House of Commons Debates (UK) — February 28, 1867
BRITISH NORTH AMERICA BILL — SECOND READING
Order for Second Reading read.
MR. ADDERLEY Sir, I rise to move the second reading of a Bill for the union in one Dominion, of the Canadas, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. What I have to ask the House to do is to give their consent to the proposal of the representatives of these three Provinces. Eminent public men representing all shades of political opinions in these Provinces are in this country at the present moment, having been delegated by the Governors, on Addresses of the Legislatures, to ask Her Majesty to submit to the Imperial Parliament a scheme of union which embodies almost literally and without modification the Resolutions adopted at a representative Conference at Quebec in the year 1864, I need not go far back to show the origin of this desire of the Provinces to be united in one Dominion. It has gone on increasing from year to year, and if it was well founded years ago it is infinitely more justified by the circumstances in which the Provinces are now placed. The first official document in which the many obvious reasons for this union are stated with great ability, is the Report of Lord Durham’s Commission, published nearly thirty years ago. Since that Report was made the union has formed a prominent subject of discussion both in public and in private. It became the leading topic at public meetings and in Parliamentary debates, and the frequent subject of men’s conversation throughout the Provinces. In the year 1849 an association called the North American League was formed, and held its meetings in Toronto, for the purpose of promoting this object. Its name will recommend itself to many Members of this House as expressive of popular feeling, and legitimate agitation. In the year 1854, the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia came to a Resolution in favour of a general union, the Resolution being promoted by the most prominent men of all political parties. Mr. Johnston on one side, and Mr. Howe on the other, share together the credit of the first legislative action on the subject. In the year 1858, the Coalition Ministry of Canada, Sir Edmund Head being the Governor General, first made this scheme a Ministerial measure, and a despatch was addressed to the Home Government on the subject. This was the first correspondence with the Home Government relative to the union. In the year 1861, Nova Scotia again took the lead in the matter, and proposed a conference of delegates from each of the Provinces to consider the subject. The result of their deliberations was communicated to the Colonial Secretary of that period, the late Duke of Newcastle; and in reply to their communication he stated, that if it was clearly the desire of the Provinces to be united the proposal would be carefully considered in this country. I refer particularly to this fact, because it has recently been asserted that the measure was pressed on reluctant colonies by the Home Government, while in reality a more calm and colourless answer than that of the Duke of Newcastle was never sent from any public Office. In consequence of that answer, at the end of 1863, the people of Nova Scotia and of their fellow Maritime Provinces proposed to hold a conference, and Canada then, for the first time, asked to be a party to the proceeding. These are all important points in the history of this proposition, because it has been stated that Canada urged the measure on the smaller Provinces, and thus used its superior influence for local purposes; while that is so far from being the case, that it was after the Maritime Provinces had determined on holding a conference for the promotion of that object that Canada requested to be allowed to join in their deliberations. It has also been said that it was the constitutional difficulties of Canada that led to the formation of this project. Now, it is true that Canada had at that time constitutional difficulties to encounter; but those difficulties were no more the cause of the proposal for the union of the Provinces than the divorce of Henry VIII. was the cause of the Reformation. It was but an accident which precipitated that which was in itself desirable, and which every one wished to see effected. Those delegates from all the Provinces met at Quebec in the month of October, 1864, and they adopted a series of Resolutions for the project of an union which are embodied in the Bill now before the House. The proposals which they adopted were communicated to the late Minister of the Colonial Department, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cardwell), than whom I will now venture to express my opinion, as I have already frequently expressed it in opposition, this country never had a more statesmanlike Colonial Minister. He having received and carefully considered these. Resolutions, replied in a despatch addressed to Lord Monck, the Governor General—to whom also I will pay this tribute, that I believe it was fortunate for those Provinces that they had so able, so judicious, and so successful a Governor at so critical a juncture. The right hon. Gentleman opposite in his despatch expressed his belief that it was high time that the inhabitants of those Provinces should take upon themselves those duties of citizenship which we took upon ourselves at home; that it was absolutely necessary they should make greater military preparations and undertake some works of defence. It is by no means true that there is anything in that despatch which can be fairly represented as urgently forcing on the union—the fact is that at that time a correspondence was going on relative to the insecure condition of those colonies, and the right hon. Gentleman was justified in telling their inhabitants that they should take on themselves the duty of citizens, and that it was necessary that they should make greater provision for the defence of their country. To that appeal the colonies made a noble response. In the following year the Colonial Legislatures met, and in the three Provinces to which this Bill applies addresses were passed which led to the Governor General sending to this country those delegates who are now among us for the purpose of asking the Imperial Parliament to sanction in the form of a Bill the Resolutions to which they agreed at Quebec. I need not, I believe, now weary the House by entering into any minute explanations with respect to the details of the measure; for though the Bill was presented to Parliament only about fourteen days ago, yet the substance of its provisions have for a long time been discussed in the public press before it became the subject, a few nights ago, of an able and elaborate statement made by the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies. I therefore may reckon on the House being pretty well acquainted with the details of the Bill, and it will be sufficient if I give only a general outline of its provisions. The Bill provides that the Canadas, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia should form one dominion, under the common name of Canada; and that the colonies so united should comprise four Provinces—Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. It was proposed that the four Provinces should have a common Parliament at Ottawa, consisting of a Senate and a House of Commons. By Her Majesty’s Proclamation, Ontario, which is now called Upper Canada; Quebec, which is now known under the name of Lower Canada; New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, will become one Government. The Senate will be composed of seventy-two Senators, nominated by the Governor General, in the name of Her Majesty, for life—twenty-four of them for Ontario, twenty-four for Quebec, and twenty-four for the Maritime Provinces. But as the strict limitation of these numbers might lead to a dead-lock between the Upper and the Lower Chambers, it is provided that the Governor General shall, with the Queen’s approval, have the power of adding two triplets of Senators to these seventy-two, so that he might enlarge the Senate to seventy-eight members; but that number they can never exceed. If on any occasion such additions are made the number will be allowed to die down again to seventy-two. The House of Commons is to consist of, at first, 181 Members—eighty-two for Ontario, sixty-five for Quebec, nineteen for Nova Scotia, and fifteen for New Brunswick. The existing election laws will continue; but these numbers are to be adjusted to population from time to time, according to a decennial census, in the manner adopted in the American House of Representatives. The Provinces are to have Local Legislatures for local purposes; and each of them is also to have a Lieutenant Governor, named by the Governor General. Ontario will have a single Chamber, to be styled the Legislative Assembly; Quebec will retain the present form of the Legislature of the United Canadas; New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will retain their present Legislatures. The power of the Provincial Legislatures, in reference to legislation, will be confined to a certain number of specified subjects. The Governor General will have a veto on all legislation; and the Central Legislature will be invested with a general power of providing for the good government and peace of the country; but without derogating from the general power, certain specified powers are enumerated for the Central Legislature. It will be seen that by these provisions arrangements are made as far as possible for ensuring the unity and strength of the Central Government. I think I need hardly trouble the House with the other provisions of the Bill. There is, I believe, only one other clause to which I need now allude, and that is a clause by which these Provinces bind themselves immediately to proceed to the construction of a great international railway, which they regard as the backbone of the general scheme of union. There is nothing in this Bill which implicates this House or this country in that undertaking; but it is only right I should add that the adoption of that provision will render it necessary for me to ask the House to guarantee the interest of a loan by means of which the railway is to be constructed. I think I have now sufficiently described the Bill. The House will see that its most striking feature is a scrupulous adherence, as far as the circumstances of the case would permit, to the constitutional forms of this country. I leave every Gentleman to judge for himself, and appreciate, as I hope they will, the causes which have led to this sensitiveness of filial piety—this almost morbid dread of