New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [Act Relating to the Militia] (26 March 1866)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly  at 56-61.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Monday, March 26.
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A BILL TO ADD TO AN ACT RELATING TO THE MILITIA.
Mr. Otty, in explaining the objects of the Bill, said that the militia law exempted volunteers from the payment of taxes to the extent of six dollars. This provision did not act fairly, because many of the volunteers who spent their time attending drill, paid but a small amount of taxes, the whole exemption amounting to but sixty-one cents per head for the volunteers in King’s County. They thought: being exempted from six dollars taxes, would exempt them from statute labour, and a case was brought to trial, when the Chief Justice have his decision that it did not exempt them from statute labour. Therefore it was unfair that the volunteers in the rural districts, who had to travel some distance to attend drill, should be exempted from so small an amount; while the volunteers in the cities who had but a short distance to o to attend drill, are exempted from a larger amount in consequence of their taxes being higher.
Mr. Needham said he would have had another section prepared for the Bill, if he had known it was going to be introduced. The volunteers were exempted to the extent of six dollars, and if his taxes were rated under that amount, he was disfranchised, because by the terms of their charter, no man could vote unless he had a receipt for his taxes from the City Treasurer. He had serious doubts whether this exemption should be a local charge. If five or six hundred volunteers in Fredericton were ordered to the North Shore, they should share the burden. They should have six dollars paid them out of the militia treasury, and let it come in as a portion of the expenditure for the militia. He hoped the hon. mover would allow progress to be reported, so that an additional section might be added to the Bill.
Mr. Wilmot thought they should do all they could to encourage the volunteer movement. There is a great complaint made in St. John about these exemptions. they want to raise a certain amount of money for a local purpose, and when the assessment is made they do not know the number of volunteers who are relieved from a portion of their taxes, which causes irregularity. If the volunteers were for the defence of the Province, their expenses should be provided out of the general revenue.
Mr. Otty explained that the second section of the bill would provide a remedy for the irregularity complained of.
Col. Boyd fully concurred with the remarks made by his hon. friend from York, in thinking that the expense should be provided for by the Province at large.
Mr. Anglin thought that the volunteers of St. John did not want any exemptions from taxes, but they expected when they gave their time and services for the benefit of the Province, they should not have to put their hands in their pockets and be compelled to pay the expenses necessary to be incurred for the purpose. The least the public could do, would be to provide them with all things necessary for the purpose of enabling them to learn their drill. They should have a proper drill room, supplied with arms, and if they were required to wear uniform it should be provided. Everything should be provided from the Provincial revenues, or by the united action of the Province with the localities. In the City of St. John half the expense should be provided by the Province, and half by the City and County. It was not dealing fair with them, that it should be necessary that concerts should be go up for their benefit, or that they should beg from door to door to put a coat on their backs. He would protest against that, and he hoped their claims upon the country would be acknowledged.
Mr. Lindsay said the present law did not work fairly, for it was not right that the poor man should be relieved of but one dollar while the rich mand was relieved of six, for they both lost the same time. If they were going to keep up the volunteer system, the money should come from the Provincial revenues of the country. They did not get the right class of men to attend the Camp of Instruction. They were men who were here to-day and away tomorrow, and merely went there to have a jolly time. If they could have got the young men of the country, it would have been some benefit.
Mr. McMillan remarked that they should all be put on equal footing, and not allow one man to receive $1 and another $6 for the same service. In regard to their having a free passage on the railway, when attending militia duties, he thought the railway was Provincial property, and they should be allowed travel on it for that purpose.
