“Latest From Quebec. Very Full Caucus of the Upper Canada Liberals.” The Globe (22 June 1864)

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Date: 1864-06-21
By: The Globe
Citation: “Latest From Quebec. Very Full Caucus of the Upper Canada Liberals.”, The Globe [Toronto] (22 June 1864).
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Latest From Quebec.

Very Full Caucus of the Upper Canada Liberals.

Negotiations with the Government Endorsed

From our own correspondent.

Quebec, June 21

While the negotiations were pending between the members of the Administer and Mr. Brown, in their endeavours to find a basis for the settlement of existing sectional difficulties, it was obviously improper to embarrass them by the publication of the confused and contradictory outside rumors which purported to tell what was passing between the contracting parties. Such a course was only calculated to cause misapprehension, and to damage the success of the negotiations themselves. The basis, however, having at last been satisfactorily settled, and the facts having been tolerably well ascertained, the same reason for reticence no longer exists, and the following account, gathered form what was laid before the [sic] today will [sic] … harmonize with the fuller details which will be submitted to Parliament tomorrow: –

After the defeat of the Government on the 14th, Mr. Brown, in conversation with several supporters of the Administration, strongly urged the propriety of the present crisis being utilized to settle for ever the constitutional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada; and declared that if the government would take up manfully and sincerely the sectional difficulties, and adopt a basic that would be satisfactory to Upper Canada, he – and he believed almost the whole of his political friends – would retain them in office until they had a full opportunity of presenting their measure and testing it in Parliament. In consequence of these conversations, negotiations were opened between the Government and Mr. Brown by Mr. Morris, M.P.P, and Mr. Pope, M.P.P, and a meeting arranged to take place at Mr. Brown’s rooms in the St. Louis Hotel. Accordingly, on Friday Messrs. Galt and John A. Macdonald called on Mr. Brown, and the negotiations were formally opened. Messrs. Macdonald and Galt stated that they ha been charged by their colleagues to invite Mr. Brown’s co-operation in strengthening the Administration, with a view to a settlement of the constitutional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada. Mr. Brown stated that nothing but the extreme urgency of the present crisis, and the hope of settling for ever the sectional troubles of the Province, could in his opinion, justify their meeting together with a view to common political action, but that he considered that the present crisis presented an opportunity for dealing with the great sectional evils, with a probability of access such as never had occurred before, and that for his part, if the Administration were prepared sincerely to go into it, he was ready to co-operate with them. In regard to entering the Cabinet, that was a part of the proposal which he could not entertain, as personal engagements rendered that all but impossible; and beyond this it appeared to him there was insuperable barrier in the way of men who had been so long and so strongly opposed to each other entering the same Cabinet. He thought the public mind would be shocked by such a coalition. It was replied that nothing but the present crisis, and the importance of the work to be undertaken, could possibly justify it; but that it appeared absolutely necessary to the success of the movement that that obstacle should be overcome and that Mr. Brown enter the Cabinet as a guarantee to his party and to the country for the good faith of the Administration. Mr. Brown said he stood in a different relation towards the Ministry from any other member of his party, and it did not follow, because he felt in the manner he had expressed, that other leading members of the party could not be induced to go in who would be in a position to give those guarantees quite as satisfactorily as he could. It was finally arranged that all personal considerations and the assurances to be given should be waived for the present, until it could be seen whether a common basis could be found. Mr. Brown then asked what the proposal of the Government was for meeting the injustice complained of by Upper Canada, and for the final settlement of the sectional troubles Messrs. Macdonald and Galt replied that their plan was a federal union of all the British North American Provinces. Mr. Brown rejected this as altogether too remote a scheme to satisfy the people of Upper Canada as a remedy for the evils they complain of. He asked in turn to state what his scheme was, and he replied, parliamentary reform based on population without regard to the separating line between Upper and Lower Canada. Messrs. Macdonald and Galt at once rejected this as totally impracticable in the present state of public opinion in Lower Canada, and