Meeting of the Liberal Convention of Upper Canada, Part V (10 November 1859)

Document Information

Date: 1859-11-10
By: The Globe
Citation: “Meeting of the Liberal Convention of Upper Canada (Continued)”, The Globe (15 November 1859).
Other formats:



THURSDAY, Nov. 10.

Dr. CONNOR, M.P.P. for South Oxford, when he appeared upon the platform, was loudly welcomed. He said—Far from wishing to talk an hour, he should be content if he had only a few minutes, for he really thought the question at present before this Convention had been so fully and so ably discussed, and it was so desirable to arrive, if possible, at a decision upon it, that those who remained to speak now should endeavour to compress their remarks within the least possible limits. Representing, as he (Dr. Connor) did, a very important constituency, and also having expressed himself, as appeared by the public prints, strongly upon the question now before the country, he should have deemed it his duty not to allow this meeting to adjourn without expressing, however briefly, his views upon it. [Cheers.] The questions likely to be agitated amongst us at this Convention, excited considerable doubts and misgivings lest they might cause division amongst us, but those questions seem now to be reduced in two. Upon one head there was no difference of opinion among the members of this Convention, and he thought he might say from one end of Canada to the other, the people were all agreed—that matters could no longer go on in the present state of misrule. [Cheers.] That Upper Canada should have forced upon her in the direction and control of her most vital interests men whom she distrusted and of whom she had marked her distrust in the most signal manner in which a free people could—that she should against her consent be forced to contract public debt until almost threatened with bankruptcy—that the conduct and course of high official, while they disgraced and dishonoured the people of this Province and robbed them of their just and clearest rights, should yet be indorsed and sanctioned by a Lower Canadian majority, was a state of things which we Upper Canadians, and every man of British birth and feeling, would submit to no longer. [Applause.] They had not to consider what remedy could be adopted, and the question was narrowed down to this—whether we should call for Dissolution of the Union and retire to the position we occupied previous to 1841, or whether we should have a certain modification of that Union—which was what he [Dr. Connor] understood by a Federal Government. He had already expressed his views very strongly against a Dissolution of the Union, and would repeat them here had he not been already anticipated by the arguments and speeches of those who had preceded him. He arrived late on this platform, and the acknowledged leaders of the party and gentlemen who represented the intelligence, reflection, and judgement of the people of this Province from all parts of it, had already spoken his views. [Loud cheers.] And here he might add, that it was a remarkable circumstance connected with this meeting which was unquestionably one of the most numerous and important ever convened on public matters in Canada—that not only every man who sat in the room, felt so deeply impressed with the magnitude of the occasion, and the responsibility which attached to him. It had been said that Dissolution, pure and simple, was a retrograde step. He (Dr. Connor) emphatically said so too. (Applause.) Mr. Sheppard told them that the Union was an experiment, and supported his views by a most clear and logical speech, in which was forcibly expressed every argument which could be advanced in favour of his views—(cheers)—and they who disapproved a simple Dissolution could not help feeling they were at that moment listening to a very powerful, logical, clear-speaking opponent. (Cheers.) But he (Dr. Connor) said a Dissolution of the Union would be a retrograde step. There was not, perhaps, a man in this room who would not acknowledge he had some of those longings so eloquently expressed by certain speakers that we should not always continue a simple dependency of any monarchy, however great, or of any people, however noble. [Loud cheers.] There was not a man who did not hope that the Provinces of British North America, when no longer British Provinces, should stand forth a great and mighty people among the nations of the earth. He would ask Mr. Sheppard and those gentlemen who advocated Dissolution pure and simple, if they had not that feeling too. Although they did not support the project of an immediate Federal Union of the whole Provinces, he asked them, was it not a directly retrograde step now, in place of endeavouring to lay the foundation-stone for such a state of things, to do that which would render it a far idea that struck him in considering this question. He asked them whether they would be content to close upon themselves the only passage the Creator had given them to the ocean, and to place themselves dependent upon their neighbours, as some gentlemen who addressed them had suggested—ready to drive their bargain, to higgle to-day with the United States, and to-morrow with the Lower Canadians, for that right which they now enjoyed? [No, no.] Would not that be a retrograde step in the strongest sense of the word? [Hear, hear.] Even supposing England would allow them to place themselves in such a position, in his judgement it would lead to annexation to the United States. [Hear, hear.] He did not believe however strongly our commercial interests might connect us with the United States—that if he were to poll the room, there would be found any man to vote for annexation. [None, none.] He believed none. [Hear, hear.] He believed there