departure from the institutions of the mother country, and of any approximation to institutions nearer to themselves; but certainly that is one main feature of the Bill as presented to the House. The adoption of the principle of federation, as compared with what might be preferable if practicable, a solid legislative union, is simply the consequence of the absolute necessity of the adjustment of inveterate local interests, and the ultimatum of mutual compromise between the Provinces. The House may ask what occasion there can be for our interfering in a question of this description. It will, however, I think, be manifest, upon reflection, that, as the arrangement is a matter of mutual concession on the part of the Provinces, there must be some external authority to give a sanction to the compact into which they have entered. It is very true we have often given to colonies, secondary in importance to these, the task of framing their own Constitution. A general Act was passed two years ago which gives to all colonies with representative institutions the power, at any time, of altering their Constitution within certain limits; but it is clear the process of federation is impracticable to the constituent Legislatures. If, again, federation has in this case specially been a matter of most delicate treaty and compact between the Provinces—if it has been a matter of mutual concession and compromise, it is clearly necessary that there should be a third party ab extra to give sanction to the treaty made between them. Such seems to me the office we have to perform in regard to this Bill. We have, in fact, to accept or reject the proposal which the Provinces have made to us. We certainly ought to guard most carefully against anything being effected by the Act injurious to Imperial interests, as distinguished from colonial interests; but I ask the House whether any Imperial interests are involved in this Bill which can in any way be distinguished from colonial interests? I say our interests are identical. Whatever developes the resources and contributes to the prosperity of the colonies contributes to the prosperity of the Empire; whatever strengthens them strengthens us; and no one can for a moment harbour the thought of doing anything to impede or obstruct the progress of the colonies by way of retaining them in a condition of dependent weakness. But if no Imperial interest is sacrificed by this Bill, let us see whether we can hope to improve it in the interest of the Colonies. I think the time has gone by for either the Parliament or the Government of England to attempt to teach colonies like these their interests better than they can judge of them themselves. It is now nearly 100 years since the Parliament of this country was engaged in precisely the same task for the New England States which it is now undertaking for our present North Amercian Colonies, with the object of enabling colonies that never thought of coming here for any assistance, either in money or arms, better to defend themselves against the attacks of neighbouring Indian tribes, and even against the invasion of European armies. It is to no purpose to say that the union which afterwards took place was in antagonism to ourselves—that was simply our own fault and folly; but it is significant that the union proved its effectiveness. We have since attempted both to maintain and govern colonies from this country, but the attempt has utterly failed; and to our largest colonies within the last few years we have, without exception, given the powers of self-government. What the North American colonists ask us to do by this Bill is to extend to them the natural corollary of self-government, and to enable them by union to take upon themselves all the duties of British citizenship. But I am aware that criticisms of this scheme are not wanting; and I find that some persons object to the existence of a nominated Senate. Those critics allege that a nominated Chamber of Legislature never succeeds in our colonies, and that as regards this particular case the Canadians themselves had a nominated Chamber, and afterwards thought it advisable to substitute an elective Chamber. Strange that those who are quite willing they should have made this change cannot allow that they may have satisfactory reasons, on further experience, for returning to the system of nomination. I say nothing of what may have made the old nominated compact distasteful and the new elections intolerable; but who is the best judge? If they wish for nomination in the new plan, why should we forbid it? Another critic, who demands that the central power shall be strengthened by every possible means, says the Lieutenant Governor should be elected. I think the difficulty lies in making the central power sufficiently strong. The nomination of the Provincial Governor by the Central Power is in the interest of united government. Lastly, there are some who say that, whatever the merits of the measure, it ought not to receive the sanction of the Imperial Parliament until it has been referred again to the voice of the people. Can anything be more absurd or inexplicable, except by an utter ignorance of the subject? For instance, is Canada to be thrown back upon a General Election in order to repeat an expression of her opinion upon this subject, which she has been discussing and urging for the last twenty years? There was a General Election in 1863, and both in 1863 and 1864 the question was fully debated in the Colonial Legislature. Since that period, there have been no less than twenty-four vacancies in the Legislative Council, and every one of these has been filled up by unionists. Can any other proof be required of the sustained conviction of Canada that her interests require that the proposed union shall be carried out without unnecessary delay? Canada, indeed, has not been precipitate in this matter’. She was the last to come to the conference at Quebec, and the last to come now to England. She kept the delegates of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick waiting six months before she came to this country. Therefore, the very last assertion which could be made by the Maritime Provinces against Canada would be that of precipitancy of action in urging on them this scheme of union. But no more do the other Provinces require re-consultation. New Brunswick has had an election on the subject itself, and deliberately pronounced in its favour. Nova Scotia initiated the proposition, and has had repeated elections since. I must point out that the advocates of delay are of the most remarkable kind, both personally and with respect to the nature of their arguments. The person who is most anxious for delay was the first and ablest in promoting the proposition; and what does he say? He says—”I allow something must be done. It is impossible to leave things as they are. But there is another alternative, and that is, the whole British Empire might be organized into one—Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick might meet here in Westminster, instead of having their Provincial Parliament in Ottawa.” This, Sir, is a subject that has been discussed over and over again, more as a exercitation than as a practical or rational proposition. It does not require more than a moment’s consideration to show that it is futile and visionary. The objections to union, then, being futile, and the only alternative proposed being visionary, I will ask the House to consider what are the palpable reasons and advantages which fully account for and justify the deliberate decisions to which these colonies have come to ask this House to sanction the terms of union to which they have agreed among themselves. The commercial advantages are, perhaps, the most prominent, and the least open to question or dispute. The idea is absurd of retaining a system of different commercial tariffs amongst these contiguous Provinces which are ruining and keeping down their trade. Why, the effect of the reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada was to develop the commerce between these countries in one year from 2,000,000 to 20,000,000 dollars. That treaty has now ceased; but surely that is a reason why, at least amongst themselves, there should be the most perfect reciprocity. Well, then, as to their mutual interests, who can doubt that these three Provinces—the wheat-growing West, the manufactures Centre, and the fisheries and outlet on the coasts, are necessary to each other to make one great country jointly developing diverse interests. Was there ever, let me ask, a country so composed by nature to form a great and united community? By their mutual resources—by the assistance of their different interests, they would make together a powerful and prosperous nation. As long as they remain separate they are a prey to the commercial policy of other nations, and mutual jealousies among themselves. Disunion saps their liberty as well as their power, and paralyses their self-reliance. On the other hand, one united Government would be able to keep the peace, and would remove every temptation to aggression. One national Government composed of the best men out of all the Provinces, would draw out and develop the resources of the country for the common interest; and, at the same time, a combined revenue would give larger credit, and enable greater economy. I wish to read a short extract from a letter of Queen Anne to the Scotch Parliament in 1706, on the union of these two countries. It bears upon the case before us in two ways; because it not only shows the reasons for union in striking language, but is a precedent for existing Legislatures being considered able to deal with a question of this sort without any further appeal to the people. In the letter, Queen Anne said— ‘An entire union will be the solid foundation of a lasting peace between you. It will remove animosities, jealousies, and differences amongst yourselves; it must increase your strength, your riches, and your trade. By this union the whole country, being joined in affection as well as resources, and free from all apprehensions of different interests, will be able to resist all its enemies. We earnestly recommend unanimity in this weighty affair, that the union may be brought to a happy conclusion. It will be the only effectual way to secure our present and future happiness, to disappoint the designs of your enemies, who will certainly use all their efforts to prevent or delay your union.’ This extract is taken from the Federalist, where it is quoted by the eminent statesman who wrote that work as expressing their own views respecting the necessity of a closer union between the American States.
