Debates of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada — Volume XI — Part II

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THE Clerk laid before the House,–Minutes of the Proceedings of the General
Committee of Elections, pursuant to the 41st Section of “The Election Petitions
Act of 1851.”

Ordered, That the said Minutes do lie upon the table.

The following Petitions were severally brought up, and laid on the table:–
By Mr. Smith of Durham,–The Petition of Paul Robins and others, Bible
Christians, of Darlington; and the Petition of the Municipality of the Township
of Manvers.

By Mr. Cauchon,–The Petition of Joseph Delisle and others, of the Banlieue
of Quebec, Electors.

By Mr. Stuart,–The Petition of John Gilmour, Esquire, and others, Members
of the Board of Trade of Quebec.

The Honorable Mr. Morin, one of Her Majesty’s Executive Council, presented,
pursuant to an Address to His Excellency the Governor General,–Return to an
Address from the Legislative Assembly to His Excellency the Governor General,
dated 3d September, 1852, for copies of all the Correspondence which has taken
place between the Imperial Government, the Government of New Brunswick, and that
of this Province, with reference to the Division Line between this Province and
New Brunswick; and also, of all the Reports of the Commissioners and Surveyors
employed in the settlement of this matter since the last Report laid before this
House by Government on this subject.

For the said Return, see Appendix (Z.Z.)

Ordered, That the Petition of Stanislas Drapeau, of the City of Quebec, Printer,
be referred to the Joint Committee of both Houses for the regulation and manage-
ment of the Parliamentary Library.

Ordered, That the Supplementary Return relative to the Quebec Marine and
Emigrant Hospital, which was presented on the twenty-first of September last, be
printed for the use of the Members of this House.

The Honorable Mr. Morin, one of Her Majesty’s Executive Council, presented,
pursuant to Addresses to His Excellency the Governor General,–Return to an
Address from the Legislative Assembly to His Excellency the Governor General,
dated 30th ultimo, for a copy of all Instructions founded on the Order in Council
of the fourteenth ultimo, relative to the reduction of Dues on Red Pine Timber,
and of all subsequent Orders in Council relative thereto, and copies of all Corre-
spondence that has taken place between the Government and parties interested in
the Timber Trade since the meeting of Parliament.

Return to an Address from the Legislative Assembly to His Excellency the Gov-
ernor General, dated 15th instant, for any Documents in possession of the Govern-

ment relating to the reduction of Duties on Red Pine Timber, as also the Report
of the Commissioner of Crown Lands on that subject.

For the said Returns, see Appendix (A.A.A.)

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS1 moved a committee of inquiry into the discrepancy
between the dates of the order in council relative to Pine timber, and the date
of Mr. Young’s letter. He stated there was no doubt that the order in council
was passed on the 14th, and on the 16th, which was the date of Mr. Young’s letter,
it was communicated to the Crown Lands offIce. He also read a letter from Messrs.
Gilmour, referring to the letter which had appeared in the Toronto Patriot, and
saying that they believed themselves to be the House referred to, as not being


SIR A. MACNAB enquired whether he understood the Inspector General to say
that unless the measure were carried in its present shape, he would abandon it

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS did not say that exactly. He was speaking to the
resolutions of the member for Brockville, who is opposed to any qualification.
Another point which had been very strongly objected to, and particularly by the
member for Welland, was the power of dissolution. Now, he could not see what
extraordinary objection there is to this power. It is not such a monstrous
power. What was the member for Welland afraid of? Was he afraid that the
members of the Council would be sent back to their constituents to give an ac-
count of their conduct? Surely, if they were right in pursuing the course which
had been the cause of dissolution, their conduct would be approved, and they
would be reelected. There was no great cause for fear in that. But the hon.
gentleman said that the Government of the day might not act on the principle
which he (Mr. H.) laid down. He would grant that: but the hon. gentleman should
recollect that the Government of the day must act on their own responsibility,
and they would not be sustained if they should advise the dissolution except in
a case which would justify such an extreme course. The hon. member had spoken
in very strong terms, indeed, of the position of the Representative of the
Crown. He said that the Governor would be compelled to dissolve the Council
if the Cabinet insisted on it; now, the hon. member must know that the Repre-
sentative of the Crown is not bound to follow the advice of the Cabinet, unless
that advice is such as the public are likely to sustain; and it is evident
that if that advice were given with respect to either or both of the Houses,
land the head of the Government thought it should not be acted on, he would ask
other advice. (Hear, hear.) Most unquestionably he would, and he could not
understand the cheer or the smile of the gallant knight from Hamilton. Most
undoubtedly the power of dissolution must be looked on as being precisely
analogous to the power possessed by the Crown, of creating new peers; that is to
say, the power of swamping the House of Lords for the purpose of carrying particular
measures; and he would say that no one had a right to assume that the Cabinet
would advise the Crown improperly or that that advice would be followed, any
more than a person has a right to assume that the English Cabinet would advise
the swamping of the House of Lords, unless a great necessity for it existed.
The moderate course of the English Government should be remembered by hon.
gentlemen. They have seen the Jew Bill passed by the House of Commons three
sessions in succession, and rejected in the House of Lords, and why should they
suppose that the Cabinet here would advise the dissolution of the Council because
they could not carry their measures through that body. 230

MR. BROWN said it was most extraordinary to him that a Reform Government
should erect a body for the express purpose of throwing out Reform measures.
Was it desirable that such a power should be erected to throw out such measures
as the Jew Bill? lThe leader of a popular Government justifies a change in the
Constitution on the ground that his own measures may be thereby stopped and
thrown back on him! 231

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS to all such arguments replied that he was desirous of
seeing the second branch of the Legislature possess an independent opinion, and
he would be the last one who would wish to see it a mere echo of the House of

MR. BROWN.–Does not the Legislative Council, as at present constituted,
exercise an independent opinion now?233