was as much true, loyal, British feeling in Canada as in any other portion of Her Majesty’s dominions. But England was not aware of the importance of Canada to her. There was no one of the British colonies at this moment of more importance to England than this colony of Upper Canada. And would she consent to have this portion thrown as it were into the arms of the United States. (No, no.) Then again there were many who felt that in the present involved and dangerous state of European politics, much difficulty was reserved for our mother country, and there were those who thought that while we might be induced to form relations with the States in case of a Dissolution, Lower Canada might not improbably form relations with France, and become a French province between us and the ocean. He did not say this was clearly before us, but it certainly was within the limits of probability. Mr. Sheppard stated the Union was an experiment. Why an experiment? Was it not because something was felt to be wanted in the situation of the country; and are we to turn about now and say these wants are less in ’59 than they were in ’41? (Applause.) No, he believed it would be impossible for us to obtain a Dissolution of the Union. Take any nation in Europe, read their history, and see whether its prosperity did not depend upon the outlets it had to the ocean. To shut ourselves up here, to bar ourselves from the highway of nations, to throw ourselves into the arms of the neighbouring republic, would be a retrograde step. [Loud cheers.] Some gentlemen had said England would regulate, in the event of a Dissolution, our rights with regard to customs duties. With that view he did not at all agree. Anything demanded unitedly by her colonies England would grant, but she would not regulate their internal affairs. [Hear, hear.] What ground had we for supposing the French would agree to a Dissolution of the Union? We could not obtain it without their consent! The French had been taught in this country what it was to enjoy the sweets of unlimited power, and the possession of the public chest. They would not willingly give it up, and if a contest were to take place for Dissolution of the Union, pure and simple, we should find ourselves millions more in debt before we obtain it—if we ever did. Finding there must be a change, he [Dr. Connor] wished that change to be brought about with the least possible delay. [Cheers.] In the manifesto of certain gentlemen in the Lower Province the idea was distinctly thrown out that a Federal Union would be acceptable to the people of Lower Canada. That was the view of the Opposition minority there. Then as to the Government majority in Lower Canada, a Federal Union of the Provinces was one of their own projects, which they put forward with a stretch of authority utterly unjustifiable—for nothing could be more audacious and insulting to the people of Canada, than that on a great question like that Mr. Galt and his colleague should proceed to England in order to patch up their broken fortunes in this country, and hold on to office a few months longer—pretending to negociate [sic] upon so momentous a project as that—men who did not dare to consult the people of Canada, or make them aware of their scheme—men who in a confessed and overwhelming minority in Upper Canada had not the courage to face their own constituents, but stole back into office—under Vice-regal patronage, while no engine was left unused to defeat the Opposition at the polls. For these men to raise so great a question as a Federal Union of all the provinces behind our backs was an insult to us all. [Loud cheers.] The majority of Lower Canada when they took up the confederation of all the Provinces could not have proposed that Lower Canada with millions of people should go into the confederation by the said of New Brunswick with a quarter of a million. The Canadas were to be at least two States in that Union. The Lower Canadian majority therefore have already committed themselves to this question, and the Lower Canadian minority have put forth a masterly document in favour of it. The plan is therefore within our reach. We shall not have years of agitation for it with all the back stair influences which are used at Downing street when such questions as these have to be treated here. Strongly as we may feel on the subject of our grievances, we must make some allowance for the conduct of our brethren of Lower Canada. They are not the French of the year 1797, but of the reign of Louis XIV, with all the feelings and prejudices of the period, and it was a natural apprehension and one not to be lightly treated they entertained, that if Upper Canada obtained the upper hand, in the present union their particular views would receive less favour than they desired. But in the federal scheme, the French will see that all these questions which might be troublesome to them, if legislated upon by a Parliament in which they are in a minority, will be left in their own hands. Are we going to give up the principle of Representation by Population, however? No. We should speak out like men on this subject, and should say that if there is to be a Federal Union, we must have from the beginning the principle of Representation according to Population. Otherwise we gain nothing. But with that principle maintained I am not for Dissolution, but for Federation, for I think we ought to keep in view, the idea of one great federation, which shall hereafter stretch across from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We have the modeling of that empire in our own hands, but if we fling off Lower Canada, we fling away the opportunity, and shall be unjust not only to ourselves but to those who are dear to us, and who will come after us.

