“Facts for the Electors North Wentworth,” The Globe (3 October 1854)

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Date: 1854-10-03
By: The Globe
Citation: “Facts for the Electors North Wentworth” The Globe (3 October 1854).
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The electors of North Wentworth know ere this line of defence taken by Mr. Robert Spence, when he is charged with betraying the Reform party, and joining the Conservatives. He says, “I have not joined the Tories: I have succeeded in inducing the Conservative leaders to promise liberal measures; they are henceforth Reformers, and I have consequently no difficulty in aiding them.” We have already pointed out the extreme folly of admitting to office, and putting into the most powerful positions, men who profess their conversion to Reform principles, for the sake of the loaves and fishes; more particularly when their services are not required in the cause of liberalism, when Reformers are strong enough to carry out their principles without help from those who were so lately their antagonists. We have also pointed out how vague was the language of these men in reading their recantation, how many loopholes they left by which to escape from their pledges. We have also shown how, since the ministry has appeared to be strong, the Conservatives proper have been trying to influence public opinion, in order to procure a delay in the “adjustment” of the Reserve question, and ultimately some other “settlement” than secularization.

We have had more light, however, thrown upon the ministerial plans, by the addresses to their constituents, delivered by Mr. John A. Macdonald, the new Attorney General West, and Mr. Wm. Cayley, the new Inspector General. We quote first from Mr. Macdonald’s speech to the electors of Kingston—

“Lord Elgin, however, followed the example of Her Majesty the Queen, and sent for Sir Allan McNab, who in turn assembled the Conservative party, and communicated what had transpired. Sir Allan thought that a ministry composed of Upper Canada Reformers, under the leadership of Mr. Wilson, could not carry on the Government, and that, in this case, it would be better for him, together with his colleague, to accept power, than to allow the Rouges of Lower Canada, and the Clear Grits of Upper Canada, to hold the reins of Government—a party whose principles would tend to sever the connection between this and the mother country, and lead to the introduction of the ballot-box, and annexation to the United States.”

“What is termed a Coalition Ministry, was consequently formed, and he could tell them that the ministry had the support of the friends of the late ministry together with the Conservative party. In conclusion, he said that there were two parties springing up in the Province—Anarchists and Constitutionalists; with the former came annexation and the ballot-box, while the latter would uphold firmly, and at all hazards, the existing connection between this country and Great Britain. (Cheers.) It is evident that were this connection once severed, the prosperity of the Province, which has been greatly increased by the influx of British capital, would receive a paralyzing check.

We quote from Mr. Cayley’s address to the Huronites:—

“In proportion, however, as Great Britain has encouraged independent legislation in Canada, and, consequently, the distance which once divided these two parties has lessened, until the distinction has been reduced to a name, two other parties have been springing up in the Province, known in Upper Canada as “Clear Grits”—in Lower Canada as the Rouge, or Red Republicans, which promises to revive in all their freshness those differences which have so long interfered to prevent a joint and harmonious working for the common good. The extreme opinions of the Grits—their impatience of the so-called interferences of the Crown, and that excessive predilection for Elective rule which would subject even the Judiciary to its control, having paved the way for that alliance which has just taken place with the Socialist doctrines and Republican tendencies which characterize the Rouge party in Lower Canada. This combination—daring, active and ambitious—has brought about, as a necessary counterpoise, a union of parties who have hitherto acted independently of, and frequently in opposition to each other—namely: the Conservatives, the moderate Reformers of Upper Canada, and the French, whose alliance the Conservatives fought, but failed to obtain in 1847.”

