UK, Parliament, House of Commons, Copies of the Addresses to Her Majesty of the Legislative Council and Assembly of Canada, on the Subject of the Constitution of the former House (1853)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, Parliament, House of Commons, Copies of the addresses to Her Majesty of the Legislative Council and Assembly of Canada, on the Subject of the Constitution of the former House (London: 1853).
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COPIES of the ADDRESSES to Her Majesty of the
Legislative Council and Assembly of Canada, on
the Subject of the CONSTITUTION of the former
Ordered, by The House of Commons to be Printed,
20 August 1853.
RETURN to an Address of the Honourable The House of Commons,
dated 12 August 1853;-for
“COPIES of the ADDRESSES to Her Majesty of the Legislative Council
and Assembly of Canada, on the Subject of the CONSTITUTION of the
18 August 1853.
COPIES of the ADDRESSES to Her Majesty of the Legislative Council and
Assembly of Canada, on the Subject of the CONSTITUTION of the former
To the QUEEN’S Most Excellent MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
WE, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Council
of Canada, in provincial Parliament assembled, humbly approach Your Majesty
with sentiments of profound attachment to Your Majesty’s Person and Govern-
We feel it to bee duty incumbent upon us earnestly to represent to Your
Majesty, that in our opinion there is nothingin the actual state of the province,
or in the character and action of its Legislature, which calls for alteration in
the form of government granted by Your Majesty in the Act 36. & 4th Vict.
chap. 35, and modelled, as closely as the local circumstances of a colony would
permit, after that constitution which has long been the glory of the United
Kingdom, and the great source of its prosperity.
We would respectfully represent to Your Majesty, that to refer the selection
of Members of the Legislative Council to the popular vote, is to demo that
harmony of system upon which, in accordance with the theory of the British
Constitution, the Government of this country has hitherto been considered to
rest, and by thus discarding the principle of appointment by the Crown, which
has hitherto been deemed essential to the maintenance of a due balance in the
State, to bring the Royal Authority into direct contact with two Houses, both
deriving power from and responsible to the people.
We crave permission, may it please Your Majesty, to express our fears, that
should an scheme of the nature adverted to be unhappily adopted, safeguards
long held indispensable against hasty and inconsiderate legislation would
become inoperative; jealousies would be fostered between bodies, each equally
assuming to represent the people, and the chances of collision between them
increased; the balance of power in the State would become precarious, and
subject to frequent disturbance; and further elementary changes would soon
he demanded of a democratic character, to an extent, perhaps, which this House
is unwilling to contemplate.
Saturday, 4 June 1853/
COPY OF ADDRESS TO HER MAJESTY OF THE
To the QUEEN’S Most Excellent MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majestys most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Canada,
in provincial Parliament assembled, humbly beg leave to represent to Your
Majesty, that, under the circumstances in which the province of Canada is
placed in a social, poliitcal, and economical point of view, we are humbly of
That the introduction of the elective principle into the constitution of the
Legislative Council would not only import greater weight to that important
branch of the Legislature than it can have under existing arrangements, however
judiciously the selection of its Members may be made, but would also ensure
greater efficiency in carrying out that system of Government which obtains in
the mother country, and has been happily introduced into this province.
That the object in view might, in the opinion of Your faithful Commons, be
best attained by dividing each of the sections of the province into thirty terri-
torial divisions, to be hereafter defined by the provincial Parliament, and con-
taining each, as nearly as possible, an equal amount of population, and by
allowing the persons qualified to vote at the elections of Members of the
Legislative Assembly in each division, subject to the arrangements hereafter
mentioned as to present Members, to elect one person qualified in the manner
hereinafter mentioned to sit in the Legislative Council, which should be com-
posed, after the arrangements as to present Members have had their effect, of
sixty persons so elected, one-third of whom shall be required to retire in rotation
every two years, so that, except as to Members elected after a dissolution, or to
fill any occasional vacancies to replace elected Members, the Members shall be
elected for the term of six years; and Members retiring by rotation, whose
term of service shall expire during a session of Parliament, may continue to
serve until the end of that session.