Mr. JAMES LESSLIE, of York, thought it desirable, if possible, to arrive at a unanimous conclusion before separating; but desired no unity that was the result of any pressure, except that under the force of reason. Canada, which originally formed but one Province, was divided into two by the British Government. He supposed that the end of that separation was to divide two peoples, who, being different in race, religion, language, and ideas, could not be expected to work harmoniously in the matter of legislation. He thought it would have been better for both parties if that arrangement had not been perpetrated. He was satisfied that when the two Provinces were separated, there was a larger amount of patriotism, liberality, and economy in Lower Canada than had been seen there since, and he believed that if Lower Canada were again thrown on her own resources the same thing would recur; but it could not be supposed to be consistent with human nature, that the Lower Canadians would be very economical so long as they had free access to a common purse, of which the three-fourths were contributed by Upper Canadians. It was a happy thing that Providence had established a rule that applied almost universally, that there was a point beyond which evils could not go without reaction. That reaction had commenced, and it was that which had brought that Convention together. Long ago an attempt had been made to get rid of the evils of the country, and the remedy then adopted was that of Responsible Government. He had himself taken an active part in bringing about that change; but he was now satisfied that the making of it was a great error—that it had but been a vain attempt to graft on the population of this country institutions foreign to the character and circumstances of the people. In England Responsible Government had wrought well. There was no country under the Heavens where life and property was so secure, or justice administered with so much purity. A contrast drawn between England and America was greatly in favour of the Mother country; but the evils which had resulted from Responsible Government were seen especially in this, that men who had been elevated to power, so far from being faithful servants of the people, and retiring from office when they could no longer faithfully serve the people, had become the people’s masters—he might say tyrants. He would prefer to such bondage the Government of the Czar of Russia, because he would prefer one tyrant to many. He would refer to only one instance of the many evils of the present system—the trickery which occurred at the establishment of the late-forty-eight hours’ Government, nothing equal to the iniquity of which had ever come to his cognizance during the darkest ages and the period which was at the time supposed to be the greatest tyranny. The conduct pursued towards the Brown-Dorion Ministry, apart altogether from its unconstitutionality, was so outrageous, that it could not fail to shock the feelings of every honest man. What was the worst feature, too, of the whole was that the representative of the Sovereign, who theoretically could do no wrong, not only stood by and witnessed that, as he had done the other outrages, such as the maintenance of the Russel and Quebec elections without rebuke, but even, apparently, with active co-operation. However, the question at that moment was as to the remedy, and the reference to the Governor General made it right to ask what remedy should be devised against such misconduct on the part of the representative of the Crown? If there were to be a division of the Provinces, there must, he took it for granted, be Lieutenant Governors, and it was important to consider whether these should be named by the Crown, or whether these should be named by the Crown, or whether the people should apply for the right of choosing them. As to the two grand alternatives, he must say that he was for Dissolution pure and simple. Federation was something new, yet to be discussed, and might turn out to be like the grand panacea of Responsible Government—surrounded by difficulties of which nothing was at present known Federation; that it would be a cure for all evils; and that Representation according to Population was to go with it; and yet these same gentlemen asserted that the Lower Canadians would never consent to Representation according to Population. This he could not understand. For his own part, he had no doubt that if a Dissolution could be obtained, the difficulties with regard to the Public Works, navigation, &c., would all be obviated with time, and in a way satisfactory to both sections of the Province. The two things to be secures were simplification and economy, not complication and increased expenditure, as he feared would be the result of entering upon a Confederation. In either case it would be necessary to secure the co-operation of the French Canadians, and, as he understood, especially from the language of Mr. Sicotte on this subject, many of them would prefer a Dissolution to a Federation. But, suppose they were to refuse one or both these remedies—an appeal would then lie to the Imperial Government, and he had no doubt himself that, on proper representations, the power which had created the Union would annul it.