Mr. McClellan thought something should be done to aid and encourage them, but he objected to this Bill on account of the rich man being exempted from more taxes than the poor man. Then in regard to localities, a martial feeling may exist in one portion of the country, in consequence of encouragements held out, and that portion of the country would have to bear the burden of these taxes, while the whole Province would receive the benefit. It would also disfranchise these volunteers, from whom we want an expression of opinion, as they were likely to be men of thought, who took an interest in the affairs of the country. their names would not go on the Revisor’s list, unless they made application to the Revisors; many of them would not make this application, and, in consequence, would be unable to vote. The last section says, they shall pass over the railway free of expense. It is not fair that certain parties in the County of Kings should have a privilege which is denied to the rest of the Province. This whole system of free passage on the railroad was bad. It was a subject he intended to enquire into this session, to ascertain how many people are allowed to pass over the road free of expense. he was inclined to think there was a great many individuals went over that railroad free. The members of the Government pass over free, and he was not sure but their supporters passed over free too. Hon. Mr. Smith supposed he intended his observations to apply to the late Government, as the present Government had not been long in power, and has had the control of it only for a few months. It was very well for him to say he had suspicions of this, and that some enquiry ought to be made to see whether those suspicions were well grounded or not. He thought Mr. Lawrence deserved the greatest credit, as he saved from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars in the expenses connected with that railroad. (Mr. Lindsay—I should like to see an account of it.) He was speaking of facts. Mr. Lawrence had paid a larger sum into the revenues than ever had been paid before, and that was good proof that there was not many free passages. He had reduced the running of the trains, and had reduced the staff. He only runs one through train per day, which afforded as much accommodation to the country as they wanted. When this House came to examine the matter they would see what Mr. Lawrence had done, and they would be disposed to give him every praise for the manner in which he had conducted the Railway. With regard to the Bill before the House, he would like to give every encouragement to the Volunteers; but there should be some provision to make the exemption more equal, and to prevent their […]
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[…] names being removed from the revisors list. In regard to the last section of the bill authorising the Volunteers to pass over the Railroad free of expense while on duty, he had no objection to that, but instead of making it a matter of law, he would leave it with the Government, and they could make an order at any time to allow them a free passage. He agreed with the principle, that if the Volunteers are organized as a permanent institution the expense should fall upon the country. He had been rather against those Militia expenses, and would still continue so unless they were necessary for the defence of the country, but if necessary, no man should shrink from contributing according to his means for the support of that institution.
Mr. Connell objected to the Bill, and contended that, if the Bill was necessary, it should have been brought in as Government measure. In regard to the rail road, he had always paid his passage, and he did not think the Government had any right to make an order for these volunteers to go over free. The road should be so managed that it could be shown who travelled free; and if there were free passages given it should be stopped. at once.
Mr. Needham differed from his hon. friend in thinking this ought to be a Government measure. The Militia Law was on the Statute Book, and they could do as they liked with it, for all the wisdom of the country is not centred in the Government. They came there to legislate for the whole Province, and they should deal even-handed justice to all. Particular localities should not be taxed for the support of volunteers which were for the benefit of all.
Mr. Bailey said that if the provisions of this Bill were confined to King’s County, he would not oppose it, but he would be very sorry to see it extend to Queen’s County. for they are not able to pay so much for defence as this Bill specifies. This Bill exempts the volunteer from three days’ labor and six dollars taxes, thus making the community contribute $7.50 for each volunteer. He believed the volunteer force should be paid out of the general funds of the country.
Some discussion then took place regarding free passages on the railway, and on franking letters, after which progress was reported.
Mr. Wilmot called the attention of the House to a report in the Evening Globe of a debate which took place in the House on Friday, in which he was made to say that “he had frequently stated his opinions in favor of Confederation in the abstract, to Judge Allen and others. but never so expressed himself publicly in the Council, although that was the impression he wished to convey.” This report, he said, was utterly devoid of truth. What he had endeavored to impress upon this House was, that he had stated in the Council that he was in favor of union, and that Judge Allen had authorized him to say that he had heard him express himself in favor of union in the abstract.
Mr. Caie.—As all are expected to speak on this question, I will endeavor to makes a few remarks, but I think too much time has already been taken up, and too much money expended on this debate, which had better be expended in opening up roads for the poor back settler, which the mover of this amendment was seemingly so anxious to save. I shall not take up much time in the few remarks I intend to make.
I am as anxious as any one on the floor of this House that the defences of our country should be put in a most efficient condition, and every means within the power of the Government should be taken to protect the lives and property of the people of this Province, particularly those who live on the frontier or the seaboard. The Government who would not enter into these arrangements, would be unworthy of the people’s confidence, and would not receive the support of this House for one day. I have listened with much attention, and with an impartial ear, for I am neither a disappointed office seeker, nor an expectant of any offices at the disposal of any new Government. I have listened with a disinterested ear to the charges brought against this Government, and the defence of the Government. Although it is certain they have committed sins of omission, and it may be commission, yet I cannot think we have sufficient grounds to pass a vote of want of confidence in them. It is well known to every member of the House, that the Government only came into power a few hours before the last meeting of the Legislature. and during the whole of that session they worked almost night and day to prepare Bills, which had to be laid before this Assembly, and very shortly after