Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (3 July 1865)
By: Arthur Gordon
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (3 July 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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COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-Governor the Hon. ARTHUR GORDON to the Right Hon. EDWARD CARDWELL, M.P.
Fredericton, July 3, 1865.
(Received July 17, 1865.)
I THINK it right to transmit to you copies of a correspondence which has lately taken place between the Governor-General of Canada and myself on a subject of no great real importance, but which it is perhaps right to place before you.
2. It appears that the text of the resolutions of the Quebec Conference, as transmitted by the Governor-General of Canada to England, and to the Maritime Provinces, and as printed to be laid before both Houses of Parliament in England, and the Legislative bodies in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Islands, and Newfoundland, differs from that of the same resolutions as laid before the Canadian Parliament in several particulars ; the most important of which is the substitution in the Canadian copy of the central Parliament as the body which is to define the electoral districts, which power is assigned in the copied laid before the Imperial Parliament and the Legislatures of the Maritime Provinces to the local Legislatures.
3. The change appears to me a very decided improvement, but it may be questionable how far an alteration, even for the better, should have been made in the instrument actually signed at Quebec, without ful previous communication with the whole of the delegates.
4. I consider the change an improvement, for I look on everything tending to raise the power of the central Legislature and diminish that of the local Assemblies as a beneficial alteration of the original scheme, but there are many who would not think so ; and Mr. Pope, the Colonial Secretary of Prince Edward Island, himself a Delegate, and one of the few warm friends of Federation to be found in the Island from which he comes, informed me that had his consent been asked to such an lateration, it would have been decidedly refused.
5. When my notice had been drawn to the discrepancy, I could not refuse to comply with the desire of my Government to call the attention of the Governor-General to the fact, and i enclose copies of the correspondence which has since passed on the subject.
I have, &c.
(Signed) ARTHUR H. GORDON.
The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.,
&c. &c. &c.
Enclosure in No. 14
The LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR to the GOVERNOR-GENERAL of Canada.
Fredericton, April 4, 1865.
UPON the 12th November last your Lordship did me the honour to address to me […] Despatch enclosing a copy of the resolutions agreed to by the delegates appointed to consider the question of a federation of the British North American Province. To the copy so transmitted the following certificate was attached :–
“I certify that the above is a true copy of the original report of resolutions adopted in Conference.
“E. P. TACHE, Chairman.”
In this copy the 24th resolution stands as follows : —
“24. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the electoral districts for the purpose of representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the representatives to which the Province is entitled in any manner such Legislature may think fit.”
In the copy of the resolutions presented to me on their return by the delegates from this Province the same words are found.
In the papers laid before both Houses of the Imperial Parliament, by command of Her Majesty, on the subject of the proposed Federal Union, a Despatch addressed by your Lordship to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the 7th November, will be found (at page 4) transmitting to Mr. Cardwell a copy of the resolutions, in which also the 24th resolution is […] in the same words, and the accuracy of which copy is also certified by Sir E. P. Tache.
My attention has, forever, been called to the fact that, in the papers laid before the Canadian Parliament, and transmitted to me by your Lordship on the 30th January last, although the same Despatch from your Lordship to the Secretary of State is printed at page 3, due enclosure reads somewhat differently ; the […] resolution standing as follows : —
“24. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the electoral districts for the purpose of representation in such local Legislature, and distribute the representative to which the Province is entitled in such local Legislature in any manner such Legislature may see fit.”
This alteration is not altogether unimportant. In the one copy the resolution refers to the House of this discrepancy, and to inform me, after […] a reference to the original document (which is, I presume, preserved at Quebec which version was in fact that signed by the delegates. From the circumstance that in the papers aid before the English Parliament the same words occur as in the copy forwarded to me by your Lordship on the 12th November, it would appear that the copy certified by Sir E. P. Tache is correct, and that the inaccuracy has arisen in copying the document to be laid before the Canadian Parliament.
I am further requested to state that the delegates from this Province have never authorized any alterations in the resolutions as signed by them, and that, indeed, their assent to any such alteration has never yet been sought.
I have, &c.
(Singed) ARTHUR H. GORDON.
THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF Canada to the LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR
Quebec, May 4, 1865.
I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, asking for an explanation of the cause of the discrepancy between the version of the Quebec resolutions transmitted to you by me on the 12th of November last and the copy of the resolutions which I sent to you on the 30th January 1865. I regret the delay that has taken place in reply to your communication. It has been caused by the absence from Quebec of most of the members of the Government. I now beg to enclose for your information a copy of the report which has been made to me on the subject of your Despatch by Mr. McDougall, the Provincial Secretary.