Mr. SCOBLE had been at first in favour of Dissolution pure and simple, and having listened to all the arguments which had been made use of, he had heard nothing to convince him that that plan would be attended with the insuperable difficulties which had been objected against it, while he felt that if Federation were adopted, it would still be environed by the same difficulties. He had began, however, to see light towards the close of Mr. McDougall’s speech, and believed that they presented a basis for a platform on which all might stand. It appeared to hi, that if those in favour of Federation would accept that, it would secure a unanimity such as could not be expected from any other plan. It seemed to him that not only would this clear the question of all the difficulties which now surrounded it, bit it would place the part in a very advantageous position as regarded the Imperial Government. The important document which Mr. McDougall had read showed that the Imperial Government had affirmed the principle which Mr. McDougall sought to have affirmed, and had also given it support in the instructions given to Governors General. Whilst, therefore, this amendment would leave his friends in Parliament free to pursue the course they should find most fit, it would also leave the country free to discuss the great issues which had been brought before it. He would now appeal to Mr. Sheppard and ask whether he would not withdraw his amendments if unanimity could be secured by accepting that of Mr. McDougall.

Mr. D. A. McDONALD—(Glengary)—then came forward, and was received with cheers. After thanking the Convention for the honour done him by appointing him Vice-President, he went on to say that, coming from the most eastern county in Upper Canada, adjoining the boundary, he would say a few words on the question before him. The Convention was assembled for the purpose of obtaining as much unanimity as possible among Reformers from one end of the Province to the other. If that were correct, he would then say that if a resolution were carried for a simple Dissolution of the Union, the party now out of power would be kept out for many long years. If the speeches were looked at it would be found that the party in favour of Dissolution were all from Toronto, or from the country to the west of it. Were they in the East not to be counted in the ranks of the Reform party? If they were worth having, they were worth consulting, and he warned the Convention that if they passed the resolution in the shape of a declaration simply for Dissolution of the Union, the Upper Canadian majority would next session be in a woful [sic] minority. No one could say that he had truckled to Lower Canada, or that he had not gone steadily with his party. He had done so against what was near and dear to him; so did many others; and if they were not of the same mind on this subject as some other gentlemen, these last must make allowance for them, when they remembered that the trade of the eastern section was altogether with Lower Canada. The people there feared that if there were a simple Dissolution they would be again shut out, as they used to be before the Union took place. Besides he believed that it would be infinitely better on another ground to adopt the principle of Federation; for that would show Lower Canada that they were united, and he thought the demand would not then be resisted. So far as his knowledge of Lower Canada went, and he thought that he knew it as well as most men in Upper Canada, he believed the people there were chiefly anxious about the preservation of their local institutions, and the adoption of the Federative principle would make them feel that these institutions could not be interfered with. He believed, therefore, without pretending to speak for Lower Canada, that Federation could be easily obtained from that part of the country, whereas there would be a decided opposition, not only in Lower Canada, but also in the Eastern Counties of Upper Canada, to a simple Dissolution. If he was right in saying that the mass of the people of Upper Canada from a short distance east of Toronto were opposed to a simple Dissolution, then he must add that those who came from the western section ought not to weaken the position of their friends in the east by pressing for that remedy; and he asked if it were reasonable with two-thirds of the Convention coming from Toronto and neighbourhood, that a resolution should be passed which could not be carried if the party in the east were proportionably represented? He had long ago joined the reform party, and when elected for a county which he believed the noblest in Upper Canada, he had not hesitated to vote for Representation according to Population, because he believed it to be the only just principle; but he did hope now that the principle of the Confederation of the Provinces would be unanimously carried. He would join the hon. Secretary in asking Mr. Sheppard to withdraw his amendment, and let that of Mr. McDougall go by acclamation. In conclusion, he would remark that it was with regret he said the system of government was not the only cause for the assembling of that Convention, for he believed that if the affairs of the country were controlled by honest men, there would be no occasion for any change. He held that the public men of the country had themselves corrupted the system of government, but that they had done so to such an extent that, however honest the representatives of the people might be, when they went into office under that system they could not fail to become rogues. The time had come when the country must have a written constitution, by which either Tories or Radicals would be restrained from using the public money. When he used the word Tory, he did not wish to hurt any man’s feelings; for though always a Reformer himself, he had the highest respect for many Tories, though he had none for their principles; but on this subject, he knew that many Conservatives felt as strongly as those in the ranks of the Reformers. Without a written constitution, either a Dissolution or a Federation would prove a nullity. Mr. Donelly, of Picton, had said that he came from a county which did not owe anything. It was well for him to be able to make that statement, because a large part of the wholesale corruption practised throughout the country had been achieved by means of the Municipal Loan Fund. The people of Glengary were also free from debt. In fact, they only owed one thing, and that they never meant to discharge. It was unbounded loyalty to their Sovereign Lady Victoria (Mr. McDonald was repeatedly cheered throughout his speech, and the concluding sentiment elicited redoubled bursts of applause.)

