“Have We A Coalition Ministry?” The Globe (5 July 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “Have We A Coalition Ministry?”, The Globe [Toronto] (5 July 1864).
HAVE WE A COALITION MINISTRY?
We may, without any hesitation, admit the principle so ably stated by the author of the History of Europe, that “Experience proves that no individual talent, how great soever, can withstand the lows of character consequent on an abandonment of principle, and, therefore, that coalition administrations have seldom any long existence”. The important crisis in the history of Canada which now opens upon us, is truly one of those events in the growth of nations and peoples, which assumes an important character, because, in a more or less marked manner, it has floated in the minds of number-less individuals, as if waiting the period when some great master-spirit should be roused to speak with force and reason, and so concentrate popular desires or wishes, giving them a power which before they did not possess. It may be questioned, therefore, whether the apparently anomalous of the new Administration is really a coalition at all, for it is clear that the circumstances which of all others has brought about the union of hitherto opposed forces is, that men of all shades of opinion have long foreseen that our inevitable destiny was either a political connexion with a foreign State, or our union into one great British American Federation. The existing union between Upper and Lower Canada, based on no real foundation, and the result only of expediency, had come to a dead lock, and so determined was the resistance of both parties to all measures which had for their object the settlement of the difficulties constantly arising between the two sections, that no set of men could were found possessed of sufficient power or popularity to advance the true interests of the country. Lower Canada stoutly refused, as a unit, to grant the demand made by Upper Canada, that there should be Representation by Population; they clung to their institutions and dread to be out-voted on questions which might, and no doubt would arise, either directly or indirectly affecting their long-established usages; and Upper Canada, full of the impatience which naturally arises out of impeded progress, clamoured to be feed from fetters which retarded development. At this serious and dangerous moment the Colonies of British North America, equally in the throes of labour, and in the fullness of their time, ready to bring forth the offspring of long looked-for aspirations, actually have resolved to become one people, joined and bound together for mutual advancement in all that concerns the material and moral greatness of a British people. Canadian statesmen, perplexed beyond measure, and striving to find a way out of apparently insuperable difficulties, are attracted by the voice of liberty which comes to them from their kindred on the lower shores, and seeing that an amalgamation of British interests promises strength and greater harmony to our race, cease to consider those purely local questions which had been proposed to afford local relief, and agree to engage their minds and unite their powers on that larger questions which seeks to give, not only a new impetus to our progress, but causes that thought to arise in the mind which no loyal Briton should be ashamed to utter, viz., the thought that the days of his pupilage are passing away, and the advent of his admission to the honours of manhood are at hand. In the conception and extension of a comprehensive plan, involving the future of a great people, talent of the highest order is needed, and for the successful accomplishment of so mighty a work there ought to be employed the widest range of thought. We cannot, therefore, admit that in the present union of hitherto opposed parties there has been in the ordinary sense of the term “a coalition” Nay, we will go further, and declare that there has been no yielding up of a single principle. Politicians have been ever ready to justify violation of principle by referring to the example of Peel, when he [text missing] his party and carried free trade The policy was correct but Sir Robert gave a serious blow to English morality, when he undertook to do that, which only a few short weeks before he had condemned a Ministry for undertaking; and we feel that Thackeray was quite right to satirize so flagrant a departure from principle. But what is there in our present position at all answerable to such an act? With us the question simultaneously occurs to both parties, hitherto opposed, and is a new and unexpected solution of difficulties, and as honest men, entrusted with solemn duties, they determine that Canada shall be advanced let what may happen to mere individuals.