New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [Amendment to the Address] (27 March 1866)


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Date: 1866-03-27
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly [1866] at 61-67.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.

Tuesday, March 27.

[…]

The adjourned debate on the amendment to the address stood for twelve o’clock, but was not taken up until the afternoon, when Mr. Gilbert resumed.

Mr. Gilbert [referring to a question put by him to hon. member from St. John (Mr. Anglin) calling on him to make known the reasons of his resignation.] said he thought his hon. colleague (Attorney General) had forgotten that he stated to the House that he did not give his reasons for resigning his seat as an Executive Councillor. He (Mr. Gilbert) had a distinct recollection that he did, and they were put in the Journals of the House as a Matter of record. He had called upon the hon. member of St. John (Mr. Anglin) to give his reasons for leaving the Government, and he had been told that it was an extraordinary thing to ask that information; but he would tell his hon. friend that he had not done his duty to the country, in not making them known. For his own part he wished to understand the full reasons of his resignation, as it was important that everything should be known that had a bearing upon the question under discussion. He would now resume.

With regard to the great question of the union of the Colonies, and he spoke with all due deference to the able men of the Confederate party, who had framed the measure, he thought that they did submit the scheme in far too hasty a manner. It would not, he conceived, have added to the character of the people of the Province for prudence and sagacity, to have accepted it without deliberation and without demanding more time for serious reflection. But since the first submittal of the scheme, they had had many important considerations brought before their notice that clearly demonstrated the propriety of effecting the union of the Provinces. They had been authoritatively informed by dispatches from the Colonial Secretary, that it was the expressed and avowed policy of Her Majesty’s Government, that union should take place. They had been made to understand that it was the desire of that Government not to have Canada pulling one way, Nova Scotia pulling in another, and New Brunswick in another, but to have them all united under one General Government, with one policy and one interest. Though the sectional difficulties of the Canadas had he confessed, in the first instance stared the question, there were other reasons that had urged it on. The mother county had looked to the state of feeling towards herself in the neighboring Republic, and to its aggressive spirit; she had seen that the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty was certain to happen, and viewing the question of union of these Colonies as one not alone affecting themselves, but in the interests of the empire at large. She desired their consolidation in order to continue British institutions in America. These were the reasons why she had taken so positive a stand and had expressed a determination that the union of the Colonies should take place. And she looked to the vast county that stretched north of the Lakes, from Labrador to the Polar Sea, from British Columbia to Baffin Bay. She looked to the Canadas with their fertile lands, […]

  •             (p. 62)

[…] and their products of grain, and saw that in the event of the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, the products of that vast, boundless and rich territory would not be allowed to find their way to the seaboard through a hostile country. She saw that the Americans, from necessity would have to put all sorts of embargoes on goods; that on account of their vast debt that it would become absolutely necessary to impose very heavy taxes, almost amounting to prohibition; that they would be driven by necessity to that course, and finding their Canadian neighbors compelled to send their products through their territory, they would be subjected to very heavy imports. Therefore, in view of the commercial interests of the Canadas, it would become absolutely necessary to have the Provinces confederated, and that would lead to the building of an Inter- colonial Railway. It appeared from the delays and difficulties attending the action of three separate Legislatures to have been found almost impracticable to build that railway out of union. It was absolutely necessary for the prosperity of the country that it should be built. It had become an absolute necessity to have means for the constant transport for the ever increasing products of the Canadas. At the merchant’s wharves at Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, immense stores of grain and flour were piled up, and had to remain there during the winter months, subject to deterioration and loss, for want of speedy and commodious transport to the seaboard. The absolute necessity of an Inter-colonial Railway, as thus shown, might be one of the reasons why the British Government desired that the Provinces should be united in one compact.

Mr. Gilbert then proceeded to speak of the policy of the Government on the question of Union, and to contrast their present position with that they held last winter. He quoted from the Speech of last winter the following paragraph, and the reply thereto:

“At the request of the Governor General of Canada, and with the approbation of the Queen, I also appointed delegates to a Conference of Representatives of the British North American Colonies, held in Quebec in the month of October last, with a view of arranging the terms of a Federal Union of British North America. The Resolutions agreed to by this Conference appeared to me so important in their character, and their adoption fraught with consequences so materially affecting the future condition and well being of British America, that in order to enable the people of New Brunswick to give expression to their wishes on the subject, I determined to dissolve the then existing House of Assembly. I now submit these Resolutions to your judgment.”

“We thank your Excellency for the assurance that the correspondence be tween the Imperial Government and your Excellency, relating to this subject, will be laid before us.”

He considered that there was no resemblance in either speech or answer of last year to the speech and reply of this session. He asked hon. members to look at the present speech:

“I have received Her Majesty’s commands to communicate to you a Correspondence on the affairs of British North America, which has taken place between Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor General for Canada; and I am further directed to express to you the strong and deliberate opinion of her Majesty’s Government, that it is an object much to he desired, that all the British North American Colonies should agree to unite in one Government. These papers will immediately be laid before you.”