Mr. McBAIN (from Glengary) said that when he saw the names of the Committee on Resolutions, and especially the resolutions presented by that Committee, he supposed there could be no difficulty about adopting them at once. It would be a strange thing, if, after supporting the Opposition members for several years past, and after putting them on a Committee to draft resolutions, those resolutions should be rejected by the Convention when proposed from the chair. He would not, however, have spoken that night, but for the fact that with a single exception there had been no expression of sympathy for the Eastern part of the Province. Yet the county of Glengary had the credit of returning for about twenty years, one of the most active members of the Reform party, he meant Mr. J. S. Macdonald, and that, he thought, entitled it to sympathy, if it had no other claim. Dissolution might be all very well for those living west of Toronto, but touch a man’s pocket, and you touch his principles. It was impossible to stop the trade with Montreal, and in case of a Dissolution, should Lower Canada impose a duty, the goods coming to Upper Canada would be subjected to a taxation from which she would derive no revenue. If the duty were 20 per cent., 20 cents out of every dollar and profit to the importer, would remain in Montreal for all the goods brought that way into Upper Canada. Under the Federative plan on the contrary, this money would be collected for the benefit of the whole, instead of for that of a part. He must tell the Convention that in his part of the country, no one believed that they would gain anything directly by a change. Nevertheless, rather than be longer under the heels of Lower Canada, they would consent to a Federation, hoping that afterwards, the gentlemen of the West would not drag them through the dirt, as they had been trodden in the mire by the Lower Canadian.

Mr. NICKERSON said he came from “glorious” old Norfolk—(cheers)—and he was proud to take part in this Convention. The people of this country felt that they had been for a long time placed in a most humiliating position, and their delegates had now assembled to devise ways and means by which they might act in concert, and make a strong pull all together, with a view to being delivered from that position. (Cheers.) He hoped that whatever decision they came to, it might be unanimous. (Cheers.) He, as an old man, claimed to be one of the silver greys generally held in reserve till our country is invaded, and he felt equally bound on an occasion like this to present himself in advocacy of those great principles which we all love and cherish, and for which, if need were, we would die. Sooner than see our country enslaved by Lower Canadians or any others, is no necessity for that. We can [illegible] constitutional remedies, which will place us in a condition of prosperity and happiness. (Cheers.) He approved of Federation. They had that principle already in their township and county municipalities, and had it not wrought most admirably and most successfully? (Hear, hear.) This that was now proposed was but a carrying out of the same system. The two Provinces would have their own Legislatures to transact their own local business, and there would be a general body to transact any little business of a general nature, affecting the whole Federation. Each local legislature would manage its own local affairs, instead of 65 representatives of one section sitting still and looking on while the 65 from the other section attended to the affairs of that section, or else interfering injuriously. He hoped they would this evening adopt the principle of Federation. This was a matter in which he took a deep and abiding interest. He had been closely associated with the Reform interest since he knew what politics were. When he came to this country 35 years ago, he at once associated himself with the Reform party, and he had always remained faithfully attached to the Reform interest. And he must say that he had never yet lost his vote. The Reform party in glorious Norfolk had always been successful. (Cheers.) And he trusted they would be successful here. When he looked around and saw the bright array of talent and ability, the full determination to act in concert, the yielding disposition manifested by all who had spoken, he was of opinion that they must succeed. (Cheers.) Mr. Nickerson then alluded to the Temperance question, complaining that no action had been taken on the memorials of the 80,000 petitioners who had demanded the abolition of the abominable liquor traffic. The bill introduced for this purpose and supported by nearly all the Upper Canadian friends of the party in Parliament, would have been carried but for the trickery which threw it out on the ground that as a financial measure it should have been introduced by the Government. It was high time that they had men in Parliament who would give effect to the wishes and desires of the people. (Cheers.) Mr. Nickerson concluded by again urging that Federation was the best remedy for our present difficulties. He was willing, however, to agree to whatever was the decision of the majority, as, whatever might be their differences as to detail, they were substantially at one. (Cheers.)