the session was adjourned, the late Attorney General and the President of the Council were deputised to go to England. Shortly after they returned, the then Attorney General was then elevated to the Bench of New Brunswick. Taking these things into consideration, we would not be justified in condemning them for their sin of omission. The one great object with the Opposition now is the overthrow of the present Government—reports are raised, communications to newspapers and telegraphs are sent, not only through New Brunswick but through Canada and the United States, all tending to the one object—the overthrow of this Government. I should like this House to find any thruthfulness in many of these reports. the first report represented the government as afraid to do anything. Then a report was got up about railroads, and it was said by the enemies of the Government that there never would be a sod turned on either side of these railroads by those companies, and that the report that companies were going to build them was only got up to help Mr. Smith in his election. Those contracts were made, and will be laid before the House in due time. then they say this is a do-nothing Government, for they have not made the first move towards protecting the Province from the Fenians. One of the members from Carleton stated that there was not a gun or pound of powder in the County he represented. The Attorney General says there were five hundred guns and then thousand rounds of cartridge sent to that very County, nd put in the hands of men who knew how to use them, and would use them in time of need, which we should believe, (Mr. Lindsay – In the absence of my colleague, I will state what I have from good authority, that if the yeomanry were to be called out, they had but three rounds of ammunition to defend their lives with.) I will leave that County and the Province to decide which we are to believe. The next report I shall allude to is what is called the “land jobbing.” Communication after communication, and editorial after editorial were written, month after month. accusing the Government of being the “vilest rascals” that ever lived upon the face of the earth;—that they had against all law and honesty given to Mr. Gibson 15,000 acres of the public lands. For what? The papers said as a reward for the part he took in the last election. I was asked if I would support a Government that had been guilty of such things. I said I would not if they had been guilty of that, but I will not condemn them unheard. What is the truth of those reports? Mr. Gibson told me that he spoke to the head of the late Government to get a quantity of land on the Nashwaak. He was asked how much he wanted. He replied, 25,000 acres. They said this was too much, and he had better be content with less; and it was agreed that he should apply for 10,000 acres, which they agreed to grant, and the rest would come after. The Hon. John McMillan was surveyor General then, and the order for the survey was made. The deputy surveyed it, and Mr. Gibson paid six or seven hundred dollars for the survey. The late Government was still in power, when he went and asked them what time this land was to be advertised. They told him whenever he pleased. He had not the money at the time, and he wanted to know when it would be advertised, so that he would have the means ready to purchase it, and this was the position in which things stood when the late Government went out. The newspapers said the present Government had given to Mr. Gibson a three years’ license, so that he would not be opposed at the sale of this land. This license was given twelve months previous to the present Government’s coming into power. Therefore, all that has been said in the newspapers by the editors and their correspondents, has fallen harmless upon the present Government, but applies to the late Government. I want this particularly understood, because one-half the people of Kent are up in arms about it. There is another report which I want to allude to, and which made my blood boil when I heard it. It was said that all the “Antis” were little better than Fenians or rebels. I was elected an Anti, or, more properly speaking. an opponent of the Quebec Scheme; and. although many of my best friends are Confederates, and there are others whose opinions I value very highly, who have gone through the Province lecturing on Confederation, and telling the people that it would make the country prosper by opening up a market through the length and breadth of the Canadas. Notwithstanding this, I am still opposed to the Quebec Scheme, although my opinion may be but as a drop in the bucket, in comparison with those eloquent gentlemen, I differ from them in respect to the opening up of the Canadas as a market for our productions and manufactures. In place of its opening up Canada as a market for New Brunswick productions, it will open up New Brunswick for Canadian manufactures. This can only be decided by endeavoring to find out whether New Brunswick can under-sell Canada. I might found an argument upon an experience of twenty years, during which I have imported largely of the productions and manufactures of Canada. A few years ago the people of the North Shore were in the […]
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[…] habit of importing all their castings, boots and shoes, soap and candles, and various other articles from Canada, paying from seven and a half to twelve per cent., besides all other charges. And some still continue to import them and put them in our stores cheaper than they can be produced in New Brunswick; and. until a year or two ago, I have seen stoves, boots, shoes, and various other articles of that kind imported from Canada, paying seven and a half per cent.. and still come cheaper than the manufactures of New Brunswick. I have bought stoves from the foundries of New Brunswick which were imported from Canada, and sold to me cheaper than they could produce them themselves. A large trader in Mirimachi showed me, within nine months, a quantity of boots and shoes, which he had imported, and asked me what I thought they cost him. I said, about fifteen shillings. He said, I have paid all the expenses up to this time, and they cost me about $2.50 a pair. This was a gentleman who had advocated Confederation. I asked him what they would cost in New Brunswick. He said $3.00. I asked him how our manufactures in New Brunswick would stand after that seven and a half per cent. duty is taken off. He said that was none of his business. I might argue this matter at some length, but I will not take up the time. I shall merely say that I object to the Quebec Scheme in various ways. It will entail an extra expense upon the union of $2,000,000 a year. That is a larger amount than we can afford to pay. Another objection is representation by population. If we are joined by Nova Scotia, Prince Edward’s Island and Newfoundland, our representatives will only be forty out of one hundred and ninety-four, but it is doubtful whether we will be joined by them. Another objection to the scheme is eighty cents per head, which I consider entirely too small and too much power is given to the Parliament at Ottawa. They have the power of vetoing almost everything that is done by the local Governments. That is a power I do not wish to see taken from us.