after much discussion, it was finally agreed that if a basic could be adopted at all, which would rectify the injustice to Upper Canada, and be acceptable to the people of Lower Canada, it must be found in the federative principle as applied to the Government of Canada. The line of policy adopted by Mr. Brown in conducting the negotiations was to consider the various propositions seriatim, so as to find what [sic] the best basis he could obtain for Upper Canada, and having arrived at what appeared to all the very best that could be obtained, Mr. Brown, [sic] neither accepting nor rejecting it, got the Government to put it in a formal shape for the purpose of being submitted to his political friends for adoption or rejection. The substance of the Government proposal was that a Bill should be submitted to Parliament at its next session for a division of Canada into two or more local Governments, to which should be committed all local and sectional questions the whole to be presided over by the general Legislature, constituted on the principle of the American Federal Congress, provision being made in the Bill for the reception hereafter of the Maritime Provinces and the North-West territory into the Canadian system on satisfactory conditions. Mr. Brown consulted a number of his friends to ascertain, in a general manner, whether the basic was likely to be satisfactory, when he found that is was likely to be accepted, but only, in the view of a large majority of those he consulted, in the event of security being given to the party and the country [sic] the good faith with which the measure was the prosecuted and the details worked out, and be the reception into the Cabinet of a fair representation of the Opposition. Mr. Brown notwithstanding this, still continued to hold the opinion that it would be better, while accepting the basis, that members of the party should not enter the Government, but that the administration should be sustained outside in prosecuting the scheme which they had propounded. He, however, felt it his duty to communicate the result of his consultations with his friends to the Government. They replied that they quite understand, in asking Mr. Brown to come into the Government, that he should not come alone, and they wished to know from him what his ideas were as to the number of members of the Opposition who should be received into the Cabinet. Mr. Brown said that, speaking the views of his own friends, and considering that the Opposition was stronger than the [sic] the equal divisions of the Cabinet would be a fair basis. The Ministry took time to consider this, and at the next meeting they stated their total inability to grant the demand. They considered that Sir Etienne Tachs and Mr. Cartier has [text illegible] up this question to deal with it in the manner they proposed to do; and that as they had a large majority of Lower Canada supporting them, it would be indiscreet to weaken then in their own Province by compelling them to eject two of their friends from the Cabinet, and to introduce two of their opponents; and that, besides, the Lower Canada party in alliance with Mr. Brown and his friends were not pre-pared to take the stand on this question which the Government were now doing Mr. Macdonald said, as regarded Upper Canada, were he to consent to the admission of a majority of the Upper Canada, Minister from the Opposition ranks, and leaving himself only one supporter in the Cabinet, it would entirely break up his own party, which would in all probability be destructive to the success of the measure. He was prepared, however, to divide the Upper Canada seats in the Cabinet with Mr. Brown and his friends – and as Mr. Brown and his friends proposed to enter the Government, not with a view to a coalition in the ordinary acceptance of the term, but for the special purpose of settling forever the constitutional difficulties between the two sections of the Province-and as all the members of the Government from Upper Canada would be, as far as that was concerned, entirely united – and as the Lower Canada part of the Administration was in as effective a condition regarding that question as it could possibly be, he conceived that what he proposed was an arrangement which ought to be satisfactory to all parties, Mr. Brown, without accepting or rejecting the proposition or the argument by which it was sustained, agreed to submit it to his friends. Accordingly, a meeting of the Upper Canada Opposition was called at eleven o’clock this morning at the Kent House, which was attended by every member of the Upper Canada Opposition, with exception of Mr. Chamber of Brockville, and Mr. Wood of Brentford, the latter of whom is at present in Upper Canada. The proceedings of that meeting speak for themselves.

Robert Bell, Esq, M.P.P for North Lanark, was called to occupy the chair.

Mr. Brown then gave a statement of the negotiations which he had for some days carried on with the Government respecting the reconstruction of the Government with a view to [text illegible] difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada.