MR. BROWN.–Then why change it?235

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–Sufficient reasons have been given already for the
change. The reason is that it is impossible under the present constitution of
that body to secure any thing like a full attendance. It is a matter of notoriety,
that for the last ten years, there has not been such an attendance as to secure
public confidence. Appointments were made for the purpose of increasing the
attendance, but the gentlemen newly appointed attended no better than the others.236

MR. BROWN.–Because they were not paid.237

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS would be totally unable to get on, if he were so
frequently interrupted. The member for Kent said “they were not paid:” then he
would say to that hon. gentleman that he had discussed that question already. He
might be altogether wrong, and that hon. gentleman might be altogether right, as
to the state of public opinion; but he could only say that there was a large
number of gentlemen in the House who were most decidedly opposed to any payment
to the mere nominees of the Crown. He concluded by recapitulating his previous
remarks; and stating that there were three points on which the Government had
made up their minds, the principles of elections, dissolution and qualification.238

MR. BROWN239 rose and said,–Mr. Chairman, the measure before the House
demands our most earnest and dispassionate consideration, for it is nothing less
than a proposal to change the whole constitutional system of the country. And,
sir, I cannot but express my astonishment at the manner in which a measure of
such importance has been brought before us. I think we had a right to expect
that when the Administration took upon them to pronounce the second branch of
the Legislature destitute of public confidence, and to declare that a change in
its construction was necessary for the proper conduct of public affairs–I say,
sir, we had a right to expect that ere such a declaration was made, a measure
well-considered and perfect in all its details240, with its workings explained,
and with the assurance that ministers241 [of] the Government were prepared to
stand or fall, should have been laid on our table. (Hear, hear.) But what do
we find?–242 un plan informe, vague, mal conçu, mal digéré qu’il a soin de
lancer comme un ballon d’essai sans trop s’occuper du sort qu’il aura243. Three
or four loose, mis-shapen resolutions, without principle and without object, are
flung before us, and we are invited to mangle them at our pleasure! (Hear, hear.)
Her Majesty’s Ministers tell us they are quite indifferent as to all the details
of their measure; quite indifferent as to the number of Councillors, quite
indifferent as to their age, quite indifferent as to the term for which they are
to be elected, quite indifferent as to their qualification–in fact, quite in-
different as to anything but what they call “the principle of the measure.” Sir,
I think this was not the way in which the grave responsibility assumed by the
gentlemen on the Treasury benches should have been discharged. By moving in
this question they have seriously affected the position of the Legislative Council,
and surely this should not have been done until a remedy was carefully matured
and ready to be applied.244 It was a curious thing to bring forward a measure
which must throw discredit on the other branch of the Legislature; and it ought
not to have been done by a crude set of resolutions to be laid on the table and
manufactured at pleasure.245 And what if the first resolution of the series
should pass this House, and a change be declared necessary? Suppose after thus
casting a stigma on the second branch, we are unable to agree upon the details
of a measure to remodel it–will not the Government be chargeable with having
recklessly and criminally aided in shaking public confidence in our Legislative
system? (Hear, hear.) And what do the hon. gentlemen claim to be the principle
of their measure? The hon. Inspector General says it is the elective principle–


and he endeavours to represent the vote upon his resolutions as an issue for or
against that principle. He seizes the clap-trap cry for elective institutions
and holds it, in terrorem over us, with the warning that if we vote against his
scheme we will be held as voting to restrict popular influence. Sir, I have no
fear of popular influence, I have no dread of elective institutions–but I am
utterly opposed to the scheme before the House: and am so opposed because its
sole end and aim is to fetter the force of public opinion and raise a new barrier
of resistance to its progress. (Hear, hear.) I deny altogether that the
principle of this scheme is246 involved here247 [and] what the hon. gentleman
asserts. The elective principle is not a system of Government; it is merely a
means of working out our institutions; it may be good or bad, just as the details
of its application are judicious or the reverse; you may apply it in one way and
it will work admirably,–you may apply it in another, with the very opposite
result. The constitution of France–Louis Napoleon’s constitution–may be said
to be founded on the elective principle, but does not the mode of its application.
render it nugatory and ridiculous? Trial by jury is an admirable principle–but
may not the details of the system render it an evil rather than a good? The
Jury may consist of three, six, twelve or any other number–you may adopt a
majority verdict or a unanimous verdict.–You may give the Jury power over law
and evidence or either of them–in short you may render your principle good or
evil just according to your details. And so is it with the scheme of the hon.
Provincial Secretary. They claim for it all the merit attached to the word
“elective”–but whether any merit at all shall attach, rests entirely on the
details of the scheme. Is not the elective principle in full force now? Have
not the people, under our system of Government, the ready and entire control
over public affairs, through their elected deputies in this House? You may
possibly extend the elective principle to branches of the service to which it
is not now applied, and thereby strengthen popular influence; but you may so
adapt that same principle that the free action of public sentiment will be
fettered at every turn, and I am perfectly certain that this will be the sure
result of any and every attempt to make two elective legislative bodies under the
British constitutional system. (Hear, hear.) This cumbrous and ill-digested
scheme of the Government is devised to fetter the working of the elective
principle as we now enjoy it248. The effect of the measure would be either to
stop the working of the elective principle–to check the will of the people,
or to hand the country over, at once, to republicanism.249 It is a Tory measure–
(Ironical cheers from the Treasury benches)–and will be resisted by every man
who truly favours the cause of progression. And there is another objection to
the course of the Government on this matter. It will be admitted by every one
that a measure of this kind should not have been suggested without grave necessity.250
Now the gentlemen before they brought forward such a measure ought to have told
the house what was to be remedied.251 Have they attempted to show the existence
of such a necessity? For what do they propose this change? What evil now
existing is it to remove? What practical object not now attainable, is it to
accomplish? Can any one tell? True, the Hon. Inspector General told us there
was difficulty in procuring a full attendance of the Legislative Councillors.252
This session, so far, the Upper House had had nothing to do.253 But (without
admitting the fact) is that a sufficient reason for throwing down the whole
system? Was there any work for them to do, had they come together?–Has the hon.
gentleman tried to find the reason of the alleged apathy in attendance? Has he
endeavoured to remedy it in any way? It does strike me that the hon. gentleman’s
position is like that of the man who because his ear ached, cut off his head.
(Laughter.)254 The hon. gentleman admitted that by paying the members of the
Upper House, all the evil he complained of would be remedied–but he says the
Country would never submit to it. How does he know that? If the choice is


