Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (20 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 316-346.
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MONDAY, February 20, 1865.
Hon. Mr. Aikins said—Hon. gentlemen, when I last had the honor of addressing the House, it will be remembered by those on. gentlemen who were present that I spoke very strongly in relation to the changes contemplated by these resolutions in reference to this Chamber. Since then, although I have listened very attentively to the speeches of honorable gentlemen, I have heard no good reason to convince me that the elective principle as regards this honorable House should be abolished. It has been asserted by those who are strong advocates of Confederation, that if any amendment is passed affecting the general principles of the resolutions, it will be considered a defeat; that the scheme will have to be considered again, and that negotiations with the Maritime Provinces will have to be resumed in order to meet the altered view of the case Had the amendment of the hon. member for Wellington (Hon. Mr. Sanborn) been carried, this might have been the case; but as the motion which I am about to move applies only to the Canadas, that would not be so.
It will be remembered that that amendment affirmed not only the elective principle for all the provinces, but that the life members who are now sitting in this House should continue to hold their seats. It went further and declared that a number to correspond with the life members should be admitted to the Chamber from the Maritime Provinces. In referring to the vote which was taken on this amendment, I find that in the 41 votes cast against it, 11 of the life members of the House voted against, while only three voted for it; thus they, by a large majority vote, negative the principles therein affirmed. I refer to this particularly, for this reason, that the ground may be taken by the life members in this Chamber that my amendment is specially directed against, and if carried, would be applicable to these hon. gentlemen. […]
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[…] The vote they have already given on the resolution referred to is my vindication, and they, in affirming the general principles of the Confederation resolutions, will vote for that which may deprive them of their seats.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Aikins—The hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] cries “Hear, hear!” But, after the life members of the House have affirmed by their votes that they do not desire that the elective principle should obtain, I do not think they can find fault with me, an elective member, for affirming that it should prevail. And it does appear to me, hon. gentlemen, that this House, if constituted as foreshadowed by these resolutions, would be one of the most independent and irresponsible bodies that could possibly be created, the Crown possessing no power whatever over it. There is no power of dissolution; the Crown has no power to add to the number; and whatever difficulties might possibly occur under the elective system, when the opportunity is afforded to the people of correcting those difficulties, it will be found that these difficulties will be largely increased under the proposed system.
It has been stated by some hon. members that a deadlock might occur.
That was the impression which prevailed when the elective principle was introduced; but few have thought proper to use such an argument during the present debate, because it has not been proved by the result. But if it were possible for a dead-lock to occur under the elective system, it is far more probable under the system proposed in the resolutions. If this Chamber had manifested a feeling since the elective principle was introduced—if we had attempted in any one respect to usurp the exclusive privileges of the Legislative Assembly—it might then with truth be affirmed that the introduction of the elective principle in this Chamber was a dangerous one. But such has not been the case. I think that the elective principle has worked well, and that so far as the danger of a conflict is concerned, it is as far removed under the present system as under the nominative system. Holding these views, I have thought it proper to place my amendment before the House, and I trust that the question will be discussed fairly on its merits. I beg now to move, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bureau,—
To resolve, in amendment to the resolutions of the Hon. Sir E.P. Taché,—That the Legislative Councillors representing Upper and Lower Canada in the Legislative Council of the General Legislature, shall he elected as at present, to represent the forty-eight electoral divisions mentioned in schedule A of chapter first of the Consolidated Statutes of Canada, and each such Councillor shall reside or possess the qualification in the division he 13 elected to represent.
Many hon. gentlemen who are strongly in favor of this scheme, that there is much more symmetry in the scheme presented by the resolutions, and which this motion, if carried, would mar, may take the ground. But really there is very-little harmony in them. Under them the appointed councillors will, in Lower Canada, be required to reside in certain divisions or to hold their property there. In Upper Canada the same property qualification applies, but as to residence there is no restriction; whilst in one of the Maritime Provinces (Prince Edward) qualification is based on personal property only. Hence there is in reality very little symmetry about the scheme. (Hear.)
Hon. Sir N.F. Belleau raised the point of order that the amendment had in substance been already disposed of by the vote on the amendment of Hon. Mr. Sanborn.
The Hon. The Speaker—The question of order raised by the hon. gentleman is whether the amendment now proposed is not substantially the same as the one voted on by the House and brought forward by the Hon. Mr. Sanborn, and if it is, whether it is in order? Before giving my decision, I wish that the mover of the amendment should himself explain the difference between his motion and that already decided by the House, if he thinks proper to do so.
Hon. Mr. Aikins—I contend that it is not the same, in effect, as the motion brought forward by the hon. member for Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn]. It is true that the elective principle is affirmed in both; but then the motion of the Hon. Mr. Sanborn went further and applied the elective principle to the Maritime Provinces, and was favorable to the retention of the life members, and it also extended the life principle to the Maritime Provinces, and contemplated the addition of ten life members to this Chamber from those provinces. My motion simply affirms the elective principle so far as Canada is concerned, and between the two I think there is a material difference.
Hon. Mr. Ross—There is no doubt that the motion of the honorable member for […]
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[…] Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] embraced all that this contains, and a great deal more. So that if in the motion that was disposed of the other day, there was embraced what this motion contains, the present motion is out of order, containing as it does a principle which has already been pronounced upon by this House.
The Hon. The Speaker—There may be some difficulty in deciding on a matter of this kind, because the two motions, although not exactly identical, are very nearly so in one particular. The argument that the motion of Hon. Mr. Sanborn contained more than is embraced in this motion does not apply. The question is, does this affirm what was contained in the motion already voted upon? That in deciding on this particular matter, we have decided on other things connected with it, does not affect the position. Rules on questions of this kind have been made to prevent Parliament deciding one day contrary to another, and to avoid also surprises, by questions being introduced a second time in the absence of members who may have previously voted on them. Were this motion to carry, it would affirm a principle which was negative when the motion opt the Hon. Mr. Sanborn was before the House. It is not necessary that the two motions should be exactly the same; it is sufficient if they are substantially alike. I will quote a few words on this point from May:—
It is a rule in both Houses not to permit any question or bill to be offered which is substantially the same as one on which their judgment has already been pronounced during the same session. This is necessary to avoid different decisions being given, and to prevent surprises by a question being resolved first in the affirmative and next in the negative.
Should we pass this motion now before the House, we should be doing what May says the rule of Parliament has been framed to avoid, for it would be affirming a principle on one day, and in another day the contrary. I am bound to say that in my opinion the resolution is substantially contained in the resolution already decided upon, and that therefore it is out of order. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Aikins—I must confess that I would like to have had the opinion of the House on the motion; but I am quite willing to abide by the decision of the Speaker. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. The Speaker—That the decision I have given may be well understood—to remove all apprehension on the score of a motion once negative not being supposed to be finally disposed of, I may say that we find this in the rules of the Imperial Parliament: “A question once carried or negative cannot be brought forward again.”
Hon. Mr. Flint said—Honorable gentlemen, I deeply regret that the amendment of my honorable friend could not have been placed before the House, in order to a more direct vote being elicited on the principle therein contained, that of the application of the elective principle to this House. It is true that the honorable member for Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] embodied the same principle in the resolution which he brought before the House, and which was negative. I confess I hardly expected, when I saw this amendment on the notice paper, that it would be allowed to be proceeded with. Still I was in hopes that the House would have borne with the honorable gentleman, and would have allowed his motion to be placed on the Journals of the House. Having been sent here by a constituency which embraces about 75,000 souls, upon the elective principle, I feel that I should but ill discharge my duty to that constituency, without having received from them their direct and positive instructions to the contrary, were I to stand up on the floor of this House and advocate the taking away from them of the privilege of the elective franchise which has been conceded to them by Parliament.
If this principle had not been granted, the position would be altogether changed; but having once granted to a people the right of saying whom they will have to represent them in this Chamber, they ought also to be asked, before we are called upon to vote, whether they desire to give back the privilege into the hands of the Government. I would not for a moment think of placing them in so false a position. I cannot, therefore, look with favor upon that portion of the resolutions which goes to take away from the people the right to nominate and select members to this Honorable House. So much has been said on this subject that it would be hardly worth while for me to consume the time of the House in going over the ground which so many others have gone over already. I have not heard, however, in all the speeches which have been made in advocacy of this measure, anything to cause me to swerve for a moment from the views I have always entertained after reading this portion of the resolutions. I may say that when I was […]
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[…] elected, it is true that Federation was before the country, but it was before the country in a very different shape from what it is at the present time. After the Government of the day was defeated last session, and after arrangements had been entered into, it was understood by these arrangements that we were to have Federation of the two Canadas. That was all that was placed before us. In issuing my short address, I stated I was in favor of Federation. I am so still—(hear)—but while in favor of Confederation of all the provinces, I desire it should be carried out in such a way that it will conduce to the best interests of all concerned. I wish that no advantage may be taken by any one of the provinces over the others. When I came before my constituents for election, as hon. gentlemen may be aware, I had no opposition—I was elected by acclamation.
All I could say to the people on the measure was simply this, that I approved of the scheme marked out by the Government when the new administration was formed, but I knew nothing as to what had subsequently taken place. I told them that I was in favor of change—that I was in favor of a Federation of the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, in order that we might live together in peace, as I was satisfied, from what we had witnessed as transpiring for many years, that it was impossible to live longer together—that it was better to separate, and in separating we would probably be better friends.
I also stated that the time must come when the Confederation of all the provinces would take place, and that if Confederation was formed upon a just basis, it would no doubt be the means of a vast amount of good to our common country. (Hear, hear.) The first knowledge I had of Confederation was, as a matter of course, when the delegates met and passed the resolutions which are now before us with a slight alteration or two of no moment. When these resolutions were printed by the Government I received one from the Honorable the Provincial Secretary [Hon. Mr. McDougall], marked “Private,” and I also at the same time received a note from that honorable gentleman, stating that these resolutions were not then intended for the eye of the public. The consequence was, I felt that I could not read these resolutions, and meet my constituents and tell them that I knew nothing in reference to Confederation. Thus feeling my hands tied, I placed the resolutions in my desk, and left them there; and never did I examine them to ascertain what honorable gentlemen had done until I took my seat on the floor of the House. I could not feel free to place myself in a position before my constituents, and on being asked from time to time what were the prospects of Confederation and what were its details, give a truthful reply with the restrictions placed upon me, were I to have read the resolutions; and therefore I did not read the resolutions, so that I might honestly say I knew nothing about them.
I feel, honorable gentlemen, that it would be impossible for me, under existing circumstances, to vote away that right which has been granted by the Constitution of our country to those who now have the privilege conferred upon them of exercising the elective franchise so far as regards this Chamber. I feel that I should do a great wrong and perpetrate a great injury to the electors who sent me here, were I to vote for that portion of the scheme which contemplates the taking away of their franchise altogether. I have no objection, as a matter of course, to the life members, if they so desire it, voting away their rights, or of placing their seats in the hands of the Government to be dealt with as they please; and so far as I am individually concerned, I would have no objection to sacrifice my seat in the House for the good of the country and of my constituents.
They have sent me here, not because I was anxious to be placed in this position, however honorable it may be, but because I was their choice. And I must say that it was one of the proudest and happiest days of my life when I found, after having battled politically for so many years on the side of reform, that I could go into a constituency embracing 75,000 souls, of all descriptions and shades of politics, and that I had so far given satisfaction that not a man was to be found who raised his voice against my re-election. (Hear, hear.) I have gained, I may say, all that I desire in the way of earthly honor; but I feel, like many other honorable gentlemen, that in being placed in this high and honorable position, it is my duty to act faithfully towards those who sent me here; and I feel I should do wrong if, on an occasion like this, I should give my vote for placing that portion of Upper Canada which I am sent to represent in a worse position than they occupied before. Having made these few remarks […]
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[…] with reference to the elective principle, I desire now to speak about one or two other things in connection with these resolutions. And any member on the floor of this House in particular, I find, has not spoken of one thing. I refer now to the sixth clause, with reference to education. Now, hon, gentlemen, it strikes me it was decidedly wrong on the part of the delegates to place anything in reference to the education of the people of Upper and Lower Canada in this scheme. I will give my reasons for it, and I think those reasons are good.
I think it should be left fully and entirely to the people of Upper and Lower Canada to decide what is best with reference to this matter. We see already that both in Upper and Lower Canada both parties are actively engaged endeavoring to press upon the attention of both Houses of Parliament the necessity of granting them greater privileges than they already enjoy. They seem to be determined to have nothing less for their Catholic education than a full staff of officers, together with model and normal schools, and all the paraphernalia which attach to the present common school system. That which in Upper Canada was regarded as a finality in school matters is now scouted at, and the advocates of separate schools go so far as to insist upon having a college; and the object is no doubt to place themselves in a position to be wholly independent of the proposed local government of Upper Canada. So far as I am individually concerned in reference to schools, I would far rather that the school system was worked out in both provinces on the principle of the common schools. I see no reason why in any neighbourhood a portion of the children should be sent to one description of school, and a portion of the children sent to another description of school.
I believe it is wrong in principle, and that the children of our common country should grow up together and am educated together, in our public schools there should be nothing taught which would have the effect of preventing any person from sending their children to them. These are my views in reference to schools. I believe that the effect of giving exclusive rights and privileges to certain parties has had a tendency to weaken the good feeling which should subsist between all classes of the community, and which is now seen in the demand from both sections for different systems of education. (Hear, hear.) The next thing to which I desire to call the attention of the House is that of the Intercolonial Railway. I am opposed, in toot to that great road. I am opposed to it for the best of all reasons. In the first place, I am not satisfied with it, because I do not know what it is going to cost. There is nothing in these resolutions to indicate what is to be the expense; nor have I been able to discover from what has taken place on the floor of the House, any data on the subject.