I am a New Brunswicker by adoption, for I have lived here since the happy days of childhood, and all I hold dearest on earth live in New Brunswick. Whatever I possess of wordly goods I have made in this Province. Therefore, it has my best wishes for its prosperity, and my best services are due and shall be devoted to her services, but notwithstanding all this I am a Briton by birth, and I am proud—as, I trust, every member on the floors of this House is—to call myself a British subject. It is from Britain we look for protection and aid in our time of need. From Britain we have received whatever aid was necessary for us, and it is pretty certain that before long we will have to look to Britain again to protect our fisheries. It, therefore, becomes our interest as well as our duty to meet the wishes of the British Government, as far as is consistent with our own interests. She has expressed a wish for a union of these Provinces. There may be a great difficulty in concocting a scheme of union, but l should like to see ourselves put in a proper light in the eyes of Britain I should like to be able to say to the British Government: The Government of New Brunswick have said they do not want to go into confederation. The people have said so at the last election, an election called for the purpose of giving expression of opinion on that subject. We do not want the Quebec Scheme, we, the loyal people of New Brunswick, anxious to meet the wishes of the mother country in order to show their attachment, a scheme has been prepared which we now beg to submit, and which will show to the people of Britain that we are a loyal people. That is the position in which I should like to see us; and although I am still strongly opposed to Confederation and the Quebec Scheme, still if such a scheme could be concocted I would like to see it gone into. The first step would be to deputise an equal number of Confederates and anti-Confederates from each Province to consider a a scheme, which is to be submitted to the Legislature of the different Provinces, but before a decision is given it should go back to the people. and I have no doubt but it would meet the wishes of a large majority of the people of the County of Kent, who are now strongly opposed to the Quebec Scheme. Let me not be misunderstood. I do not want to see a scheme like the Quebec Scheme put upon the people of New Brunswick. I do not want to see a scheme that will harm us for all time to come to Canada, and place us in a condition of dependence upon her. But a scheme that will protect the best interests of the people of New Brunswick, a country in which I have lived for the past forty-six years, and the country in which I hope to die.
Mr. Gilbert.—My hon. friend, who has just taken his seat, and myself were elected to oppose a union of the British North American Colonies. We may attempt to shelter ourselves in vain, by telling the House we were pledged to oppose the Quebec Scheme, and that we can go for union in the abstract, or agree to be united politically with our sister Provinces upon any terms. I tell my hon. friend that I do not think fifty of his constituents know much about the Quebec Scheme when they voted for him. They did so because he was opposed to union. They were not prepared to give up the Constitution of this Province, or go into any political union with Canada, without having more time than two or three weeks to consider upon it. I think he would be derelict in his duty to his constituents, as I would be to mine, to vote for any kind of union, unless we had further authority from the people; therefore, I hope my hon. friend, before we get through with this debate, will look upon this question in the same light in which I look upon it, and that he will come to the conclusion that he will not be violating his pledges to his constituents of he should vote for this amendment.
As I have the honor of representing one of the most important constituencies in the Province, who contribute largely to the revenues of the country, and are deeply interested in the proper administration of the Government of the country, I should neglect my duty if I should give a silent vote upon this most important question, although it would be more consistent with my feelings to do so, as two of my colleagues are in the Government. Sir, I regret that the affairs of this country have been so conducted that it has become necessary to move a vote of want of confidence against their administration, after their having such an overflowing majority only nine months ago. The hon member from the County of Kings (Mr. Scovil) though pro per to refer to me, in the course of his speech. I did not think proper to interrupt him while speaking, because I knew from experience—we. having been schoolboys together—that he would forget his lessons if he was interrupted. I had taken no part in the debate, I do not know why he referred to me, and said I had arrived at a conclusion, not through my own judgment, but through the judgment of others. He misunderstands the person he deals with, for my hon. friend should know that this is not my character. He says it is the nature of the soil of King’s County to produce fruit after its own kind, the same which was planted; that potatoes in that County do not produce pumpkins. Sir. that was the case when Mr. Freeze and the two McLeods were the independent and intelligent representatives from that County. In those days, there was nothing servile in the members from Kings, for they would not know the knee nor listen to the winning voice of any man; but those men having gone to their long homes, the feelings of that County have changed in these latter days, and it is now a fact that potatoes in that County will grow pumpkins. and it may be that the true production of the soil of King’s County is not present in this House, which the people of King’s have sent for exhibition. and we may come to the conclusion from what we see here, that pumpkins are to be grown from potatoes in that County, the hon. member’s opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. The Chief Commissioner of the board of Works said he had never referred to the hon. mover of the amendment, except when he was present, and on no occasion had he treated him as he had been by him treated; but in that same speech he referred to Mr. Boyd, a merchant of St. John, a gentleman of high standing, who was not in the House to defend himself. This gentleman he called “an inflated bladder” Was he not sheltering himself behind the privileges of this House to commit a cowardly act, to bring in the name of a private individual, voluntarily, in this manner? Another hon. gentleman has taken occasion to refer to a gentleman who has