Repeated cries having been raised for Mr. Brown to speak,

Mr. BROWN said the mover of the affirmative was always allowed to wind up the debate. He meant to claim that privilege, and if the debate was not yet brought to a close, he should retire till other gentlemen had spoken.

Mr. CLIMIE, Bowmanville, said he appeared before the Convention as an advocate of Dissolution, pure and simple. He was much pleased with the resolution brought forward by Mr. Sheppard. He believed that resolution contained a correct principle. His (Mr. Climie’s) opinion in favour of Dissolution was not of a day’s growth. He had long entertained the opinion that that was the only way in which they could free themselves from the Lower Canadian incubus which was pressing them down, and fast driving them to national bankruptcy. The speakers in favour of Federation had endeavoured to make it out that Dissolution would be an injury to the country instead of a benefit. This had been done also by those who supported Mr. Macdougall’s amendment. If he understood that amendment aright, it took away from before their minds a definite object, and substituted an indefinite one in its place. His idea seemed to be that, instead of a central government, we might have commissioners appointed by Parliament, or by some other mode, but not in any such way as would make them directly responsible to the people. Nor would such a power be based on Representation by Population, for if Lower Canadians would not concede Representation by Population to them now, neither would they concede it with the adoption of the Federal principle. But any one acquainted with the nature of Federal Government must know that it would be impossible to have a system of so petty and insignificant a nature as had been proposed by some this evening. If they adopted the Federal principle, he was of opinion that they must adopt it in full, and if they did that they arrive at republicanism. At least he thought that would be the result under present circumstances. At some future time, when the public mind was thoroughly enlightened on the subject, the adoption of the Federal principle might be correct, or of some other principle by which a union of colonies might be formed, or a great British North American Empire spring up. But that must be under other circumstances than now existed. Some who had addressed the Convention had dwelt greatly on the alleged impossibility of getting the sanction of Lower Canada to a Dissolution of the Union, pure and simple, and they had held up as the ultimatum of the Lower Canadians the document signed by the Messrs. Dorion, Drummond, McGee, and Dessaulles. But he believed those four men represented but a very small portion of the population of Lower Canada. There was a time when he had confidence in those men, but the proceedings of the last session of Parliament induced him to withdraw that confidence. He found that Lower Canadians, in whom they of Upper Canada had placed confidence, when it came to the passage of one of the most iniquitous measures ever placed on the statute book, were just as ready as the rest to trample on the interests of Upper Canadians, simply because if they voted nay, they would lose their seats in Parliament. He for one could not believe in any such expediency. The meeting here began to manifest symptoms of impatience, being anxious to come to a vote instead of hearing speeches. Mr. Climie therefore compressed the remainder of his remarks into brief space. He advised the meeting to be very cautious about making experiments. The last experiment, the effecting a union between Upper and Lower Canada, had been a very costly one, and they should be slow to adopt changes whose effects they did not very clearly see, although he admitted that the time had come when the evils which pressed heavily upon them could not much longer be borne.

Mr. BENGOUGH, Whitby, congratulated the Convention that they had got over the most important question they had met to decide, and that was that they could not remain much longer in their present position. The Convention, however, had not been the first to make that declaration. Her Majesty’s ministers had done so before them. (Hear, hear.) The next step was the question, which of the two great remedies before the Convention they should decide upon. Since they had been so cordial in adopting the first resolution, he hoped they would not fall out about the way in which they were to carry it out. (Hear, hear.) With regard to the change they were to make, he had come to this Convention fully impressed in his own mind, that whatever change might be made, they should not at all events step back—(cheers)—that whatever step the Reform party took, it should be always in advance. [Cheers.] He claimed to be as good a British subject and as patriotic in his sentiments as any man in this Convention, and he held that the course of those who advocated Federation was the patriotic one. If they were to make constitutional changes, they might as well lay that foundation stone which the geographical position of the country required, and which would never require to be removed. Whether introduced now or at some future time, he was satisfied that Federation was the principle which must ultimately prevail on this continent. At the same time there was a danger in affirming too strongly this very principle, because there were two at a bargain-making, and if Lower Canada agreed to the principle, the benefit to be derived would very much depend on the conditions which Lower Canada attached to its acceptance of it. Mr. Macdougall’s amendment appeared to meet his views. One other point he would refer to. We talked of our present system being corrupt and corrupting our public men, and said that in our own self-defence we were compelled to initiate the present movement. But the people themselves were to blame as well as their public men. Had the. Had they not seen the constituencies of this Upper Province bribed by their representatives in Parliament? [Hear, hear.] Mr. Bengough was then proceeding to point out some passages in the history of England, with which he wished to contrast proceedings that had taken place in this Province, when the impatience of the meeting for a vote was manifested so strongly that he gave way and resumed his seat.