between paying the Councillors and overthrowing Responsible Government, I think
the Country would submit to it, and gladly submit to it. But, sir, it is all
very well for the gentlemen on the Treasury benches to place this movement on
the ground of the non-attendance of the Legislative Councillors. I can not but
think there is another255 and better256 reason for the movement and that that
reason dare not be uttered. On this, as on every other question, Mr. Chairman,
there are two parties on the Treasury benches–one Conservative, the other
professing democratic principles. If the Provincial Secretary (Mr. Morin) were
to tell us his true reason for bringing in this bill, I think he would say that
its object was to restrain the “Pharisaical brawlers” of Upper Canada (laughter:)
and if the Commissioner of Crown Lands were to do so, I am equally sure he would
Say, it was257 to adopt a popular system, which … would add to popular power258
[and] to give more effect to Clear Grit influence. (Laughter and cheers.) Imagine
these gentlemen seated in Council considering this scheme.259 They acted this
out, doubtless, without saying so to one another.260 The Provincial Secretary
no doubt would say, “I want an Elective Council or I must resign.” What do you
want it for, asks the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Oh, says the Lower Canada
gentleman, “to put a check on those terrible revolutionists, those “socialists,”
(as my friend from Montmorenci would say) “in the upper section of this distracted
Country.” “Very well,” says the member for Norfolk, “you may have your Elective
Council, but I must have a quid pro quo–I must have the power to dissolve it,
or I will resign. (Cheers.) Each had his wish, and as the fruit of the compact,
we have this precious bantling–one clause establishing the most Conservative
chamber in the world, and another dashing all its Conservatism out of it by one
kick of the Inspector General. (Hear, hear.) will any member of this House
believe that the Commissioner of Crown Lands voluntarily inserted the provision
for a nine years’ term?261 [He] would have no elective Council if he could help
it262. Will any one believe that the Provincial Secretary willingly consented
that the power of dissolution at any moment, should be entrusted to the ministry
of the day?263 [OR that] the Provincial Secretary had no desire for the power
to dissolve to be retained in the government?264 The hon. Inspector General
truly told us a few nights ago, it was amazing that the Cabinet could agree on
so many points. I think this scheme shows very plainly how they agree, and to
what lengths they will go to patch up measures to keep themselves in office. It
would have required a mechanic of no ordinary cleverness to turn out a piece of
handiwork to please the two parties in the Cabinet; but whoever claims the
paternity of these resolutions is but a bungler at his trade, for while putting
the favorite wheel of each party into the machinery, the combination as a whole
defeats the object of both. (Hear, hear.) If the demand for a constitutional
change had proceeded from the other side of the House–if the Tories had demanded
an elective second branch, I could perfectly understand it. They might tell us
that our legislative system is too democratic: that the majority of the House
appoints the Executive Council–and that thus the Representatives of the people
in this chamber control the whole proceedings, executive and legislative. They
might declare against this as an evil–they might show how easily we yield to
the demand of the public, and they might insist on some more stringent check
being placed on the proceedings of the majority in this House. All this I could
perfectly understand, if coming from the Conservative side of the House, with
the demand for a nine years’ Upper Chamber. But I must confess, sir, that I
do not understand how such a measure as this is proposed and supported by the-
progressive party of Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.) The Reformers of Upper Canada
make no such complaints as that of the Conservatives–they complain that the
Government does not go fast enough, that great grievances are too slowly redressed,
that the popular feeling in the country is not effectively carried out even in
this House. I cannot understand how the representatives of such a party, with


the Inspector General at their head, are the advocates of a measure to place new
restraints on popular influence–in fact to raise barriers against themselves.
Are there not measures enough, that year after year we have demanded in vain?
How many useful reforms do we now seek, that are only kept from us by the
Conservative character of our Legislature? It is an utter delusion to represent
this measure as in accordance with the wishes of the Reformers of Upper Canada.
When I look around me and observe the composition of this House–when I see
thirty-two or thirty-three gentlemen of Lower Canada voting, as one man, with a
morbid terror of progression–as an Upper Canada Liberal, I desire no new checks
on the force of public opinion. When I turn to the Treasury benches and mark
the professed radicalism of the gentlemen who sit there from Upper Canada–and
when I contrast their election addresses, and their electioneering promises,
with the miserable meagreness of their practice–far from seeking new checks
on the popular will, I am ready to demand more stringent popular control–a
shorter duration of Parliament, that the political recreant may be sooner brought
to the bar of public opinion. I do not speak the gentlemen of Lower Canada.
I understand very well their views on this matter. They want to restrain the
“Pharisaical brawlers” (ironical cheers from the French members) and I cannot
blame them, for the day is at hand when we will upset their domination.
(Renewed cheers.) But I address the hon. Inspector General who comes here as
the leader of the Reformers of Upper Canada–and I ask him to tell us what he
proposes to gain by this measure for the Liberal party of the West? Is there a
single reform they now demand and cannot obtain, which this change will procure?
Is there an abuse existing which cannot now be touched, but will by this scheme
be removed? Is there one step in advance which two elective houses may
accomplish, but which one elective house cannot undertake? No, sir,–he cannot
say that his measure will effect one of their ends. He has the entire control
of public affairs in his hands–with his influence in the Cabinet and his
majority here and in the Upper House–he can carry any measure he desires, and
has the courage to demand from his Lower Canada colleagues. Is he afraid of
his own power?–does he seek to restrain his own action? or does he want this
new constitutional barrier, as a plea and pretext to Upper Canada for not carrying
out the measure to which his Cabinet stands pledged? (Cheers.) Coming from the
gentlemen opposite and without the power of dissolution, these resolutions need
have caused no suspicion–but coming from the Inspector General, emanating from
and supported by the Liberal party of Upper Canada, it is a deliberate act of
suicide. (Hear, hear.) It is essentially a Tory measure.265