been the leader of the late Government, and has enjoyed the confidence of the constituency of St. John for many years, and who has as much interest in the welfare of the Province as those who boast so much of their disterestedness in taking office. Has the time arrived in this country when a man is to be attacked because he thinks proper to come within the walls of this House to listen to this debate? It is acting unfairly to do so, when that gentleman has not a place on the floors of this House, and in a position to defend himself, and such a course is resorted to distract the attention of hon. members from the true issue before the House. It was for the same reason that my hon. colleague occupied fifteen minutes in trying to show that my hon. friend (Mr. Fisher) was wrong in giving notice of one form of amendment and submitting another. This had nothing to do with the question. The question before the House was, whether the general conduct of the Government was such that they should enjoy the confidence of the House? I was one of those who advised him to to make the alteration, because I thought the language used in the amendment. which he first proposed to move. and which he gave notice of, might be construed to be an undue reflection upon the neighboring […]
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[…] Republic. Neither has it anything to do with the question, as to the manner in which the hon. mover of the amendment was ushered into the world, nor whether the Provincial Secretary came into the world properly fashioned, and with full faculties, or half baked. The Provincial Secretary tried hard to prove to the House that he was not a fool, and that he was competent to multiply, and manage the financial affairs of the country. Whether it he so or not, that is not the question at issue. We can examine the public accounts, and judge of them personally. I have a high respect for my hon. friend. We have always enjoyed each other’s friendship. These questions are only dwelt upon to divert attention from the real question before the House, Another irrelevant matter brought in was the election for the County of York. Whether my hon. friend gained his election through a change of public feeling in reference to Confederation or not, we know my hon. friend was a delegate to the Conference at Quebec, and in favor of the scheme, and it was natural to conclude that his return gave evidence of a change of feeling on that question.
We find that the Government of this country in bringing this House together have propounded the nature of their policy in reference to Confederation. They promise to lay before this House the correspondence between the Mother Country and the Governor General, relating to a Union of these Colonies, and state that it is the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government that it is an object much to be desired that all the British North American Colonies should agree to unite under one Government. In reply to that a motion is made by the hon. member for Charlotte (Col. Boyd), at the instance and at the request of the Government. which in my mind, will bind this House, if adopted, to the principle of a union of these Colonies. It says:
“But in any scheme for a Union of the British North American Colonies which may be proposed, it is, in the opinion of this House, absolutely essential that full protection should be afforded to the rights and interests of the people of this Province; and no measure which fails to obtain these objects, should be adopted.”
Which means that this House is willing to adopt a scheme for the Union of the Provinces provided protection shall be afforded to the rights and interests of the people. Now the only way the details of the scheme can ever be adjusted is through the Imperial Parliament, and if we adopt this answer to the Speech, I think it is all the British Government requires us to say. What is the cause of the delay that has taken place in the other branch of the Legislature, in His Excellency’s not replying to their answer to the speech. May it not be that the reply given to that answer might indicate to the hon. members of the House before question is concluded, the construction which His Excellency and His Government put upon the answer in the Speech now under discussion. I think we commit ourselves and the Province to a union by this answer. Is the House willing to adopt it? I, for one, am not authorized to do so by the County of Westmorland. Could not His Excellency reply that he fully appreciated our apprehensions and fears, and while thanking the loyal commons of New Brunswick in meeting the wishes of the Imperial Government as far as expressing a wish to have these Colonies united. he could as sure us that the Imperial Government would carry out no scheme, unless the rights of this people are protected. And how would that be looked after? By sending a delegation to the Mother Country to see that when the Imperial Act uniting these Colonies is drawn up, our rights are protected, as we cannot do this by an Act here. Having conceded the point that we are willing to unite, the Imperial Parliament would have to carry it into effect, because if left to the different Legislatures, you would hardly get ten members to agree upon the details of the scheme. I am pledged against Union—against having a Confederate Parliament in Ottawa; therefore, as I was elected on the anti-Confederate ticket, it is my duty to my constituents to vote for this Amendment, and to vote against the Government on that section, and I trust that some hon. member will more an amendment to that section in case this amendment shall be negatived. The union of the British North American Colonies was put to this country in a very hasty manner, in consequence of which the people had not time to consider the merits of the Quebec Scheme, and union in the abstract was the question upon which they decided. Although it is the Imperial policy to unite these Colonies, yet they will not unite us unless by our own consent, because the only way in which the constitution of a free, intelligent and independent people can be changed at all, is by revolution or the consent of the people. Although the Imperial Government have the right and power to do so, they do wisely inform us that they will not pass an Imperial Act to unite these Provinces unless it is agreeable with the wishes of the people of this country. If we adopt this paragraph in the Address, we at once forego all further legislation in the matter. The details would be settled upon by an “Imperial Act., and all they want is our consent to be united. Upper and Lower Canada were united by merely giving their consent to a union in the abstract. The