“Elective Institutions,” The Globe (12 November 1850)

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Date: 1850-11-12
By: The Globe
Citation: “Elective Institutions,” The Globe (12 November 1850).
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The Dundas Warder has a very unfair critique—it is not a reply—to our article of last week, on Elective Institutions. The more extreme progress papers are singularly guilty of distorting the views of those with whom they differ. They rarely copy the articles, or full extracts, on which they remark, but all their readers, The Times says this, or the Sun declaims against that, or the tendency of the Standard’s article is—as it suits them. And far too often the version thus given is entirely opposed to the fact. In the present instance, the Warder tells its readers, that the Globe takes the “very easy way of disposing of the subject” of Elective Institutions, by decrying it as “the grand hobby of the Republican agitators,” instead of discussing on its merits; he says that we represent the present Upper House as “a paragon of perfection;” and he leads his readers to infer (though he does not say so directly), that we are totally opposed to giving the appointment of County officials to the County Councils. Now, a true statement would have been that we did discuss the subject of Elective Institutions as far as our ability and space served;—that far from styling the Legislative Council [illegible] paragon of perfection, we said we would gladly [illegible] it made elective were that compatible with responsible government;—and that we were very indifferent whether the Government or the County Councils held the patronage of the County officers,—[illegible] it merely as a matter of expediency.

The Warder is particularly good at reading lectures, and in as saucy a tone as there is any need for;—did it ever occur to him to try to apply some of them to his own edification? If [illegible] has such a horror at seeing others meet questions [illegible] raising prejudices instead of by argument, why [illegible] he not try to argue himself? Let him read over his own article attentively and he will see there not an attempt at argument in it, except the fat spaniels. Really, the cool assurance of the thing [illegible] unprecedented. Not content with lecturing us is not arguing, this self-satisfied critic assails us for arguing—why do we “spend upwards of a column,” [illegible] wants to know, “in combatting the idea that the Governor General should be elected by the people of this Province,” when we know “that such a change is not asked for by the great body of those who go for the elective principle?”—We don’t “know” anything of the kind. It may be that the Warder Editor holds such views, but unfortunately that Journal does not prescribe the [illegible] of all the papers in Canada, and the opinions of some of them who do hold to the elective principle from “Governor General downwards” may possibly be as much entitled to respect as those of our Dundas contemporary; we do think it very cruel of him to set aside such papers as the Examiner, the Montreal Herald and Courier, the Stateman, Telegraph, &c. as unworthy of having a column wasted [illegible] them. And while we are on this point it might be worthy of the Warders great critical powers to enquire narrowly whether the certain result of two [illegible] houses would not be, and that at no distant [illegible]—an elective Governor. When the two houses differed, of course the Governor General must decide between them, and practically the whole government of the country would be thrown into his hands, without any responsibility to the people.—Would that be long submitted to, if the Governor General’s decisions were opposed to public feeling? Don’t let the Warder imagine that wisdom will die with it.

The Warder is excessively disgusted that we should only give “a passing notice” to Elective Legislative Councils. Can he answer the notice, “passing” as it was? Will he tell us how two elective houses may be reconciled with responsible government? If he intends to have a written Constitution? If the members of the Cabinet are to be out of Parliament? If the two houses are to be elected from the same electoral districts? If they are to be [illegible] for the same term of office? And whose advice the Governor General is to take when one house advises him to dismiss his ministers, and the other to keep them? Surely the friends of Elective Institutions should have some plan to propose. Do they know nothing but the two words? Let them give us an outline of the changes they propose.

The Warder is also indignant at our asking “what is to be gained” by transferring the appointment of the County Officials to the County Councils—and he says it is “nonsense” of the Globe to talk in such a way. But he does not tell us the gains. He says when spaniels become fat they are worthless—but spaniels get fat whether fed under Republican Institutions or under Responsible Government. The fat spaniel elected Sheriff of New York, pockets from ten to twenty thousand dollars—the Philadelphia fat spaniel in the same office, it was said [illegible] $40,000 in one year. The elective principle does not alter salaries,—if the present salaries are too high they can be lowered without any change. Tell us then the object of the change? The Warder says Sheriff Jarvis would be out, if his system [illegible]; very likely—but we know few men who would stand so good a chance of re-election in the Home District as William B. Jarvis, with all his sins in his head and the Warder and Globe against him. The Warder quotes the Long Point Advocate with praise when he says that “if the Sheriffs were elected every four years by the people, there would not be three in all Canada left in office.” A very pretty recommendation for a change, truly. Could there be better men elected for that office in wide Canada than Sheriffs McDonald of Huron—Waddell of Kent—Thomas of Hamilton—Smith of Simcoe—Conger of Peterboro’—Johnston of Prince Edward—Dickson of [illegible]—McIntyre of Cornwall, and others whose names occur not at the moment? Talk of patronage [illegible] corruptive under the present system—it would [illegible] a hundred fold worse under the moveable system. And what competent man would give up his business for a four years’ tenure of office? But [illegible], as in regard to the Governor General-ship, [illegible] is a difference of opinion. Some are for local offices being filled by popular vote, and others by [illegible] County Councils; and some of each are for rotation in office” by changeable terms of from one to four years, while others would appoint for life. It is very remarkable how close they all keep as [illegible] their views They assume in the coolest manner [illegible] their principle is right, and they cry “never [illegible] the details.” Cannot some of the Elective-men come up with their views—give us chapter and [illegible]. It would be more profitable than sneering and grumbling, and finding fault.

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