In conclusion, I will say that I believe and think that it is a great and grave undertaking that we are engaged in this evening. It is no less than liberating to its natural destinies of self-reliance and innate growth and expansion a large portion of the largest pastured quarter of this earth. When we remember with what rapid strides, and in how short a time, America has taken a great place among the Powers of the world, and that its vast extent and gigantic features are not yet animated by not one-hundredth part of the life which will soon replenish them, it is a serious occupation to be engaged in even having a share in the disposal of its future destinies. A large portion of this Continent is already in full vigour, and might have been so in connection with ourselves but for our own folly. I believe, however, that at heart the American people are still attached to us as brothers, though they are disposed to quarrel, as brothers often are. The rest of this large Continent, still British, is now asking us to assist them to develop their own strength and resources in retained connection and in partnership of allegiance to one common Sovereign; and confident that this House will willingly contribute its sanction to the measure now introduced in order to carry out so great a purpose, I move the second reading of this Bill, which presents for our acceptance their own proposition.
Motion made, and Question proposed, “That the Bill be now read a second time.”—(Mr. Adderley.)
MR. CARDWELL Sir, I rise with the greatest satisfaction to support the Motion of my right hon. Friend. I have the greatest pleasure in congratulating the noble Earl now at the head of the Colonial Office and my right hon. Friend in having the honour of submitting this most satisfactory measure to the British Parliament. My right hon. Friend in his opening speech stated, what was most true, that there was no occasion during which I had the honour to hold office, when I submitted to the House any measure dealing with subjects to the consideration of which he had devoted so large a portion of his time, that he was not forward in expressing his cordial concurrence, and rendering to those who were his political opponents all the assistance in his power. I therefore rejoice to see in his hands a measure which is calculated not only to be of the greatest benefit to those whose interests are more immediately involved, but which also will prove an era in the history of the government of dependencies by a great Imperial and metropolitan country. The right hon. Gentleman has so well stated both the provisions of the measure and the arguments by which they are to be supported, and I believe the House has so unmistakably signified its concurrence in the remarks he has made, that it would only be an unpardonable waste of time were I to meet by anticipation arguments which I do not believe will be raised. I only wish, therefore, to make a few remarks in illustration and support of the arguments of my right hon. Friend. It requires, indeed, no argument to justify the intended union of these colonies. Look at the map which displays their geographical position—look at the great inland seas of Canada, and the fertile plains which border them;—look also upon the fertile plains of the United States of America that are so close to them, and to that noble river which, by the aid of mechanical science, affords opportunities to carry the produce of the Western Provinces to the sea. This alone is sufficient to show what great advantages must necessarily be derived from an union between the inland and the Maritime Provinces. Look at the shipping and timber trade of New Brunswick, the mineral wealth and commercial enterprize of Nova Scotia, and the noble harbour of Halifax, and let me ask you, Is it possible to believe that it was the intention of nature and Providence that all these great sources of wealth and power should be separate? And as they are physically conterminous, so they are morally united in the firmest and deepest attachment to the Crown of England and her institutions. This remark applies not only to those who have sprung from our own loins, and who speak our language, but also to that other people resident in Lower Canada, which is to be called in future the Province of Quebec. They yield to no other British subjects in their loyalty and attachment to the throne and to the institutions under which they live. Well, then, if you have the unanimous request of these Provinces, if you have their earnest wish and desire that these bounteous intentions of Providence should be realized, what objection can there be against it? I am, at least, certain that the House of Commons will not seek to prevent so laudable a desire from being gratified. What, let me ask you, is the country you are about to constitute if you agree to this Bill? It is a country—and here I am speaking solely of the three Provinces embraced in the measure—of nearly 400,000 square miles and 3,750,000 of inhabitants. But in speaking of it prospectively, I am not disposed to exclude the two Provinces which are not comprehended in the Bill. When I think of Newfoundland and Prince Edward’s Island, and their objection to join in this arrangement, I am reminded of some of those towns which, when railways were first introduced, petitioned that they should be excluded from the benefits of railway legislation. Optantibus ipsis Dî faciles. Parliament acceded to their request, and what has been the result? Why, some of them have been “out in the cold “ever since, vainly endeavouring to place themselves in the position which they had improvidently lost. That last observation, however, does not apply to Newfoundland or Prince Edward’s Island, the door being left open to them to join this federation at any time, and I rejoice to see in the papers that my right hon. Friend has laid upon the table that the expression of feeling in this country and the arguments employed will, probably, not be without result. If, then, I speak of these five Provinces, what a country you are going to establish—a country greater in extent than France and Spain united—a country which at the present moment has 4,000,000 of inhabitants, but which it is reasonably calculated, according to the ordinary rate of computation, at the end of the present century will include 12,000,000 of people—a country which, in the strength of its commercial marine, will be inferior only to Great Britain and to the United States of America, with a population superior to many of the most flourishing kingdoms of Europe. My right hon. Friend, speaking of the policy of establishing this great organization, said truly, Does it require any argument to show where will be the field for enlightened public spirit—where will be the field for honourable ambition—where is it likely that the highest intellects will be devoted to the public service-where will be shown the greatest amount of public spirit in the discharge of public duties? Will it be in a great community like this which the Bill under discussion will constitute, or in small and scattered communities like those which desire to continue no longer in their inferior and isolated condition, but wish to enter this great Confederacy? Consider the nature of the duties which these Provincial statesmen are called upon to discharge. During the time I had the honour of holding the seals of the Colonial Office duties of no merely Provincial or ordinary character were necessarily discharged by Canada. At the time when the St. Albans raid attracted so much attention and alarm in this country, what were the duties discharged by the Government of Canada and the Governor General—to whom my right hon. Friend has paid so just a tribute? The highest Executive duty was discharged by the Government of Canada when it called forth its own army to guard its own frontier. The highest judicial duties were discharged when, under your statute, they were constituted interpreters of the treaty for