Consequently, I do not feel that it would be my duty to vote for a measure which is going to entail upon Upper Canada a large amount of debt, without first knowing what that debt is to be. So far from this being regarded as a commercial undertaking, I cannot for the life of me see how it is possible that it can be worked commercially. The hon. member from Montreal (Hon. Mr. Ferrier), who spoke in his place the other evening, never touched upon this subject. All he told us in reference to this great scheme was simply this: that there were 100 odd cars lying at Montreal laden with produce, and that they could not go forward because on the other side of the lines they had so much to do that they could not send the cars through. But this was no argument at all in favor of the Intercolonial Railway. But supposing the road were built, do hon. gentlemen believe for a moment that it would pay running expenses? There is no doubt in my mind that to keep it open a subsidy would be required, like that which is paid to the ocean steamers. The hon. member from Montreal [Hon. Mr. Ferrier] that two cents per ton per mile was a very small rate for railway carriage stated it the other day.
But taking it at that figure, what do we find? From Toronto to the seaboard, over the Intercolonial Railway, the distance may be estimated at 939 miles, and to send a barrel of flour that distance by railway, at a cost of two cents per mile per ton, the charges on the flour would be not less than $2.08. But supposing one-half this tariff were charged—one cent per ton per mile—and we are told that at such a rate the road would be run at a loss, the cost would be $1.04; and by the time the barrel of flour was laid down in Liverpool, there would be charges on it for carriage of eight or ten cents per each bushel of wheat over what was formerly paid. These figures are based on the authority of hon. gentlemen opposite. “Oh! but,” say they, “the farmer gets the benefit of his money during the winter.” I do not see that this is any argument at all in a commercial point of […]
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[…] view. We have the advantage of getting the money in the winter, it is true, but how do we get it? By losing a large amount. For my part, I do not believe in getting only 3s. 9d. for a dollar’s worth of produce. (Hear, hear.) And I am satisfied that when our farmers get to understand the question, they never will consent to be taxed for the construction of any such road. Taking the cost of transportation at two cents per ton per mile, and the distance from Halifax to Belleville at 831 miles, we find it would cost $16.62 to transport ton of goods between the two places. And at such figure s, does any honorable gentleman who has the slightest knowledge of commercial transactions believe for a moment that merchandise could be sent over the road at any such rates?
Supposing you reduce the rate one cent, it would still cost $8.31, which would pre clued the possibility of carrying freight over the road; so that, in a commercial point of view, the road would be perfectly useless. It is true that under our present system of banking, our bankers endeavor to enforce on the purchasers of produce the necessity of immediate shipments and immediate sales, and with that view cause them to draw for their accommodation at short dates; but it is also true that by such a practice the rainier is in every instance the loser. The reason oil this custom is that the banks want quicker returns.
But I contend that he banks should be prepared to advance money at such dates as will enable the producer to so sell his produce as to get from it a remunerative return for his labor. But this it not done. It seems that the tendency of everything is to force freight down the railways during the winter season, and to this end n one is advanced at short dates, the farmer being the chief loser by the transaction. Then the Intercolonial Railway is advocated as a military necessity. It is said that it is essential for the defence of the country, to enable the transportation of troops and military stores. I think, hon. gentlemen, we have only to look across the lines and see what has taken place during the war in the State of Virginia and in other states, to convince us at once that for the purpose of moving troops and heavy supplies, such as artillery and ammunition, these roads are of very little use.
You will find that they have been cut in almost every direction, and the facilities they were supposed to possets for transportation have been proved to be well nigh worthless for any practical purpose,—and that, too, in a country where they are able in a short time to rebuild any portions of the roads which may be destroyed. But how would it be on the Intercolonial Railway? That road is intended to run through a country near the boundary of the State of Maine, over which troops could be distributed at given points so as, if case of necessity, to break up the Intercolonial Railway in every direction and to prevent the transportation of troops and munitions of war during the winter.
An Hon. Member—They would be unable to reach it so as to cut it.
Hon. Mr. Flint—That is a very curious idea: “They cannot reach it!” I look upon the Americans as a class of persons who can cut their way wherever they wish to go. Nothing would be easier than for them to cut the Intercolonial Railway. But if it were really the case that the country to be traversed by the Intercolonial Railway is of such a nature that no one could get through to it, the sooner we cease saying anything further about it the better. (Hear.) For if the country is in such a state that it is impossible for men to travel through it, I see no benefit in having such a railway. (Hear, hear.)
These are my views in reference to the railway. In the first place I do not feel inclined to pay the large sum of money it is going to cost, without knowing how much will be required. There is no knowing how much it will cost Upper Canada for her proportion—whether it is to be $12,000.000, $15,000,000, or $20,000,000. But taking into consideration the amount of debt we will have to assume, together with our apportionment of the $62,500,000 assigned to Upper and Lower Canada, as also that portion yet unarmed for by the resolutions; I think that by the time the Intercolonial Railway is built, Upper Canada will be saddled with at least $50,000,000 as her shay of debt.
I do not see how it is possible for the people to bear up under such a weight; nor do I believe that, if they understood this matter as they ought to understand it, they would give their consent to us to vote or it. It may be thought, perhaps, that I am not in favor of Confederation. But such is not the case I would much desire the Federation of all the provinces; but while I would desire the Federation of all the provinces, I do desire that that Federation should be based on true and proper principles—that every portion of these provinces of Her Majesty’s dominion should share and […]
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[…] share alike. I do not believe in one portion of the provinces being placed in a position of inferiority to the others. I believe Upper Canada should have its just rights—I believe Lower Canada should have its just rights—and I believe that the other provinces should have their just rights. We should come together not with a feeling of distrust, but with a feeling of mutual good will, ready to take each other by the hand and to press forward to what I would hope might prove an honorable destiny. (Hear, hear.) I am well satisfied that the more this question is discussed—notwithstanding the remarks of some hon. gentlemen to the contrary—the more the question is discussed and ventilated, the greater will be the dissatisfaction of the people with it. I have received but one letter from my constituents on the point, and the simple reference of that writer is this: “Do not you vote for the Intercolonial Railway.” He says, “I should like Federation; but do not vote for the Intercolonial Railway.”
But, hon. gentlemen, whether I had received such an admonition or not, I could not see my way clear to vote for the resolutions as they now stand. I have paid all possible attention to the speeches which have been delivered in this chamber. I have listened with every degree of respectful attention to the hon. and gallant Knight [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché] who leads the Government, and also to his hon. colleague the Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell], and I should be happy if it were in my power to go with them in the vote which is about to be cast; but I do not see how that is possible, it I am at the same time to discharge my duty to my constituents, to myself, and to my country. I can never consent to vote away the rights which belong to the people, without first asking the people for their consent. If the time is given them necessary to make up their minds on this subject, and fey then say to this House: “We are willing to try this scheme—we are willing to take it with all its defects, in the hope that it will be found to work well,” I will give my vote for it as it now stands. But, in the absence of this opportunity being afforded, I must say that if I am in the House when the vote is called on this measure, I shall have to record my name against it, and in so doing I shall be acting conscientiously.
I shall do so because I think it a duty incur bent on me, however painful it may be for me to vote contrary to the views of the Government in this respect, and contrary to a large majority of this House. And while I would concede to every hon. gentleman who may differ from me the same freedom of judgment that I claim for myself—while I would look with all charity on the course thought proper to be taken by my fellow members, I feel persuaded that they will not begrudge me the right of discharging my duty in accordance with the dictates of my conscience, and what I believe to be for the good of my constituents. And if my constituents do not agree with me in what I am about to-do, they have only to say, “Mr. Flint, your conduct does not accord with our views; we desire that you should retire from public life;” and I shall be most happy to conform to their wishes. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. De Beaujeu said—Honorable gentlemen, I think it an act of patriotism to support the resolutions submitted to us, having for their object the Confederation of several provinces, so as to bring them into a group, with the view of forming a nationality. This project will not surprise any one, when he recollects that this immense territory is occupied by the descendants of the two first powers of the world, and that the greatest portion of them are of Norman and Breton blood. They will also remember that the Normans were the most adventurous pioneers, fit for all hazardous colonization’s, and daring navigators. After having established their dominion over the British Islands, and over a part of France, Naples, Sicily, even in Jerusalem, Antioch, and near Constantinople, they crossed the ocean and established themselves on the Canary Islands, and afterwards came close on the borders of the Saint Lawrence and the Mississippi—a voyage that their ancestors had commenced in the environs of Novgorod, and where a nucleus of their race is yet to be found.
The French Canadian countrymen of this Honorable House ought more than others to be proud of the scheme, and it ought to bring to their memory that France had once this object in view, but even on a larger scale (having then a territory of 1,800 leagues), and of making on this continent a second to herself by calling it La Nouvelle France. Her best military and civil administrators then seconded her in this great undertaking. Among the foremost were the Count De Frontenac, and the Marquis of Denonville, and La Galissonnière, and also the celebrated Intendant Talon. The French Government was then labouring under the same difficulty of seeking for an open seaport in winter, so as to avoid being shut up by the ice during five months […]
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[…] of the year, having their powerful neighbors, as we have now, to contend with. The Chevalier D’Iberville, one of the brave sons of Montreal, the equal, as it is admitted by the best navy historians, of the celebrated Jean Bart, after having made, in 1695, two glorious expeditions to the Hudson Bay, Newfoundland, and to some of the other present Maritime Provinces, wrote a Mémoire, in 1701, on the situation of Boston and New York and other coasts of the then British colonies, pointing out the necessity of possessing a seaport during winter.
Well, honorable gentlemen, this now may be effected without shedding of blood or money, only by securing the Confederation as agreed at the Convention by the most distinguished parties contractantes of these British Provinces, in extending the present railroad from Rivière du Loup to the Maritime Provinces, so as to connect in winter the most remote parts of Western Canada to the sea. The advantages to be derived from the annexation of these Maritime Provinces have been most ably developed at the beginning of this debate by the brilliant speech and sound logic of the gallant Premier [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché], and also by other able speeches in support of those resolutions.
I will, nevertheless, add that the Province of Canada will also derive the immense advantage of beginning the nucleus of our future military being, particularly if you get the great assistance of the Imperial Government that we are entitled to. Let us all recollect that France commenced her Canadian being by sending divers companies of troops by rotation to the present Maritime Provinces, and also to Louisiana. Officers who held the rank of captaines des detachments de la marine, equal in rank to a lieutenant colonel in the army, commanded those companies.
Those companies were in the habit of being trained for navy purposes. I entertain no doubt that the frequent intercourse with those Maritime Provinces, coupled with the navy ship school that the Imperial Government, as I understand, has the intention of establishing at Quebec, similar to those in England and France, will promote this object; and especially if England open the door of her academies of Woolwich and Sand Hurst to our youths, as France was in the habit of doing when possessed of these colonies—in admitting, as cadets de marine, at Brest and Rocheport, the sons of those colonists who, as military and civilian administrators, had deserved such a reward—and, by so doing, they formed a good colonial navy, and it was from it sprang up those able and bravo officers—the glory of the past history of the French Canadians; and the honor that they had so acquired reflected also over Old France.
Amongst the great number whose memory ought not to be forgotten, not only by the people of this Province, but also by the Maritime Provinces, at the birth and development of a new nation, and to the defence of which those men have contributed by their intelligence and courage, I will name, amongst others, Bonaventure, Sévigny, Chateauguay, D’Alligny, Tilly, Granville, Soulanges, Vaudreuil, Beauharnois, Longueuil, Repentigny, Boishébert, St. Ours, &c, &c.; and many of those distinguished navy officers became governors not only in the French colonies of America and India, but commanded also seaports in France. Benoit, Chaussegros de Lery, the two Vaudreuils, and Pierre Bedout rose to the rank of Rear Admiral, and one of them, Rouer de la Cordonnière, was even complimented by Fox in the English Parliament, for his generous and gallant conduct towards his enemies.
Now, honorable gentlemen, besides the establishment of the colonial navy, we should also promote the military organization and martial spirit, the natural accompaniment and the best safeguard of freedom, by assuming part of the military defences of this colony, proportioned to our population and revenues, of course with the effective assistance of the Imperial Government. And I hope that England will call out, to exercise the highest functions of statesmanship, such of her subjects in those colonies as will render themselves fit to fill such situations in future. Why should she not even employ them in the diplomatic service, or as governors of her other colonies, as France did formerly, in granting those favors for eminent services? And in spite of the intrigues of those near the soleil levant at Versailles, the daring exploits of those brave colonists, in that glorious struggle from 1698 to 1759, forced the French monarch to do them ample justice, and by so doing the most of the military commands and governorships of the French colonies fell into the hands of Canadian born subjects.
I have said so much to show that the policy of England ought to have been directed to promote, in these colonies, the appointments in the civil as well as in the military career to her colonial subjects, as well as those living in the British Isles.—(Hear, hear.) Referring again to the Maritime Provinces, I will say to my French Canadian countrymen that they have too many glorious pages in the past history of America, […]
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[…] and particularly in relation to these provinces, not to feel a sympathy towards them, as there still exist a large number of the old Acadians who will feel proud to renew old acquaintance, and to live with them as brothers, happy under the protection of the English Government. Let me call to their memory some of the places which were the theatre of the exploits of the brave officers I have already mentioned, such as Port Royal, or Louisbourg, now Annapolis; Chebucto, now Halifax; Port Lajoie, now Charlottetown; L’Isle Royale, now Cape Breton; Isle St. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, &c, &c. I hope, also, that the construction of a good route to Rivière Rouge, the Rocky Mountains and British Columbia, will bring those places to an easy access for commerce, trading and agriculture, to our growing population, and will prevent them emigrating to the United States, as they will find glorious souvenirs in the former places, where their Canadian brothers have already formed flourishing agricultural settlements, and opened up valuable mines.
I trust that my French Canadian countrymen in this House will see the advantage of adopting the resolutions now laid before them, trusting as they should do to the good disposition of the Home Government, as this new Constitution is well calculated to develope the resources of this fine and immense country. And the best proof that we are taking the right steps to secure our happiness, is found amongst other articles hostile to British interests, in an article of the Courrier des Etats-Unis, when the question of Confederation was agitated in 1853, and which runs as follows:—
Notwithstanding all that maybe said, written or spouted about English tyranny and rapacity, we must acknowledge that Great Britain has always known how to keep up with the spirit of the age, and to deal out privileges to her colonies by judicious instalments.