The Government, by this paragraph in the Speech endorsed the policy of Her Majesty’s Government. The Governments, when they therein said that Union the policy of the British Government, must expect that the House would give an affirmative answer. There was no doubt about that. But that Union was in reality the policy now of the Government, (though some might think from the way it was foreshadowed in the Speech. that that policy was very ambiguous.) there seemed to him no doubt. He would call the attention of the House to the paragraph in the reply to the Speech:

“11. The Correspondence which has taken place between Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor General of Canada on the affairs of British North America, when laid before us will receive due attention, and the opinion expressed by Her Majesty’s Government will command that respect and attention which is due to suggestions emanating from so high a source; 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.”

That plainly, he conceived, showed that Union was the policy of the Government. It was thus clearly seen that they had stultified their former position; whereas last year they were opposed, they were this year committed, to the policy of Union. Then since Union was their policy, how were the Government going to move in the matter? He had been informed that the Government would not be called upon to vote upon any of the details, (they knew they could not get ten men to agree in one single point, or carry a scheme in detail,) but they would only be asked to affirm the general principle. All that the Mother Country was anxious about was to get the approval of the House to the general question of Union, that carried, the British Government’ would arrange the details in England with the advice of men from the Province who would be there to look after their interests. The House would see that it would not be necessary to vote upon the details of the Quebec Scheme or any other Scheme. Nothing would be necessary than to pass a resolution in favor of Union. That was all that was expected of New Brunswick. For his own part he would not be justified by the duty ne owed to his constituents to vote for any such proposition.

Let hon. members read carefully the speeches of last year, and of the present and note the difference between them, and the result of the analysis would be to convince the House that the Government had entered into a solemn agreement that the present House would be committed to union. His hon. colleague (Attorney General) said now, that he was willing to go for union and the cardinal point of representation by population, provided he could get in the upper branch of the Legislature some check to that principle. How could he reconcile his present position on union with that taken by him last year? How reconcile the Government policy of union with their celebrated Minute of Council, when they were as far distant from each other as the North was from the South? His hon. colleague talked. about checks In the Upper House, to the principle of representation by population. But what check could there be unless it came from the people themselves? Would his hon. colleague say that fifteen representatives for New Brunswick in the Lower House in the general confederated Parliament, would not be sufficient if the proportion of representation for the Lower Provinces remained as it was under the scheme? Would any one say that it would be a sufficient safeguard to the Province if the Lower House sought to over-ride its rights to have that increased representation in the Upper Branch? (Here the hon. member referred, in illustration of his argument that the Upper House could not check encroachment, by pointing to the British House of Lords—the most powerful and peculiarly privileged political body in the world—to show that even that august body was unable to check the popular principle. He gave as an instance the passage of the first Reform Bill in England, when in the face of the resolution of the majority of the House of Lords to oppose it, they with the Iron Duke at their head, had been forced to give way to the determination of the people that the Bill should pass ) If his hon. colleague said he would agree to representation by population, if neutralized by some check in the upper branch, he was, knowing, as he must, how powerless any check there would be to the popular principle, in fact a thorough-going and as strong a unionist as George Brown himself.

Leaving now the question of Confederation, and the uncertain, not to say ambiguous position of the Government in reference to it, he would come to another matter. In condemning it, he would give it as a very strong reason why he voted against them and for the amendment. He would ask the House to look at the correspondence of Mr. Wilmot with the Government on the subject of his resignation. After reading that correspondence, and considering calmly the remarks that gentleman had made in explanation of his position, he came to the conclusion that the Government was not a truthful Government. Mr. Wilmot said that His Excellency in Council, at the time the Minute of Council was drawn up, had referred to him as not opposed to the abstract principle of union He had also given in evidence the authority of the present Judge Allen, that he had expressed strong sentiments in favor of union before he went to Canada. The Government had contravened these statements, and said that that honorable gentleman had got converted in Canada and had more than hinted at influences brought to bear upon him, to induce a sudden change of opinion. But Mr. […]

  •             (p. 63)

[…] Wilmot, in the course of this debate, had drawn from a member of the Government an admission that he was correct in his statements. The Provincial Secretary had been forced to admit that what Mr. Wilmot had said was true. Was it not, he would ask hon. members, a humiliating fact that the Government had been obliged to state on the floors of the House, that their statement in this public document was not the fact? That admission on their part was, he conceived, enough to induce hon. members to refuse their confidence to the Government, and to vote for the amendment.