the extradition of offenders subsisting between you and the United States of America. The highest legislative duties were discharged when, in compliance with the suggestion of the British Crown, they passed an Act to render such raids impossible for the future. I ask you, then, if you have the statesmen of these countries necessarily discharging the highest Executive, legislative, and judicial functions, is it desirable that men exercising these duties should be the representatives of 4,000,000 of people, and should be animated by the public spirit of these 4,000,000, or that they should exercise them as the representatives of small communities such as Prince Edward’s Island will continue to be, if it remains excluded from the provisions of this Bill? Again, let us consider the bearing of this measure upon the diplomatic relations of this country. Look at the disadvantages which were incurred when we were endeavouring at Washington to negotiate the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty. The fiscal portions of the treaty, if we had succeeded, must have been submitted to five Parliaments before it could have received the Royal Assent. Ts it desirable, that when the populations of these Provinces, through the representative of the Queen, negotiate treaties with foreign Powers, the adoption of these treaties should be ratified by the Parliament of one great community, or should be subject to the criticisms, and, perhaps, the local interests of five Parliaments of five different communities? Then, again, with regard to the complicated question which arose in the spring of last year between this country and the United States of America on the subject of the fisheries. These fisheries were regulated by the municipal laws of different colonies. When we had to deal with this, was it desirable in the negotiations between this country and the United States of America upon a matter of that vital importance—was it desirable that we should be required to go to several Parliaments in order to get these laws altered? Sir, no practical difficulty, I am happy to say, arose in the case; but I think all those things I have referred to are proofs of the great advantages that will accrue, both to the colonies and to the mother country, by such a scheme of consolidation as that which is proposed in the present Bill. Look, again, to the important matter of defence. My right hon. Friend has referred to the despatches which I addressed to the colonies, pointing out, that while the mother country makes the defence of the colonies a matter of Imperial concern, she still calls upon them to discharge the first duties of citizenship, to be the main agents of their own defence, and to protect their own shores. But if the colonists are thus to be the principal agents in their own defence, is it not obvious that they will be best able to discharge this duty when they are united under one government? Why is one policy to be established for Italy and Germany, and another for the Provinces of British North America? Is union to be the general law, and yet not be the law for British North America? Is it not the law over the whole world that union is strength? Is it, therefore, not perfectly obvious that the country, which by this Bill you are to create, will be as powerful for defensive purposes as if you reject it the colonists will be powerless? Time was when it was the policy of this country to exercise a strong Imperial control over her colonies. If that policy continued, it would be unwise to pass this Bill; divide et impera would be the maxim of a country which wished to rule its colonies from home; but that policy has now passed away, and the sole object of our Colonial Government now is to have the satisfaction, pride, and pleasure of witnessing the growth, under the Crown of England—under the flag of England—of great and powerful communities attached to the mother country by no other ties than those of love and affection and a reciprocal regard, which will prove a source of strength in the hour of danger. For all these reasons I cordially support the proposal of my right hon. Friend. I admit that there is a provision not in the Bill which I should have been glad to have seen there—namely, the overriding and controlling power on the part of the Central Legislature which was given in the New Zealand Act. But I think the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office and my right hon. Friend are perfectly right in not pressing the question more at the present moment. It is, as he justly said, not our arrangement, but theirs. It has been made by men of great ability, patience, and temper, and they have done it with a perfect knowledge of the circumstances with which they had to deal. Even we, who do not know and cannot appreciate all these difficulties, can yet see many reasons why, on the first creation of this Confederation, it might have been impossible to have given that power. In the first place, the inter colonial railway is not completed; and though in a few years these Provinces will be physically united, still a little time must elapse before the union proposed by the Bill can be entirely accomplished and consolidated. Another reason is that it is necessary that for municipal and local purposes there should be large powers of legislation in the Provinces there. They will, I hope, gradually approach more nearly to the character of municipal institutions than the Bill at present contemplates. But even then they must continue to be more than mere municipal councils. They must discharge for the several Provinces much of that private business which is here discharged by Parliament at so much cost to the suitors and so much inconvenience to ourselves. Therefore it is well that these wise men have left it to a future time, when experience will enable them to determine how far these legislative bodies may continue to retain their inherent powers, and how far they can be reduced to the level of municipal institutions. As the matter now stands, the Bill gives to the Governor General an actual veto over every measure passed by the local Legislatures, and it allows the local Legislatures only to deal with those questions which are supposed to be matters of local concern. There is also provision in the Bill that a certain sum of money shall be allowed from the central Government to each of the Provinces for the maintenance of its institutions. If the sum be exceeded the Provinces must provide the difference by direct taxation upon its inhabitants; and if it does not equal the amount it may carry the balance to its own account for local purposes. That will be a strong inducement to the Provinces to reduce their local institutions to a moderate level. I do hope that for the reasons I have stated the House will give the Bill its cordial assent. I cannot be surprised if, in a great undertaking like this, we make a tentative arrangement which hereafter may be susceptible of such improvements as experience may suggest. The subject is one in which I take so deep an interest, and its details are so familiar to me, that I might trespass on the attention of the House, but I will not now further enlarge on the subject. My right hon. Friend has stated the particulars of the measure. I congratulate him on being the instrument of proposing a measure like this to the British Parliament; I cheerfully join him in supporting it, as I have, while in office, cordially assisted in promoting it; but the main honour is due to those who have laboured, with great patience, temper, and sagacity to bring about a plan which they believed calculated to strengthen the colonies in time of war and increase their prosperity in time of peace, and who have adopted that course, not as a preliminary to a future separation from this country, but under the influence of a loyalty to the British Crown and an attachment to British institutions which cannot be surpassed even in the assembly that is about to ratify their acts.