Should this great project be adopted, our importance would rise on the continent of Europe, and we would be on the same footing at least as our American neighbors, belonging to a large and important Confederation, and our credit will rise in consequence. The Lower Canadians will recollect that in 1840, after the temporary suspension of the Act of 1791, England granted us a new Constitution. They will recollect also the anguish, the pangs felt by them at that period; but notwithstanding that we had no voice then in the measure as we have now, still the rights and advantages granted us by the capitulation of Quebec and Montreal and the treaty of Paris in 1763, have not been abrogated, and I am of opinion that by adopting those resolutions, our future rights are as safe as they were formerly. (Hear, hear.)
Before I close I will answer the remarks made by the honorable member for Lanaudière division [Hon. Mr. Olivier], in a speech a few days ago, respecting the Monroe doctrine, alleging that we ought not to legislate upon this delicate subject, or words to that effect. I will quote two letters lately discovered and published by Monsieur Pierre Mergoz, Guardian of Archives of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs in France, and his remarks on these two great honored navigators who discovered the Mississippi and other parts of America, and which remarks are as follow:—
We cannot shut our eyes to the affinity of the interests of the present times and those of former days, and which recommend the memory of Lasalle and D’Iberville. In 1699 D’Iberville wrote on the subject of Louisiana:
“If France does not take possession of this part of America, which is the finest, to have a colony strong enough to resist those that England possesses in the east from Pescadoue to the Caroline, these colonies, which are becoming very extensive, will increase to such an extent that in less than a century they will be strong enough to seize upon the whole continent of America, and to expel all other nations” D’Iberville wrote again in November, 1702: “What may be said against the establishment that the king has made at Mobile? It is the only one that could sustain America against the undertakings of the English on this continent.
In a few years they will be able to forward in fifteen days, by means of their large navy, more than 20,000 or 30,000 men upon such of the French islands as they would be inclined to attack, the distance not being, at the utmost, more than 500 to 600 leagues, the wind being generally favorable to carry them on those shores, and by land they may reach Mexico.” “These views (says Mr. Mergoz),together with D’Iberville’s remarks, will account for the natural uneasiness felt by the European powers at what is now taking place in South America.”
What I have just quoted is, I believe, sufficient to convince the honorable member for the Lanaudière Division [Hon. Mr. Olivier] that the European Powers were not disposed, even at those remote times, to favor the doctrine now called the Monroe; the British colonists of those times being now replaced by our republican neighbors. Having said so much, I will conclude by stating that I shall vote for those resolutions as they are laid before us. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Hamilton (Inkerman)—Honorable gentlemen, so much has been said during the course of the present debate with reference to the elected members of this House, […]
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[…] and the rights of the electors who sent us here, that I desire to make a very few remarks to explain why I, representing a Lower Canadian division, a majority of whom will be amongst the minority of the Lower Canada of the future, have decided that it is my duty to vote for the resolutions of the Quebec Conference as they have been laid before us by the Government, and consequently against all the amendments.
I am free to confess, honorable gentlemen, that there are among the resolutions some that I would have gladly seen, as I conceive, amended; but considering, from the nature of the thing itself, and therefore fully concurring in what many of us heard from an eminent and distinguished statesman in another place, that the whole scheme of Confederation partook of the nature of a treaty, into which, as a matter of course, the spirit of compromise must largely enter; and the Government having, as I also consider they were bound to do, informed us we must accept the scheme as a whole, or reject it as a whole, I conceived it was my duty not to be a bar in the way, however humble, of the passage of the resolutions, and I came to this conclusion the more willingly because I have been for a long time an advocate for a union of the provinces, and I have been so because it is indisputable that a much greater share of our self-defence must rest upon ourselves than heretofore; and though at the best our means of defence may not be as great as we could wish, yet it must be manifest they must be greater by being consolidated under one head.
Some hon. gentlemen, especially my neighbor from St. Clair [Hon. Mr. Vidal], have ridiculed the idea of Confederation increasing our powers of defence, inasmuch as under the best of circumstances it must take a long time to perfect our arrangements; but I would ask hon. gentlemen to consider what will be the effect in England, as to our defences, if we reject or even postpone this scheme of Confederation, coming as it would on the heels of a rejected Militia Bill. During the discussion, we have had, if the term is parliamentary and may be used, many fancy finance statements.
Now, without disputing the correctness of any of them, I would ask the honorable gentlemen who have made them, have they made any calculation as to the costs we would be at after we had been gobbled up by our neighbors south of 45°, or, to use the words of the honorable and gallant Knight the Premier [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché], after we had slid down the inclined plane, and become merged in the neighboring republic? I for one would say that such a position was altogether too contemptible to occupy. With reference to the change doing away with our elective Legislative Council, of which we have heard so much, I for one can say that I consider the delegates came to the only correct conclusion, and this is no new conclusion, and involves no change of opinion on my part, for I can appeal to an honorable member of this House as to whether, within half an hour of taking my seat in it, I did not express the opinion that though it was not right to speak ill of the bridge over which one had crossed safely, yet that I was opposed to the elective system as applied to this House. I also dissent from the sentiments I have heard expressed by many honorable members of this House as to our position here, for I never understood that I came here as the mere delegate of the men of Inkerman, to vote just as the most active village politicians happened to pull the wires for me.
No, gentlemen, I came here, as I thought, as the representative of my division, to do my best according to my humble ability in legislating for the benefit of the whole country, and under no other circumstances would I have accepted the position. I shall not occupy your time, honorable gentlemen, in saying that which has been better said by others; but thanking you for the few moments’ hearing you have so kindly given me, conclude by reducing my explanations as follows: I vote for Confederation because I consider it essential to the maintenance of British connection, and to preserve that, I for one am prepared to make many sacrifices. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Blake—I feel it to be my duty, honorable gentlemen, to make a few remarks upon the general question of Federation before the vote is taken. A great deal has been said about the manner in which the scheme has originated. It has been said that the honorable gentlemen composing the Conference were self-elected. Now I hold that it is most unfair to charge honorable gentlemen who have, as members of a government, entered into this matter at the request of His Excellency the Governor-General, with a sincere desire to do the best that could be done for the interests of Canada, with being too precipitate, especially when the subject was surrounded with so much difficulty. Although I have been an advocate of a union of the provinces for very many years, yet I am fully prepared to admit that there are some matters of detail in those resolutions that are very distasteful to me. I refer particularly to the abandonment of the elective principle in the constitution of this branch of the Legislature. […]
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[…] I was always in favor of the elective principle as applied to the Legislative Council, and a very large proportion of my constituency is also in favor of it, I am opposed to the building of the Intercolonial Railway, on account of the immense expenditure which it will entail upon the country, not only now, but for all time to come. I think that that expenditure will be so great that it will fall very heavily on our finances, which are now go very poorly able to bear the burden, and that the road will be of very little use to the country. Much has been said about this scheme not being understood by the people. With regard to that, I can only speak of my own locality. Before coming here, I went through my own constituency, and conversed with a great many leading men of all political parties, and all urged me to go for Confederation, without a single exception. (Hear, hear.)
I pointed out the objections which I had to the scheme. I told them that I disapproved of the elective principle being ignored—of the building of the Intercolonial Railway—and of the increased expense of maintaining two sets of government. I pointed out all these and other objections, but notwithstanding, they said that it would be far better to take Federation, even as proposed by the resolutions, than to remain as we are. They said: “The government of the country has come to a dead-lock; we have seen one strong party pitted against another strong party; we have seen two or three governments formed that were unable to pass a single important measure, and some change is therefore absolutely necessary.” The question then arises, What are we to do? Now, I would ask the opponents of this scheme, if they have any other plan to propose that will relieve the country of the difficulties under which it has been laboring? (Hear, hear.)
On the other hand, we have been told by high authority that we were on the brink of ruin. We were told by the honorable and gallant Knight at the head of the Government [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché], that we were on an “inclined plane,” on which we were fast sliding into the republic of the United States of America. I think it is therefore my duty to vote for the resolutions as they stand, and to vote for no amendments of any kind. (Hear, hear.)
We are told that if we adopt any amendments to the resolutions, the whole scheme must fall to the ground. Are we to go back to the position we formerly occupied, or will it not be better to accept these resolutions, on which a new Constitution may be formed? If it is not formed to suit us, we can alter it hereafter. It is not, I apprehend, to be like the laws of the Medes and Persians, totally unalterable. The Constitutions of Great Britain, of the United States, and of the different civilized nations now in existence have been altered, and why are we to expect that these resolutions are a finality? Gentlemen, the Constitution of the Confederation can be altered in future as easily as our present Constitution has been altered. I hope this scheme will go into effect at an early period, and I trust it will be productive of a vast amount of good to our country. (Hear, hear.) Honorable gentlemen say it is a revolution. It may be a revolution, but certainly it is not so violent a one as was proposed in 1837 and 1838. (Hear, hear.)
There has been a great deal of heavy artillery brought into play since this debate began, but I hope that the revolution will be carried out without the shedding of blood. (Hear, hear and laughter.) I am prepared to give my vote for the scheme. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Read next addressed the House. He said—Honorable gentlemen, I have voted for delay in the passage of these resolutions, believing that to be my duty; and if I have been wrong in doing so, it has been through want of judgment. I have had no other intention in so doing than to promote the best interests of the country. As, however, I observe that a large majority of this House entertains a different opinion, I shall no longer attempt to mar the scheme, but shall give it my support when the time for voting upon it arrives. (Hear, hear, and cheers.)
I never intended to mar it, but I wished to be sure that the country was satisfied with it, and would appreciate it when they got it. (Hear.) I think human nature is the same now as it always was and always will be. As the hon. Premier and the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] have used some comparisons with reference to the proposed union, I have also a comparison to make. They said that a union could not be effected without some sacrifices—a little giving and taking all round. I think so too, but I think there is a different way in which this proposed union must be viewed. I compare Canada to a young man who has had guardians appointed to take care of his estate; but having arrived at that age that his guardians think it is time he should be married, they arrange a matrimonial alliance for him. He is all the time looking on, and expecting to be asked how the arrangement suits him. But in this case it appears he is not to be […]
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[…] asked at all. (Hear, hear.)
When they have all things in readiness, he says to himself: “You may have power to marry me, but you cannot make me live happily.” Now, had he been consulted, he would probably have made the same choice and have been fully satisfied with the alliance. As human nature is always the same, I have thought these were sufficiently strong reasons for wishing to have some delay, in order that the people, after the matter was fully before them, might cordially enter into the proposed union. I am favorably impressed with a great many of the resolutions composing this measure. I cannot, however, agree with my hon. friend from Toronto (Hon. Mr. Ross), that Upper Canada would build the Intercolonial Railway herself rather than be without it. Upper Canada does not produce anything that can be profitably taken over the road. There is no alternative, however, but to build it, if Confederation is to be carried out. In 1862, we had a good bargain thrown open to us, but as we refused to accept it at the time, we cannot now get it without paying a higher price.
Along with the matrimonial alliance into which we are about to enter, there will be fresh responsibilities, and I really do not think the country is quite prepared for them. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) It seems we are pretty certain to form the alliance, and it is equally certain that those little responsibilities will immediately spring up. (Laughter.)
I think, however, that we must call them great responsibilities, and I repeat, much greater than we are prepared for. I would make a great sacrifice for the defence of the country, but if England tells us we must do more than the country is able to do, I do not think we will be willing to submit to it. We are prepared to do all. we can, but I am not prepared to go to such an enormous expense as to involve our country in such debt as will render it an undesirable place to live in. With Confederation we will have to go to great expense, not only for our defences and our militia, but also for a navy; because I believe that, as soon as the Americans put an increased number of gun-boats on the lakes, we will have to put on an equal number, and it is very doubtful to me if we can afford it. (Hear, hear.) Where is the money to come from?
Hon. Mr. Currie—Yes—where is the money to come from?
Hon. Mr. Read—We are now very heavily taxed, and have a heavy bill to pay for interest on our large debt. I would like to see the Government adopt some method by which this interest should not go out of the country. I do not like to see so much borrowed from abroad. Interest is a thing that accumulates very rapidly, and it has to be paid regularly. If some system could be devised by which this borrowing from abroad could be stopped, the Federation scheme would suit me much better, especially when we consider that the taxes of the people of this country, per head, have been running up at an alarming rate—from one dollar to three—since the union, in 1841.
It seems that the Confederation is to increase our taxes; that fact is generally admitted, independent of the expense of building the Intercolonial Railway. I do not see where all the money is to come from, but I dare say the Finance Minister [Hon. Mr. Galt] will find out some means of raising it by increased taxation. When the final vote comes on, I shall be prepared to support the motion rather than have it rejected altogether, and shall press my opposition no further. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Reesor—Honorable gentlemen, I rise to move—
That the following words be added to the main motion: “Provided always, that His Excellency the Governor General be prayed to withhold the transmission of the said Address until the said resolutions shall have been approved of by the electors of this province, qualified to vote under the Act 22 Vic, cap. 6, to be signified by a direct vote on the said resolution, to be taken in the various municipalities throughout Upper and Lower Canada.”
Hon. Mr. Dickson—I am desirous of calling to the notice of the House the fact that this amendment appears on the face of it to embody the same principle as the amendment proposed by the honorable member opposite (Hon. Mr. Currie), and seconded by myself, and which, after a long and somewhat tedious discussion, was decided in the negative. I would like to know, therefore, whether the amendment is in order. I do not oppose it, but if it is not in order, disposing of it at once will save time, and I rise to obtain the Speaker’s decision upon the point.
Hon. Mr. Ross—The objection of the honorable member is, I think, conclusive with regard to the amendment. It appears to be the same in principle as that moved by the honorable member for Niagara [Hon. Mr. Currie], and seems to me to be out of order.
Hon.Mr. Bureau—I think the motion is in order. It declares that before the scheme is finally adopted, it shall be referred to the people, for them to vote yea or nay upon it. […]
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[…] No such amendment has before been offered in this House.