The leader of the Government, the hon. member of the Government proceeded to say hed [sic] taken a very active part in the Governor’s salary question. Those hon. members who were in the House when it was defeated, would remember the force of the speeches made by his hon. colleague on that question,—how he made the halls of the Legislature ring with the fervor of his eloquence. From a report of one of his speeches, in the Head Quarters newspaper, he found that he (Attorney General) then argued that it was not money alone, but a great constitutional question was involved in the debate. The resolution to reduce the Governor’s salary was not carried; but the question was settled in such a manner as to be understood that the Governor should receive it at the old rate. He (Mr. Gilbert) with his humble abilities, supported him in the position he (Attorney General) took. But what did they find, now that his hon. colleague was no longer in the Opposition, but the leader of a Government? Turning to the public accounts, he (Attorney General) had allowed the Governor to draw his salary at the advanced rate. (Here the hon. member quoted from the public accounts in proof, and showed that the private secretary, whose salary was also involved in the question, had received £50 more than he was entitled to under the old rate.) Here they found his hon. colleague, who had taken so bold a stand then, on that question, now bending the servile knee.

It was said the other day, in England. by Mr. D’Israeli, that it was an honor to be elected over to the Speaker’s chair, but that it was a far higher honor to be elected twice. That saying might be applied to those members who had been elected twice to represent the same constituency. It showed that, in the fulfillment of their first trust they had done their duty and had earned the confidence of their constituents. With regard to himself, he had twice had the honor of representing the constituency of Westmorland. When he first came to the House he came opposed to the policy of the Government, of which the Attorney General was then a member. Now it was rumored that he was indebted for his present seat in the Legislature to his hon. colleague, that it was his influence that had carried him in. He denied that there was any ground for the rumor. During the last election his colleague and himself had been thrown together by the force of public opinion; it was on the great question that was then agitating the mind of the country that they had come together. He knew that he had lost a vast number of votes on account of his opposition to Confederation. It was the force of public opinion, as he had said, that had thrown them together, and it was the current of public opinion in the country running against the Quebec Scheme that had carried them into the House. The County of Westmorland might be entirely under the guidance of his hon. colleague; but when it was said that he (Mr. Gilbert) was returned by his influence, an assertion was made that was not founded on fact. From what he knew of the County of Westmorland he did not think that it lay under the dictation of his colleague or any other man. With reference to the position his colleague and himself stood with regard to each other, they had been opposed almost on every question that had come up. On the subject of law reform he had been opposed by his colleague, and whenever he had brought any measure into the House he had most generally met with opposition from that quarter. His hon. colleague, the leader of the Government, was in the habit of saying that he was not actuated by desire for office. No doubt, when he expressed himself as uninfluenced by considerations of emolument. or personal aggrandizement, he did so in order to give weight to his arguments. But what weight was there in all those professions of disinterestedness? What had the hon. members found when this Government was first formed? Why, they found the leader of the Government elevated above all his confreres and elected President of the Council, an office never before heard of in any Government of the Province. He had heard of statues being raised to men who had done some memorable deed, who had performed some signal service to their country; he had read of men being honored for deeds that ought to be commemorated, but he would ask any hon. member to point to one single measure that had for its object the improvement of the country that the leader of the Government had introduced; he would any hon. member to show if he had ever done anything that had been useful to the country to show any reason why he should be elevated above his fellows. They would look in vain, they would entirely fail to show why he should be considered worthy of extraordinary honor. Was not his taking the office of President of the Council a direct contradiction of his repeated assertions that he was not actuated by the desire of office; that he was not influenced by pride and vain glory? Did it not prove that he, after all, was actuated by the motives and feelings that influenced ordinary men? And that he was as eager as the most ordinary man (notwithstanding he made a boast, and said he cared not for office.) for its position and emoluments. Mr. Gilbert then proceeded to refer to the Crown Land investigation, and the position taken by his colleague towards Mr. Fisher, then Attorney General of the Government, of which he was a member without office. Before the report of the committee of investigation was submitted, before there was evidence of the extent to which Mr. Fisher was implicated in the Crown Lands transactions, it was said his colleague made a most damaging speech against Mr. Fisher, and when Mr. Fisher left the Government, his hon. colleague accepted the vacated position of Attorney General. And further, notwithstanding that he had denounced, in the strongest terms, the jobbing in the Crown Lands of the Province, although he should have been the man, above all men, who should have investigated the transaction; notwithstanding he had denounced the taking up of large blocks of valuable lands by Mr. Inches and said they had been obtained fraudulently. He never moved in the matter, but, on the contrary, himself became the purchaser from Mr. Inches, and possessor of very large quantities of that very property; and, moreover, he had reinstated Mr. Inches in the office.

His then colleague had denounced the Inter-colonial Railway in the very strongest terms. He had said that it would be the ruin of the country. In the celebrated memorandum, in which he set forth his reason for resigning his seat in the Government. speaking of the Inter-colonial Railway, he said that if it was built, that it would entail such an amount of debt upon the Province, that posterity would have to live upon the cold meat of yesterday. But where did they find his hon. colleague now? They found him not only willing to build the Inter-colonial Railway, but any amount of railways, at six per cent. He did not wish to talk in an offensive vein, but how could he justify his position now, when he remembered his former position. Then he prophesied ruin and desolation if the Province carried out its Railway policy. Now he was perfectly willing to pledge the credit of the Province to any amount, and build any quantity of Railroads. Let the House mark the inconsistency of his hon. friend. Notwithstanding his re peated avowals that he would not accept office; notwithstanding that he told the warm-hearted people of the County of Westmorland that he cared not for office, that it was his proudest wish and sole aim to attend to their interests, to serve them, and to do the country good. Notwithstanding all these disinterested declarations, they found him taking an office with £ 600 a year attached, as soon as a vacancy occurred, and that the election came off in the shortest possible time. He did not wish to throw out any insinuation against the worthy Sheriff of the County, but he would say that when he appointed the election to come off ten days after the writ was issued, he took the very sharpest time the law allowed.

