence, has had his land enhanced in value—and the debt of $15,000,000 or $16,000,000, while of course in itself a great deal of money, is nothing when we reflect on the ability of the provinces to bear it. If spared to continue here during my term of eight years, I shall still advocate the Intercolonial Railway as a line necessary to connect us with the seaboard.
It will cost us some little money no doubt, but it will yield us compensating advantages. There are large forests to the east of us, which have still to yield up their wealth, and no one can tell how much may come out of that country, when its resources are developed. The subsidy we are now paying the ocean steamships will go a good way to pay the interest on our share of the cost of the railway. Besides we are now spending a great deal of money to bring population into these provinces—an object that will be promoted to a large extent by the building of that road. To build it will take some four or five years, and we cannot tell how much that section of the country will be settled in that time. It will no doubt […]
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[…] prove of great advantage to us. We shall then be ready, I hope, to commence the railroad to British Columbia, and the improvement of the Ottawa river to the upper lakes—(hear, hear)—and the navvies and others who have been employed on these works will find employment on the road leading to the Pacific, and will ultimately become settlers in the great Red River country. (Hear, hear.) Such are my sentiments in connection with the subject now before the House. My experience may not have been as great as that of some honorable members, but I have been in the habit of observing what was going on around me, and I have come to the conclusion that the union of these provinces is desirable and necessary. (Hear, hear.)
It has been said that the gentlemen forming the present Ministry have held such opposite opinions that no good can be expected to result from their coalition. I have not such a poor opinion of human nature as to feel disposed to question in any way the sincerity and patriotism of those honorable gentlemen. They have seen the necessity of some change being brought about, if the good of the country was to be promoted. Whatever may have been the antagonism of their views formerly, they now occupy the same wigwam, and, it is said, the same blanket covers them—(laughter)—and, so long as the country receives the benefit, I am satisfied to support them, no matter what their politics may have been during the last twenty years. (Hear, hear.) No doubt the country has been suffering—a cure had to be found, and I think we are now on the highway to get it. (Hear, hear.) Honorable gentlemen composing the Government will permit me to repeat that our lumber trade deserves their earnest and best attention on account of the employment it gives to so large a number of persons, the way in which it swells the exports of the country, the market it affords for the produce of the agricultural portion of the community, and the manner in which it forwards the settlement of our wild lands. To the Ottawa district it is, of course, of special importance, but it has an interest for the whole province, inasmuch as it makes for us a back country. A country that is all frontier must always be a little country. (Hear, hear.)
If a check is in any way put upon the lumber trade, as the consequence of its being placed under the separate control of each local government, it would be a result much to be regretted. But it is to be hoped that the Government will give this matter their most earnest consideration, and that they will do what in their opinion is best for the interests of all concerned. It has been said by some in our section that Central Canada is to be made the footstool of Upper Canada, and that it is also to be made the footstool of Lower Canada. For my own part I am quite unable to see how we can be made the footstool of both. (Hear, hear.)
That was the idea expressed in a letter sent me the other day, begging me to give the scheme all the opposition in my power. It may be true that the western part of the province is a little covetous, and a little ambitious of controlling everything; still, I have that faith in the good feeling of the western people, and in our ability to protect ourselves, that I do not believe our lumbering interest is to be destroyed all at once, even though the Local Government of Upper Canada should have its seat in Toronto. Whoever may compose the Local Government, I think they must see the importance of the lumber trade, and will do what they can to foster and encourage that which is essential to the good of the whole country. I do not believe they will adopt the policy of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. (Hear, hear.) I see there is a disposition to have the vote taken, and I will not detain the House longer. (Cries of ”go on.”) I have only this to say in conclusion, that when these scattered provinces are united together, as is now proposed, and when the bond of that union has been sealed with the great Imperial seal of Great Britain—with the blessing and favor of an all-ruling Providence—I, for one, have no fear of the result. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Sanborn said—I desire, before the vote is taken, to offer a single explanation. The Honorable Premier (Hon. Sir E.P. Taché) attributed to me certain remarks on which he based the early portion of his speech. He said I complained of the arrangement of the electoral divisions in Lower Canada. I made no such complaint. I made no allusion to that. What I had reference to was the appointment of Legislative Councillors for divisions, and their having property qualifications in those divisions. I am sure the Honorable Premier did not desire to attribute to me anything I did not say.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—If my honorable friend says he did not use the argument, of course my remarks upon it go for nothing.