The Hon. The Speaker—The motion proposed in amendment to the main motion by Hon. Mr. Currie was in the following words:—”That in a matter of such great importance as the proposed Confederation of this and certain other British Colonies, this House is unwilling to assume the responsibility of assenting to a measure involving so many important considerations, without a further manifestation of the public will than has yet been declared.” Now, the present motion is—”That His Excellency the Governor General be prayed to withhold the transmission of the said Address until the said resolutions shall have been approved of by the electors of this province, qualified to vote under the Act 22 Vic, cap. 6, to be signified by a direct vote on the said resolution, to be taken in the various municipalities throughout Upper and Lower Canada.” Although there may be some similarity, still it is not substantially the same motion. (Hear, hear.)
The “further manifestation of the public will” may be quite a different thing from the manifestation of that will by a direct vote, as provided for by this amendment. I believe, therefore, that the motion is in order; and, as in a case of this kind it is my opinion that a liberal interpretation of the rules and practice of the House should be made, I cannot declare that the amendment is included in the motion decided by the House yesterday. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Reesor—It will have been observed that the course of this debate has taken a most extraordinary turn. At first, honorable members addressed the House in favor of the resolutions—members of the Government more especially, and then some honorable gentlemen supporting them; but latterly we have heard several honorable gentlemen expressing their views very strongly and emphatically against many of the resolutions embraced in the scheme of Confederation, but while expressing themselves so strongly, they seemed to feel it to be their duty to support it as a whole. (Hear, hear.)
Now, it strikes me, and I trust it will strike some other honorable members, also, that we have been elected to this Legislature with a view to perfect as far as possible every scheme or proposition that may properly come before it. If we have views on a particular measure which would lead us to propose amendments for the purpose of making it different in shape or scope from what it is when first introduced, I maintain that it is our duty to express our views in that direction—not taking the measure without looking fairly and impartially into it, or accepting it in the belief that we have no right to dispute or alter any portion of it.
For my part, I look upon the scheme now before the House as upon the whole very different from what we had a right to expect from the members of the present Government. They have been strongly supported in both Houses of Parliament and in the country, and I do not desire to see any difficulty thrown in their way, or anything done calculated to lessen their support in the Legislature; but at the same time I do say that, with the support and confidence they have received, they ought to have brought forward a better scheme than that which they have presented to the House and country. Why, take the question of the Intercolonial Railroad involved in these resolutions, and what do we find? More than two years ago the governments of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia made a proposition to the Canadian Government to build this road and pay seven-twelfths of the cost, Canada to pay the remaining five twelfths.
Well, what arrangement have we now—what has time brought about—what advantages have these two years gained for us? This, that the Government of Canada come down to the Legislature with a scheme according to which Canada will have to pay towards the construction of this road nine twelfths of the entire amount, and the other provinces the balance—thus involving additional expense on the part of Canada to the amount of several millions of dollars—certainly not less than six millions to build the Intercolonial Railway alone—more than was demanded of us two years ago—and a total additional expenditure that will add to the annual taxation of Canada more than a million and a half of dollars for all time to come.
This heavy expenditure over the proposition made two years ago has, therefore, been needlessly undertaken. It is admitted, even by the promoters of this scheme, that the eastern provinces will benefit far more largely than Canada by the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. It is admitted by the best commercial men who have spoken upon the subject, that as a commercial undertaking it will not pay. It is admitted that it will be of little or no value whatever as a defensive work. This being the case, why then rush into this large expenditure with such precipitancy; why not, at least, postpone its passage in order to get a measure of a more perfect character, and one more in harmony with the […]
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[…] wishes of the people chiefly interested? Honorable gentlemen who betray such anxiety to press this scheme at once should remember that we are not voting away our own but the people’s money, and that this should not be done to the extent that is now proposed, without consulting their wishes in the matter. This the law requires before a municipal council can make any special grant of money. In such cases a vote of the people has to be taken, which is conclusive as to whether the proposed expenditure shall be incurred or not; and yet we are here passing a measure of vastly greater importance to them, a measure involving a revolution in our political affairs—a measure involving an immense outlay of money without asking whether the people are favorable to it or not. (Hear, hear.)
I maintain, honorable gentlemen, that before it is finally passed upon, the whole question should be submitted to the people, and that the law which requires a reference to them in minor matters, should be extended in a matter which so nearly concerns their future condition and prosperity. The people of the eastern provinces have very little to complain of in the plan of Confederation proposed. The fact is, they will be largely the gainers by it, if it is carried out. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the members of the governments of those provinces, and other public men, see the great advantage they have gained over Canada, and are not slow to set them before the people.
They are naturally anxious that the scheme shall be carried as speedily as possible, and are making every effort in this direction, for under it unprofitable local works in those provinces are assumed and paid for by the General Government; such, for instance, as the railways of New Brunswick, which, before five years go round, will, I have no doubt, be run at very considerable cost beyond the returns they will yield to the General Government. The Hon. Mr. Tilley, in a speech to the electors of St. John, sets forth the advantages to be gained by New Brunswick by the union, as follows:—
New Brunswick is allowed to enter the Confederation with a debt of seven millions, and Nova Scotia with a debt of eight millions. Now, what was the nature of the arrangement by which we came in? It was found that the debt of Canada was not much larger per head than that of New Brunswick. We came in on better terms than that province.
Mr. Tilley then proceeds to show how New Brunswick gained a clear advantage of $610,000 a year for all time to come on the Intercolonial Railway alone. So much better are the terms to that province under the Intercolonial scheme than those upon which they offered themselves to join us in building that road, two years ago, Hon. Mr. Tilley says:—
Of the cost of that road (the Intercolonial Railway) New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had guaranteed the provincial credit for seven-twelfths, and Canada for five-twelfths. Now, if the Confederation would build the road, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would be relieved of the interest on the seven millions, amounting to $420,000, as well as upon the interest of the three and a half-twelfths of the three millions sterling, amounting to $190,000, making in all $610,000 provided for by the General Government.
This liberal bribe to bring New Brunswick into the union, one would think, was quite enough to satisfy the little province; but Hon. Mr. Tilley adds:—
Over and above all these advantages, we get for ten years a subsidy of $63,000 per annum. Our local expenditures summed up amount to $320,630, and we get from the General Government, without increased taxation, $90,000, in lieu of our import duty and casual territorial revenue, 80 cents per head on the population, making $201,637, and a special subsidy of $63,000 a year for tea years, making in all $354,637, being $34,000 over and above or ire sent necessities.
These (says Hon. Mr. Tilley) are the principal points looked to. Hon. Mr. Tilley is very candid, and acknowledges these adman tag sin the name of “subsidies.” He further assures his audience in the following words:—
But we are asked, what guarantee has you that you will continue to receive these subsidies promised by the General Government? Most unquestionable security—we are not at the mercy of the Canadians. * * So close is the contest between parties in the Canadian Legislature, that even the five Prince Edward Island members by their votes, could turn victory on whatever side they choose, and have the game entirely in their own hands.
This is the success with which Hon. Mr. Tilley has acted on behalf of the people of New Brunswick, and I think the Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell], when he reflects upon the advantages that the eastern provinces have received over those obtained by Canada, will admit that I was not far astray the other day when I said that our public men had acted with a great deal of recklessness. It appears to me that they went to work with the determination to get Confederation—to get it on fair terms if they could, but to get it on any terms that might be found necessary to concede […]
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[…] to the Lower Provinces. (Hear, hear.) Another of the delegates to the Quebec Conference, Hon. Mr. Whelan, of Prince Edward Island, enumerates all the advantages that will be secured to that province by Confederation, and winds up by saying, that that little island will have $40,000 a year more than necessary to carry on its local affairs. (Hear.) Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I do think the Government ought to have given more time to deliberate upon and perfect this measure; and, at any rate, to leave it over till another session of Parliament before demanding a final decision upon the question. Failing to do that, and failing to consent to any alteration in any one of the resolutions, however objectionable, I think it is our duty to refer it to the people for their decision upon it. I know I will be met with the objection that this is contrary to British practice—that a reference to the people in the manner I propose is unknown to the British Constitution.
We may say the same thing in regard to every branch of legislation and public business in this country, that it differs in some respects from the mode of conducting it which prevails in England; but we must remember that we are differently situated in this country from the people of England, and that our feelings and habits of thought upon public affairs are altogether different. And since we have adopted the principle in the conduct of our municipal affairs, to refer all matters involving the expenditure of money for special purposes to the people, it will do no possible harm to apply it to this measure; and if the people adopt it, and it should afterwards prove that they had entered into a bad bargain, they would have no one to blame but themselves, and I have no doubt would, under such circumstances, bear it more patiently. But if we take the opposite course, if we close this arrangement on terms disadvantageous to us, it will be many years before a change can be effected.
Would Prince Edward Island, at the demand of Canada, give up the lien, the constitutional right she will have obtained under this scheme, to the money she receives over and above what is necessary to meet her local requirements? Not at all. Would Newfoundland give up her bonus of $160,000 a year for all time, should the looked for coal not be found to pay?
Not a bit of it. Would Nova Scotia give up her right to impose an export duty on coals and other minerals, because Canada found that this right gave her undue advantages? Certainly not. Would New Brunswick surrender her right to levy an export duty on timber, or, at the call of Canada, give any extra assistance towards the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, which will benefit her far more largely than any of the other provinces, inasmuch as it will open up a large tract of country within her borders, and render the land and timber it contains far more valuable? Undoubtedly she would not; we would have to abide by our agreement, no matter how invidious might be the advantages it conferred, no matter how unfavourably it might affect western interests. (Hear, hear. )
The complaint that has been made against the working of the present union is that in Lower Canada the people do not pay as much in taxes to the general revenue, man for man, as the people of Upper-Canada. It was contended, I believe, by the present Attorney General East [Hon. Mr. Cartier], at a speech delivered some years since to his constituents at Vouchers, that the expenditure for the redemption of seigniorial rights did not affect Lower Canada very much, because Upper Canada paid two-thirds of the revenue of the country; and all the advocates of the western section, who have urged its rights before the people, have taken the ground that it contributed in that proportion to the public exchequer. Now, if there be any truth in this statement, it must follow that under this arrangement Canada, at all events, will have to pay more, man for man, than the eastern provinces to the general revenue, because it cannot be contended, I apprehend, that Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, or either of the other Maritime Provinces, however prosporous their condition may be, have a population as wealthy as that of Upper Canada, or one that will contribute as much in taxes to the General Government.
If then, during the past, Lower Canada has paid less than Upper Canada to the revenue, while enjoying the benefit of as large or perhaps a larger expenditure than that section, what is proposed to be done now? Why, to remove that difficulty which led almost to a dead-lock in our legislation, to get rid of the embarrassments that have beset the Government of this country for many years past, we are asked to adopt a scheme that will perpetuate them on a larger scale than before, and involve, in the construction of the Intercolonial Railway alone, the expenditure of a million or a million and a half annually for over. (Hear, hear.) How absurd then to urge on this scheme without at least sharing the responsibility of it with the […]
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[…] people? Why not take time and maturely consider it? Why not submit it to the verdict of those who have to pay its cost, and if they accept it, let them bear the consequences. (Hear, hear.)
With regard to the constitution of the Upper House of the proposed General Legislature, a good deal has been said, but I think the main point has too often been lost sight of. The course of the debate upon these resolutions has seemed to run in some instances as though we regarded a membership of this branch of the Legislature a position which we ought to occupy by right, as though we had some sort of a constitutional right to remain here, and as though governments and parliamentary bodies were instituted by the people, not for the benefit of the community, but for the advancement of those who compose them. We would seem to have overlooked a fundamental principle of all free governments, that governments should be carried on for the good of the governed; and the principle of responsible government, according to which government must be carried on according to the well-understood wishes of the people.
Hon. Mr. McCrea—As expressed by their representatives.
Hon. Mr. Reesor—As expressed, my honorable friend says, by their representatives. Very well; we must remember that those who constitute the Government of this country have brought down here a very curious scheme, and have held out to you the inducement that if you support it you have a chance of being appointed for life to the seat you occupy; and there is thus a probability of your being blinded to what you owe to the people, of your ignoring the constituencies that sent you here, and of your forgetting the duty you owe to the country.
Now, I hold with regard to the elective principle in this House, that the oftener a man is brought in contact with the people in a legitimate way, to learn their wishes as constitutionally and properly expressed, the more likely he is to use his influence and talent in conducting the government in such a manner as to secure the happiness and prosperity of the country. (Hear, hear.) It is said that, as you have a responsible government, the Government of the day will be held responsible to the people, through their representatives in the lower branch of the Legislature for the appointments, it may make to this House. Admitting this to be the case, we know what the tendency is in England, and what it was in this country when the Government had the appointment of the members of the Legislative Council; the effect will be to find a place in this House for men distinguished for the aid they have given at elections to certain men or parties, and not as a reward of true merit or legislative ability. Furthermore, if this House is to be of any value at all, it is as affording a wholesome check over hasty and unwise legislation.
But if you place the whole legislation of the country in the hands of a single man or body, I care not whether it is democratic or aristocratic in its tendencies, a power like that in the hands of the Executive to create the Legislative Council is a dangerous one. Unrestrained or unchecked action by a single elected body of the most democratic character is apt to go astray if they feel they have only themselves to consult. This is what is proposed to be done under this scheme; but let this House be elected, as before, by the people; let them be returned for a period of eight years as at present, or even longer if desired, and then, if there is a demand for legislation of a selfish or ill-considered character—a demand which, founded on ignorance or passion, is likely to right itself after the lapse of a few years—the members of this House would take the responsibility upon themselves of rejecting it, and public opinion would eventually sustain them and acknowledge that they have done some service to the country. But inasmuch as you appoint these members for life, you have no check over them, nor are they so likely to check legislation of an immature and ill-considered character.