Mr. WILSON, Haldimand, being announced as the next speaker,

A DELEGATE rose in the body of the hall, and said that he and those beside him to the right and left were just as full of speech as those who were going forward to the platform, but, as all were anxious for a vote, they were willing to bottle their speeches up, if those on the platform would do the same. [Laughter.] He thought enough had been said to enable all present to vote intelligently on the questions submitted. [Hear, hear.]

The gentleman who had been announced by the Chairman did not make his appearance, but

Mr. HURD of Prince Albert claimed to be heard for a short time. When elected by certain parties in North Ontario to come here as a delegate, he was of opinion, and the meeting which elected him was of opinion, that a Federative Union was perhaps the best thing under the circumstances which they could demand. He had come here prejudiced in favour of that principle, but he must say, after listening to all the arguments on both sides, those in favour of a Dissolution and those in favour of a Federation, that his faith in that principle had been very much shaken. There had been some new ideas raised by the gentlemen who had spoken, which if incorporated with Federation, would give it a different complexion to his mind from what it had formerly. He referred to the view expressed by Mr. Cameron, of dividing Upper Canada as well as Lower Canada into several districts. Now, he begged to state most distinctly as an Upper Canada, that he was decidedly opposed to Federation, if Federation would have the effect of dividing Upper Canada into several local governments. He was opposed to any division of Upper Canada into small school districts, and if that were involved in Federation, he must vote against it. Another circumstance [illegible] almost every speaker who had advocated Federation, had advocated the abandonment of Responsible Government and the introduction of a written constitution. (No! no!) He had understood that view to come from some of the most prominent individuals connected with Her Majesty’s Opposition. He remembered perfectly well riding through the country with Mr. Macdougall, canvassing and electioneering in behalf of Responsible Government—he knew it used to be a pet measure of that gentleman and of the Reform party, and he did not see why it should be abandoned. There had been nothing in the arguments presented which had persuaded him that their rights would not be completely secured by Responsible Government, if they had a Dissolution of the Union. He was much pleased with a remark which fell from Mr. Lesslie, that there was no country in the world where life and property were so safe as in England, and that in this respect there was a great contrast between England and the United States. He might have added that there was a great contrast even now between Canada, with all our corruption, and the United States, with regard to the protection of person and property. (Hear, hear.) That was a strong argument in favour of adhering to British institutions, and if we abandoned Responsible Government, that would be an argument with the British Government against agreeing to any change we might ask in out institutions. For his own part, after all the arguments he had heard, but for the difficulties of settling the joint partnership property, he should chose a Dissolution of the Union pure and simple; but in order to centralize the views of this Convention, he felt disposed to give up whatever views he might have entertained with regard to Federation or with regard to simple Dissolution, and to support the amendment submitted by Mr. McDougall, if that amendment afforded platform on which the party could stand with a determination to contend vigorously for a new state of things. The people desire a radical change in our relations with Lower Canada, and that was to be the chief end sought in any platform that might be adopted.

Mr. ROSE, Dundas County, as one of the representatives from the Eastern part of the country, wished to endorse the sentiments which had been expressed by Mr. Macdonald, the member for Glengary. He felt that the townships in that section were just as deeply interested in the questions before the Convention, as were the townships in the West. He was glad to see so much harmony of feeling displayed in this large assemblage. He believed a large majority were in favour of the principle which he had been instructed to advocate, a Federation of the Canadas. There had been a great deal said about simple Dissolution, and a great deal about Federation, but he must say that he had heard nothing which had altered the opinion he entertained on the subject when he left home. [Hear, hear.]


Leave a Reply