Despatch from Viscount Monck to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (7 November 1864)

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Date: 1864-11-07
By: Viscount Monck, Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Despatch from Viscount Monck to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (7 November 1864) in Journals of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 36-48.
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(Copy, No. 168.)

November 7, 1864.

SIR,—Referring to my despatch (No. 135) of the 23rd of September, in which I have informed you that I had invited the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the Governor of Newfoundland, to send Representatives to confer with the Members of the Canadian Government on the feasibility of effecting a Union between the Colonies of British North America, and to my despatches of the 14th October (No. 51), and the 2nd November (No. 165), in which I enclosed to you the answer received to that invitation, I have the honor to report that the several gentlemen named in the communications above referred to, as representatives of those Colonies respectively, arrived at Quebec on Monday, the 10th October, the day named for the assembling of the Conference.

They immediately proceeded to the consideration of the important question, the discussion of which constituted the object of their meeting, having appointed Sir E.P. Taché, Prime Minister of Canada, as Chairman, to preside over their deliberations.

Their sittings began on the 10th October, and continued de die in diem until the 28th of the same month.

I have now the honor to transmit the Resolutions agreed to by the Conference, for which I would ask the favorable consideration of yourself and Her Majesty’s Government.

I may state that an extended intercourse with the Members of the Conference enabled me to assure you that they were one and all actuated by the strongest feelings of loyalty to the Queen, the most earnest desire to maintain the connection with England, and the wish to make the proposed Union work so as to strengthen that connection, by enabling the Provinces to take upon themselves more largely the responsibilities of a self-governing community.

I do not enter into any argument to prove that a consolidation of these Provinces is desirable, if it can be effected on principles which will give guarantees for strength and durability.

The advantages of a well-considered plan of Union, whether looked at from the point of administration, commerce or defence, appear to me so obvious that it would be a waste of time to state them, and the fact that the most eminent public men of all the Provinces concur in desiring such a Union, appears to me to go a long way in superseding the necessity for any abstract arguments in its favor.

The plan which has been adopted by the Conference, you will observe, is the Union of all the Provinces on the monarchical principle under one Governor to be appointed by the Crown with Ministers responsible, as in England, to a Parliament consisting of two Houses, one to be nominated by the Crown and the other elected by the people.

To this central Government and Legislature will be committed all the general business of the United Provinces and its authority on all such subjects will be supreme, subject of course to the rights of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament.

For the purpose of local administration it is proposed to have in each Province an Executive Officer to be appointed by the Governor and removable by him for cause to be assigned, assisted by a Legislative body, the constitution of which it is proposed to leave to the decision of the present local Legislatures, subject to the approbation of the Imperial Government and Parliament.

To these local bodies are to be entrusted the execution of certain specified duties of a local character, and they are to have no rights or authority beyond what is expressly delegated to them by the Act of Union.

To the general Government it is proposed to reserve the right of disallowing Acts passed by the local Legislatures.

I think this will be found a fair general outline of the constitutional portion of the proposed scheme of Union, and I trust it will be found of such a nature as to merit the general approbation of Her Majesty’s Government.

I do not allude to the proposed financial arrangements between the different members of the proposed Union, as these relate to questions exclusively affecting the Provinces and upon which I presume they may safely be allowed to adopt any course which they may themselves think conducive to their interests.

In transmitting these Resolutions for your consideration, I venture to state my opinion that the desire for a consolidation of British North America has taken strong hold of the minds of the most earnest and thoughtful men in these Provinces, and I trust, whether on the plan suggested by these Resolutions, or on some modification of it, a Union may be effected which will satisfy the aspirations of so loyal and influential a portion of Her Majesty’s subjects.

I have, &.c.,
(Signed,) MONCK.

The Right Honorable E. Cardwell, M.P.

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