Hon. Mr. Sanborn—Another point, too, I may notice. The Honorable Premier based his argument on my having drawn a […]
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[…] distinction between Papists and Protestants. Now, I never used the terms “Papist,” or “Catholic,” or “Protestant.” (Hear, hear.) The distinction I drew, and the remarks I made, were with regard to the English and the French of Lower Canada. And honorable gentlemen will remember that I distinctly admitted what the Premier had claimed for his countrymen—namely, their well-known liberality. I have always admitted that, and have never had any disposition to deny it. But my argument was that, in establishing a Constitution, our rights and interests should be protected by distinct provisions in that Constitution—that these would form the only satisfactory assurance we could get—that we could not rest upon the liberality of any class of men, but must have the assurance of distinct guarantees. That was the line of argument I pursued. (Hear, hear.)
I do not think the Premier should have been so hard upon me for not stipulating that the ten men who should be chosen in the Maritime Provinces should be old men, so that they might not have the advantage of putting in young men as an offset to our old ones. When I see, in the case of the Premier himself, at his advanced years, the youthful fire burn up so brightly, and that age does not at all detract from the vigor he manifests, I think he must excuse me for not having made an invidious distinction between old men and young ones. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Wilson begged to state that he was opposed to the amendment, but was precluded from recording his vote, in consequence of having paired off with Hon. Mr. Moore.
The House then divided on Hon. Mr. Sanborn’s amendment, which was negatived by 42 to 18.
[Editor’s Note: Mr. Sanborn’s amendment is as follows:
That the following words be added to the resolution now under consideration, as an amendment, by submitting for the eighth resolution the following:—
Upper Canada to be represented in the Legislative Council by twenty-four elective members, and Lower Canada by twenty-four elective members, and the Maritime Provinces by twenty-four members, corresponding with the twenty-four elective members in each section of Canada, of which Nova Scotia shall have ten, New Brunswick ten, and Prince Edward Island shall have four, and the present members of the Legislative Council of Canada, as well life members as elective members, shall be members of the first Legislative Council of the Federal Parliament—the appointed members to remain for life, and the elective members for eight years from the date of their election, unless removed by death or other cause; their successors to be elected by the same divisions and electors as have elected them; and it shall be permitted to the Maritime Provinces to appoint ten additional members for life, four for New Brunswick, four for Nova Scotia, and two for Prince Edward Island, to correspond with the present life members from Canada, and that after the first appointment of members in the Maritime Provinces, no new appointment shall be made, except to supply the vacancies by death or otherwise in the twenty-four members appointed to correspond with the elective members from the two sections of Canada.
And that in the eleventh section, after the word “Council,” in the first line, the following words be added: “in the Maritime Provinces.” And that section fourteen be struck out.]
CONTENTS—The Honorable Messieurs Aikins, Archambault, Armstrong, Bureau, Chaffers, Cormier, Currie, Flint, Leonard, Leslie, Letellier de St. Just, Malhiot, Olivier, Perry, Proulx, Reesor, Sanborn, and Simpson.—18.
NON-CONTENTS—The Honorable Messieurs Alexander, Allan, Armand, Sir N. P. Belleau, Bennett, Blake, Fergusson Blair, Boulton, Bossé, Bull, Burnham, Campbell, Christie, Crawford, DeBeaujeu, Dickson, A. J. Duchesnay, E. H. J. Duchesnay, Dumouchel, Perrier, Foster, Gingras, Guevremont, Hamilton (Inkerman), Hamilton (Kingston), Lacoste, McCrea, McDonald, McMaster, Macpherson, Matheson, Mills, Panet, Price, Prud’homme, Read, Ross, Ryan, Shaw, Skead, Sir E.P. Taché, and Vidal–42.