It was moved by Mr. Hope F. Mackenzie, seconded by Mr. McGiverin :- “That we approve of the course which has been pursued by Mr. Brown in the negotiations with the Government, and that we approve of the project of a Federal Union of the Canadas, with provision for its extension to the Maritime Provinces and the North-western Territory, as one basis on which the constitutional difficulties now existing could be settled.” – Carried

Yeas – Messrs. Auit, Bell [Lanark], Bowman, Brown, Burwell, Cowan, Dickson, Dunsford, Howland, McFarlane, McIntyre, Mackenzie [Lambton], Mackenzie [Oxford], McConkey, McDougall, McGiverin, McKellar, Mowat, Munro, Notman, Parker, Ross [Prince Edward,] Rankin, Bymal, Scoble, Smith [Durham], Smith [Toronto], Stirton, Thompson, Wallbridge, [Speaker] Wallbridge [North Hastings], Wells, White, Amos Wright – 34

The following members declined to vote either yea or nay – namely: Messrs. Biggar, Macdonald [Glengarry] Macdonald [Cornwall] Macdonald [Toronto] and Scatcherd – 5

It was moved by the Hon. J. S. Macdonald, that the proposition for at least three members of the Opposition entering the Government be accepted.

Mr. Mackenzie, of Lambton, moved in amendment, that the proposition for three members of the Opposition entering the Cabinet be rejected, and that that the proposition for the settlement of sectional difficulties receive an outside support.

Mr. Mowat suggested, that a division be taken, on the understanding that those voting “yea” were in favour of the first proposition, and those voting “nay” were in favour of the second proposition. This was agreed to, and the yeas and nays were then taken as follows:

Yeas – Messrs. Ault, Bell [North Lanark], Dunsford, Howland, Macdonald [Glengarry] Macdonald [ Cornwall], McFarlane, McConkey, McDougall, McGiverin, McIntyre, Munro, Notman, Parker, Rankin, Ross, [Prince Edward] Rymal, Smith [Toronto], Smith [Durham], Stirton, Thompson, Wallbridge [Speaker] Wallbridge [North Hastings] Wells, White, and Wright – 26

Nays – Messrs. Bowman, Brown, Burwell, Cowan, Dickson, Mackenzie [Lambton], Mackenzie, [South Oxford] McKellar, Mowat, Scatcherd and Scoble – 11

Mr. Macdonald, of Toronto, declined to vote.

Moved by the Hon. J. S. Macdonald, “that it is all important that Mr. Brown should be one of the party to enter the Cabinet.” – Carried unanimously, with the exception of Messrs. Scatcherd, Brown, and Burwell.

Moved by Mr. White, and carried unanimously “that Mr. Brown be requested to continue the negotiations with the government”.

At two o’clock a caucus of the Ministerial members was held, and a unanimous felling expressed in favour of sustaining the Ministry in the course they had taken.

Immediately after the adjournment of the House, this afternoon, Mr. Brown had another interview with His Excellency the Governor General, in regard to the position of the negotiations, and while I write, another meeting is being held in the Executive Council building, between Mr. Brown and the leading members of the Government, in continuation of the negotiations. There are various rumors afloat as to what will be the final result. So far as regards the construction of the Cabinet, I have reason to believe that Mr. Brown is still resolute not to enter the Cabinet, but is desirous of obtaining the consent of three [sic] prominent members of the Opposition to represent their party in the Administration – he on his part pledging all his influence and personal co-operation in carrying out effectively the great movement which has been inaugurated. It is rumored that a compromise of the personal question may be found in the reception of three gentlemen of the Opposition into the Government, and the appointment of Mr. Brown as an Executive Councillor, without a department or responsibility for the details of the Government beyond the constitutional question, without salary.

The Western Canada Opposition feel very deeply at being placed in a position which compels them to act apparently an unfriendly part towards their friends, the Liberal party of Lower Canada – but they could not be induced to take any action of make any approach to action on this question, and it was quite impossible that for any consideration of party alliance the Upper Canada Liberals should be willing to sacrifice the vital interests of their own section of the Province.

In the House this afternoon, on motion of Mr. Rose, leave was granted to the Russell Election Committee to adjourn till the second day of next session.

In La Durantaye Division, Mr. Fournier, the Rouge candidate, early in the day gave up the contest. At the close of the poll, Mr. Bosse, Ministerial, headed the poll in the country of Levis by 850. He had also a large majority in Montmagny, and it is believed has about 1,100 majority in the whole division. Mr. Fournier is reported to have had a majority in the counties of L’Ialet and Bellechasse


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