Mr. Gilbert then proceeded to give details about the Westmorland election, throughout which he had been accused of taking a very active part in opposition to his hon. colleague, and in bringing out Mr. Palmer; and, in consequence of the course he had taken, it was said a strong feeling against himself had been manifested by the people of the County. On the day of nomination he met his hon. colleague on the hustings, and it had been published throughout the length and breadth of the land, that in reply to his colleague’s attack upon him he (Mr. G.) could not get a hearing. That was false. When he did rise to answer the attack, he was prevented from speaking for about fifteen minutes by an uproar round the hustings; that that noise and uproar was quelled, and he had afterwards the satisfaction of addressing the people of Westmorland for three quarters of an hour. It was the largest assemblage he had ever seen, on any occasion, in the County. The people might have been counted by the acre. When it was known that Palmer had withdrawn from the […]

  •             (p. 64)

[…] contest, the announcement fell on that vast assembly like a great calamity. The reason why Mr. palmer did not run was that he did not wish to expend a great deal of money in contesting the election.

Attorney General—Did his colleague mean to say money had any influence in carrying an election in Westmorland?

Mr. Gilbert.—He believed the constituency of Westmorland was as pure as any in the Province.

He would now come to another charge against the Government. If he had other reasons for giving the Government his opposition, the mode they had adopted in their appointment to the Judicial Bench would be sufficient. Without saying a word in disparagement of Judge Ritchie, he held that the exercise of their prerogative in appointing him to the position of Chief Justice and passing over Judge Wilmot, was unjust. Judge Wilmot had done great service for his country. and he deserved better treatment from their hands. In years gone by, when this Province lay under the rule of an oligarchy, and its dignities and its offices were monopolized by the system of family compactism that then prevailed, he remembered well hearing within the walls of this legislative hall, that system of Government denounced by the present Judge Wilmot. By the powers of his great eloquence, and the daring and straightforward course he pursued, he succeeded in introducing into this Province the system of Departmental and Responsible Government it now enjoyed. In the profession, his abilities as a lawyer had been decried, because he would not bring down his great mind to the petty technical details. But in his grasp of the great principles of law, though he might be equalled by some, he was surpassed by none. If the Government had gone outside the Bench, and appointed some member of the profession to the position, he would have said nothing. But having gone to the Bench to make the appointment of Chief Justice, they ought to have taken the Judge by seniority, and appointed Judge Wilmot as being the senior puisne Judge of the Province.

He felt bound to tell the Government that one of the Commissioners of the Railway had now in his hands from £500 to £600 of the money of the Province, which had not been accounted for. He meant Mr. Scovil, and he alluded to the purchase by him of the House known as the Adams House, which property he had purchased for the Government from Mr. Turner, and which had been sold by Mr. Scovil at the suit of Mrs. Bell, and the proceeds used to discharge a private debt owed by him to her. He was sorry to be obliged to mention this, and to drag the i of Mr. Scovil (who was brother-in-law to his hon. colleague) before the public; but he felt it his duty to bring the matter up, as the government ought to have taken action by this time, and had the money refunded. The loss occasioned to the Province, as appeared from the public accounts of the present year, on account of this transaction, was no less a sum than $1,857.47, being the deficency after crediting the Province for the amount for which the property had been sold. that amount was more than half the amount expended on by-roads for the County of Westmorland during the last year.

At the beginning of the debate a great deal had been said of the endeavor made in the Province during the excitement of the last election, and the alarm raised by the Fenian movement set class against class, creed against creed, and to prejudice the Roman Catholics in the minds of the Protestant community. For his own part, he believed that if any difficulty arose that would call upon the inhabitants to defend their Province against invasion, there was no class who would answer the call to arms more readily, or defend their homes and firesides more bravely than that class through whose veins Celtic blood flowed, for the Irishman was loyal to his heart’s core; he was loyal to his religion, and he was loyal to his Queen, loyal to the country of his birth, and to his country by adoption. 

Mr. Gilbert then concluded by saying that it was his intention to vote for the amendment.