MR. BOULTON.–A Tory measure?266

MR. BROWN.–Of course it is. In this country it emanated from the Tory
league, and in Nova Scotia it was submitted to Parliament by the Tory Attorney
Geberal [sic], Mr. Johnstone; and resisted by the progressive party on the ground
that it was destructive to responsible government, that bane of Toryism. There
was a time, I will admit, when the Reform party of Upper Canada might have con-
sistently favoured a second elective chamber. At the period when an unprincipled
oligarchy ruled over public affairs; when the Executive Council owned no respon-
sibility to the people or their representatives; whenlthe Legislative Council
vetoed every good measure of the progressive party, and sent it back with disdain
to the House of Assembly,–then, indeed, an elective chamber would have been of
service to the popular cause. But when a change in the constitution was obtained,
–when responsible government was introduced,–when the people obtained full
control over the political machinery, the necessity and advantage of such a
chamber was altogether taken away. Now the Governor General is compelled to
choose his Executive Council from the party having a majority in this House; and


the moment they lose the confidence of the majority, he must unseat them and
find others who are in a position to obtain it. When the Reformers asked that
the Legislative Council should be made elective in the days of the Colbornes
and the Heads, it was because they had no control over it, and it thwarted
their every movement. But what is the complaint now? That the Upper House is
too complaisant; that it yields to the popular will; that its sympathies are
all with the Reform party; that it does not throw out the bills of the Liberal
majority of this House! And Upper Canada Liberals lead the assault upon such
grounds. (Cheers.) Was ever such folly witnessed among men! I know not to,
what I shall ascribe the position of the hon. Inspector General. I cannot think
that he is blind to the effect of his own measure. The omnipotence of the popular
will, as expressed through this House, and the prompt, efficient control we267,
the House of Assembly268, exercise over the Executive, is the very mainspring
of our constitutional system.269 How could that continue, if there were another
House that might oppose that Assembly.270 Without that ready and efficient
check over their proceedings, the vast power entrusted, under our constitutional
system, to the Ministry of the day, would be dangerous to the State. (Cheers.)
Take away the direct, the immediate power of the people’s representatives to
bring the Ministry to account and to remove them when necessary, and you destroy
the vitality of British constitutional government. Now, Mr. Chairman, the
question arises, can this effective system of Ministerial responsibility be
maintained with two elective chambers? Very clearly, it can not. At present
the members of the Upper House are appointed by the Crown on account of their
position in society, their stake in the public welfare, their influence in the
comunity, and the experience which they can bring dispassionately to bear on
public affairs.271

MR. BOULTON.–Hear, hear, hear!272

M. BROWN.–The hon. member for Toronto cries hear, as if he doubted the
claim of the second chamber to the character I have described; but I am free to
tell that hon. gentleman that the talent of the Upper House will not compare
unfavourably with that of our own chamber, however highly we may think of our-
selves–and that if the members of that body would use their power more vigorously,
there would be no want of respect entertained towards them. The Legislative
Council, as now constituted, is not intended to be an active political engine
like the United States Senate. It is intended, I apprehend, rather as a Court
of Review, removed in some degree from the bitterness of political partizanship–
but feeling a deep interest in the welfare of the whole country273, therefore274
capable of taking a broad view of the questions submitted to its consideration275
to soften difficulties, and to give and take.276 Without responsibility to any
party or local interest, the Councillors may fearlessly declare their conscientious
views on any subject, or their dislike to any measure; and they may yield their
personal opinions to the demands of the popular voice without impeachment, when
it is unequivocally pronounced. t would this be the case if the Council were
made elective? Far from it. If they were elected277, the members would be
responsible to [a] party278; they’would necessarily be ranged in hostile array
as Tory and Radical, precisely as we are here279 [in] the Lower House … and
bound to act accordingly.280 At the hustings they would be subject to the same
ordeal as we are–they must explain their views–ally themselves with the several
political parties–and come under party responsibilities precisely as we all do
now. And their conduct in the Chamber must be true to their professions and
alliances at the hustings. (Hear, hear.) The hon. Inspector General attempted
to compare an elective second branch with the British House of Peers–but well
he knows that there is no just comparison between them. The House of Peers are
responsible to no one–they may take any view they like on any subject, and they


may yield to public demand when they see expedient, without question from any one.
But if our Councillors were elected, they would be subject to the strictest party
responsibility, and could yield their opinions on party questions, as little as
any member of this House. (Cheers.) The hon. gentleman seems to forget that not
only will responsibility of an elective Councillor be different from that of an
appointed Councillor, or hereditary Peer–but that the class of men would be
different. The men selected under this new scheme of the Government, will be
fixed upon, in nine cases out of ten, mainly on account of their strong political
feeling–as prominent members of the Tory or of the Liberal party. They would
constitute a totally different class of persons from those selected by the Crown–
they would be earnest politicians. They would occupy the same position as the
members of this House, many of them bound by pledges at the hustings, and by
ties from which they dare not swerve–party interests and party ties would be
as well defined with them as with us. (Hear, hear.) Now, sir, let us see how
two such bodies could be worked under Responsible Government. It is proposed
that the Government shall be elected for nine years, by constituencies different
from those which return the Lower Chamber–and during that space three different
Houses of Assembly would be elected to co-operate with them. In any country, a
different combination of constituencies would produce very different results; but
in Upper Canada, with the same constituencies, we have seen almost every succeeding
general election exhibit a different result from the one that preceded it. (Hear,
hear.) Until the late election, for a great many years back, we had a Tory and
a Reform House alternately.–It is true that the same rule does not apply to
Lower Canada; but it is to be hoped that the extraordinary spectacle of a people
unanimous against progression will not always be witnessed, and that the same
political diversities of opinion will arise ere long, as are found in every free
country but this. It is clear, it is indisputable, that two such bodies must be
often at variance. And yet, under Responsible Government, the Ministry must
have a majority in both Houses; they are responsible to the people through their
representatives, and subject to removal at their demand; and under this new
system, either House will, equally with its fellow, speak the “well understood
wishes of the people.” (Hear, hear.) I want to know, sir, what is to be done
when they are at variance–which shall prevail? The hon. Inspector General
supposed the case of a bill sent down here from the Upper House and rejected, and
he said nothing would result, that it would simply fall to the ground. That was
a very ingenious way of evading the point–but let us take a stronger case, and
see how the hon. gentleman will meet it. Suppose a vote of want of confidence
in the present Ministry were to pass the Lower House, and suppose the other
elective House were to meet it with an address to the Head of the Government not
to dismiss his ministers, for that they had confidence in them!–what would be
done then? Will the Inspector General answer the question?281

