George Brown Papers, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Notes on the Division of Powers (12 October 1864)

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Date: 1864-10-12
By: George Brown
Citation: George Brown Papers, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Notes on the Division of Powers, October 12th, 1864 (MG 24, B 40, Vol. 21, p. 3764-3766).
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Click here for our e-book, The Quebec Resolutions: Including Several Never-Published Preliminary Drafts by George Brown and John A. Macdonald & a Collection of all Previously-Published Primary Documents Relating to the Conference (Calgary: Canadian Constitution Foundation, 2021).
Note: The text also contains handwritten notes and other marginalia. Click here to view an explanatory document on how we have transcribed handwritten notes.

3764[Note [1]]

Shall the [illegible] provided items be committed to the general government or to the local?

General Local
[checkmark] Trade Inland fisheries
[checkmark] Currency Public Laws & Settlement
[checkmark] Taxation for general purposes Education
[checkmark] Banking Reservation for [illegible] minorities
[checkmark] Interest Prisons
Postal Service Hospitals & Charities
Militia & Defence Agriculture [illegible]
Administration of justice – Criminal Roads
Intercolonial Works Civil? Power to [illegible]
Public Laws & Settlement Registration of titles
[checkmark] Sea Fisheries Municipal laws
Power to subsidize local governments [illegible]
[checkmark] Naturalization Coroner
[checkmark] Navigation All parish bills
Census marriage & divorce
  Assume Property & Debts [illegible] local works
Agriculture [illegible] All private & Local Bills except [illegible]
  Power to restrict debts of local governments
[checkmark] Insolvency
Patents & Copyrights
Marriage & Divorce
Weights & Measures
  Civil Law?


Executive as now
Composition of Cabinet to be left to Crown
Legislative Council
Nova Scotia – 21
New Brunswick – 22
Canada – 72
P.E. – 13
Debts of local gov.  Sixty members [seventy five members or 72] to be paid –
Registration of [illegible] Leg. Assembly
Nova Scotia 55
New Brunswick 43
Canada 130
P.E. 30
Insurance Corporations Min. 150 – Max 200
Building [illegible] Paid?
Railway [illegible] Term? [illegible]
Land [illegible] [illegible]
Telegraph [illegible]
Debts of Municipalities [illegible] arrival



Local Bodies

Power to be defined in constitutional act
Gen. Gov to be [illegible] of federal gov.
Lower House + Upper House

[i] MG24 B40 3764 (above) along with MG24 B40 3765 (next page) are in fact a large single sheet folded in two. Also, MG24 B40 3764-3765 ‘answers’ the ‘questions’ posed in MG24 B40 3763 earlier (closely examine here MG24 B40 3763 and MG24 B40 3765). I have tentatively dated the set MG24 B40 3764-3765 October 12th for the simple reason that MG24 B40 3765 possesses an amendment on the number of legislative councillors the new federation should have, which takes the form in MG24 B40 3765 of an earlier draft of the resolutions actually submitted in conference on October 13th, 1864 (closely compare with A.A. Macdonald’s (PEI) “Notes”, p. 139 in this volume).

I would like to highlight two points about the division of powers. The division of power in MG24 B40 3764-3765 surprisingly follows the structure and content of the division of powers that is found in Lieut.-Governor Gordon’s September 22nd despatch (see “post-Charlottetown Division of Powers, 1864”, p. 77, in this volume. The division of powers in MG24 B40 3764 preserves almost everything from that ‘post-Charlottetown’ version except provisions regarding the control of public lands, immigration, and mines and minerals which are missing in this version and found on the “Charlottetown Division of Powers, 1864”.

As such, MG24 B40 3764-3765 (along with Lieut.-Governor Gordon’s despatch) provide actual evidence that much of the structure of the division of powers had already been discussed and ‘worked on’ after the close of the Charlottetown Conference September 1864. This is significant because the delegates did not begin drafting resolutions at the Quebec Conference from scratch. Far from it. In fact, we might even need to go earlier to A.T. Galt’s 1858 proposal (see p. 73 in this volume). If we want to understand the origins of the federal division of powers, we might need to turn these earlier sources. As Lieut.-Governor Gordon tellingly observes, what the delegates did need to work out at Quebec was ‘the balance’ of this new division of power. [C.D.]

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