Hon. Mr. Botsford had not intended to make any remarks on the subject which now engrossed the attention of the House, as it had already been so full debated, and he had not yet quite recovered from a severe attack of sickness, but he reluctantly felt compelled to offer some observations in reference to the charges preferred against the Department over which he presided, and if, in the heat of debate, anything should fall from him calculated to wound the feelings of any hon. member of the House, he would deeply regret it; but he could subscribe to the proposition of Mr. Williston, when he depreciated the personalities used by the speakers who had preceded him in this debate, excusing the members of the Opposition and attaching all the blame to the members of the Government and its supporters. Mr. Botsford would ask Mr. W. who first made the attack? the terms, “mean, low political pigmies,” “traitors,” &c., freely used by the Opposition, could not but call forth a corresponding response, and arouse the strongest feelings of indignation in the members of the Government to which he belonged.

Before entering on the discussion of the charges made against his Department, he would refer to some of the charges and gross personal attacks made the hon. member who preceded him. and he had listened with astonishment at the unfair and unmanly attacks made by him on the private character of a gentleman who was not here to defend himself, and which he considered a gross slander. He alluded to the charge of embezzlement against R. C. Scovil, Esq, a gentleman of high standing, respectability and integrity, and which charges Mr. Gilbert would not have dared to utter in the County where he resides, and he could only tell that hon. gentleman that Mr. Scovil’s character would in no way be injured by such assertions,. for Mr. Scovil stood as far above him in Westmorland as the beams of the noonday sun outshine those of the moon. 

That hon. member has stated that he was elected to oppose any union with the Canadas, and that the Quebec Scheme has not the test question at the last general election. Mr. Botsford’s constituents in Westmorland are quite conversant with the platform on which the members were then returned, and the principles they were pledged to maintain, and it will be interesting to trace Mr. Gilbert’s inconsistent conduct from the late general election up to the present time. Every one knows that the present Government was formed expressly on the principle of antagonism to the Quebec Scheme, and when his honor the Speaker was proposed for that office by the hon. member for Charlotte, Mr. McClellan, a strong Confederate and supporter of the Quebec Scheme, was nominated in opposition, and Mr. Gilbert’s vote is to be found recorded on the Journals against the present Speaker, and thereby ignoring the very principle he had solemnly pledged himself to maintain. We next find that when the address in answer to the speech last session was under consideration, he made a violent onslaught on the Government and their policy, notwithstanding they had only been a few days in office; then again when the Militia Bill, brought in by the late Attorney General (Judge Allen), was discussed, we find his hon. colleague in direct opposition to the Government, and voting against the main principle of the Bill. The only measure that met the approval of Mr. Gilbert was the resolution authorizing a delegation to proceed to England, for the purpose of counteracting any false impression made on the British Government by the Canadians, which Mr. G thought was fully justified at that time, but now states that he recalls that vote for the flimsey reason that a despatch received after his vote, and only a few days before the close of the session, was not published. It reminded him the Irishman and his pig which Paddy was driving to a neighbor who had bought him. After a good deal of difficulty, Paddy succeeded in getting him on the right road. As he was proceeding along the road, he met a neighbor, who accosted him and asked where he was going. Paddy said to Mr. Caleroft’s, a contrary way to that which he was in; his neighbor replied he was wrong, he was in the road to Mr. Bandon’s, the person who had bought the pig. “Whist!” says Paddy, “if the contrary devil hears that he will go the wrong way.” And so Mr. Gilbert when he finds that he has once been on the right road, like Paddy’s pig, will take the other. My hon. colleague says that when he saw the memorable minute of Council which has caused so much excitement and has been styled insulting to the British Government, he highly approved of it, and endorsed every word. That Minute of Council was written when the Hon. Mr. Smith was in England, and the Government had done nothing since to offend Mr. Gilbert; but when the leader of the Government, after much solicitation, accepted the Attorney Generalship, and he had to return to his constituents. We next find Mr. Gilbert heading an opposition to defeat him. Circulars were addressed to every leading Confederate in Westmorland, requesting their attendance at the office of Mr. Steadman, one of the defeated candidates, and a strong advocate of the Quebec Scheme. Mr. Gilbert was chairman of the meeting (which he denies, but admits he was at it), A.L. Palmer. Esq., a defeated Confederate candidate before, was nominated at the opening of the poll, and Mr. Gilbert will remember the failure of his attempt to reply to the Attorney General, before about 2,000 of his constituents, and the indignant rumblings then heard were a sufficient warning of what […]

  •             (p. 65)

[…] Mr. G. may expect when he next solicits the support of the electors of Westmorland, whose confidence he has so shamefully betrayed.

The Surveyor General then enumerated the charges against his Department, as follows: 1st. A sale of 5,000 acres of land to Mr. Gibson—10,000 acres ordered to be sold by the late Government, and twenty-seven acres granted to Mr. Gibson to make up a deficiency in a sale to Mr. Chipman.

He called the attention of the House, in the first place, to the 2d, 3d and 4th sections of the Land Regulations, which are as follows:

2d. All applications shall be addressed by petition in the annexed form, to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, and transmitted to the Surveyor General.

3d. If the application be approved of, and the land applied for be not already surveyed, a warrant shall forthwith issue to authorize the survey to be executed at the expense of the applicant. No lot shall exceed two hundred acres.