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–The Ministry would either have to resign, or dissolve
the Lower House, just as they do now.282

MR. BROWN.–The Inspector General says they must dissolve the Lower House or
resign. Very good. Let us work it out. Suppose they did dissolve283 the Lower
House284, the same men might come back again 285 with the same view of things,
the Upper House also keeping its opinions.286 The chances in this country are
always in favour of the opposition and the vote of want of confidence would not
have been passed without a strong assurance that the Country would sustain it.
Will the Inspector General tell us what he would do if a house similar to the
last were returned?287

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–The Government would have to go out.288


MR. BROWN.–The Inspector General says the Ministry must go out! Very well.
The hon. gentleman and his friends walk across the House and the gallant knight
from Hamilton and his friends take their seats. But that would not remove the
difficulty. The new,Ministry would find a Lower House very much to their minds,
but an Upper Chamber in clamorous opposition to them. Will the hon. Inspector
General tell us how the gallant knight must act in the dilemma?289

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–He would have to go on with the Government! (Loud
laughter and a voice, “fairly cornered”.) Really it is difficult to understand
what amuses the hon. gentlemen so much. Does not the history of the British
Parliament furnish an example of a Ministry going on for years and years in the
face of an opposition majority in the House of Peers?290

MR. BROWN.–The hon. Inspector General says the gallant knight would hold
his post in spite of the Upper House. Where, then, would be this “greatly enhanced
respect and influence” which we have been so often told this change would bring
to the second branch? But it is all very well in theory to suppose such a result.
Did it never occur to the hon. gentleman that the new Councillors would have
something to say in the matter, and might object to be treated as ciphers in the
political machinery? What though a British Ministry may have carried on with a
hostile House-of Peers? The Peers of England bear no analogy to the Councillors
of Canada–elected, as they would be, for their party views, to carry out party
objects, and bound by party responsibilities. Would not the minority of the
Lower House, and their party in the country, call on their friends, the majority
of the Upper House, to remember their party obligations and resist every step of
the gallant knight, and would they not be too glad to respond? What would happen
them [sic]? Mr. Chairman, the whole scheme is an utter delusion–it cannot be
worked. (Hear, hear.) But let us suppose another case. If I rightly understood
the hon. gentleman, he stated on a previous evening that he did not think it
would be incumbent on the Ministry to resign, if one of their measures was thrown-
out in the Upper House. But suppose the case reversed, and that the Upper House
sent down here a measure of considerable importance–what would happen if it
were rejected?291

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–I do not understand the hon. member. The bill would
not be passed, of course.292

MR. BROWN.–The Inspector General says the bill would not be passed–but.
does he think the matter would end there? Does the hon. gentleman think that
the Upper House would not insist on its bills being passed, just as we would
ours? would they not say to us, “you must pass our bill, or we won’t pass yours?”293

MR. EGAN.–A demand for “Reciprocity”–Eh? (Laughter.)294

MR. BROWN.–Certainly. A demand for reciprocity–under the threat of
retaliatory policys (Laughter.) They would refuse to legislate–there would be
a dead lock.295

MR. INSP. GEN. HINCKS.–I would ask how it happens that there has been no
dead lock in Belgium? Their constitution has worked well for ten years.295

MR. BROWN.–Can the Hon. Inspector General take us to no other spot than
Belgium for a constitutional system suited to the continent of America.297
Belgium!298 His colleague, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, carried us, a few
nights ago, to Russia and Rome for illustrations of popular rights–and now we
must go with the Inspector to Belgium in search of a constitution! where will
they go next–I expect they will take us to the Inquisition for a model judicial
system (cheers and laughter)! The Hon. gentleman evidently misapprehends the


position, which the body created by his scheme, would hold in the political system.
He seems to think that he can govern it, as he does his supporters in this House–
that he could get up and wag his finger and they would all follow him without a
word. (Ironical cheers from the ministerial benches.) But there will be two
parties in that house as there are in this–with the same rights, the same powers,
and the same knowledge of their position as we have. Does the hon. gentleman
think he could propose to such a body a measure to snuff themselves out, as he
now does the Upper House. He dared not do it, and I am not without hope that if
this absurd scheme should pass this House, the Council will yet assert its dignity,
and send it back with a message that will astonish the hon. gentleman. (Hear,
hear.) A more unstatesmanlike proceeding than the whole of this affair no man
ever witnessed. The Provincial Secretary throws on our table this thing of shreds
and patches and bids us make the most of it–and neither he nor the Inspector
General, nor the interesting fa[mily] concerned can give an intelligible account
of how it is to be worked. (Laughter and cheers.) Were it carried to-morrow, I
will tell you how it would end. If the hon. Inspector General had a Radical
majority here, and a Tory majority up stairs, he would say–“Very sorry, Gentlemen,
but I cannot … [please] you both;” he would sit most complacently in his arm
chair, play the one House off against the other, and singing,