MR. AYTOUN protested against this measure being pressed forward with such unprecedented and inconvenient haste. It had been introduced into the House of Commons only on Tuesday last, and only been placed in the hands of Members that morning; and the fact that it had been discussed in “another place” and in the newspapers was no reason why the House should be asked to proceed to a second reading without the usual notice. It might be, as had been said, that the Bill would prove very beneficial to the colonial interests—of that he could not speak—but many hon. Members were under the impression that its provisions concerned only colonial interests; but so far was this from being the case, that the 118th section would most materially affect the interests of the people of this country. That clause provided that it should be the duty of the Canadian and other local Parliaments to construct a railway from Halifax to Quebec; and if the House assented to that provision they would be bound in honour to give the Imperial guarantee to the loan which was to be raised for the purpose, upon the promise of which it was that the delegates from the colonies had undertaken the construction of this line. Now from what he had heard of the prospects of the line unless this clause was struck out, this country would have to pay the guarantee. The railway itself would be useless for military purposes, because it would pass through a strip of territory which was exposed to a flank attack, and it might at any moment be cut by the Americans, and as o commercial speculation it would, in his opinion, result in failure. Some years ago a friend of his, who was in favour of the line, admitted that its earnings would never pay for the grease of the carriage wheels. He should be glad to see the colonies united; but he should feel bound at a future stage to move the omission of the 118th clause, the retention of which would in nowise affect the general character of the measure.
MR. BRIGHT Although this measure has not excited much interest in the House or in the country, yet it appears to me to be of such very great importance that it should be treated rather differently, or that the House should be treated rather differently in respect to it. I have never before known of any great measure affecting any large portion of the Empire or its population, which has been brought in and attempted to be hurried through Parliament in the manner in which this Bill is being dealt with. But the importance of it is much greater to the inhabitants of those Provinces than it is to us: but it is not on that account that we should be expected to examine it less closely, and see that we commit no errors in passing it. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) has not offered us, on one point, an explanation which I think he will be bound to make. This Bill does not include the whole of the British North American Provinces; I presume the two left out have been left out because it is quite clear they do not wish to come in.
MR. ADDERLEY I am glad lean inform the hon. Gentleman that they are, one of them at least, on the point of coming in.
MR. BRIGHT Yes; the reason of their being left out is because they were not willing to come in. They may hereafter become willing, and if so the Bill will admit them by a provision which appears reasonable. But the Province of Nova Scotia is also unwilling to come in, and it is assumed that because some time ago the Legislature of that Province voted a Resolution partly in favour of some such course, therefore the population is in favour of it. For my part, I do not believe in the propriety or wisdom of the Legislature voting on a great question of this nature with reference to the Legislature of Nova Scotia, if the people of Nova Scotia never have had the question directly put to them. I have heard there is at present in London a petition complaining of the hasty proceeding of Parliament and asking for delay, signed by 31,000 adult males of the Province of Nova Scotia, and that that petition is in reality signed by at least half of all the male inhabitants of that Province. So far as I know, the petition does not protest absolutely against union, but against the manner in which it is being carried out by this scheme and Bill, and by the hasty measures of the Colonial Office. Now, whether the scheme be a good or a bad one, scarcely anything can be more foolish, looking to the future, than that any of the Provinces should be dragged into it, either perforce, by the pressure of the Colonial Office, or by any hasty action on the part of Parliament, in the hope of producing a result which Probably the populations of those Provinces may not wish to see brought about, I understand that the General Election for the Legislature of Nova Scotia, according to the Constitution of that colony, is inevitable in the month of May or June next; that this question has never been fairly placed before the people of that Province at an election, and that it has never been discussed and decided by the public; and seeing that only three months or not so much will elapse before there will be an opportunity of ascertaining the opinions of the population of Nova Scotia, I think it is at least a hazardous proceeding to pass this Bill through Parliament, binding Nova Scotia, until the clear opinion of that Province has been ascertained. If, at a time like this, when you are proposing a union which we all hope is to last for ever, you create a little sore it will in all probability become a great sore in a short time, and it may be that the intentions of Parliament may be almost entirely frustrated by the haste with which this measure in being pushed forward. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, in the early part of the evening, in answer to a question from this side, spoke of this matter as one of extreme urgency. Well, I cannot discover any urgency in the matter at all. What is urgent is this—that when done it ought to be done wisely, and with the full and free consent of all those populations who are to be bound by this Act and interested in its results. Unless the good-will of those populations is secured, in all probability the Act itself will be a misfortune rather than a blessing to the Provinces to which it refers. The right hon. Gentleman amused me in one part of his speech. He spoke of “the filial piety”—rather a curious term—of these Provinces, and their great anxiety to make everything suit the ideas of this country; and this was said particularly with reference to the proposition for a Senate selected, not elected, for life by the Governor General of Canada. He said they were extremely anxious to follow, as far as possible, the institutions of the mother country. Well, I have not the smallest objection to any people on the face of the earth following our institutions if they like them. Institutions which suit one country, as we all know, are not very likely to suit every other country. With regard to this particular case, the right hon. Gentleman said it is to be observed that Canada had had a nominated Council, and had changed it for an elected one, and surely they had a right, if they pleased, to go back from an elected Council to a nominated Council. Well, nobody denies that; but nobody pretends that the people of Canada prefer a nominated Council to an elected Council. And all the wisdom of the wise men to whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) has referred in such glowing terms, unless the experience of present and past times goes for nothing, is but folly if they have come to the conclusion that a nominated Council on that Continent must be better than an elected Council. Still, if they wish it, I should not interfere and try to prevent it. But I venture to say that the clause enabling the Governor General and his Cabinet to put seventy men in that Council for life, inserts into the whole scheme the germ of a malady which will spread, and which before very long will require an alteration of this Act and of the constitution of this new Confederation. But the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that with regard to the Representative Assembly—which, I suppose, is to be called according to his phrase the House of Commons—they have adopted a very different plan. There they did not follow the example of this country. They established their House of Representatives directly upon the basis of population. They adopted the system which prevails in the United States, by which upon every ten years’ summing up of the census in that country the number of Members may be changed, and is by law changed, in the different States and districts as the rate of population may have changed. Therefore, in that respect his friends in Canada have not adopted the principle which prevails in this country, but that which prevails in the United States. Well, I believe they have done that which was right, and which they had a right to do, and which was inevitable there. I regret very much that they have not adopted another system with regard to their Council or Senate, because I am satisfied—I have not a particle of doubt with regard to it—that we run a great danger of making this Act work ill almost from the beginning. They have the example of thirty-six States in the United States, in which the Senate is elected, and no man, however sanguine, can hope that seventy-two stereotyped provincial Peers in Canada will correspond and work harmoniously with a body elected upon a system so wide and so general as that which prevails in the States of the American Union. There is