Imperial Parliament, by an Imperial Act, settled all the details and united those two Provinces together without submitting any particular scheme for their approval. Therefore, if we pass the answer to the Speech, we will be passive in the hands of the British Government. We convey to the British Government by this Address, through His Excellency. the idea that we agree in the opinion that it would be desirable to unite with the other Colonies, provided our interests are looked after in the details, and that is all that is required by the British Government, but it is not what my constituents sent me here to vote for. The Quebec Scheme should have been debated in this House before it went to the people. The were called upon at six weeks notice to adopt a scheme to change the whole constitution of the country. It was unreasonable to expect the people of this country to adopt a new constitution at so short a notice. I had doubts about it, although it is well known to the hon. members of this House, and particularly to my hon. friend, Mr. Anglin, that I some years ago advocated the principle of Union, and contributed an article to the columns of the Freeman, in 1863, expressing that opinion, from which I will read an extract:
“As an individual is justified by all honorable and laudable means to promote and raise his position in the social scale, so are a people as a country justified by like means in endeavoring to occupy a proud position in the scale of nations. these Colonies, separated as the now are, one from the other, are isolated and weak; but unite them by this great highway, join them together in bonds of social fellowship, connect them commercially with one tariff, one postal arrangement, one currency. and what will be the sure and certain result? Why it is inevitable, it will be a political connection. Then the ambition and aspirations of our people to have a country which they may call their own, and to speak of their country, would be realized.”
In 1863 I also expressed an opinion in favor of the Inter-Colonial Railway, and in favor of uniting these Colonies, on the floors of this House. To show this, I will read an extract from a report of a speech which l delivered in this House that year. published in the Head Quarters:
“He looked upon this railway from a broad point of view. It would tend to bind the Provinces together, and bring them into close political and commercial relations, and lead to the three Provinces adopting one political arrangement, one tariff, one currency, and eventually raise these three disjointed Provinces into a great country, inhabited by a great people, possessing a literature and a scientific reputation of its own, and having a Legislature that would command the respect of the world.”
Feeling, as I have always felt, an anxious desire to promote the best interests of my native Province and feeling that it would be best promoted by being united with our sister Colonies, which union must bring about connection by railway, and lead to other benefits, and that unless that connection took place, we must ineviably become united to the neighboring Republic; and being descended from the Loyalists, who had taken up arms in defence of British institutions, I am not prepared to place myself or my posterity in a position that, should we become annexed to the United States a time might come when myself or posterity would be called upon to take up arms to fight against the mother country. Wishing, therefore, to perpetuate British institutions in this country, I have always entertained a desire to see these British North American Provinces united as one Colony with a combined interest under the protection of Great Britain. I have always entertained those opinions, but I was not prepared at so short a notice to agree to a union based upon the Quebec Scheme, for I considered that it required further deliberation before we should accept it. Neither were the people in the County of Westmorland in favor of it at the late election in March, and I should resign my seat before voting in favor of a union of these Colonies, either the abstract, by implication, or any other way. I expressed feelings in favor of union at the last general election, but I gave reasons why l came out in opposition to so hasty a desire to bring about a union under the Quebec Scheme; and pledged myself most positively to oppose it. When solemn pledges are made to the people, upon which a man is elected to this House, […]
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[…] they should be holden sacred. I am not the man to violate them. It might be proper and correct in questions affecting the domestic policy of the Province, affecting our public works or any other great leading interest connected with our own local affairs, that even an honorable member of this House has conscienciously changed his opinion from those he was pledged to observe at the hustings, to vote in this House according to his changed opinions. and in opposition to his pledges, because a member of this House represents not only a local constituency but also the whole people, and because at the next election his successor, should he be not returned, could repeal in effect at his vote, and a succeeding House could undo what a previous House had done. Such cases have often happened in England and in the Colonies. We all know the course Sir Robert Peel took in reference to free trade, although pledged to his constituents to support a high protective policy. But in cases of that kind a man might be justified to act different from his pledges and take the consequences, but this is not a parallel case. This Confederation strikes at the whole Constitution of the country, strikes at the Constitution of this House, and, if carried. no subsequent House could alter or repeal what we might do. No subsequent House could retrace the steps which we had taken. Like the fall of a tree, a subsequent House would be lifeless. The act had been committed; therefore, Sir, no member could justify himself before his country, however much his opinions might have changed in reference to the desirability of a union, to vote for it in this House when he is pledged to his constituents to vote against it. I shall not do so, although I am convinced of the desirability of being confederated and of uniting with our sister Colonies But unless I get further authority from my constituents, I cannot go for it. I am prepared, should my constituents want my services, to go back to them at the next election in favor of Confederation, favor of carrying out the supreme wishes of the mother country on this question. Leaving this subject for the present, I have other good reasons for voting against the Government.