Here, then, are two declarations of two ministers, to the effect that the present ministry is established, not as Mr. Spence says, to secularize the Reserves, and to abolish the Seignorial Tenure, but to prevent a bulwark against democratic encroachments, contemplated by the Rouges and the Clear-grits. It is not the progressive, reformatory Government which we have been led to expect, but a retrogressive, hold-back ministry, seeking to impede, not to advance. Now it is of no use for Mr. Spence to say that these are the words of individual members of the government, and that his word is as good as theirs; he has founded his whole structure of falsehood upon the promises of these very colleagues, who now, when addressing their constituents, hold the most Conservative language. We want to [illegible] electors of North Wentworth, some of whom, to their shame be it said, support the new Postmaster General, whether they are as much opposed to the Rouges and the Clear-grits as are Messrs. Macdonald and Cayley—whether they are disposed to aid a Government established specially to oppose their progress? We know what the answer must be. The Reformers of North Wentworth are not to be frightened by the old cries of “rampant Democracy,” and “separation from the Mother Country,” raised by a broken-down old faction, who are seeking to climb to power upon the shoulders, and aided by the principles of those whom they call rebels and annexationists. They know that the Rouges of Lower Canada represent the liberal principle of that Province; they know that when Gavazzi was assailed in Montreal and Quebec, and the peaceable Protestants of those cities were driven from their churches, that the newspapers of what are called the Rouges, alone among the French journals, spoke a word for the right of speech. When even dough-faced Protestants in Lower and Upper Canada, would have bent their necks to the priest and mob power, these liberal Frenchmen, although Roman Catholics, stood forth boldly in opposition. The Reformers of North Wentworth know also that these young men form the only party in Lower Canada who sincerely and earnestly desire to pass a measure which will equitably remove the burden of the Feudal Tenure from their county, and enable it to pursue a progressive career; they know that they have advocated the abolition of Tithes, the Amendment of the Educational System, and other Reforms which are imperatively required in Lower Canada. These are the true liberals of the Lower Province, yet they are the men that the present Government is formed to oppose, according to Macdonald and Cayley—that Government which Reformers will support if they give their votes to Mr. Spence. We are told that these Rouges are not only liberals, but something more; that they are Annexationists. All we can say is that if these young Canadians were to avow a desire for Annexation, or were to work for it underhandedly, they would have no sympathy from us, but only opposition, in so doing. We had lately from Mr. Dorion, the reputed leader of the Rouges, an epitome of his views, and the measures which he would advocate. The fault of this gentleman appeared to be, not that he went too far, but that he did not go far enough. In effect, his language would not, in the advocacy of measures in the house, have carried him much farther than one of the more advanced followers of Mr. Morin. He expressed the most liberal sentiments upon the Tenure, the Clergy Reserves and Municipal Institutions, but went no further Judging from his speech the Rouges will not go far enough for our views. Should they ever, however so far transcend the bounds of prudence and the dictates of loyalty and common sense, as to propose the annexation of these provinces to the man-hunting, slave-holding, Republic, they shall not want our opposition. As to the position of the clear-grits of Upper Canada, it comes with an ill-grace for Mr. John A. Macdonald and Mr. Wm. Cayley to complain of Canadian liberals, when they themselves are stealing the bit out of the mouth of the clear-grits—promising to secularize the reserves, a step which a short time ago they denounced as infidel and disloyal, and consenting to introduce a measure to make the Legislative Council elective, one of the first movements towards an elective Governor.

We think that they do not mean to carry these measures, but how, in the name of consistency, can they promise them, and then cry “disloyal” at those who do the same, but who are in earnest. The Reformers of North Wentworth know that there is no desire for annexation among the Liberals; that so far as the tendencies of their measures are concerned, the Tories, while out of office, have appeared far more inclined to it than the Reformers. It was they in their league who started the Elective Council scheme—it was they, in fact, who commenced the movement in 1849 for annexation itself. It will not do, therefore, for them to try to raise a cry of disloyalty against their present opponents.

We have shown the electors of North Wentworth what is the mission of the new government in the opinion of two of its leading members, Messrs. Cayley and Macdonald and we will now give a few extracts from the press on the same subject. The first Shelby from the Kingston Harald, a thorough-going Hincks’ paper, which has never before being squeamish about supporting anything which was approved of by the late Inspector General. It says:

“The speech of the Honble. the Attorney General, yesterday, did not please me. His [illegible] on the members of the late administration, we can assume that hon. gentleman, we did not expect, and how he can reconcile his present position with the language he is thought to use, is a mystery to us. If we are to take his speech as an earnest of what the present ministry proposes doing, we dread the result. We were led to believe that the Conservative portion of the Administration had renounce the principles of their party on the great political questions of the day, and espouse those of Reformers; but the only question, according to Mr. MacDonald, that divided them, was the Clergy Reserves! It being disposed of, old party lines were to disappear, and new political organisations spring up in their stead, to be known by the respective title of “Constitutionalists and Anarchists.” not so fast, Mr. M., the old Reform party is yet alive and kicking; and unless you and your party (constitutionalists, we suppose rate parentheses adhere to your pledges, you will soon be sent to the right about.”
And here is the reply of the Toronto Colonist, a High-Church paper:

“The Herald, as a reformer, expresses himself dissatisfied with the conservative tone of the Attorney General’s remarks, but we are at a loss to know how he could reasonably expect Mr. MacDonald to use any other than a conservative tone. Had he done so, then indeed our own course, and that of the conservative press generally, would have been, clearly, to reject it once with the disdaining contempt, an alliance which we could only countenance at the sacrifice of our self-respect. We, on the contrary, are confirmed by the straightforward declaration of Mr. MacDonald, in the conclusion, that that gentleman and his coadjutors could not have been far wrong in carrying out the opinions of the conservative fellow-members and that nothing but actual proof of the contrary, drawn from their own acts, would justify us in believing them to be unsafe depositories of conservative interests.”

“We have heard—and our information comes from the reform section of the government majority and ash that the details of the Clergy Reserves and Legislative Council bills are understood to be still open for modification; and it may be, that there is much less room for apprehension on the part of the friends of endowments, then has been supposed. We are sure, that we speak the sentiments of the whole conservative body, when we say, that any settlement short of absolute confiscation, which can be made, to remove the sacred subject of religion from the arena of party politics, will be readily accepted, at the same time recording our own conviction, that the means proposed will tend to the very contrary end, by affording an inducement for a still more violent and injurious agitation hereafter.”