4th On the return of the survey, the description of the Land, the time and place of sale. and the upset price, will be announced in the Royal Gazette, and also by handbills publicly posted in the County where the land lies, at least twenty days previous to the day of sale.

Also to the order of Council in 1862.

“That pending the negotiations for the construction of the Inter-colonial Railway, none of the Crown Lands of this Province shall be sold, except with the condition of actual settlement attached.”

That order only continued in force as long as the Act of Assembly for promoting the construction of the Inter-colonial Railway, and it expired on the 10th of April, 1865, and so the rule became a dead letter.

Mr. Botsford then showed, beyond a doubt. that the non-publication of the repeal of that order had no effect whatever one way or another on the sale of lands. That people continued to apply as before, who had no intention of complying with the conditions of actual settlement, ever since 1862. Such, for instance, as I believe the Hon. John Ferguson, 200 acres, in Gloucester; William Doherty, 200 acres in Kent; Samuel J. Scovil, 274 acres, in King’s; and many others who could never possibly be regarded as intending actual settlement. In the year 1862, 28,160 acres were sold at auction; in 1863, 18,397 acres; in 1864, 18, 415 acres. and in 1865, 17, 050 acres conclusively showing that in 1865, in the latter year when the restriction was rescinded, less land was sold than in any of the three years preceding.

He next alluded to the statement of the hon. member from Carleton (Mr. Lindsay), that the people of that County were told that land could not be sold. [Mr. Lindsay here interrupted the Surveyor General, and the other hon member for Carlton (Mr. Connell) rose and stated that the people did not. know that they could purchase lands.) The Surveyor General then stated that the hon member himself at least knew it, as also a number of other Connells, and produced petitions as follows:

Charles Connell 100 acres, 25 Aug. ‘65
do. do. 100 do. 6 Oct., do.
Geo. H. do. 100 do. 18 do. do.
do. do. 200 do. 6 do. do.
John do. 200 do. 6 do. do.
John W. do. 200 do. 7 Sep., do.

 

All under the auction system, and without a word of conditions of actual settlement.

The form of land petition used previous to, and after the order of 1862, has all along been the same, and never did embody the conditions of actual settlement. When the order was rescinded, the lands were advertised without conditions annexed, and the Deputy Surveyors were required to sell them absolutely.

The Surveyor General then explained the sale of 10,000 acres to Mr. Gibson—twenty-five different persons applied for 200 acres each. They were ascertained to be bona fide applicants who signed their own petitions. The land was surveyed and return thereof made in their names, but it was reported by the Deputy to be totally unfit for actual settlement, the usual notice of sale was given in the Royal Gazette, and when offered at auction Mr. Gibson became the purchaser. Some hon. members had condemned the system of selling large tracts of such land, unfit for cultivation. He could only inform the House, that the wild land tax alone largely exceeds the sum that would be paid by Mr. Gibson for an annual licence to cut lumber, while it lasts, exclusive to the whole amount of the purchase money paid to the Government for the land.

He would now call the attention of the House to the 10,000 acres affair. A short time after he had been in office, Mr. Gibson called, and wished the tract brought to sale, which he stated the late Government had promised to do. On investigation he found, by documentary evidence, that the late Surveyor General, at Mr. Gibson’s request, submitted this proposition to the Council.

“No. 4,561. Alexander Gibson prays leave to purchase a tract of land without conditions of actual settlement, which was affirmed in Council on the 18th of April, 1864.”

Mr. McMillan now, however states that notwithstanding this order, the Council had determined not to sell the land until the order for actual settlement had been rescinded.

He (Mr. Botsford) could only say that Mr. Gibson was never so informed, and was It consistent? Since Mr. Gibson had expressly asked whether they would sell the land without conditions, and it was answered in the affirmative, and the next piece of evidence condemns the ex-Surveyor General, as it were, out of his own mouth. Here it is. Mr. Gowan’s letter, written to Mr. Gibson the very day after the decision of Council was made:

“CROWN LAND OFFICE,

April 19th, 1864.

“Sir:—Your application for leave to purchase a tract of land without the conditions of actual settlement, has been laid before the Council. and it is ordered that a survey be made as soon as you designate by petition, the quantity which you wish offered, and its locality.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

(Signed) R. COWAN.”

ALEX. GIBSON, Esq.

Mr. Gibson then made out the desired petition, and the following was endorsed thereon:

“Let an order issue to Deputy Whitehead to survey 10, 000 acres in two hundred acre lots, in the above situation.

(Signed) JOHN McMillan,

Surveyor General.

May 20th, 1864.

Mr. Gibson says he never was informed that the land would not be sold. On the contrary, the usual order of survey then issued in his name, the survey made at an expense to him of $450 and the land ascertained to be unfit for settlement.

When the present Government assumed office, Mr. Gibson requested that the land be brought to sale, and as it did not feel disposed to break faith with Mr. Gibson or cancel the solemn engagement made between him and the late Government in Council on the 18th November last, directed that the sale take place “under the previous order.”