The Government have been guilty of maladministration in the affairs of the Crown Land Department. They try to throw blame on the late Government. We are not here to-day to try the wrongs of the late Government or any previous Government. If the late Government should have issued an order of survey for every acre of the public land in this Province, to sell all the lands of the country to one man, would you justify this Government if they had carried it out, and sold all the lands of the country to one individual. If the late Government thought proper to issue an order for survey to lock up in the hands of one individual land to the extent of 15,000 acres, which is nearly as large as the whole Parish of Dorchester, the present Government were not bound to carry it out. I came not here to say whether the late Government did right or wrong. I am not here to advocate the late Government, for I frequently gave them opposition on questions in which I thought they were wrong. The late Government thought proper to issue an order for survey, and if the incoming Government thought a great wrong was going to he done to the people of this country, by granting to one than 15,000 acres in fee simple for all time to come, they should have refunded the money paid for the survey to the man for whom the survey was made, for the policy of the Government should be to defend the interests of the people in preference to subserving the private interests of a private individual. In England we see cases where companies am subsidized to run a line of steamships. The company has to run the risk of the policy of the incoming Government in respect to the continuation of the subsidy and it is no breach of faith to withhold it. So in this case, there would have been no breach of faith whatever, for the duty the Government owed to the people of this country was of far more importance than to comply with the wishes of a private individual, however enterprising he may be. Talk about the wrongs of Ireland, and I know she has wrongs. for if ever there was a downtrodden country it is Ireland. This wrong has been brought about by the same system this Government is now pursuing, that is, locking up large blocks of land which should belong to the yeomenry of this country. The occupier of the land should own the land, and this principle of serfdom should not be introduced into this country. Notwithstanding the expression of opinion by my hon friend from the County of Kent (Mr. Caie), the people of that County will say, the land of this country belongs to the people of this country, who have to roll the black logs and pile the black stumps, and cannot afford to pay rent to any man. We must avoid the errors of the mother country and take lessons from the wrongs and errors done to Ireland, in order to pursue a different course. It may be very well to gratify the wishes of any private individual to sell him a large block of land, but we must reflect that in so doing we legislate for all time to come, and introduce into this country, in future time, n a system ruinous to the future welfare of the country, and for which our posterity will blame us, for it is natural to suppose that if we lock up whole Townships, by adopting the same course that has been adopted in Ireland, the same effects will be produced. I condemn the Government most particularly on that point, for I do not think the late Government committed the incoming Government to any line of policy, and they would have been guilty of no breach of faith if they had withheld the grant, and reimbursed the individual for the costs of survey. During the last sitting of the Legislature I expressed disappointment in the conduct of the Government, because they had no policy. I could not suppose that men would come together under our system having a constitutional and departmental Government, without having some line of policy. In England they often form a Government over night, and a full policy is arranged, otherwise the Government could not be formed. If it be announced to the representatives of Her Majesty in this Province, that they have succeeded in forming a Government, the idea is conveyed that that Government has adopted some policy under which they intend to administer the affairs of the country. Confederation was settled at the polls, and the Government of the mother country have informed us that they will not legislate away our rights until we consent. The Government should have been formed upon local policy, in a colony where a depart mental and responsible Government is established. Why then did the Government prescribe men, because they sympathised with the imperial policy, over which policy this local Government could have no control, any further than by expressing in a despatch to the mother country that our own people had decided against it? The wished of the people having been expressed at the ballot box against the scheme, the local Government could only be formed on a local policy, and not antagonistic to the imperial policy, whatever that may be. Suppose there was- going to be a war between England and any power in any part of Europe or the neighboring Republic, and we should get up an anti-war party, or party in favor of war, would it be right to form a Government in this province on either of those principles if it interfered with the policy of the Imperial Government? Not at all. The Government must be formed on local grounds to carry out the local wants and requirements of the country; from what has transpired during the debate, from the statements made by my hon. friend Mr. Wilmot, it would appear that His Excellency sent for him and my colleague to form the administration, and it would seem that notwithstanding Mr. Wilmot had had great political experience. had been the leading mind in a previous Government, had great knowledge of the commercial and agricultural wants of the country; that my colleague took upon himself the exclusive right of the formation of the Government, and brought men together in that Government without any policy. and upon no known principle. I find no fault at the personal of the Government, and particularly none to my colleague. (Mr. Botsford being taken in as Surveyor General. I expressed myself at the time, satisfied at his appointment. I find fault that they started upon a do nothing system.