“How happy,could I be with either
Were to’other dear charmer away,”

he would hold on by the honours and emoluments of office. (Laughter and cheers.)
And that is the whole meaning of the proposition. It just brings back the old
irresponsible execration of Upper Canada prior to the Union. But some hon.
gentlemen may tell me, I put an extreme case in supposing the two Houses to be
at variance–they may say that as a general rule both will be of the same political
complexion. What then would be gained by having two elective Houses? Would not
the Tories in the Upper House echo the Tories in the Lower House?–would not the
Liberals in the Lower House endorse every word of their friends in the Upper?
Were we who sit here now to be divided into two bodies, one sitting here, and
the other up stairs–what gain would there be in that? The stupidity on the
part of the hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches is their not perceiving that
discordance of political sentiment between two elective bodies destroys Responsible
Government, while harmony of sentiment equally destroys all the benefit of an
elective senate. But, says some hon. gentlemen, the government scheme works well
in the United States. This is a mistake. It is not known in the United States
at all–and that no one knows better than the honourable the Inspector General.
In the American republican system there is no ministerial responsibility: it is
entirely individual. The President, or the governor, has his duties assigned by
law, and he cannot overstep his letter: so has the Senator, and so has the
Assembly man. The Ministers are appointed by the President or Governor; they
have no seats in the Legislature; they have no party responsibility; they are
merely heads of departments. There is no combined responsibility, as with us.
Each man’s duty is prescribed by law; he is bound to obey its letter; but so I
long as he obeys it, he holds his office till the end of his term. You cannot
hold him to account for the wisdom of his conduct,–for the good policy of his
Administration; and therein, in my opinion, rests the vast superiority of our
system over that of our neighbours. Your American office holder, from the President
downwards, during his term of office, is practically independent. Theirs is a
system of bars and fetters. Each office and each body has its limits determined,–
the powers of the very Legislature are defined by law; and the Supreme Court is
above the Legislature. The essential principle of their system is subdivided
responsibility to the law. ,The essential principle of our system is, elective
Ministerial responsibility to popular opinion299, for the House could not under


that system bring the Governor or his ministry to the bar of public opinion, and
condemn them at any minute, as was done here.300 They could not engraft our
Cabinet Council upon their two elective chambers and written constitution; and
just as little can we adopt the double chamber, and retain our Cabinet system.
It has to be confessed, that the question whether the immense power given to
the Executive, under our system, can be worked out on this democratic continent,
with advantage to the public, is still undecided. I am free to say, that if
the system of jobbing, which we have witnessed of late, should be continued, we
may be forced to place the check of republicanism on the Administration. But
if the Government can be administered prudently and honourably, as in England,
I for one infinitely prefer our present system of Government to that of the
United States. (Cheers.) And this, sir, is my grand objection to the scheme
before the House; if it passes into law, it will strike the death-knell of
British Constitutional Government on this continent. (Loud cheers from the
opposition.) Political institutions cannot retrograde without revolutions. If
you take this step, demanded by Her Majesty’s advisers, you must go on–and you
will never halt till you adopt the whole system of the American Republic. (Hear,
hear.) It cannot be otherwise. I have shown that when the two Houses disagreed,
the Executive would be free from practical control. If we pass the vote of
censure here, they would have a vote of approval above–and they would keep
their offices. We know the high-handed conduct of the Government now, and its
impunity–but what would it be then? The two Houses being at variance, legis-
lation could not proceed-ebut as the Hon. Inspector General says, “the government
must be carried on,”–and the Ministry must carry it on. But act as discreetly
as men could, an antagonism would exist between them and the party dominant in
the hostile branch of the Legislature–an agitation would follow, jealousy of
the Executive would be excited, and a clamour for new restraints on the power of
the Ministry would ring throughout the land. The hon. member for Lincoln would
point to the State of New York; the hon. member for Toronto would point to Boston;
the hon. member for Two-Mountains would point to Washington, and din into the
public ear how the Executive was checked across the lines. The first result
would be to shut the Ministry out of Parliament–a written constitution would
soon follow–and, bit by bit, we would advance to the full adoption of republican
institutions. (Hear, hear.) I say not annexation–301

MESSRS. BOULTON and GAMBLE.–(Hear, hear.)302

MR. BROWN.–Yes, I say not annexation–for there is a wide difference between
changing our constitution, and allying ourselves with the leviathan republic.
The first I should deeply deplore, but black indeed would I deem that day for
Canada when the other should be seriously entertained. I say, then, the question
before the House is simply a choice between American republicanism and the British
constitution. (Hear, hear.) And if the hon. gentlemen intend to carry out this
scheme, I think they should come down boldly and manfully and place the discussion
on that ground, and ask us to choose between the two forms of government. For my
part I am quite prepared to meet them on that issue, and to show that the British
constitution in its practical operation, for developing the industry and energy
of the people, for preserving the peace of society, for the protection of life
and property, and for securing equal and impartial justice, is as far superior
to the American as one system can be superior to another. (Loud cheering.) I
am prepared to meet the gentlemen on the Treasury benches on that ground–but I
am not prepared for a scheme like this, which drives in the wedge part of the way,
and gives no chance of withdrawal. (Cheers.) I am not to be tickled, with the
cry of “the elective principle,” into the surrender of the complete control we
now have over the Executive. (Renewed cheering.)–I am not disposed to give up