The usual notice was then publicly made. and the land sold at the Crown Land Office, to Mr. Gibson, at auction.

Mr. Botsford then requested the attention of the House to the twenty-seven acre lot granted to Mr. Gibson, which the hon. member from Albert (Mr. McClelan) told he had discovered from enquiries made at the Crown Land Office, and from information he had received from one of the subordinates there, had been given to Mr. Gibson without public auction in lieu of other land, and selected at the outlet of a Lake in order to give Mr. Gibson control of the stream, and which appeared very extraordinary to that hon. member. The charge however, is of the same. complexion as the others, and when the facts are made known is found to be equally groundless.

Mr. Zachariah Chipman of St. Stephen, purchased from the Crown 2,100 acres of land in the parish of Dumfries, and the then Surveyor General discovered that, when the grant was issued, there was a deficiency of twenty-seven acres. Mr. Chipman, therefore, received from the Department an authority to select other land to the extent of twenty-seven acres. wherever he thought proper, and this authority was transferred to Mr. Jack, who again transferred it to Mr. Gibson for the consideration of $81. In February, 1864, Mr. Gibson applied to my predecessor, Mr. McMillan, for an order to survey the twenty-seven acres na the outlet of the Upper Nushwaak Lake. The order was accordingly given, the survey was made at Mr. Gibson’s expense, and the grant. was issued to him in due course.

“CROWN LAND OFFICE

Feb. 6th, 1860.

“Zachariah Chipman paid for 2,100 acres, south of the Simonds Grant. Dumfries. The grant only1 includes 2,073 acres. although called 2,100. Mr. C. is therefore entitled to a grant of any other lot of twenty-seven acres which he may select.

(Signed)—ANDREW INCHES.

“Know all men by these presents, […]

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[…] that I, Zachariah Chipman of Saint Stephens, in consideration of forty dollar and fifty cent to me paid by Edward Jack. of Saint Andrews, do hereby assign, transfer and set over unto the said Edward Jack, as well the written order of survey as the said twenty—seven acres therein described and mentioned.

ST. STEPHENS, 1st April. 1863.

(Signed) Z. CHIPMAN.” 

 “Know all men by these presents, that I, Edward Jack of Saint Andrews, in consideration of eighty-one dollars, to me paid by Alexander Gibson, of Lepreaux do hereby assign, transfer and set over unto the said Alexander Gibson, as well the accompanying order of survey for twenty-seven acres of land, as the land therein described or mentioned as “any other lot of twenty-seven acres that he may select.”

ST. ANDREWS, 14th April, 1863.

(Signed) EDWARD JACK.”

CROWN LAND OFFICE,

Feb. 17th, 1864.

Honorable Surveyor General:

Dear Sir.—The deficiency of twenty- seven acres in the grant to Zacariah Chipman, south of the Simonds Grant, assigned to Edward Jack in l863. who, on the 14th April, 1863, conveyed his right to said deficiency to me, as will appear by annexed quit claim. I now beg to select that quantity in the following situation, viz: at the southern end of the Upper Nashwaak Lake. and request that an order of survey will issue in my favor, and at my expense, to lay out the same.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

(Signed) ALEXANDER GIBSON.

“Alexander Gibson requests an order of survey for twenty-seven acres of land, deficiency in the grant to Z. Chipman.

“Let an order issue to Deputy Whitehead, as requested by Mr. Gibson.

February 18. 1864 (No. 2,891)

(Signed) J. McM.”

The hon. member for Albert, in his usual mild and apparently sincere “suaviter in modo” style, thought proper to make this a specific charge, which, no doubt, he thought would influence hon. members, and the Surveyor General charged the hon. gentleman with want of candor and fair play because he could, and should, have explained all the circumstances connected with the transaction; but that hon. member, for some reason best known to himself, has not thought proper to do so, which the Surveyor General pronounced unfair and unmanly.

Mr. McClelan, who was absent when the Surveyor General was speaking, on the following day, attempted to explain, but stated that he justified the course taken the Government. The Hon. Attorney General replied, “Then why allude to it at all?”

The Surveyor General then justified the Government in not filling up the office of Auditor General, and quoted Act of Assembly of 1855:

“Section 3. It shall be the duty of the Auditor General, or other officer appoint ed to examine and report on Public Accounts to have all the Pubic Accounts audited and corrected.”

The Government has appointed a proper person to audit the accounts, and it has been well done, and given general satisfaction. His hon. colleague, Mr. Gilbert, had alluded to the amendment of the Legislative Council in answer to the speech, passed in that body some days since, and has called it a vote of want of confidence. He (Mr. Botsford) called it only an amendment adopting the Quebec Scheme, and the Quebec Scheme alone. Parliamentary usage forbade him from alluding to the discussion on that question, nor could he make any comments on the way it was carried through that honorable body. He would assume that the hon. member, Mr. Fisher, was in this position after he had moved his amendment.