That twenty new Members of the said Legislative Council ought to be first
elected; that, subject to a dissolution, as hereinafter mentioned, the present
Members of the Legislative Council ought to continue Members thereof, and
to retire in rotation in numbers as equal as may be possible, at the end of two
and four years respectively, at each of which respective periods twenty new
Members of the said Council ought to be elected, whatever be the number
of the Members then retiring; for which purposes two lists of the present
Members, one for each section of the province, according to their place of resi-
dence at the time they were summoned to the said Council, be prepared, and
lots drown under the direction of the Speaker of the Legislative Council to
determine the time at which they shall retire by rotation as aforesaid; and, to
provide for elections in the ist instance, and upon the retirement of the
present Members in the manner provided, the said Speaker do also draw lots
separately for each section of the province, to determine for which divisions
Members are to be first elected, until all divisions are represented; the said
Speaker to apportion also by lot on the reussembling of the Legislative Council
after a dissolution, for each said section of the province respectively, the order
in which Members shall retire; Members elected to fill occasional vacancies
to be elected for the divisions for which the former Members were serving, and
for the term only for which they would have been entitled to serve.
That the persons qualified to be elected Members of the Legislative Council
should be all subjects of Your Majesty by birth or naturalisation, of the full
age of thirty years, and residing in this province, who shall have been at any time
previous to such election Members of either of the Legislative Councils of
Upper or Lower Canada, or of the Legislative Council of this province, or
Members of either of the Legislative Assemblies of Upper or Lower Canada: or
of the Legislative Assembly of this province; and also all subjects of Your
Majesty as aforesaid, qualified as above as to age and residence, who may he
possessed for their own use and benefit of real property situated in this province,
held in free and common soccage, or en fief, or en roture, or en franc-alleu, of the
value of £1,000 currency over and above all debts due and chargeable on the
same, no person who may be disqualified by law to be elected Member of the
Legislative Assembly being eligible to the said Legislative Council.
That, for the better working of Constitutional Government, the Crown ought
to have power to dissolveboth Houses of Parliament, or either of them; but
that, as respects the Legislative Council, such power ought not to be exercised
except in the event of the rejection by the said Legislative Council in two
successive sessions. and at least at six months interval, of a measure which
shall have passed the Legislative Assembly in the same two successive sessions,
nor unless the said measure shall have passed the Legislative Assembly in the
second session by the vote of an absolute majority of the Members of the said
Legislative Assembly, the Parliament convened after a dissolution of either
House, or of both, being reckoned as a new Parliament.
That Members of the Legslative Council ought to have power to vacate their
seats, either in vacation, or during the sitting of Parliament; but that no
Member of either House while being so ought to be a candidate for election
to the other House.
That, under the proposed change in the constitution of the Legislative
Council, it is inexpedient that any pecuniary qualification should be retained
for being eligible to the Legislative Assembly.
That the Legislative Council so constituted ought to possess the exclusive
power of adjuclicating upon all impeachments preferredby the Legislative
Assembly against high public functionaries; and that in all other respects the
peculiar powers and privileges now possessed and exercised by each of the two
Houses of Parliament should be maintained inviolate in so far as they may not
he repugnant to the foregoing representations.
That when any Member of the Legislative Council shall accept any office,
the holding of which would disqualify him from a seat in the Legislative
Assembly, he shall vacate his seat; and when he accepts any office, the holding
of which would cause him to return to the people for re-election if beheld a
seat in the Legislative Assembly, he shall only hold such seat with such ofiice
after being re-elected.
Wherefore Your Majesty’s faithful Commons humbly pray that Your Majesty
will be pleased to recommend to the two branches of the Parliament of the
United Kingdom, and finally to sanction a measure calculated to give effect to
the representations thus humbly submitted for the consideration of Your
(signed) J. Sandfield Macdonald,
Legislative Assembly Hall, Quebec,
Thursday, 2 June 1853.