I have, &c.
Lieut.-Governor the Hon. A. H. Gordon,
&c. &c. &c.
Secretary’s Office, Quebec, May 4, 1865.
The undersigned has had the honour to receive a letter from your Excellency’s Secretary, covering a copy of a Despatch from the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, asking for certain information in reference to the proceedings of the Quebec Conference, and bow begs to submit for your Excellency’s information the following report.
The 24th resolution of the Quebec Conference, as it stands in the original report, signed by certain members of the Conference (and which report is now in the possession of the undersigned), is in the words and figures following : —
“The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the electoral districts for the purpose of representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the representatives to which the Province is entitled in any […] such Legislature may think fit.”
In the papers submitted to the Canadian Parliament the 24th resolution was made to read as follows:–
“The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the electoral districts for the purposes of representation in such local Legislatures, and distribute the representatives to which the province is entitled in such local Legislature in any manner such Legislature may see fit.”
The above change was made because it was found that the resolution, as expressed in the original report, did not convey the true meaning of the Conference. As your Excellency is aware, the proceedings of the Conference towards the close of its deliberations were very much hurried, and it was subsequently discovered that several errors had occurred in revising and re-arranging its numerous resolutions, which were adopted in the first instance without that exactness of expression and logical sequence so necessary in an instrument intended to present a complete scheme. Some of these errors were discovered and corrected at Montreal by the unanimous consent of the delegates present at a meeting held in that city for the purpose. There was no doubt in the minds of the Canadian delegates (when their attention was called to the point)that the gentlemen who undertook the meaning of the Conference in reference to the subject embraced in the 24th resolution. It could never have been the local Legislature to “alter”, and thus practically to abolish his constituency, whenever, by speech or vote, he might happen to displease a majority of that Legislature. The power to divide each Province into the proper number of electoral districts in the first instance (as provided by the 23rd resolution), was given to the local Legislatures […], but the power to alter or readjust the constituencies after Parliament is constituted belongs naturally, logically, and according to every constitutional precedent, to that Parliament, and not to an inferior body. The undersigned is informed that on discovering the error in the 24th resolution, and also important eros in the 20th and 43rd resolutions, in reference to export duties on timber and coals, communication was bad with the leading members of the Governments of the Maritime Provinces.
The undersigned is also informed that answers were received from those gentlemen, expressing their concurrence in the suggestions of the Canadian delegates as to the fact of error in both cases, and as to the mode in which it was proposed to correct them.
The undersigned regrets that he is unable to give to your Excellency fuller and more precise information in consequence of the absence from this country of those members of the Government who conducted the correspondence referred to.
(Signed) WM. McDOUGALL, Secretary.
The LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR to the GOVERNOR GENERAL.
Fredericton, June 6, 1865.
[…] to the request of my Council I have the honour to transmit to your Excellency a copy of a memorandum lately handed to me by them, and to recommend the request which it […] to your Excellency’s consideration.
I have, &c.
(Signed) ARTHUR H. GORDON
MEMORANDUM of EXECUTIVE COUNCIL enclosed in proceeding LETTER.
To his Excellency the Hon. ARTHUR HAMILTON GORDON, C.M.G., Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Brunswick, &c. &c.
THE Executive Council in Committee have had under consideration the Despatch of his Excellency the Governor-General of Canada, dated 4th May 1865, and would respectfully request your Excellency to forward to his Excellency the Governor-General the accompanying correspondence which has consequently taken place, and from which it appears that a large proportion of the delegates had no knowledge of the alteration referred to until after it was made.
The Council would also respectfully request your Excellency to ask his Excellency the Governor-General to furnish your Excellency with the names of the delegates whose signatures were appended to the resolutions before as well as after the alteration was made.
The Council further requests your Excellency to transmit a copy of this memorandum to his Excellency the Governor General.
JOHN C. ALLEN,
GEORGE L. HATHEWAY,
A.H. GILLMOR, jun.
Council Chamber, June 1865.
Hon. W. H. STEEVES to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY
Fredericton, May 19, 1865.
YOURS of the 12th instant was duly received, and in answer I beg to state, for the information of his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, that my consent has not been “requested to any change in the wording of the resolutions agreed to by the Conference held at Quebec in October last subsequently to their signature.”
I have, &c.