Suppose the House was reduced to thirteen members; that the mover of the Address in answer to the Speech was absent; that the seconder was sick and confined to his bed; that another member had been unavoidably called away, and that Mr. Fisher had pressed his Amendment through the House, and carried it by a majority of five for the purpose of affirming the Quebec Scheme. Why, with all the charges made against him for intrigue, he, Mr. Botsford, did not believe Mr. Fisher would be guilty of such an undignified, unparliamentary act.

He had soon it reported in the public newspapers that the majority claimed for Confederation on that occasion consisted of three of the Quebec delegates and six of their strong partizans, and this, no doubt, will be duly forwarded to the British Government as an evidence of a change of opinion of the people of this Province.

His hon. colleague had alluded to the reinstatement Mr. Inches in the Crown Land Department, notwithstanding he did that gentleman every justice as to his qualifications and attainments, still be must have had some motive in bringing it up in this debate.

He (Mr. Botsford) would show the House what induced the Government to reinstate Mr. Inches. He was recommended by twenty-six members in the year 1863, and by twenty-five members of the present House last year; and he felt convinced that his reinstatement would give general satisfaction to the pubic.

He would not pass on to the charge the hon. member, Mr. Fisher, made with reference to his temporary absence from the Crown Land Office. He told his colleagues in the Government, on accepting the office of Surveyor General, that he would not come a permanent resident at Fredericton, and if accepting office involves the principle of permanent residence at Head Quarters, and a necessity of being compelled to remove one’s establishment to it, and this House should confirm the doctrine; it will limit the appointment to persons living in Fredericton, and the surrounding and adjoining Counties; and he challenged the hon. gentleman to point out a single instance where the interest of the public has suffered in consequence of his temporary absence, to use the ordinary expression of that hon. gentleman, “to the bosom of his family.”

He then alluded to the card of the hon. member for York, at last election, where he proclaims that he has left the impress of his mind on the political institutions of the country, and that he looked down on the members of the Government as political pigmies, and claimed that he himself would occupy a large and conspicuous place in the history of the Province. Why, he was the one individual who was turned out of the Government by his colleagues for improperly acquiring public lands. And how did this same hon. gentleman, who accuses the present Government of being mean, low fellows, act after this disgrace? Like a spaniel, he was seen to lick the hand that struck him, and proved indeed the most obsequious servant of the men who treated him as unworthy of being a member of their Government.

Another charge made by Mr. Fisher is the appointment of Chief Justice Ritchie, which he stated was for political purposes. This he (Mr. Botsford) denied. Judge Ritchie was appointed to that responsible situation because of his talents and standing as a Jurist, and the Government are prepared to justify it; but, if Mr. Fisher thinks that Mr. Justice Ritchie’s appointment detracts from the talents and standing of Mr. Justice Wilmot, he (Mr. Botsford) could not help it; but when he charges the Government with dragging in politics, and justifies Judge Wilmot’s voting at elections, and taking part in political squabbles, he wholly dissented from such unsound doctrine.

There might have been some slight palliation for the offence of Judge Wilmot addressing a Grand Jury on the Quebec Scheme in the County of Sunbury when the excitement ran high, and the country was convulsed from one end to the other; but when that excitement had subsided, and the people had pronounced their verdict against the scheme, and it was virtually dead. what do we find? When a vacancy took place in the representation of the County of York, by the promotion of Mr. Justice Allen to the Bench, after a lapse of many months, when the Judge had ample time for reflection. The hon. member (Mr. Fisher) was a candidate at the election in opposition to Mr. Pickard, who was recognized as the Government candidate, and at the hustings proclaimed that Confederation was not the question at issue, that Fenianism and hostility to the present Government was his avowed platform.

He (Mr. Botsford) held that when Judge Wilmot so far forgot his position as a Judge, and entered into that political contest, and ostentatiously voted for Charles Fisher, he prostituted the ermine with which he was clothed; that was his opinion, he might be wring. Suppose a riot took place in the presence or the Judge, between the several partizans, and an indictment was preferred against anti-Confederates engaged therein, and Mr. Justice Wilmot was the presiding Judge, could he possibly divest himself the strong political bias, which, to a certain extent, would operate on his mind at the trial? Probably he might, but he could not convince parties holding opposite views that even-handed justice would be dispensed. Why, the other day the House was discussing a Bill authorizing a Judge to try a cause where his interest was only the seventh part of a cent. It […]

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[…] it be necessary to pass such a law in this instance, how much more important is it that a Judge should keep aloof from all political contests.

The hon. member from Restigouche has called us “mongrels,” and has condemned us because we have alluded to the despatches from the Home Government in the speech. My hon. colleague (Mr. Gilbert) also does so.

There is an unerring law of nature applicable to the animal kingdom, that when certain species amalgamate they produce hybrids. These Counties have returned what I call hybrid politicians, and the sooner their constituents dispose of them, the better their interests will be subserved.

Thu Surveyor General thanked the House for its indulgence, and left the question in its hands, feeling satisfied that after calmly considering the evidence, it will triumphantly acquit the Government, which will be responded to by a large majority of the people of this Province.

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