We hope Mr. Spence’s supporters (the Colonist, we observe, by the way, is eager for his election) will note the encouragement which are contemporary derives for Mr. MacDonald’s speech. The next extract is from the Elora Backwoodsman (Reform):

“BETRAYED! If we may believe newspaper reports, the honorable A.N. Morin announced to the House that the new Government had adopted the measures of the old. We are now informed by the Toronto organ, that a new measure will be introduced for the settlement of the Clergy Reserve Question! What that will be, with Sir A. MacNab at the head of the Cabinet, doesn’t admit of much conjecture. Bad as Hincks’ Bill was, the new one will be found worse. Mark that!”

And them to vary the matter, here is one from the Simcoe Standard [Tory and high-Church]:

“Thus it appears that Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, Brown, Rolph, McKenzie & Co., instead of numbering 38 and more, only can muster, on the most extensive emergency, 33 votes! and that to oppose a Tory Government. There is no great likelihood that any of the new Ministers will be successfully opposed, if indeed at all. The nominations for Kingston and Frontenac (McDonald and Smith) takes place on the 28th, no opposition: for Hamilton on the 2nd Oct., and North Wentworth on the 3rd. Meantime the press is assuming a quiet tone, except a few of the more rabid grits, and mostly seem disposed to give the new Ministry a fair trial. It is now pretty evident that Church robbing will not be among the acts of the Ministry, although we trust the Reserves matter will be forever set at rest, even though at a sacrifice to the rightful participators in the endowment.”

And again, the same paper says:

“It will be time for the Conservatives to oppose the Cabinet when they introduce any measure compromising principle. Meantime, we do not anticipate spoilation of Reserves or Rectories.”

The Quebec correspondent of the Montreal Herald a well informed person also says;—

“Unless I am greatly misinformed, the secularization of the Reserves is not going on, by any means, so smoothly as is supposed. I shall not be surprised to see the present Parliament “adjust,” and not secularize, and adjust in a manner to make secularization more difficult than ever. This, if I am right, will be done, with Ministerial connivance, under the shape of opposition.”
The Quebec Mercury, which supports the government, says—

“Some of the Reform party say that they are only waiting until a secularization bill is passed to throw the conservatives over board. In that case, we think Sir Allan will have a longer lease than many imagine. Lord Elgin’s term “adjustment,” is very significant. His Lordship has been keeping members here nearly a month, waiting, like boys with their mouths open, and their eyes shut, in expectations of what they are going to swallow. Lord Elgin is on a trip nominally to London, as if a paltry agricultural show could take a Governor General from his post during the session. Lord Elgin played off one coup d’etat, after the 20th of June, another after the 5th of September, and we are very much inclined to think that a third is not far distant. His Lordship’s tone as respects an elective council, secularization, and the abolition of the tenure, looks very much like “Don’t you wish you may get it.” We are very much inclined to think, from present appearances, that these measures will be at the close of the session in statu quo ante bellum.”

Thus do Conservative and Radical Journalists agree that the present Government will play false on the Reserve question; and how can the Reformers of North Wentworth neglect their warnings? Let them put the following questions to Mr. Spence prepared for him by the Elora Backwoodsman:—

“Being of an enquiring disposition, we should like to know how Mr. Spence can square his thousand times professed Radicalism with this direct and distinct Conservatism of Mr. Cayley? How can he reconcile his ardent longings for Reform with this declaration of hostility to the first principles of the liberal party? How can he hold office with a man who threatens war against all that Reformers hope for? If it is wise to establish “a necessary counterpoise” against one thing, it will be discovered that it must be brought to bear against another. “A necessary counterpoise” against Elective institutions to-day, will call for “a necessary counterpoise” against Secularization to-morrow. The wedge once inserted—the mischief for a moment tolerated—the small break permitted in the dam—and the work of years will be lost. Let Mr. Spence look to it, if he has a particle of foresight left, that he is banded with rabid Tories, and that he will be deceived more grossly than he has already been before two months pass over.

“In permitting Mr. Cayley thus to address his constituents without rebuke—in sitting for a single day in a Cabinet after one of its members has given utterance to such words—by countenancing this bold attack on Reform principles—Mr. Spence has forfeited all claims to the consideration of Reformers. He is no longer of us—he is from this time against us. His name will henceforth be synonymous with traitor. He can no more be looked upon as a trustworthy public servant—a discreet man—or a sound politician. Let the electors of Wentworth find “a necessary counterpoise” before January, and let the men of Huron set them an example in now providing one for their misrepresentative. It may be that the clear grit party will soon become “a necessary counterpoise” to all such fossils and humbugs.”

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