While the Ministry of the day which appoints them remains in power, it will expect and receive a cordial support from them; but let it be defeated, and a ministry, formed out of the opposite party, obtain office, there will certainly be difficulty—there will be a tendency to dead-locks between the two branches of the legislature, and a repetition of those scenes which were witnessed in this country some years ago, and which formed one of the principal causes that brought about the rebellion of 1837. Honorable gentlemen say that we will have the power to remedy those defects in the scheme if they are found to be injurious in their action, but it is well known from the experience of the past that no power can be brought to bear to bring about any change that may be required, without a great deal of agitation and labor. What has been the agitation to secure a change in the representation of the two sections of Canada in Parliament? It has been going on for ten or twelve years, […]
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[…] and yet, on the eve of accomplishment, those who have advocated it have not effected a change of the nature that was desired, but have jumped into a new and totally different scheme, that really seems to me to have been brought about for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal aims, rather than satisfying any demand on the part of the people. (Hear, hear.) The honorable and gallant Knight [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché] at the head of the Government stated that we were on an inclined plane, and in danger of sliding into the republicanism of the United States.
Honorable members who have spoken have referred to this phrase so often, and so many deductions have been drawn from it, that I may perhaps be permitted to say a few words upon it. I think all must see that the tendency of the scheme now before the House will be in a few years to impose direct taxation upon the people for the support of the local governments. Let us then have direct taxation, and what will be the result? If there is a large expenditure on the part of the General Government, in addition to this taxation, political agitators will arise, who will cry out that the public burdens are unequally borne—(hear)—that two-thirds of the revenue is borne by the people living west of Quebec—that is, the population west of this city will, man for man, pay twice as much to the public exchequer as the population east of it.
There will undoubtedly be the same tendency, under such a state of things, as has been charged to exist on the part of the Lower Canadian representatives since the union was formed—namely, a tendency on the part of those who pay the smaller portion of the revenue to spend the public money freely and extravagantly. They will naturally say when any appropriation is proposed for their own section—”We will go for this expenditure, for it will benefit us; and we will support a corresponding expenditure in the other section, because we have not so much to pay of it as the people of that section—we will have only fifty cents to pay of it, while they will have to pay a dollar.” This argument will be used in support of all extravagant and wasteful expenditures, and you may depend upon it that they will soon be incurred. Then you will have political agitators who will constantly keep these things before the people, who will demand a dissolution of the union of the provinces as a remedy for the evil.
Then a further difficulty will be found in the fact that breadstuffs, the American market for which will probably be closed, cannot be transported to the Lower from the Upper Provinces without being protected by a heavy import duty. Will the representatives from the Lower Provinces allow that import duty to be imposed? No, undoubtedly they will not. Attempt to carry it in the interest of Upper Canada and you will at once transform the whole of them into advocates for the repeal of the union. Thus you create cause for agitation in all the sections, and it will not long continue until you will again see another deadlock. You will again have three administrations formed and three general elections occurring within two years, and again you will have sufficient excuse for another change in the Constitution.
And you may rely upon it, that before such an agitation goes on five years it will be made an excuse for sliding further down the inclined plane than would have been afforded if we had remained as we were. (Hear, hear.) I cannot help coming to the conclusion, honorable gentlemen, that these resolutions contain the seeds of our destruction as colonies. There can be no political advantage in the proposed union, unless we assume the rights and responsibilities of an independent country. We are not yet prepared for that step. Our population is not numerous enough; we are too young and too weak to assume those rights and responsibilities. We have no commercial advantages to gain by the union. Why then force it upon us?
Let it remain for more mature consideration, and the evils you have will be borne the more quietly; but if you force it upon the people prematurely, and the evils I fear spring from it, depend upon it that the public men who press it forward will be as seriously condemned as they are now highly lauded. The fact is, the people of the country do not understand this scheme. How can it be expected that they should understand it in all its bearings? Why, the honorable member from the Rideau Division [Hon. Mr. Skead] said he heard the explanations of it and was here a couple of weeks before he understood it, and that he had sent 2000 circulars to his constituents that they might have a knowledge of it. How can he expect them to understand it from these printed documents, when he himself, with the advantage of hearing all the explanations upon it, was two weeks in gaining an understanding of it? Honorable gentlemen, I am in the abstract in favor of the union of these colonies—(hear, hear)—but I do not wish to force on this scheme in a way that is unfair and unjust, […]
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[…] that will lead to future difficulties of even a graver character than those we are now labouring under, and that will give cause for the advocacy of such a change in our position as few in this country would desire to see brought about. (Hear, hear.)
The House then divided upon the amendment, with the following result:—
[Editor’s Note: The amendment, proposed by Mr. Reesor, is as follows:
That the following words be added to the main motion: “Provided always, that His Excellency the Governor General be prayed to withhold the transmission of the said Address until the said resolutions shall have been approved of by the electors of this province, qualified to vote under the Act 22 Vic, cap. 6, to be signified by a direct vote on the said resolution, to be taken in the various municipalities throughout Upper and Lower Canada.”]
CONTENTS.—Honorable Messieurs Aikins, Archambault, Armstrong, Bennett, Bureau, Chaffers, Currie, A. J. Duchesnay, Flint, Leonard, Leslie, Malhiot, Moore, Olivier, Proulx, Reesor, Seymour, Simpson, Vidal.—19.
NON-CONTENTS—Honorable Messieurs Alexander, Allan, Armand, Sir N. F.Belleau, Blake, Boulton, Bossé, Bull, Campbell, Christie, Crawford, DeBeaujeu, Dickson, E. H. J. Duchesnay, Dumouchel, Foster, Gingras, Guévremont, Hamilton (Inkerman), Hamilton (Kingston), Lacoste, McCrea, McDonald, McMaster, Macpherson, Matheson, Mills, Panet, Price, Read, Ross, Ryan, Shaw, Skead, Sir E.P. Taché, Wilson.—36.
So the amendment was negatived.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché said—I am anxious that honorable gentlemen should have a full opportunity of expressing themselves upon the measure which is now before the House, and as I am the mover of the resolutions, I think it is but just and fair that I should close the debate. (Hear, hear.) If no other honorable gentleman desires to speak upon them, I think that before the vote is taken I should have an opportunity of answering the arguments that have been advanced against the scheme, and of explaining certain expressions that have fallen from me. I believe the House will be disposed to give me that fair play which has always been given under circumstances similar to these—(hear, hear)—and I purpose, therefore—no other honorable gentleman desiring to address the House—to close the debate this evening.
Hon. Mr. Currie—I would ask if it is the intention of the Government to explain the resolutions more fully than has been done?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—The members of the Government will be happy to afford any information the honorable member may desire. The House then adjourned till eight o’clock in the evening, and on reassembling,
Hon. Mr. Ryan said—The importance of the vote we are about to give on these resolutious is very great, as the future of the country is so largely dependent upon it, and representing as I do the division of Victoria, which is one of the most important in the country, containing a large representation of those sections or divisions of races which make up the population of Canada, I think it due to my constituents to make a few observations upon the subject before us. (Hear.)
If the constituency I represent is, perhaps, not quite the most numerous in the country, it possesses a large share of the wealth, business and manufacturing energy and commercial enterprise of the province. It also contains, in not very unequal proportions, people of the different nationalities, religions and languages which most largely prevail amongst us. You have the French element, with the Roman Catholic religion and French language; you have the English, Scotch and Irish Protestant element, and you have the Irish Roman Catholic element, which I may be said more especially to represent, and which is by no means an unimportant one. Go through Canada, and you will find that these, with a few European foreigners, such as Germans and Norwegians, make up nearly the whole population. My division is, in fact, an epitome of Canada. (Hear, hear.)
It may not be too much to say that the opinion and feeling of Montreal will be a fair representation of what the opinion of the country generally is, and that if Montreal has come to a nearly unanimous conclusion, it is very likely the different sections of the country will have arrived at a very similar one on the subject of Confederation. I am happy to be able to state with confidence, that I have taken pains to ascertain the opinions of each of the different sections of my constituency to which I have alluded, and that I believe they are in consonance with the votes I have given in this chamber. (Hear, hear.)
I have alluded to the energy of my constituents, to their great commercial enterprise. I believe that energy is one of their leading characteristics, and I may say this, that if that energy has led them, on rare occasions, a little further than their own interest and that of the country required, they, nevertheless, on such occasions acted on an honest and generous impulse, or were prompted by the feeling that some injustice had been done to them. I was greatly gratified with the remarks of the honorable and gallant Premier [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché] at the commencement of this debate, when alluding to events which long since took place in Montreal; he put the blame where it really should rest—on the Legislature of the day, which was pressing on the people a measure distasteful to them, and which was vainly remonstrated against by numerous portions of the country. The same impulsive character which led […]
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[…] them at that time into a course which is certainly much to be regretted, afterwards led them to countenance a movement of which I disapproved at the time, and which I opposed with all my might—the movement towards annexation. They favored that movement, because they thought they had been aggrieved and maltreated. But I may tell you now, that this feeling has completely vanished, and that their wish now is to place Canada on a footing in which, united with the Lower Provinces and in close connection with Great Britain, she may be thoroughly independent of her neighbors, and free from any need of looking again towards Washington. (Hear, hear.)
In considering the project of Confederation, one of the principal subjects which has undergone discussion in this House has been the proposed Constitution of the Council, and the most prominent question connected with it has been the question of the elective versus the nominative, principle. Although an elected member, I voted without the least hesitation against the elective principle, and I believe that in doing so I represented the views of my constituents as well as my own—I mean the great majority of my constituents, for there may be some exceptions with regard to this point, as there are no doubt with respect to the general question of Confederation. I based my vote on what is, I think, a true principle in politics, which is that if you wish a check to be established, such as I think this Council is intended to establish on the legislation of the other branch, you must not have the two Chambers returnable by the same constituents. If the constituents of both Houses are nearly the same, you lose the power of check, or at least you will not have it effectual, because you will have the same sentiments and feelings represented in this House as in the other.
I am not singular in this opinion, but were I to cite the opinions of men who are of a conservative turn of mind, and who have always upheld the privileges of the aristocracy and the prerogative of the Crown, I should, perhaps, give you opinions which would carry less weight with the opponents of this measure than will that of a gentleman whose views I will cite, who has written a great deal, and very ably, and who belongs to the ranks of the advanced Liberal party in England—I mean Mr. John Stuart Mill. In his chapter on the Second Chamber (Considerations on Representative Government, page 212), be says:—
That there should be in every polity a centre of resistance to the predominant power in the Constitution—and in a democratic constitution, therefore, a nucleus of resistance to the democracy—I have already maintained, and I regard it as a fundamental maxim of government. If any people who possess a democratic representation are, from their historical antecedents, more willing to tolerate such a centre of resistance in the form of a Second Chamber or House of Lords than in any other shape, this constitutes a strong reason for having it in that shape.
Now, honorable gentlemen, I think a Second Chamber, constituted nearly in the same way as the Lower Chamber, would be wholly ineffectual to stop the current of legislation coming from that Chamber; the point, indeed, admits of very little question. (Hear, hear.) The objections which have been raised to nomination by the Crown or the Executive Government are of very little effect at this time of day. For myself I should have preferred to have the nomination of legislative councillors vested in the Crown independently cu the recommendation of the Local Government, so as to have left die prerogative unfettered.
They is no doubt that abuses formerly existed in Canada when the nominative system was in force—before responsible government was established and when the Colonial Office meddled a good deal with the affairs of the province; but now every honorable gentleman with any knowledge of historical events in Canada will say at once the case is altogether altered. So far from interfering in our internal matters, the Colonial Office now leaves us a great deal to ourselves and lets us do as we please. There never was a freer Constitution than ours. Under these altered circumstances, I should have preferred, I say, that in order to avoid all appearance of nominations for party purposes, the direct nomination of legislative councillors should have been left to the Crown or the Crown’s representative in the Confederation. (Hear.)
There was one remark made by the hon. member for Wellington [Hon. Mr. Sanborn] in reference to Mr. Cardwell’s letter, which I think was made in error. He inferred from that despatch that Mr. Cardwell was opposed to the nominative system. Now, the passage he alluded to was this:—
The second point which Her Majesty’s Government desired should be reconsidered is the Constitution of the Legislative Council. They appreciate the considerations which have influenced the Conference in determining the mode in which this body, so important to the constitution of the Legislature, […]
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[…] should be composed. But it appears to them to require further consideration whether, if the members be appointed for life, and their number be fixed, there will be any sufficient means of restoring harmony between the Legislative Council and the popular Assembly, if it shall ever unfortunately happen that a decided differ emcee of opinion shall arise between them.
Now the point of this (Mr. Cardwell’s) objection clearly is to the number being fixed, not to the principle of nomination, nor to members being appointed lord life. (Hear, hear.) Like many honorable gentlemen in this House, there are certain of the clauses in these resolutions which, I think, might have been improved. I, for instance, might have preferred the Confederate seat of government being established elsewhere than at Ottawa; and, with reference to this subject, I have been much struck with a remark, which I will cite, from a recent writer, who says that—”Any country compelled to forego the use of its natural chief city, and make some inferior and ill-placed town the seat of its government, labors under incalculable disadvantages.” Everybody, however, has his own little bantling, and thinks it the handsomest in the world; and I doubt very much if, after all, we should have made the plan of Confederation much better, had every one of us been consulted and taken into the Conference, at Charlottetown or Quebec, to urge our own special views. (Hear, hear.)
I rather infer, from the differences of opinion I have heard around me in these debates, that we would not have so easily adopted the compromise system as by the gentlemen who composed those conferences. I hope, however, that we shall adopt that system now, and get through the debate in the faith that they have done what is best for the interests of the country, and that the measure is so important, as a whole, as to render it unwise to place minor impediments in its way to interrupt its course. (Hear, hear.)
I have marked several sections of the resolutions which I think are open to objection or susceptible of improvement, and I hope the honorable and gallant Knight at the head of the Government [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché] will give some explanations respecting the views which animated the Conference in reference to them. One of them is a matter in which Lower Canada is somewhat peculiarly interested—the system of marriage and divorce, which, I see, is to be left in the hands of the Federal Government. I hope nothing will be done by the General Government, in relation to this question, which will outrage the feelings of Lower Canada, or lead to the laxity, in dealing with the marriage tie, which prevails south of the line 45°. (Hear, hear.)