one point about which the right hon. Gentleman said nothing, and which I think is so very important that the right hon. Member for Oxford, his predecessor in office, might have told us something about it. We know that Canada is a great country, and we know that the population is, or very soon will be, something like 4,000,000, and we may hope that, united under one Government, the Province may be more capable of defence. But what is intended with regard to the question of defence? Is this new State—or this new nation, as I think Lord Monck described it—to be raised up under the authority of an Act of Parliament—is everything to be done for it? Is it intended to garrison its fortresses by English troops? At the present moment there are, I believe, in the Province 12,000 or 15,000 men. There are persons in this country, and there are some also in the North American Provinces, who are ill-natured enough to say that not a little of the loyalty that is said to prevail in Canada has its price. I think it is natural and reasonable to hope that there is in that country a very strong attachment to this country. But if they are to be constantly applying to us for guarantees for railways and for fortresses, and for works of defence; if everything is to be given to a nation independent in everything except Lord Monck and his successors, and except in the contributions we make for these public objects, then I think it would be far better for them and for us—cheaper for us and less demoralizing for them—that they should become an independent State—and maintain their own fortresses, fight their own cause, and build up their own future without relying upon us. And when we know, as everybody knows, that the population of Canada, family for family, is in a much better position as regards the comforts of home than family for family are in the great bulk of the population of this country—I say the time has come when it ought to be clearly understood that the taxes of England are no longer to go across the ocean to defray expenses of any kind within the Confederation which is about to be formed. The right hon. Genleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies has never been an advocate for great expenditure in the colonies by the mother country. On the contrary, he has been one of the Members of this House who have distinguished themselves by what I will call an honest system to the mother country, and what I believe is a wise system to the colonies. But I think that when a measure of this kind is being passed, having such stupendous results upon the condition and the future population of these great colonies, we have a right to ask that there should be some consideration for the revenue and for the taxpayers of this country. In discussing this Bill with the delegates from the Provinces, I think it was the duty of the Colonial Secretary to have gone fairly into this question, and, if possible, to have arranged it to the advantage of the colony and the mother country. I believe there is no delusion greater than this—that there is any party in the United States that wishes to commit any aggression upon Canada, or to annex Canada by force to the United States. There is not a part of the world, in my opinion, that runs less risk of aggression than Canada, except with regard to that foolish and impotent attempt of certain discontented not-long-ago subjects of the Queen, who have left this country. America has no idea of anything of the kind. No American statesman, no American political party, ever dreamt for a moment of an aggression upon Canada, or of annexing Canada by force. And therefore, every farthing that you spend on your fortresses, and all that you do with the idea of shutting out American aggression, is money squandered through an hallucination which we ought to get rid of. I have not risen for the purpose of objecting to the second reading of this Bill. Under the circumstances, I presume it is well that we should do no other than road it a second time. But I think the Government ought to have given a little more time. I think they have not treated the Province of Nova Scotia with that tenderness, that generosity, and that consideration which is desirable when you are about to make so great a change in its affairs and in its future. For my share, I want the population of these Provinces to do that which they believe to be the best for their own interests—remain with this country if they like, in the most friendly manner, or become independent States if they like. If they should prefer to unite themselves with the United States, I should not complain even of that. But whatever be their course, there is no man in this House or in those Provinces who has a more sincere wish for their greatness and their welfare than I have, who have taken the liberty thus to criticize this Bill.
SIR JOHN PAKINGTON I have seldom heard an observation in the House with greater regret than that of the hon. Member for Birmingham when he said, a few moments ago, that he thought the loyalty of Canada has its price. [Mr. BRIGHT: I did not state that as my opinion.] I do not know whether the hon. Member stated it as his opinion; but certainly he stated it in such a way as to leave a very painful impression on the minds of the House; and I am sure that in the colonies a most painful impression would be created if it went forth that the House of Commons for a moment believed the loyalty of Canada has its price. Sir, we have not forgotten the events in which the loyalty of Canada was strikingly displayed. We have not forgotten the way in which, at the time of the Crimean War, the Patriotic Fund was swollen by contributions from the colonies, and on that occasion no colonies were more conspicuous than the North American Provinces. We have not forgotten the spirit with which the colony of Canada raised a regiment at a time when it was supposed that additional troops might be required. The Canadians, on those and other occasions, have acted with a most honourable and loyal spirit; and therefore, in the face of such facts, I regret the hon. Gentleman has used an expression which, whatever may have been his intention, is so obviously liable to be misunderstood. I may further observe that I believe, if any one feeling has been stronger than another with Canada in taking the part she has done in obtaining this Bill, it is a feeling of attachment and loyalty to the mother country. I do not collect from the speech of the hon. Gentleman that he is opposed to this Bill—on the contrary, I think he concluded his speech by saying he would not oppose the second reading; but the hon. Gentleman throughout his argument seemed to be contending for delay. He appeared to think that this was not the moment when this Bill ought to be put forward. Now, it seems to me that if ever there was a favourable conjuncture of affairs for bringing about a union of the North American Provinces, it is at the present moment. I cannot see that in his views concerning Nova Scotia the hon. Member for Birmingham is borne out by the facts. The best way of collecting the opinions of the Province on a question of this kind is, I should say, through the acts of its Legislature—through the proceedings of its representative body; and the hon. Gentleman is the last person from whom I should have expected an objection to our ascertaining the opinion of the Province from the sentiments of its representative body. [Mr. BRIGHT: It has not been elected on this question.] But the hon. Gentleman must recollect that this union of the North American Provinces has been the subject of discussion and of proceedings in the different colonies for a longtime. The union of Nova Scotia with the other Provinces has been discussed on several different occasions. In 1862, I think, debates took place on this question, and the Representative Assembly was called on to express its opinion. It did so by deciding in favour of a union of the Provinces. In 1863 a General Election took place, and again in 1864, after that General Election, we find the representative body still favourable to the union. These are facts which, in my opinion, at once destroy the argument of the hon. Gentleman. I know that there has been opposition in Nova Scotia. Mr. Howe, a gentleman well known in the colony, is opposed to the union, and the hon. Member for Birmingham is to-night the exponent of Mr. Howe’s views. But I would remind the hon. Member that the views on the subject entertained by Mr. Howe a short time ago were the very opposite to those held by him now. No man in Nova Scotia was a more prominent advocate of the union than Mr. Howe, though he opposes it now. The hon. Member for Birmingham proceeded to argue that as two of the Provinces are not included in the Bill, it must be presumed that they are opposed to the union. I believe, however, the facts to be this—that one of those Provinces is negotiating for an entry into the union, and that the other is pie-pared to do so at the earliest opportunity. It appears to me that the hon. Member’s appeal for delay is grounded on an entirely erroneous argument, and that be has not approached it with that frankness and candour which characterized the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford. We must not forget that, with great judgment, the Provinces selected statesmen of opposite political parties to represent them as their delegates in this matter. Such delegates may be regarded as men who fairly represent the opinion of the Provinces; and, under such circumstances, I trust this Bill will receive the unanimous approval of the House.