The House of Assembly was called together on the 27th day of April last, and, the Speech from the Throne was delivered, but there was no policy in it: the great interests which should occupy the attention of the administration of the country was completely ignore. The most important interest is the settlement of the country, by which we get an increase of labor, which increases the wealth of the country. This important interest was not mentioned in the Speech. We were left in doubt as to the Legislative enactments that stood in the way of the completion of our Railroads, and the educational institutions of the country were, not alluded to. I then thought proper to rise in my place and ask for information but l was denounced by my hon. colleague the leader of the Government, who said he did not wish my support. At that time the Government had in their possession an important despatch from the Mother Country in reference to a Union of the Colonies. which if known to the House at that time, would have obviated the necessity of sending a delegation home to England. If I had known of it, I would have moved an address to have it laid before the House. I believed at that time that the Mother Country did not fully endorse a Union of the Colonies. I believed at that time that the Canadians concocted the Scheme to redress their own private wrongs, but I do not believe it now. I believed too at that time that they did not intend to build the Intercolonial Railway, but wished to go into a Union for the purpose of getting over […]
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[…] some local difficulties respecting representation by population. I did not know at the last session this Union was so fully and completely approved of and endorsed by the Imperial Government, and therefore I voted to send a delegation to England to represent our opinions on the question. I should not have voted for that delegation had I read that despatch, which was in the possession of the Government at the time and withheld from the House, for I would then have understood the true policy of the British Government. They do not have one policy to-day and another tomorrow; they do not come to a conclusion very hastily upon any matter. After making enquiry into all that related to the Colonies, and the prospect of the Reciprocity Treaty being abrogated, they had made up their minds maturely. They have, no doubt, like other men, erred in managing the affairs of this great Empire, but they do not arrive at an hasty conclusion, one that can be repealed by our sending a delegation to have an interview of a few hours, even although it consisted of two of our ablest men. I should have thought, however, that one delegate was sufficient. The late Attorney General should have been left to look after the business of the country, while the President of the Council would have been competent to have made all the representations to the British Government that was necessary. By this arrangement there would have been a saving of five hundred pounds to the tax-payer”: of this Province. The last two delegations sent home by the late Government to make arrangements concerning the building of Railroads cost only $900 each, while this delegation cost $3,558, which is a larger sum than was given last year for all our bye roads in the County of Westmorland. I think they compete with the Government of the Mother Country, collectively and individually, in reference to their great British Colonial policy without having a conferee to assist him, but this delegation should not have been sent at all, and I do not believe it would have been sent if the Government, during the sitting of the House at the last session, had communicated to the House information which they had of the views of the Mother Country upon the question. We should economize the public money. I have always opposed delegations. The basis of all Governments is money, without which we cannot pay our liabilities, or keep up with the requirements or the improvements of the country; therefore, we should look closely into the way in which the public money is expended, and although two or three thousand dollars is a small amount yet there in a principle involved in it that when money is squandered it is our duty to express our dissatisfaction; and so it is our duty to express our dissatisfaction when the Government violate the known laws of the country. What puts the criminal in the box? It is for violating the laws of his country. Should we then permit the Government, who violate the known laws of the country, as I can show their Governmental power and influence. Some years ago, in a conflict like this, my late brother, who was then a member of this House, and in whose political school I was trained, said that the Government of that day had violated the laws of the country in not appointing commissioners to build the Railroad, as required by law, they having taken it upon themselves to build it by private individuals. There was a principle involved in this, and my hon. colleague Mr. Smith, and my late brother, were side by side on that question. They said, if we allow the Government to violate the laws of the country in one instance, where would they stop them? The Government of the day was defeated on this principle. I can show a like principle involved in this debate. (Mr. Gilbert then read the law regarding the appointment of Auditor General, and continued.) Here is the law which is just as much the law of the land as the law which creates this Parliament given the electors the right to vote, or gives the candidates the right to offer for this House. If you look at the public accounts, you will find some $25,000 remaining in the hands of the deputies at the end of the present year, scattered throughout the Province. The Auditor General stands between the Government and the people, to audit, examine and vouch all accounts, he having a judicial power to summon witnesses from any part of the Province, and examine them on oath, in explanation of proof and vouchers. Have not the Government violated the laws of the country in not appointing this officer? What can a Government do to cause the representatives of the people to withhold their confidence from them, if that is not sufficient?
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