the substance, to run after the shadow. (Continued cheering.) Sir, it may seem
strange that, as the representative of the most liberal opinions avowed in this
house, and standing almost alone, I should be found resisting a proposition which
has been regarded as a popular movement in Upper Canada. It may seem to some
that any change must be beneficial to the party whose views I represent. This
is one of those captivating theories with which designing men have excited and
fanned the ambers of discontent, by drawing delusive pictures of the evils of
the present system, and of the benefits to be derived from a change. I scorn
such vile clap-trap. Despite the little power the principles I advocate have
at present in this House, they extend far and wide over Upper Canada. We know
that the existing constitution gives full influence to public opinion–and we
willingly bide our time. I may stand here for three years endeavouring in vain
to carry out the purposes for which I entered Parliament–but I know that a
change will one day come in the composition and policy of this House, and that
those who ride rough-shod over us to-day, will ere long tune their pipes to a
different song. The majority of last Parliament was as great and as confident
as this–but there were many who sat there then, who are not here now; there
may be those here to-day who will never come again. Why should we make this
change? Everything goes well throughout the land. Every interest is prosperous.
We have free elections–the proceedings are fairly conducted. When the Repre-
sentation Bill becomes law, the public mind of each Province will obtain fair
expression–there is no measure demanded by the public voice which cannot be
obtained–there is no arbitrary or unconstitutional legislation complained of–
there is no outcry against any injustice done by this House, against a repetition
of which the people need protection. (Hear, hear.) Why then shall we make this
change? If the Upper House does no good, it does no harm. The’expense of
maintaining it is little–the cost of the new Chamber will be enormous; certainly
not less than one hundred thousand dollars a year. But I contend that the present
House is useful. Many valuable amendments upon our bills are suggested by the
legislative council–not a few good bills originated with it; the Usury Law
Repeal Bill of last session came from the Upper House, and Reformers remember
with gratitude that the Peterboro’ Rectory Bill of last session after passing
this House was thrown out above. Sir, I think the fault of the Legislative .
Council is that they are not sufficiently “factions,” as the dominant party here
term it. If they would kick out one or two of the pet measures of the gentlemen
who treat them so disrespectfully, and get well abused, I think they would rise
wonderfully in public estimation. Suppose now, they were to throw out half a
dozen priest-incorporation bills–or that hundred thousand pound Fire Loan job
of the Inspector General; or suppose they were to adopt my bill to abolish the
Rectories (laughter,) I’ll promise them that the popularity they would acquire,
would waken up this chamber as well as their own. The complaint against the
Upper House is, that its sympathies are too much at one with the majority of
this House. Coming from the minority, such a complaint could be easily understood–
but coming from the majority, from the Reformers, it is a diseased clamour, it
is ungrateful and intensely stupid. (Hear, hear.) For thirty years the Liberal
party contended for responsible Government. Boldly they fought for it–much
they endured to obtain it. Their motives were misrepresented, their objects
denounced and their prospects in life often seriously injured–because they
sought and insisted on obtaining British Constitutional Government. In spite
of an impracticable Colonial office–in spite of self-confident Governors–in
spite of the opposition of hon. gentlemen opposite–they obtained it. It has
been but a few brief years in operation–it has brought all the benefits for
which it was sought, for which so much labour was expended. And yet the leaders
of the very men who fought for it and obtained it, already to mar its operations


and to introduce a system rife with all the evils of the old irresponsible system,
which they succeeded in overturning. (Cheers.) Sir, I ask on gentlemen to look
at the statute books of the last ten years, and mark well the long array of useful
and able measures which are the fruit of Responsible Government. I ask them to
look at the peaceful revolution which has passed over our Institutions, at the
admirable political structures it has left behind, at the moral and social, and
material progress we are making as a people–and to say, when all this has been
the work of our constitutional system, in so short a space, how any man can
contemplate a change without dread. Can the Reformers of Upper Canada be a
party to it? Can they forget their historical laurels–can they upset their own
system, a system which has been already so beneficial? What are they to gain by
this change? Cannot they obtain all they want now–are they not obtaining it
faster than any country in the world? There is one thing, Mr. Chairman, which
has been lost sight of in this discussion. It is said that under the present
system, a proper class of persons is not selected by the Crown for the Upper
House; that the councillors are not all men who, by their position and force of
character, can command public respect and confidence. Now, Sir, I do not agree
with the disparaging estimate, too often heard, of the members of the second
branch–but were they true, I contend that it arises from our peculiar position
as a people; and that we may safely trust to time to rectify the evil. (Hear,
hear.) It is no easy thing to find in a new country, men of education, and
wealth, and business capacity, who have the confidence of the public, and the
will to give up without remuneration three months of the year to the affairs of
the state, at a distance from their home. Twenty years ago, the population of
Upper Canada was under 200,000,–to-day, it is a million. Where have these 800,000
people come from? From all the countries of Europe: few of them educated; most
of them without education and without means; and all of them to make their
fortunes if they can. We are yet in an early stage of society; and it is not
reasonable to expect that our peculiar form of government can be worked out as
perfectly as it may a few years hence. We are all too much on a parity yet,
as regards wealth, and knowledge, and influence,–we are all too much engrossed
with the pursuit of the dollar,–we, as yet, rub too freely against each other
in the ordinary scrambles of life, to look up with great respect to any few
selected from the many. But a few years more, and all this will be changed,
The increasing wealth of the country, and the schools and the colleges rising
everywhere around us, will ere long do their work. A new generation is arising,–
is pressing hard on our heels,–and one which I hope will produce men of a stamp
to carry confidence in any position, from their own inherent characters, whether
elected or appointed. Let us not, then, destroy the fair fabric, though it be
not so perfect now as we might wish. Practically we gain all we desire; and
time may safely be left to rectify any imperfections in the theory. The Legis-
lative Council has been most unfairly dealt with. Have we not frequently heard,
in this very Chamber, hon. gentlemen heaping abuse on it, with the avowed object
of bringing it into discredit? And has it not been permitted to pass without
rebuke? I think that if a sense of the courtesy due from one branch of the
Legislature to another, were not sufficient to deter hon. gentlemen from the use
of such language, the rules of this House should be made to prevent such indignity.303