MR. WATKIN said, he fully concurred in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington), that the House of Representatives and the Senate of Nova Scotia had approved the scheme of Confederation. The Representative Body approved it in 1861, not 1862, as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated. There was a General Election in 1863, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Tupper) went through, the country preaching this Confederation of the Provinces. It was brought under the notice of the electors at every polling-booth, and at every hustings the issue was distinctly raised. Well, after that General Election, the plan of the Government was sustained by an enormous majority in the House of Representatives, and delegates were sent to the Conference to carry out the plan. If there was any question on which the British, North American Provinces not only had enjoyed an opportunity of expressing, but had actually expressed opinion, it was on this very question of Confederation. Mention having being made of the name of Mr. Howe, whose acquaintance he had the honour of possessing, he might state his own conviction that a man of purer patriotism, or one who had rendered more able and distinguished service to the Crown of this country did not exist. He remembered the speech delivered by Mr. Howe some years ago at Detroit, on the question of whether the Reciprocity Treaty should be continued or not, and he believed it was in no small degree owing to that remarkable speech—one of the most eloquent ever heard—that the unanimous verdict in favour of continuing the treaty had been arrived at. It was matter of surprise and regret to him that the valuable and life-long services of Mr. Howe had not received any recognition at the hands of either the late or the present Government. The hon. Member for Birmingham seemed dissatisfied with the phrase used by Lord Monck respecting the establishment of a new nation. Now he (Mr. Watkin) supported the Confederation, not because it was the establishment of a new nation, but as the confirmation of an existing nation. It meant this, that the people of the Confederated colonies were to remain under the British Crown—or it meant nothing. He joined issue with those who said, “Let the colonies stand by themselves.” He dissented from the view that they were to separate from the control of the British Crown the territory of this enormous Confederation. But there was a vast tract beyond Canada, extending to the Pacific, and the House should bear in mind that more than half of North America was under British dominion. Did the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) think that it was best for civilization and for public liberty that this half of the Continent should be annexed to the United States? If that were the opinion of the hon. Gentleman he did not think it was the opinion of that House. Every man of common sense knew that these territories could not stand by themselves; they must either be British or Americau—under the Crown or under the Stars and Stripes. The hon. Member for Birmingham might think that we should be the better of losing all territorial connection with Canada; but he could not agree with that doctrine. Extent and variety were amongst the elements of Imperial greatness. Descending to the lowest and most material view of the subject, he did not believe that, as a mere money question, the separation would be for our interest. Take, again, the question of defence. Our North American possessions had a coast line of 1,000 miles on the east, and 800 on the west, and possessed some of the finest harbours on the Continent, and a Mercantile Marine entitling it to the third rank among maritime nations. The moment these advantages passed into, the hands of the United States that country would become the greatest naval Power in the world. In preserving commercial relations with the United States, the Canadian frontier line of 3,000 miles was likewise extremely useful. As long as British power and enterprize extended along one side of this boundary line, and as long as the tariff of extremely light duties was kept up by us, and that imposed only for the purposes of revenue, it would be impossible for the United States to pursue what might be called a Japanese policy. If England, therefore, desired to maintain her trade, even apart from other considerations, it was desirable for her to maintain her North American possessions. They had lately had to pass through a cotton famine, and they had been taught the inconvenience of the prohibition of the export of cotton by the American Government. Now a large proportion of the corn imported into this country was brought from America, and in what state would England find herself if all the food exports of North America were placed under the control of the Government at Washington? If the frontier line became the sea-coast, what might be looked for then? Scarcely three years had elapsed since Mr. Cobden declared that if there had not been a plentiful harvest in America he did not know where food could have been procured for the people of this country. Now, the corn-growing fields of Upper Canada alone ranked fifth in point of productiveness. Did England not wish to preserve this vast storehouse? Suppose that Canada belonged to America, in the event of a quarrel with England there was nothing to prevent the United States from declaring that not an ounce of food should leave its territories, which would then extend from the Arctic regions to the Gulf of Mexico. He had hoped that upon this Bill, not only both sides of the House, but every section of the House might have been found in unison. It was no use blinking the question. This would not be a decision affecting Canada merely. We had sympathies alike with Australia and the other colonies. If it were seriously proposed that England should denude herself of her possessions, give up India, Australia, North America, and retire strictly within the confines of her own islands, to make herself happy there, the same result might be brought about much more easily by those who wished it. They might become citizens of some small country like Holland, and realize their ideas of happiness in a moment. But he hesitated to believe that the people of England did really favour any such policy. If any one were to hoist the motto, “Severance of the colonies from the Crown” he did not believe that 1 per cent of the people would adopt it. He believed that the people of England felt a deep attachment to their Empire, and that not even a barren rock, over which the flag of England had once waved, would be abandoned by them, without a cogent and sufficient reason. Every argument used in support of the necessity of giving up the Provinces, which lay within eight days of our own shores, would apply with equal force in the case of Ireland, if the people of the United States chose to demand possession. Was this country prepared to give up Gibraltar, Malta, Heligoland, all its outlaying stations merely because some strong Power took a fancy to them? He did not believe that the people of England would ever act in such a spirit. As to the argument of expense, if Canada chose to pick a quarrel on her own account, clearly she ought to pay the bill; but if she were involved in war on Imperial considerations, then he maintained that the Imperial revenues might properly he resorted to. The British Empire was one and indivisible, or it was nothing. And what was the principle upon which the United States acted? If any portion of the territory of the Union was touched, were there one of its citizens who would not be ready and forward to defend it? Should we then be less determined to maintain intact the greatness and the glory of the British Empire? He, for one, would not give up the opinion that Englishmen were prepared to maintain, in its integrity, the greatness and glory of the Empire; and that such a feeling would find a hearty response in that House.
MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE said, he did not regret that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had made the speech they had heard that night, as it had elicited so conclusive a reply from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and because they had at last arrived at what the real opinions of the hon. Gentle man the Member for Birmingham were. The hon. Member had, in the first instance, cast doubts upon the loyalty of the people of Canada; and, having done so, he concluded his speech by an expression of opinion that we ought to sacrifice our colonies, and said that England would be as well without them. The hon. Gentle man had alluded to the defences of Canada. Now, if there was one thing more honourable than another to the Canadians, and to those who now represented Canada in this country, it was the fact that the only danger Canada ran of a collision with the United States must invariably arise from Imperial questions. The Trent difficulty, the Enlistment question, and the dispute about the Oregon territory, were all Imperial questions, and were therefore questions upon which this country was bound to step forward to the protection of Canada. To what, in a great degree, was our greatness owing? It was our manufactures that had made us the greatest country in the world—the conquerors of the conqueror:—and to what was the growth of our manufactures so much due as to our colonies? [“No, no!”] Did the House suppose that England would ever have been so powerful on the seas, had it not been for our colonies? He thought that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office, his right hon. Friend who had introduced the measure, and also the late Government, were entitled to great credit for the ability, assiduity, and care with which they had promoted a measure which was calculated to be so beneficial, not only to the colonies, but to the mother country. He would concur in expressing his congratulation on the admirable judgment displayed by the colonists themselves in this matter. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham had stated that the majority of the people of Nova Scotia were opposed to this Confederation; but he (Mr. B. Cochrane) doubted whether that was ever their feeling.
