Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Mitchell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (30 September 1865)

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Date: 1865-09-30
By: Viscount Monck
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Mitchell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (30 September 1865) in UK, Parliament, Correspondence respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1867).
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No. 14.

Copy of Despatch from the officer Administering the Government to the Right Hon. Edward CARDWELL., M.P.

(No. 3.)

Montreal, September 30, 1865.

(Received, October 16, 1865.)

SIR,                                                                                                                                            (Answered. No. 150. October 18, 1865. Page 46.)

WITH reference to Lord Monck’s Despatch, no. 183,* of September 20th, enclosing copies of a correspondence between his lordship and the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, respecting further guarantees for the construction of the Intercolonial railway, I have the honour to transmit for your information a copy of another Despatch on the same subject, which I have received from sir Richard MacDonnell since lord Monck’s departure.

I have, &c.

The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.,                                                   (Signed)            J. Mitchell., Lt,-Gen.,

&c.            &c.            &c.

 Enclosure in No. 14.


My LORD,                                                                                                    Government House, Halifax, Nova Scotia , September 18, 1865.

I HAVE the humour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s Despatch of the […] instant in reply to mine of the 31st […], suggesting the policy of providing additional security for the prompt construction of the Intercolonial railroad.

2. It is very gratifying to me to find that your Lordship regards the precious correspondence on the subject as a proof of the “willingness of the Canadian Government on the part of the Parliament of Canada to acquiesce in any course when the Imperial Government may adopt in order to secure immediately, on the Union of the Provinces, the commencement and vigorous prosecution of that important work.”

3. I must however observe, that as this is the first in which any direct allusion has been made to the willingness of Canada to abide by the views of the Imperial Government, apart from the strict text of the Quebec resolutions, I could not have been expected to have sooner divined such willingness. Iit is however enough that it is announced now.

4. I would also very respectfully submit that my Government is scarcely liable to the imputation of either “oblivion” or “misapprehension” of matters which had attained such recent and general notoriety as the renewed engagement by the delegates in […] a for a loan to construct the railway; and still less so, as to the mention of that project in the 68th Quebec resolution, of which your Lordship is so good as to remind me.

5. On the contrary, it was on the ground that many persons in these Provinces regard the terms of that very resolution as insufficient, whether eventually embodied or not in an Imperial Act, that I ventured to draw your Lordship’s attention to the subject.

6. I need to scarcely repeat that my suggestions from the first were offered not with a view to satisfy any doubts of my own or my Council. Two members of the latter body had been nominated by me Delegates to the Quebec Convention. They were therefore parties to the articles agreed on, and then, as now, they considered the assurance contained in the 68th resolution quite […] to satisfy all reasonable men; and believed, as they still believe, that the projected railway would be carried out promptly and in good faith.

7. Nevertheless the question is not what ought to satisfy myself or my council, but rather what it is polite `to do for the purpose of satisfying many influential opponents of confederation, who see, or think they see, or pretend they see in the Quebec an insufficient security for a work, held out as a leading inducement to confederation.

8. The 68th Quebec resolution is represented by them as relegating too entirely to the future “General Government,” and the future Ottawa Parliament, the execution of an important part of the future executive, of a different people and different Government, so as to foretel the mode in which the latter may execute a trust entirely consigned to them.

9. Now, although, in the event of confederation, the strong probability is that the leading statesmen of the present day would form that “General Government,” and as members of it, would desire faith-fully to carry out the pledges given by them as members of the quebec conference there is no absolute certainty in that prospect. On the contrary , there is just such a chance, however remote, of the first General Government being in a minority, as furnishes a pretext for those who are disposed to do so,to pretend that some rival project may obtain procedure in the new Parliament, notwithstanding the facilities offered by the guarantee of the imperial government for raising funds to construct the railway.

10. Now all the suggestions of myself and council from the first leave had but one object, viz., to cut the ground completely from under the feet of the class of objectors above alluded to, whether sincere in their objections or not.

11. In dealing with them I distinctly stated that it was “not for me to point out the special mode” in which additional security for construction of the railroad might be procured. Perhaps that object cannot be better attained than by the interpretation now given by your Lordship on the part of the Canadian Executive and Legislature to the previous correspondence.

12. Such an authentic announcement of the willingness of Canada to acquire in any course to secure the commencement and vigorous prosecution of the intended railway which may be taken by so friendly and suitable an arbiter as the imperial Government must be sufficient to terminate all doubt and caviling.

13. It is immaterial whether that willingness to abide by the judgement of Great Britain had been sufficiently implied before, or whether it be now for the first time introduced, as an admitted inference from previous correspondence. Provided it be clearly expressed, whether late or early, its authority is equally unquestionable.

14. For my own part I candidly say that, if the willingness of Canada to acquiesce in any course to be taken by Her Majesty’s government , had been expressed earlier I should not have troubled your Lordship on the subject. Permit me to add however that i cannot regret having elicited so satisfactory and decisive and exposition of the real intentions of the Canadian Government.

I have, &c.

His Excellency the Right Hon. Viscount                            (Signed)     RICHARD GRAVES MACDONNELL,

Monck, Governor General,                                                                    Lient.-Governor.

&c.            &c.            &c.

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