Again, emigration is a subject which is left to the Local as well as the General Government to deal with. I think it should be under the care of the General Government entirely. Then, as to the question of education, I hope the Government will secure to Roman Catholics in Upper Canada the same rights which will be extended to Protestants in Lower Canada. To have the same privileges is only equal justice, which I trust and believe will be granted. Having been if communication with several of the Roman Catholic clergy, I can say that they desire to have every justice done to their Protestant fellow-subjects, but expect to have the same privileges granted to Roman Catholics in Upper Canada (who are the minority there,) as will be given to the Protestant minority in Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
I must also refer to the clause which gives to local governments the right of dividing the sections of the Confederation into constituencies and electoral divisions. This power may become very dangerous and lead to great practical injustice, and should, I think, be placed in the hands opt the General Government. I come now to the question of railway extension, and this is a matter which seems to have been a serious stumbling block to a great number of those who are really favorable to the measure of Confederation. Now, I do not think the Intercolonial Railway will be a profitable concern, all at once; but I think I can remove a few of the objections which have been raised to this part of the scheme. In the first place, I think a mistake prevails is to what will be the cost of carrying freight on this railway. I have here the annual Trade and Navigation Returns of New Brunswick for 1863, in which I find the following statement:—
If New Brunswick was connected with Montreal and Quebec by direct railway communication through British territory, our importations from the States would decrease immediately, and much of our flour and other supplies would come direct from Canada; and in the event of the Reciprocity Treaty and the bonding system of the United States, which allows British goods to pass through their territory free of duty under bond to Canada, being abolished, Saint John would probably become the Atlantic shipping port of Canada for the winter months.
People may suppose the rates of freight […]
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[…] would be so very extravagant that this could not come to pass; but in the same report, which has very opportunely come to hand, as it corroborates the remarks I made during the debate on the Address as to the fact that we should have some offset in the trade of the Lower Provinces, under Confederation, for what we should lose if the Reciprocity Treaty were to be annulled, I find the following statement:—
The cost of transportation of flour from Montreal to Portland, Maine, by rail, has been reduced to the low figure of 35 cents per barrel, and from Portland, Maine, to this port, it can be conveyed for 25 cents by steamer, or 15 cents by sailing vessel, making altogether 60 cents for conveying a barrel of flour, weighing 200 lbs., by rail and steam, a distance of 585 miles, and it could be delivered at this port (St. John, N. B.) within five or six days from the time of loading at Montreal. Of course these low rates of railway freight apply to large quantities only.
Well now, gentlemen, the distance from Montreal to St. John, by railway, are at a rough estimate about 600 miles.
Hon. Mr. Currie—Not so much—about 500 only.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—So much the better for my argument, but I will give my hon. friend the benefit of the 600 miles, sow, the further a barrel of flour is carried the loss the freight per mile is, because you get rid of the cost of handling it at successive stages. If you can carry it from Montreal to Portland, say 300 miles, for 35 cents, you can certainly carry it 600 miles for less than twice that sum, or let us say for 60 cents, not more than what it now costs by the combined rail and steamboat route via Portland, while the flour conveyed all the way by rail will be the better’ for not being moved about from one means of conveyance to another.
I have indeed reason to believe, from a very good railway authority, that it would pay a railway company well to carry flour from Montreal to St. John for from 60 to 70 cents per barrel, and that if it were necessary, the work could be done at a profit at 50 cents per bailer. (Hear, hear.) I want to show by this, that the carrying of flour over the Intercolonial Railway will not be so difficult of accomplishment as people who have not gone into the calculation closely may boo disposed to imagine. (Hear, hear.) I have here, too, a statement of the imports of flour into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. It is as follows:—
|Imports of Flour.||Barrels.|
If we now look at our imports and exports for 1863, we shall find that we imported into Canada 4,210,942 bushels of wheat, while we exported only 3,030,407 bushels. Well, this may appear strange, considering that we are an agricultural and exporting country; but we come next to the article of flour, and find that while we imported only 229,793 barrels, we exported 1,095,691 barrels.
Hon. Mr. Currie—We imported wheat to grind it into flour.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—Exactly so. The excess of flour exported was 865,898 barrels, which, taken at 4 1/2 bushels to the barrel, would be equal to 3,836,541 bushels of wheat. Deducting from this the excess of our imports over our exports of wheat, viz., 1,180,535 bushels, will leave us 2,716,006 for export, which at the same calculation, viz., 4J bushels to the barrel, gives us 603,557 barrels of surplus flour, ground from wheat in Canada, with which to supply the demand of the three Maritime Provinces mentioned of 797,000 barrels. (Hear, hear.) Thus, if the Reciprocity Treaty be repealed. we can just about supply what they annually require.(Hear, hear.) Their importations aye moreover very constant, for the return says:—
Our importations of wheat flour in 1863 amounted to 243,391 barrels, against 232,237 barrels in 1862; 210,676 barrels in 1861, 198,323 barrels in 1860; 295,356 barrels in 18 9, 226,649 barrels in 1858; and 153,515 barrels in 1857.
That is as far as wheat or wheaten flour is concerned They consume also a large quantity of pork, a large quantity of beef and other produce; but I do not wish to trespass longer upon the time of the House.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—I will just read from the New Brunswick return. It says:—
Our importations into the Province in 1863, of all kinds of agricultural produce, amounted in value to $2,060,702,the description of which was as follows:—Flour and meal of all kinds, bread, beans, peas and pot barley, $1,333,786; grain of all kinds, bran, horse and pig feed, $148,413; vegetables, including potatoes, $76,769; meats […]
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[…] viz., salted, cured and fresh, including poultry, $242,933; butter, cheese, lard and eggs, $75,235; animals, including horses, oxen, cows, sheep and pigs, $58.7 5; apples, pears, plums, cranberries, &c., $60,257; tallow and soap grease, $29,973, hops, $5,226; hay, $3,142; malt, $4,719; shrubs, trees, Ac, $2,188; seeds, $10,815; wool, $8,531; amounting altogether in currency to £515,175. the value of the agricultural produce imported in 1862 was £476,581 currency; in 1861 it was £427,083 currency; and in 1860 it was £447,341 currency.
The Nova Scotia and Newfoundland returns also show that large quantities of agricultural produce of all kinds are imported into these colonies, as well as immense quantities of pork and other meats which we could easily and profitably supply. Now all these articles Canada will be able to supply, and this is another item in the return which is very noticeable. The Lower Provinces import large quantities of boots and shoes. The New Brunswick return states that—
The value of boots and shoes imported in 1863 was $59.851—duty, $7,521; against $57,957—duty, $9,105, in 1862; $101,967—duty, $16,385, in 1861; and $131,424—duty, $20,832, in 1860.
These under Confederation would go duty free from Canada. There is a large manufacture of such articles, and with them, as with some other articles we make, we might supply the Lower Province markets. (Hear, hear.) If there is one feature in our connection with the Lower Provinces which we must not lose sight of, it is their possessing coal in large quantities; this is sure eventually to create manufacturing communities amongst them, to increase their population, and cause a larger home demand than at present, for the agricultural productions of Western Canada. (Hear, hear.)
I may now recur to the Intercolonial Railway question, and express a hope that it will be gone about by the Government in the most economical manner possible. This much may be said, that whatever money is spent on it will be spent in the country, that is, in our new country, will be spent among ourselves, and will attract a great army of labourers; and I do hope and trust the Administration will so arrange the prosecution of the work, that these labourers shall be induced to settle on the lands traversed by the line, which, I am told, are very favorable to settlement, so that another market for our manufactures and productions may be formed; and that if the Reciprocity Treaty should be lost to us (an event which I deprecate as much as anyone), we may have something to fall back upon—which we shall have, hon. gentlemen, if we look at our position boldly and energetically, and take advantage of circumstances as they arise (Hear, hear.)
With respect to the statement that the road will not be valuable for purposes of defence, not being a military man, that is, nothing more than a militia officer, I do not pretend to offer a very valuable opinion: but it appears to me that, removed a certain distance from the frontier as it will be, an attack on the railway must be next to impossible in the winter time; besides, it will be our duty to guard our frontier in such a way that incursions cannot be made upon us with effect, and I hope we shall be able to do so. (Hear, hear.) It has been remarked that the English Government would not think of sending a military force from Halifax to Canada by railway, but I confess I differ from this view. In the war which is now going on in the United States, if it has been proved that railways can be easily broken up, it has also been proved that they can easily be re-laid, and the value set upon them by military men is clearly exemplified by the struggles they make to gain or to retain possession of them. If a railway is partially broken up, they have appliances at hand quickly to repair it.
It is a part of modern warfare to lay railways and lines of telegraph, and armies have corps attached to them whose special duty this is. (Hear, hear.) There is another thing, important in a military point of view, which has been lost sight of—which is, that although soldiers might walk over the snow, military munitions and the heavy articles used in war, such as cannon and mortars, cannot be put on snowshoes. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) I think the railway would be of incalculable value for transporting such things as these if there were occasion for it, which I hope there never will be. It is, however, meet to be prepared for such an eventuality as war, for that is the best way to avoid it. (Hear, hear.)
I may here refer to what some honorable gentlemen have remarked in this debate, that the circumstance of certain portions of the population of the Lower Provinces being occupied in maritime pursuits, diminishes to that extent their power of aiding Canada in case of war. In this opinion I am unable to concur; for if there be one arm more than another in which they can assist us, it is by the aid of their hardy seafaring-population, who will swarm the seaports of the Confederacy and the […]
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[…] Empire, and act with great effect upon the commerce and seaboard towns of any foreign foe. It has been said, honorable gentlemen, that this measure is being hurried through the House, and complaint has been made that it has not been referred to the country for arbitrament. But, look at the consequences of so referring it to the country. Look at the consequences of delay. You have read the telegram to day which gives the news of the assembling of the British Parliament, and I am glad to see a statement in Her Majesty’s Speech, that She has approved of the measure which is now under our consideration. Well, gentlemen, the Parliament of Great Britain will not sit for an unlimited time. Its session, this year, may be shorter than usual, for the natural dissolution of this and the assembling of a new Parliament are drawing near, and contending parties generally make an effort, towards the close of a Parliament, to make a change in the Administration.
Any one who reads the English papers and political documents will see that a change of Ministry is confidently expected by some people; and if a defeat of the present Ministry takes place, and Parliament is dissolved, their own affairs will occupy the minds of British statesmen, so that when again called together, for a short time in summer, it may be merely to legislate on local matters, and our Confederation project may thus be indefinitely delayed.
Hon. Mr. Currie—So much the better.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—I think any man with his eyes open will see that events are marching on upon this continent with great strides Event follows event in such rapid succession that we can hardly tell whither the tide will flow next. Already we hear the great anticipated successes of the North. If the news be true that Charleston has been evacuated, it will be a severe blow to the cause of the South; and if the South be conquered, we know what have been the sentiments towards Canada expressed in the United States for the last three years. They will, perhaps, turn north for further conquests, and try to humble a power which has not in every way met their wishes.
We should, at all events, be prepared to meet such a contingency, prepared to repel attack, prepared to defend our homes and the free Constitution under which we live. I will conclude by saying that if the citizens of Montreal have been accused in former times of energy in a wrong direction, they are prepared now, and I speak it advisedly, to use that energy for the defence of the province. For the people of the nationality to which I belong, I will further say they have come to this country to find a home and they have found one, where they are not oppressed by any wrongs, where there is no invidious distinction between races and creeds. They appreciate the blessing and value of the institutions under which they live, they are ready to defend them, and they look on the union of the British North American Provinces as the surest means of preserving and perpetuating them. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Price—Honorable gentlemen, being one of the newly elected members of this House, I would like to say a few words, by way of defining my position, before the vote is taken. Although I have said that I was in favor of Confederation as the only means by which we could make proper provision for our defence, yet, until I understood the details more clearly than what I could learn from the resolutions, I could not make up my mind to vote for it. Previous to the declaration at the election in my division, the press had circulated the views of the Conference, and I went over the details so far as I was in possession of them, and the verdict of the people at the hosting’s was unanimously in favor of the scheme. (Hear, hear.)
I would like to enter into a discussion of the details, clause by clause, but it is impossible to do so at the present time. It is not surprising that almost every member of the House is opposed to one or more of the resolutions; it is impossible for us, even when we go into committee on almost any subject, to unanimously agree on all the clauses. Before going further I wish to thank my honorable friend the gallant Knight [Hon. Sir Etienne Pascal Taché] at the head of the Government, for his kind remarks with reference to my father and myself, at the opening of this debate. For the last twenty years I have been known and resided in the constituency which sent me here, and if I have been elected without much opposition, it was from friendship towards me on the part of my constituents.
Although I represent people having different religious views, yet I believe only twenty-six Protestant votes were given ion me. I have had a great deal of personal friendship and intercourse with the Roman Catholic clergy of Lower Canada, and must say I have always found them liberal and loyal in their views, and, air a body, almost […]
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[…] unanimous in supporting the scheme of Confederation, being convinced that it is the only sortie from our present political troubles, and of our continuing under the British Crown, knowing well the liberty that all subjects enjoy under it; and I feel certain that if ever the day comes to defend the British flag on this soil, while a shred is left on the stair they will be there to defend it. Being an elected member of this House, who by this scheme may be offered a seat for life, I beg to say that I care little for the chance; but I have been congratulated by my constituents, on all sides, upon the prospect before me, and if I vote for the measure as it stands I shall not, therefore, in any way displease them. Although I voted for rendering this House elective, in 1856, yet I did so, contrary to my own convictions, for the sole purpose of sustaining the Government, believing that this House should be a conservative body.
I consider that this should be a special branch, where we should judge measures without reference to popular prejudices, if such a thing were possible. I think we are here to judge without that political partiality which actuates most of the members of the Lower House, some of whom got their seats by a majority of one. I am sure persons elected in that manner can hardly claim to represent the popular feeling of the country. For my part, I intend to vote for these resolutions, for it becomes a matter of choice with us either to support them and thus become one strong Confederacy, or else go by driblets into the American Union. (Hear, hear.)