(Signed) W. H. STEEVES.
J. M. JONSON, Esq. (late Attorney-General), to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
Chatham, May 18, 1865.
[Same as preceding Letter]
Hon. E. B. CHANDLER to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
Fredericton, May 12, 1865.
IN reply to your letter of the 11th instant, informing me that you were directed by his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor to inquire whether my consent was requested to any change in the wording of the resolutions agreed to by the Conference held at Quebec in October last, I have to say that no such consent was requested, nor was i made aware of any change being made in the wording of any of the resolutions after the same were agreed to at the Conference.
I have, &c.
(Signed) E. B. CHANDLER
Hon. P. MITCHELL to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY
Fredericton, May 12, 1865.
[Same as preceding Letter.]
Hon. J. H. GRAY to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
Saint John, May 12, 1865.
I HAVE the honour to acknowledge your note of yesterday’s date, inquiring, by direction of his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, whether my “consent was requested to any change in the wording of the resolutions agreed to by the Conference held at Quebec in October last, subsequently to their signature.”
In reply i beg to state, for the information of his Excellency, that no such consent was asked of me, nor have I directly or indirectly received any communication upon such a subject, and if i may be permitted to add the expression of my personal belief, I do not believe that in the wording of the original resolutions, as signed by myself and others of the delegates, any alteration whatever has been made.
I have, &c.
(Signed) J.H. GRAY
CHARLES FISHER, Esq., to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
Fredericton, May 12, 1865.
IN reply to your note of the 11th instant, i have to state, for the information of his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, that my assent was never requested to any change in the resolutions agreed to by the Conference held at Quebec in October last.
I have before me a copy of the resolutions laid before the Canadian Parliament, and of those transmitted to his Excellency, and the only difference I can discover is in the terms of the […] resolution. I cannot now remember what took place in the Conference when that resolution passed, nor do my minutes show, as it was of very secondary importance when compared with many of the questions which were discussed.
When the resolutions were revised i was not well, and was compelled to leave the room before they were all disposed of. I was not present when the revised copy, engrossed on parchment, was signed by the delegates, but I signed alone some time afterwards, upon the assurance of Colonel Barnard, the Secretary, that it was a true copy of what had been agreed upon.
I know that the Canadian ministers are of opinion that there was a mistake in copying out the minutes, or that it was not the real intention of the Conference to leave electoral districts for members of the Federal Commons, to be adjusted and altered from time to time by the local Legislature, as a representative might find himself deprived of his constituent by a body he had no power of influencing while he was attending to their interests at Ottawa.
I have, &c .
(Singed) CHARLES FISHER.
MR.TILLEY to the PROVINCIAL SECRETARY
Fredericton, May 25, 1865.
IN reply to the inquiry contained in your communication of this day’s date, I beg to state, for his Excellency’s information, that shortly after my return from Canada in November last I received a letter from the Hon. Mr. Galt, asking information relative to the duty collected on timber and lumber exported from New Brunswick, and the reasons why the delegates to the Quebec Conference from this Province insisted upon the authority being given to the local Legislature to impose such duty after the union.
On the 1st December he wrote me acknowledging the receipt of my reply to these injuries, and in that letter he asked me if there was not a mistake in the wording of the […] resolution, in the record signed by members of the Conference at Montreal, leaving to the local Legislatures the power of determining the electoral limits of the Confederate Legislature. I find this letter on file, but I cannot now remember whether or not I answered it ; if I did, I have not kept a copy.
By my minutes taken when the subject referred to was under discussion, I concluded it was the intention of the Conference to give the local Legislatures the power named, but to be limited to the election of the members of the first Parliament.
If I replied to Mr. Galt, it will be found that such was the opinion i then expressed.
My opinion as to the intention of the Conference was asked, but not my consent to a change in their decision.
I have, &c.
(Signed) S. L. TILLEY.
The GOVERNOR-GENERAL to the LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR.
Quebec, June 12, 1865.
I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch of the 6th instant, transmitting copied of a communication from your Executive Council, and of correspondence respecting the alleged change in the terms of one of the resolutions of the Conference held at Quebec last autumn for the consideration of a union of the British North American Provinces.
In reply, I beg leave to say that several leading members of the Canadian Government, together with Lieutenant-Colonel Barnard, who acted as Secretary to the Conference, are at present absent from the Province on public business.
Their return is expected in a short time, and when they arrive I shall not fail to lay your Despatch and its enclosures before the Executive Council.
I have, &c.