“Inter-Provincial Conference” The Globe (25 October 1887)
By: The Globe
Citation: “Inter-Provincial Conference” , The Globe (25 October 1887).
HOW THE OLD QUEBEC RESOLUTIONS WERE MANGLED.
Disallowance and Veto Power—The Plans of the Conference Foreshadowed.
QUEBEC, Oct. 24—To-day the delegates see Quebec in its most forbidding aspect. The mountains near the city have for some days past been covered with snow. Last night there was the first heavy fall of the season, and to-day the snow and rain are falling and a strong cold wind is blowing. The most enthusiastic lover of the picturesque prefers a seat by a warm stove to wading through slush up steep hills or sliding down the same with indescribable speed, while at every corner another danger presents itself in the form of a violent gust of wind.
Apparently the conference would be doing a great work if they went no further than to reaffirm the resolutions passed at
THE OLD QUEBEC CONFERENCE,
which were mangled by the deputation which was charged with the duty of embodying them in the B.N.A. Act. There is no doubt that, in many cases, the work of restoration will be performed. The changes made to the old resolutions before they were embodied in the B.N.A. Act were nearly all in the direction of restricting Provincial powers and increasing the power of the central authority. A striking illustration of this remark is found in the forte of resolutions 23 and 24 of the old Quebec Conference, which reads thus:—
23. “The Legislature of each Province shall divide such Province into the proper number of constituencies and define the boundaries of each of them.”
24. “The Local Legislature of each Province may, from time to time, alter the electoral districts for the purpose of representation in the House of Commons and distribute the representatives to which the Province may be entitled in any manner such Legislature may think fit.”
The Canadian deputation omitted these resolutions entirely, the reason assigned being that it was considered that all necessary powers in that direction were sufficiently embraced in the general terms, giving jurisdiction to the General Parliament and Local Legislatures. The language of the resolutions is instructive as showing that the framers of the constitution intended that representation in Federal Parliament should be a Provincial representation and that the Provinces should have the right to say how they should be represented. This argument was used with great force during the discussion on the Dominion Franchise Bill in support of the contention that Provincial franchises should be retained.
Disallowance and Veto Power.
It has already been stated that the Conference had arrived at a substantial agreement uupon [sic] the question of disallowances and veto power, and also that it was likely some means would be proposed by which the constitutionality of any Provincial Act may be tested before it is put into force. There is reason to believe that these questions will be dealt with by a common proposal which will at once obviate the necessity of veto power and prevent much litigation. The heads of this plan as nearly as can be gathered as as follows:—That the arbitrary vetoing power of the Dominion Government be abolished altogether, so that no Act may be disallowed which a Legislature has constitutional power to pass. That the question of constitutionality be decided not by the Dominion Government, but by some independent authority, probably the Supreme Court, and that this decision may be obtained before the Act is put into force so as to avoid litigation and injury to the interests which may be created by the Act in question.
Hard at Work.
Conference is hard at work and three sessions were held to-day, but it is hardly probable that the financial question will be reached until to-morrow.