I am fully convinced that we are tending rapidly towards annexation, and that the only thing that can save us is the formation of a strong Confederacy. And if that is not done immediately, I firmly believe that we shall let the golden opportunity slip, and will not again have the opportunity. Honorable gentlemen say that our debt will be rapidly increased under Confederation. Well, that is hard to say, but I think it quite likely it may increase slightly. But what would be our debt if we were annexed to the United States?
What would our taxes be if we had a proportion of the enormous war debt of that country to pay, in addition to our own? For my part, believing as I do that this is the only hope of the country, and the present the only opportunity we shall have of carrying it through—and so far as I know it is the only one—I should feel myself unworthy the position I hold if I did not vote in favor of it. It is the only practicable scheme that has ever come before the country for settling the difficulties that have afflicted the country. For the past ten years, during which I have had the honor of being a representative of the people, there has always been a running fight between the ins and outs—first one side and then the other, contending for office, and the result has been anything but satisfactory to the country. I think if honorable members would take ¡in impartial view of this question, and consider that we cannot alter the details, if we desired to do so, without defeating the whole, they would not hesitate to vote for it. As I understand it, the details in reference to the formation of our own local governments will be brought before us, and we shall then have ample opportunity of considering and amending them if we think it necessary. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. Mr. Reesor—I do not wish to make any lengthened remarks; but there are one or two points to which I wish to call the attention of the House before the vote is taken. (Cries of “Question,” “question!”) If I am out of order, I will take my seat.
The Hon. The Speaker—The honorable gentleman is perfectly in order.
Hon. Mr. Reesor—I wish to call the attention of the House to the opinion of the celebrated author quoted by my honorable friend from Victoria Division (Hon. Mr. Ryan). My honorable friend quoted some part of a work by Mr. John Stuart Mills, a celebrated writer on Representative Government, but he did not go far enough. Mr. Mills says:—
The consideration which tells most in my judgment in favor of two Chambers (and this I do regard as of some moment), is the evil effect produced upon the mind of any holder of power, whether an individual or an assembly, by the contagiousness of having only themselves to consult.
This is perfectly true. But what does my honorable friend advocate? He advocates that the whole power shall be concentrated in the General Government; that they shall have the power to create this House, so that the whole power shall be legally centred in “one body.” The writer he quoted goes on and condemns that principle in the following words:—
If the writings by which reputation has been gained are unconnected with politics, they are no evidence of the special qualities required, while, if political, they would enable successive ministries to deluge the House with party tools.
That is the position to which my honorable […]
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[…] friend would drive us. He would give the ministry the power “to deluge this House with party tools.” He then went on and proved too much with regard to the trade between the provinces. He said New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would take our manufactures, that already we had large manufactures of boots and shoes, and that the Lower Provinces would take these and other manufactures from us. And then he told us that they had coal in Nova Scotia, and that where there is coal, manufactures will spring up.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—Coal is not used in the manufacture of boots and shoes.
Hon. Mr. Reesor—But coal makes a manufacturing country, and there is no reason why Nova Scotia, as a manufacturing country, should not manufacture boots and shoes as cheaply as they can be manufactured at Montreal. I have lately learned from good authority that the very articles to which my honorable friend refers (boots and shoes) are now being largely manufactured in the city of St. John. Labor is quite as cheap in New Brunswick as in Canada, and there is no reason why they could not supply themselves with the articles named, and with many others, even cheaper than they can be supplied from Canada.
Hon. Mr. Ryan—As regards Mr. Mills’ opinions, the extract I read was this:—
That there should be in every polity a centre of resistance to the predominant power in the Constitution—and in a democratic Constitution, therefore, a nucleus of resistance to the democracy—I have already maintained; and I regard it as a fundamental maxim of government. If any people who possess a democratic representation are, from their historical antecedents, more willing to tolerate such a centre of resistance in the form of a Second Chamber or House of Lords, than it; any other shape, this constitutes a strong reason for having it in that shape.
He admits that a check can be used, and properly used, by a House of Lords or a Legislative Council. Then he goes on to say that he does not think this the best check, and prescribes a plan of his own; but his statement on this point is too long to enter upon now.
Hon. Mr. Currie—I wish to ask the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] a question with reference to the meaning of the 5th sub-section of the 29th clause, which commits to the General Parliament “the raising of money by all or any other modes or system of taxation.” Am I to understand that he General Government are to have the power of imposing local taxation upon the lands of the provinces?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—The general national power of taxation is to be in the General Government.
Hon. Mr. Currie—The 34th sub-section of the same clause commits to the General Government “the establishment of a general Court of Appeal for the Federated provinces.” Is that to be in lieu of the Courts of Appeal we now have? Is it intended to do away with the present Court of Appeal and to establish a new one?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—I do not think my honorable friend has caught the meaning of what is intended. It does not say the general Court of Appeal shall be established, but that the power to establish it shall be in the General Government.
Hon. Mr. Currie—New Courts of Appeal?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—If a statute of the Parliament of the United Provinces shall be passed creating a Court of Appeal, it will state whether it is in lieu of, or in addition to, the present Courts of Appeal. I should suppose it would be in addition.
Hon. Mr. Currie—I think that point is one which we ought to understand before giving a final vote; and I do not think the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell], with reference to it, has fulfilled his promise to give an explicit answer to any question which might be put, to elicit further information about the scheme. Then the 43rd clause gives the Nova Scotia Legislature power to make laws respecting export duties on coal. What is the meaning of that?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—I thought I had explained that the export duty there was almost synonymous with our royalty. It is levied in lieu of a royalty at the mine; and we therefore permit the Nova Scotia Government to exact it on coal coming to this country.
Hon. Mr. Currie—The honorable gentleman must see it cannot be a royalty, because the royalty must apply to all coal consumed in the Province of Nova Scotia, while the export duty only applies to coal exported from that province. The 9th sub-section of that clause imposes on the local governments, “the establishment, maintenance and management of penitentiaries, and of public and reformatory prisons.” There is but one penitentiary in Canada, which is situated in Upper Canada. Does this clause impose on […]
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[…] the Local Legislature of Lower Canada the construction and maintenance of a new Penitentiary, leaving to Upper Canada the Penitentiary now in existence in that province?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—No doubt; but Lower Canada may arrange with Upper Canada for the temporary use of the Penitentiary, so long as she requires it, or for its permanent use, if that is thought better.
Hon. Mr. Currie—By the 6th subsection the local legislatures have the control of “Education; saving the rights and privileges which the Protestant or Catholic minority in both Canadas may possess as to their denominational schools at the time when the union goes into operation.” I do not know whether the representations which have been made in some portions of the country are correct—that, under this section the Roman Catholics would be entitled to no more schools than they have at the passing of the act? Will the Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] please explain?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—By this section it is affirmed that the principle of action with reference to those schools which may be in existence at the time the Confederation takes effect, shall continue in operation. Should this Parliament and the other legislatures adopt the scheme, and if the Imperial Parliament adopts an act giving effect to it, there will be found in existence certain principles by which the minorities in Upper and Lower, Canada will be respectively protected, and those principles will continue in operation.
Hon. Mr. Currie—But suppose no alteration is made in the Common School Law of Upper Canada—and, as I understand, none is promised—would the Roman Catholics be entitled to establish more separate schools?
Hon. Mr. Campbell—The present Act would continue to operate, and the honorable gentleman knows what are the rights of Roman Catholic schools under that Act.
Hon. Mr. Currie—That is the way in which I understand it. With reference to the 61st clause, I would ask is it proposed, at this session of the Legislature, to arrange the balance of the debt—not taken into the Confederation—between Upper and Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—It is proposed, before any Federation scheme goes into operation, that the debt shall be arranged between Upper and Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Currie—In the 64th section t is provided that, “in consideration of the transfer to the General Parliament of the powers of taxation, an annual grant in aid of each province shall be made, equal to eighty cents per head of the population, as established by the census of 1861; the population of Newfoundland being estimated at 130,000.” Would the Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] state why the population of Newfoundland is to be estimated at 130,000, while the population of the other provinces is taken according to the census of 1861—Newfoundland thus being allowed 8,000 of a population more than it would be entitled to under the census, and being allowed to take in on that basis $200,000 more of debt, and also receiving more subsidy than it would otherwise be entitled to? If we are to assume that the population of Newfoundland increased 8,000 between 1861 and 1864 or 1865, why should not a similar increase be allowed to Canada?
Assuming that the population of Canada increased at no more rapid rate, we would have an increase of 160,000, which would entitle us to go into the Confederation with a debt exceeding that with which we now go in of upwards of $4,000,000, and which would give us $130,000 a year more of subsidy. I cannot understand why the population of Newfoundland should be taken at 130,000, when all the other provinces—most of them, at all events, increasing in population much more rapidly than Newfoundland—go in with the population ascertained by the census of 1861.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—The reason is just this, that there happened to be no census taken in Newfoundland in 1861. The last census there was some years before—I think in 1857. The estimated increase, if I recollect rightly, was based on the increase which had taken place during the period between the previous census and that of 1857; and, taking that ratio of increase, it was found that the population, at the time of the union, would be close upon 130,000. We therefore put it at that figure.
Hon. Mr. Currie—The honorable gentleman is right in saying that the last census of Newfoundland was taken in 1857; but the increase should have been reckoned only for a period of four years, and I can scarcely believe that Newfoundland could be entitled to an increase of 8,000 in its population in four years, giving to that colony the benefit of four years’ increase more than Canada. Our census was taken in 1861.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—Not at all; we all go in with the amounts of our respective populations estimated at the same time; 130,000 was the estimated population of Newfoundland […]
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[…] at that date. We had no desire to give Newfoundland any advantage. Its population was estimated at 130,000 at the time at which the populations of the other provinces were taken.
Hon. Mr. Currie—Perhaps the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Hon. Mr. Campbell] will inform us whether, in stating the revenues of the various provinces, the customs revenue raised on goods exported from one province to another was taken into account? Prince Edward Island, in 1861, paid customs duties amounting to £17,769 sterling; of that, only £11,096 was paid on goods imported from foreign countries, or countries other than those which, it is proposed, shall form part of this union; so that the people of that island paid only about 70 cents per head in duties on goods brought in from countries outside the proposed Confederation.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—What do you make the total customs revenue of Prince Edward Island for that year?
Hon. Mr. Currie—Seventeen thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine pounds sterling. Great Britain furnished the largest proportion of the imports; then Nova Scotia; then the United States; then New Brunswick. The whole duties, as I have said, paid on goods coming from other countries than the British Provinces, were £11,096, or about two-thirds of the entire customs revenue.
Hon. Mr. Campbell—I suppose the person who was probably the best informed about the state of the revenue in Prince Edward Island, was the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. Mr. Pope; and our estimate of the revenue of that island was based on a printed return which Mr. Pope handed round among the members of the Conference, informing us what had been the revenue of Prince Edward Island in 1863, and for a series of years before 1863. In the same way Hon. Mr. Tilley furnished the statement of revenue for New Brunswick, Dr. Tupper for Nova Scotia, and Hon. Mr. Galt for Canada; and on these statements furnished by the Ministers of Finance for the various provinces the estimates were based. I observe that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Mr. Galt, in a speech delivered elsewhere, puts down the total revenue of Prince Edward Island at $197,000, all of which is from customs and excise, save about $32,000.
Hon. Mr. Alexander—My hon. friend from Niagara (Hon. Mr. Currie) in his own speech stated the revenue of Prince Edward Island at $153,000.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché then rose to wind up the debate, with a general reply. He said:—Hon. gentlemen, I was very anxious that ample opportunity should be given to the members of this Honorable House to express their opinions on the matter which has been for the last two or three weeks under debate. And now as I see no member disposed to rise, with the view of offering any further remarks, I think the time has come when the debate may be closed, if such is the pleasure of the House. I commenced, hon. gentlemen, to take notes—pretty copious notes—with the view of answering the statements and arguments of hon. gentlemen who have spoken in opposition to the scheme. But, at the suggestion of some of my friends, I have taken my pen and crossed out all those notes—(hear, hear)—by way of compromise, if I may so express myself—(laughter)—and in order that I might not provoke further discussion.
One hope that this sacrifice of mine—for it is a sacrifice—(laughter)—will be taken in good part, and that the few remarks I have now to make will not be of a nature to provoke any reply. In the first place, I must answer a question that was put to me, I think by my hon. friend from St. Clair Division (Hon. Mr. Vidal). He said he did not understand exactly what I meant by the province being at the top of an inclined plane. It is true that in going over very rapidly the different topics on which I touched, I did not explain that figure very fully. But I stated that the province stood in a twofold danger—of being dragged violently into the American Union, and, in the next place, as we stood on an inclined plane, of supping down gradually, and without our being aware of it, into the vortex below. It seems to me that the thing was plain enough. Still, as I am a Frenchman, and cannot express myself in English in the manner I would like, I think I should be allowed the privilege which is conceded to persons belonging to certain foreign nationalities. For instance, they say that an Englishman is allowed to speak once, an Irishman twice—
An Hon. Member—Three times. (Laughter.)
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—Well, three times be it; that is still better. And a Dutchman as long as he finds it necessary, until he can make himself understood. Well, I want to have the privilege allowed to the Dutchman. (Laughter.) As to being drawn violently into the American Union, if this scheme of Confederation does not take place, it seems to me that that might be a very probable […]
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[…] result of our position. Suppose war was declared late in autumn, at the close of navigation—with the little means we have here of defending ourselves, we would be placed for five months in a very disagreeable and trying position, having no opportunity of obtaining the powerful succour of the Mother Country. (Hear, hear.) That must be so easily understood, that I shall make no further remark upon it. But, my statement about the province being placed upon an inclined plane may require some little comment and explanation. I say that, if we do not cultivate with our sister provinces—the Maritime Provinces—a close commercial, political, and social intercourse—being all of us British subjects, all of us monarchists, owing allegiance to the same Crown—if we neglect the cultivation of that intercourse, we run a great danger.