MR. BRIGHT What I said was, that there was a petition in London from 31,000 of the people of Nova Scotia, and that that number amounted to one-half of the adult males of that colony.
MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE If the hon. Gentleman would refer to the papers he would find that the sentiments of those colonists had very much changed. He had seen it stated that the Governor of Maine had expressed his disapprobation of this scheme of Confederation; and he believed that that expression of opinion by the Governor of Maine had had a very great effect in opening the eyes of the people of Nova Scotia, and had made it appear to them that this Confederation would be beneficial to the colony. There were one or two points, connected with this Bill, which he thought were open to some discussion. He understood from his right hon. Friend, or rather from the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office, that, as the Bill was a kind of compact between the colonies, the House could not alter it at all; for, if they touched any part of it, the alteration would affect the whole of the measure. Now he (Mr. B. Cochrane) did not see how that could be: and he would remind his right hon. Friend that there were parts of the Bill which were not quite clear. He would ask, whether the Governor General would be appointed for life? [“No!”] The Bill did not state for what period the Governor General would hold his office, and he would suggest that a constant change would be a very great disadvantage to the colony. Another important point was this—it appeared that the Lieutenant Governors were to be appointed by the Governor General. He regretted that very much; because they all knew how important it was that the Lieutenant Governors should be persons of position and distinction. It would have been better if there had been a provision that the Lieutenant Governors should be appointed by the Crown. He must say upon this occasion, when such an arrangement as proposed by the Bill was about to be carried out, they ought not to lose sight of the fact that the tariff imposed by Canada had been excessively high. The ad valorem duty upon imports from this country to Canada was, some time ago, 25 per cent; while Now Brunswick imposed only 12½ per cent upon her imports. It was true that Canada had reduced the ad valorem duty to 15 per cent upon her imports; but he thought the people of this country might fairly claim that when they were giving to Canada almost perfect independence—with the exception of the appointment of the Governor General—and paying a large expense for troops and other things in the defence of the colony, and guaranteeing the construction of railways, the ad valorem duty upon goods from this country should not be excessive. He threw out these considerations, although he feared, from what had been said, that they could not make any alterations in the Bill. He thought that, upon the whole, they might congratulate themselves upon the heartiness with which these four colonies had entered into this arrangement. As to Prince Edward’s Island and Newfoundland, they occupied quite a different position. It was true that Prince Edward’s Island was near to Nova Scotia; but Newfoundland was at a great distance from that colony, and there was a very small connecting link between them and the Confederating colonies. But their joining the Confederation was not a question of immediate interest. What was of interest was this—that when persons had been going about the country, trying to make Englishmen believe that England would be as great a country without her colonies as with them, they found that the colonists themselves had, by joining in this great Confederation, entered their protest against doctrines which, if carried out, would not only be injurious to the material interests of the country, but be destructive of the greatness of this Empire in the counsels of Europe.
MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE said, that as it had been his fortune for some years to take an official and personal interest in colonial affairs, he was unwilling to allow this great measure, upon the successful introduction of which he congratulated his right hon. Friend opposite, to pass without remark. The occasion was one for congratulation both to our fellow-subjects in North America and ourselves. The people of Canada, a name rightly retained for the Confederation, would continue to enjoy all the rights and privileges of British citizenship, and would also become members of a great community with larger opportunities for social and political distinction and a promise of more rapid growth in wealth and strength. On the other hand, he thought, too, this measure was matter for congratulation for ourselves, not only because we were by this great measure giving effect to the wishes and promoting the happiness of our fellow-subjects in North America, but because we were now enabling them to perform much more effectually than heretofore the duties they owed towards the great Empire of which they continued to form a part. This great change would make no change in the relations between the mother country and her great dependencies. The duties which devolved upon her now would rest with her still, and those duties might possibly, though he hoped not probably, become most difficult and dangerous; they were duties, nevertheless, from which she had no right to shrink; at the same time, this measure would fit the colonists, by a rapid development, of resources and of public spirit, for taking their rightful share in the performance of these duties. One point required to be carefully watched—he referred to our military expenditure in North America. The accounts procured, some eight or ten years back, by the Committee upon Military Defences in our Colonies, showed that while our military expenditure was decreasing in places like the Cane and New Zealand it had very largely increased in North America. Mr. Merivale, a most competent authority, reckoned that in 1858 our military expenditure in colonies to which we sent troops, not as a protection against Native tribes, but against possible external attack (these being, almost exclusively, our North American colonies), amounted to £400,000 a year, whereas the Estimate for the present year for British North America alone amounted to £950,000. No doubt this largo expenditure was due to exceptional causes, such as the circumstances which had arisen in the neighbouring States, and the curse of that Fenianism which the Canadians had so effectually silenced within their own borders, and so gallantly repelled from without. They might hope that these exceptional causes would pass away; but it was of importance to remember that we were now placing our colonists in a position to play their part in the defence of their own territory more effectually than they had hitherto done. He trusted and believed that to-night would be the birth of a large British community in North America, which they might hope, whether in union with this country or at any distant day separate from it, would continue in their prosperous career in cordial friendship not only with the mother country but with the great neighbouring people of the same race as themselves; and they might also hope that Canada in her prosperous history would follow in the happy footsteps of the people of the United States; but that that history might not be disfigured by the follies and misfortunes which had sometimes marked the relations between the United States and Great Britain.
MR. HADFIELD desired to know why Nova Scotia should not be left out of this Bill. The people of that colony had not approved of it; but their General Election would shortly take place, and then if they approved of the measure they could have the benefit of it. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had taunted the hon. Member for Birmingham with saying that the people of Canada had their price, and the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had shown that Canada had cost this country this year for military expenses £950,000. He thought that a Bill of such great importance ought not to be pushed through Parliament with such haste. It was read a third time in the House of Lords only on Tuesday night, and two days after they were called to give it a second reading in that House. That was a bad precedent to establish, and might produce ill effects at another time. If the Bill had been delayed only for a few weeks the people of Nova Scotia would have been able to express an opinion upon it. He had not had time to consider either the Bill itself or the papers on the subject which had been put into his hands.
MR. MARSH desired only to make one suggestion—he thought it would have been better that the Lieutenant Governors should be appointed directly by the Crown, and not by the Governor of the Confederation, for in that case the men appointed would be less likely to be objectionable on local grounds. As far as Nova Scotia was concerned, it would have been better to have waited a little time until they should have learnt the result of the General Election upon this particular point; and even if unwilling at first, he had no doubt the people of that Province would come into the Confederation afterwards, just as those States of America which did not join the Union in the beginning afterwards came in. He wished to say one word as to our military expenditure in colonies. Hon. Gentlemen were not, perhaps, aware that the protection of our trade cost very much more in places which were not colonies than in those which were. For instance, our expenditure in the Mediterranean, China, Japan, and South America for the protection of our trade was enormous; while it was very light as regarded our great trade with Canada and the Australian colonies.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.