MR. J.A. MACDONALD.–The rules do prevent it.304

MR. BROWN.–Then they should be enforced. Another class of complainants are
those who repeat here constantly, that in 1849, the Council was lifted up with
partizans of the Government, for a particular purpose. I have some knowledge
of that transaction, and I cannot understand the force of the charge. I believe
the gentlemen then appointed were equal in talent, and quite as independent ash,
anyrin the chamber. Some of them are the most efficient men in it. The Govern-


ment had a large majority against them in the Council–they had been many years
outof power–the number was decreased by deaths and resignations–what could
they do but appoint some of their friends? Do hon. gentlemen opposite think
they should have appointed those hostile to them?, Even now the Liberal party
has hardly a majority. The clamour raised by the Conservative party, I cannot
but think most unreasonable and most hurtful: hurtful because it has tended to
bring the whole House into undeserved disrespect. Even if the Government of
the day had made an unfortunate selection–it must have been from error in
judgement. They would naturally strive to get their best men into the Legislature–
and if they did not, it was the Reform party that had a right to complain. Mr.
Chairman, I must apologize for detaining the House so long, but I think I have
shown conclusively that the scheme proposed by the Government cannot be carried
out and ministerial responsibility remain a part of our system–that the issue
can only be regarded as a choice between British Constitutional Government and
American Republicanism. (Hear, hear.) I am sure that there is no Reform
constituency in Upper Canada, in which if the effect of the measure was fairly
explained and understood, there would not be an almost unanimous verdict against
it. No man pulls his house down because the chimney smokes–he ascertains what
is wrong and applies a remedy. So the Government should do now. The hon.
Inspector General complains that no better scheme has been suggested’by those
who oppose his bill. That is not our business, sir,–it is for him and his
colleagues to take the responsibility of great changes in the constitution.
But I am free to say, that if it is necessary to make any change in existing
circumstances, there are many ways in which an alteration might be made. The
members of the Legislative Council might be paid, so as to secure a larger
attendance–their term of office might be limited–and various other remedies
might be suggested for discussion and consideration. It is too strong a state-
ment to declare that the country would never submit to the payment of the Upper
House. What practical difference is there between paying councillors and other
nominees of the Crown–executive councillors for instance? As the Ministry are
so fond of precedents–why, instead of going to Rome or Belgium for examples,
did they not go to the sister colonies for a Legislative Council in which the
members are remunerated? But, Sir, if a change must be made, and if no efficient
remedy can be applied to meet the views of the majority of the House–I am in
favour of the total abolition of the second chamber (cheers.) I infinitely
prefer Responsible Government to the American republican system, and if we must
yield to the clamour against the legislative council, I would rather sweep it
away altogether, than give up ministerial responsibility. (Cheers.) We could
create a commission of review in their room, say of three members, who should
examine all the measures passing this house for omissions and intechnicalities
with the power to suggest alterations for our consideration, ere being sent to
the head of the government for his sanction. This is the only course open to us
if the Government persist in their demand for a change–and I shall at a future
stage offer amendments embodying my views. But, Sir, I trust the Government
will not persist. I trust they will seriously reflect on the danger of the
movement they have undertaken, and the responsibility they will incur by proceeding
with it; and deeming discretion the better part of valour, will withdraw their

MR. MACKENZIE thought the great thing to be considered was if the people
were fit for the election of the Upper House. He thought they were, and it was
therefore reasonable to look into these resolutions. Now he would seek out the
wisest number of men to elect, and let them elect whom they would instead of
excluding the wisest and best men, if they had not been elected Mayor. But it
was very singular that last year Mr. Hincks had voted against his elective council


and that he now proposed it as a remedy for an evil which he said had lasted ten
or twelve years.306 Pourquoi cette determination n’a-t-elle pas fait partie du
discours du trône? Encore de la blague (humbug).307 Was it because, as was
alleged, the governor was against it. The Pilot some years ago, too, when under
the control of Mr. Hincks, had opposed the hon. member for Two Mountains308, M.
Papineau, parce qu’il demandait des institutions électives309, and so Mr. Baldwin
had declared himself decidedly opposed to any organic change. As to the opposition
of these plans to British Institutions, the answer was that the Queen had consented
to grant them to New Brunswick. There was a great deal, however to be said in
favour of no Upper House at all. It was a sin to say anything against them, he
confessed, for no one knew anything about them except when the true masonic knock
came to the door. He defended the conduct of the government in erecting the new
Legislative Councillors, from the intentions of the British Ministry at the time
of the Reform Bill. He then stated a number of examples to show that the Upper
House ought not to be able to obstruct the other.–Then came back to the League
in Canada and Bishop Strachan. In his opinion the Upper House should be dissolved
much more speedily than the hon. Inspector General suggested. In Nova Scotia the
Legislative Council had offered to resign; the Assembly the year before having
unanimously passed a resolution in favour of the elective principle. Mr. Brown’s
idea that this was a tory measure was not justified by the fact. At present the
House was no exponent of anything. All that it did was to send a messenger, to
bow and bow, so that the country paid $40,000 per annum310 in order that the
Lower House might have a Chinese Mandarin in their shop. But there was no fear
of the Upper House, if it were elected by popular vote. He was not afraid.
Those who were might vote against it. But the first thing was to have the people
fairly represented in that House. He then went back to Mr. Draper’s descent
from the Lords, which he said had some similarity to the present position of Mr.
Ross, who had £600 a year for looking after the interest of Mr. Baldwin till
that gentleman came back again. The hon. member then went on to quote a large
number of authorities in favour of an elective Council, selecting these authorities
from Canada, England, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. What astonished him, however,
was that though the other day every body was opposing elective judges, the ministry
now proposed to elect a House of judges to try the chief officers of the govern-
ment and even the judges themselves. He then came to that qualification, and
cited Sir James Stuart’s plan for Legislative council, before the troubles, which
he said did not propose any such absurdity, and it was introduced now on account
of a mission of Chief Justice Robinson to England, when he said that gentlemen
drew £1600 a year. He condemned the qualification. If responsible Government
were inconsistent with an elective Legislative Council, it was clearly opposed to
popular liberty.311

MR. MARCHILDON opposed the resolution, chiefly on the ground of expense312.

and after some time spent therein, Mr. Speaker resumed the Chair; and Mr. Malloch
reported, That the Committee had made further progress, and directed him to move
for leave to sit again.

Ordered, That the Committee have leave to sit again, on Friday next.

Ordered, That the remaining Orders of the day he postponed until To-morrow.

Then, on motion of Sir Allan N. MacNab, seconded By.the Honorable Mr. Badgley,
The House adjourned.

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