We are, in our present position, small, isolated bodies, and it may probably be with us, as in the physical world, where a large body attracts to itself the smaller bodies within the sphere of its influence. If we do not make those alliances with the Lower Provinces—if we do not open with them those communications, political, social, and commercial, which are essential for our own interest, we shall little by little lose some of those principles we now esteem so much; we shall lose little by little our attachment to the Mother Country, and the interesting reminiscences which, with many of us, now give intensity to that attachment; and we shall become—you may depend upon it, hon. gentlemen—more and more democratised, before we are aware of it. (Hear, hear.)
And really, hon. gentlemen, if I were to form my opinion by some of the speeches which we have heard in this Honorable House since this debate was opened, I think there are some hon. gentlemen who, from the way in which they have expressed themselves, might be supposed to be—although I hope in reality they are not—already half way down the inclined plane. (Hear, hear and laughter.) Well, hon. gentlemen, I say that if we want to avoid that, we must have a Federal union with our fellow-subjects of the British Provinces, and that besides we must have easy means of access to the seaboard, so that, in case of danger, help can be immediately forwarded to Canada and to all parts of this Federal union, and that we may have a powerful army of Great Britain coming here as an auxiliary to the defence which I hope we shall be able to make ourselves. (Hear, hear.)
An honorable gentleman has stated that I expressed myself to the effect that, if this Confederation did not take place, Canada could not become prosperous. I never said anything of the kind. I said expressly the contrary. Perhaps I may not precisely apprehend the meaning of the word “prosperous.” But I said this, that Canada had within itself all the means to become populous, to become wealthy, to become a great people. But on the other hand, I said that Canada and the other British American Provinces, without union, could not become a “powerful,” as distinguished from a prosperous people. I said that we in Canada could not become a powerful people unless we had some maritime elements, unless we had the means, by having harbours and ports of our own open at all seasons, of communicating freely with all the nations of the world. (Hear, hear.)
That is what I said. I never stated that Canada could not become prosperous, make money, and so forth. No; I think Canada can do that; but Canada, even though its population should reach forty millions—which it may in a century hence—can never be a powerful nation, unless its power is felt all over the world; and how can its power be so felt, unless it has its seaports open all the year round? (Hear, hear.)
And I said—“Point out to me the nation in this world which is powerful, that has not some maritime elements.” I say there is no one in the world. Every nation whose power has been felt over the globe, has been a nation that had some maritime outlet. But Canada, situated as it is, is in great want of free access to the sea; and, as long as we are shut up, during five months of the year, without being able to communicate with the rest of the world—for, notwithstanding our fine river, we cannot be said to have a real maritime element—we are in truth a dependent people. (Hear, hear.)
I have some notes in French, made with the intention of answering honorable gentlemen who spoke in that language; but I think, having commenced, that I will go on in English. It has been asked by several honorable gentlemen how we were to make provision for the protection of the minorities in Upper and Lower Canada respectively. We have in Upper Canada a Catholic minority, in Lower Canada a Protestant minority. Well, those minorities are now in possession of certain rights; and, if we were not to legislate at all upon those rights, my interpretation of the scheme is, that they would still, under the local governments, enjoy the rights which they now possess. But it has been provided that, if necessary, additional […]
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[…] protection shall be afforded; and in that case, I say, without hesitation, that what will be done for one portion of the country will also be done for the other portions—justice égale distributive. Hear, hear.) Honorable gentlemen have said that we have merely submitted the general scheme of the Government, and they have called upon us to give details—details about the School bill, details about the local governments, and the immense string of other details embraced in the amendment moved the other day by my hon. friend from Grandville (Hon. Mr. Letellier de St. Just), which I am sure was at least a fathom long, and a very long fathom too. (Laughter.)
Now, suppose we had all these matters before us, could we really digest such a mass of information as hon. gentlemen have asked for? It seems to me it would be like introducing liquids into a vessel whose mouth is very small; if you throw in the liquid rapidly and in two great quantities, the vessel will be overflowed, and the fluid won’t be got into it. I think we have enough before us at present, when we have the principal matter, without the accessories. For, what would be the use of the accessories if you reject the principle? (Hear, hear.)
Depend upon it, as soon as these resolutions are concurred in, then the details will be given one after the other; and I trust they will be of such a nature as to meet with the approval of the majority of this Honorable House. (Hear, hear.) Some hon. gentlemen have told us that this was not a Federal union—that the project before you, hon. gentlemen, was in point of fact a project for a Legislative union. One hon. gentleman who took this view read the 29th section, in order to show that the General Government, if it chose, could repeal any of the local acts of the different local legislatures—that the General Government, for instance, could do away with our religious and benevolent corporations, or deprive them of their property. I think the honorable gentleman must have been rather short-sighted when he read the 29th resolution, for he omitted a very important part of it; and, if he had not omitted that part, I do not think he would have said that this Federal scheme was really a scheme for a Legislative union. I have no doubt my honorable friend acted in good faith; but being rather short-sighted, he did not read the whole clause; otherwise he must have arrived at a different conclusion.
The 29th section says: “The General Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the Federated Provinces (saving the sovereignty of England), and especially laws respecting the following subjects.” Then follows a list of all the subjects committed to the General Government. But the resolution does not finish there. There is something that comes after all that, and it is this: “And generally respecting all matters of a general character, not specially and exclusively reserved for the local governments and legislatures.” Now I would ask honorable gentlemen if an act incorporating a religious body or benevolent society here in Lower Canada is a subject of a general character; is it not a subject purely local? (Hear, hear.)
Take, for instance, the sisters of charity. Could the General Government, under this clause, interfere with the privileges of those ladies? I say they could not. I suppose the honorable gentleman who used the argument advanced it conscientiously and in good faith. But I think it is quite evident from a reading of the resolution that, if Confederation takes place, the General Government will have no power to interfere with such matters. (Hear, hear.) I must say positively, if I am competent to draw any conclusion at all from what I read, that the General Government will have no right to meddle at all with those religious and benevolent corporations, none in the world. (Hear, hear.)
Remarks have also been made about the laws of divorce and marriage, and the honorable member for the division of De Lanaudière (Hon. Mr. Olivier) told us that the Conference had done well in transferring the power of divorce to the General Government. On his part, I think this was a wise view of the question, and I am glad to have the opportunity of now telling him so. He was, however, very uneasy about the word “marriage.” Well, I will try to put him right and at his ease on that point; and I will give him the answer as I find it put down in writing, so that no possible misunderstanding may continue to exist. If the honorable gentleman will but take his pen, he will be able to note my answer:—”The word ‘ marriage’ has been inserted to give the General Legislature the right to decide what form of marriage will be legal in all parts of the Confederation, without in any way interfering with the rules and prescriptions of the Church to which the contracting parties belong.”
Another honorable gentleman—I think the honorable member for DeLorimier (Hon. Mr. Bureau)—asked me if the General Government would be responsible for the debts contracted by Canada […]
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[…] prior to the Federal union? I replied “Yes, the General Government would be liable for all the debts contracted before this date.” “But,” says he, “there are certain sums above the sixty-two and a half millions of dollars which will have to be settled as between Upper and Lower Canada. And what will become of the amount due to the seigniors? It may be that Lower Canada will repudiate that portion of the debt so allotted her.”
Well, I reply, Lower Canada cannot do that, if she were disposed to do so; but I do not believe that Lower Canada would be disposed to repudiate a debt which she has herself contracted—a debt of honor—a debt which is, as it were, sacred. But even if Lower Canada were disposed to do so, the General Government are liable for the amount of that debt; and as the General Government has to give to Lower Canada a subsidy of 80 cents per head, it would, of course, take very good care to substract from the amount allotted to Lower Canada the interest which is to be paid to the seigniors. (Hear, hear.) So that on that score—I do not know if the hon. gentleman is himself a seignior or not, but he seems to take a great interest in the seigniors—the hon. member need not be uneasy at all.
Hon. Mr. Bureau—What I stated was, that under the authority of a public act, special appropriations have been made for the redemption of the debt due to the seigniors, and that the putting aside of that act I consider an act of repudiation. Then, for the sake of argument I stated this, that you are shewing an example of repudiation. But I added that if you were going to pay to Lower Canada what you state, for her Local Government; in the event of her refusing to pay the seigniors, probably the General Government would retain sufficient from the 80 cents per head apportionment for that purpose. I do not wish to push the argument further; and I may state that it was only for the sake of argument that I advanced the proposition.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—No law has been repealed—no repudiation taken place. The seigniors, as it appears to me—I may not have understood the law, for I am no lawyer—will have additional security. That, it seems to me, is a plain fact. (Hear, hear.) Then the hon. member from DeLorimier [Hon. Mr. Bureau] found a great deal of fault with the manner—I must say the able manner in which the gallant Knight (Hon. Sir N. F. Belleau) explained the action of responsible government in this country. The honorable Knight shewed how responsible government protected the French Catholics in Lower Canada under Confederation, saying that if ever an act of flagrant injustice was to be attempted in the Federal Government, the whole of the Lower Canadians would join as one man, and by uniting with the minority against the Government—because honorable gentlemen must know that there always will be minorities—by means of thus strengthening the minority any Administration could be ousted out of their places in twenty-four hours. My honorable friend stated this, and he stated it justly; he said so, well aware of what he was saying.
But the honorable gentleman from DeLorimier [Hon. Mr. Bureau] comes forward and says: “Don’t you recollect that at one time the Upper Canadians, with the minority from Lower Canada, united to impose upon Lower Canada their will?” I tell you, honorable gentlemen, that they never did harm to Lower Canada, and that they never could do harm to Lower Canada had they so chosen. And why? The French had the use of their own language conceded to them in order to bring them to support the Government, and much more would have been done to accomplish the same end. I am referring now to the Government of the day from 1844 to 1848. That Government would have given you, what was passed afterwards, an act to secure to the sufferers the payment of their losses, the Rebellion Losses Bill.—They would have given every shilling of those losses, and they would have given you more if you would have consented to become their followers.
The honorable gentleman made out no case at all, and he could not have studied parliamentary history since 1841 correctly. Had he done so, he would have found that at that period what was called responsible government was not worked out. Sir Charles Bagot, it is true, had lent himself to the views of his advisers, and responsible government had been going on perfectly under him; but then he died here, and honorable gentlemen must understand that Lord Metcalf was opposed to responsible government.
Hon. Mr. Bureau—Still we had responsible government.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—You had it in name only, but not in practice; otherwise Hon. Mr. Baldwin and Hon. Mr. Lafontaine would never have left the Cabinet. They resigned their seats in Council because they held themselves responsible to Parliament, while Lord Metcalf chose to appoint persons to office without consulting them, as his constitutional […]
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[…] advisers. Well, then, I assert that the case the honorable gentleman has cited to show that my honorable friend on the other side was wrong, is no ease at all. It is not applicable in any respect to present circumstances, because, I repeat it again, we had not responsible government at that time.
Hon. Mr. Bureau—We have not responsible government yet, then.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—How does the honorable gentleman make that out?
Hon. Mr. Bureau—The honorable gentleman has stated that since the death of Lord Bagot we have not had responsible government.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché—The honorable gentleman cannot surely have understood me. I think I said that under Lord Metcalf there was responsible government in name but not in deed. And if the honorable gentleman will study our parliamentary history a little closer, he will admit that such was the case. The consequence was, as I have already stated, the resignation of Hon. Messrs. Lafontaine and Baldwin. Still the Lower Canadian party was unbroken. It is true the new advisers of Lord Metcalf coquetted much with that majority to obtain adhesion; but it was in vain. They remained firm to the last, until the general election of 1848 brought back the parties to Parliament in much about their natural strength. I have already stated that I have destroyed my notes, and I am ready to await the verdict of this honorable House. (Applause.)
Hon. Mr. Vidal said—Honorable gentlemen, as I consider it my duty to vote for the motion now before the House, I think it desirable to clear myself from the imputation of inconsistency in having supported the amendments which have been proposed, and which the House has rejected. I may state that my views as to the desirableness of submitting the question to the people are unchanged; the plan has been voted down, but no argument has been adduced to demonstrate that it was wrong in principle, or likely to destroy the scheme.
I have previously expressed my general approval of the Confederation, and that my desire was to secure its permanency by having its foundation broad and deep in the expressed approval of the people. Submission of the proposal to them has been refused, and the only question now for me to decide is whether I should accept the scheme as it is, or vote for its rejection altogether. Under these circumstances, I have no difficulty in deciding that I must support the motion for its adoption. (Hear, hear.)
The question was then put on the main motion, which was carried on the following division:—
[Editor’s Note: The main motion being the resolutions presented on page 1-6 by Hon. Sir E.P. Taché.]
CONTENTS.—Honorable Messieuis Alexander, Allan, Aimand, Sir N F. Belleau, Bennett, Ferguson Blair, Blake, Boulton, Bossé, Bull. Burnham, Campbell, Christie, Crawford, De Beaujeu, Dickson, A. J. Duchesnay, E. H. J. Duchepnay, Dumouehet, Ferrier, Foster, Gingras, Guévremont, Hamiiton (Inkerman), Hamilton (Kingston), Lacoste, Leonard, Leslie, McCrea, McDonald, McMaster, Macpherson, Matheson, Mills, Panet, Price, Bead, Renaud, Ross, Ryan, Shaw, Skead, Sir E. P. Taché, Vidal, and Wilson—45.
NON-CONTENTS.—Honorable Messieurs Aikins, Archambault, Armstrong, Bureau, Chaffers, Currie, Flint, Letellier de St. Just, Malhiot, Moore, Olivier, Proulx, Reesor, Seymour, and Simpson.—15.
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Fergusson Blair, that a select committee be appointed to draft an Address founded on the said resolution, and that the committee be composed of Honorable Messrs. Campbell, Fergusson Blair, Ross, Christie, Sir N. F. Belleau, and the Mover.—Carried.
The House adjourned during pleasure; and on resuming,
Hon. Sir E.P. Taché reported the Address, and moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Fergusson Blair, that it be agreed to.—Carried.
It was then ordered that the Address be engrossed, signed by the Speaker, and presented to His Excellency the Governor General by the whole House. It was also ordered that such members of the Executive Council as are members of this House, do wait on His Excellency the Governor General, to know what time His Excellency will please to appoint to be attended with the said Address.
The House then adjourned.