New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [End of Session & Correspondence on the Resignation] (16 April 1866)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly  at 118-126.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Monday, April 16th.
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After the Journals were read, His Honor the Speaker remarked that it was unnecessary to proceed with the third reading of the Bills before them, because there would be no time for the Legislative Council to assent to them, as the duct. He would now call attention to o’clock.
Mr. Smith, in resuming, said he understood that the Government had condescended to give him permission to reply to a speech made by a member of the Government in the Legislative Council, which was an attack upon him. He trusted that they would not exercise and prostitute the prerogative of the Crown to prevent any person speaking upon a point upon which they feel they have a right to speak. (Mr. Wilmot said that he had not been informed that the House was to be prorogued at three o’clock.) Mr. Smith said that showed the way the business was carried on. The leader of the Government states—after the announcement made by you—that he does not know that this House is to be prorogued at three o’clock. Who governs the country, the Governor or his constitutional advisers? It is extraordinary that we have had no announcement made yet whether the public departments are filled or not, although it is nearly a week since the late Government resigned. This conduct cannot be justified. Responsible Government, which took us so long to win, and which we have cherished with such jealous care, seems to be laid prostrate before the power of despotism, and we are told by His Excellency that it was the result of accident. If the people have an opportunity of having a voice in this question, they will try to bring it back again. He (Mr. S) had been told that he had been charged by a member of the Government in the Upper House with an act of discourtesy to Captain Hallowes. It was said that the Governor’s answer to their resignation delivered to him by Captain Hallows, was to be returned. We sent in our resignations at one P. M. on Tuesday, and did not get an acceptance of it until Thursday at 6½ P. M. The next day they met to prepare an answer to it, and while there, Captain Hallowes came and requested him to return the paper. He (Mr. S.) replied that they wanted the paper in order to prepare their answer, which it would take [text missing] which his Excellency wished to make, taking them away with him and seeming satisfied, for he made no complaint. It is a novel proceeding to ask for a paper of that importance to be returned while the controversy was going on, but the most remarkable thing is that one paper was sent to them, and a different one was published in the Royal Gazette, in which material alterations had been made. That very night another paper, in which other alterations were made, was telegraphed through to St. John without waiting for their answer, and for this the public will have to pay. Should that paper, in which serious charges were made against him, have been published in the Royal Gazette without his reply? He would leave it to the House and country to said if that was fair. In reference to Responsible Government, he would read a passage from His Excellency’s communication as published in the Royal Gazette:
“His Excellency may be in error, but he believes that a vast change has already taken place in the opinions held on this subject in New Brunswick. He fully anticipates that the House of Assembly will yet return a response to the communication made to them not less favorable to the principle of Union than that given by the Upper House.”
They were elected upon the anti-Confederate ticket, and His Excellency expresses the hope that they will be recreant to their trust, and that they will, like the Legislative Council, pass an Address adopting the Quebec Scheme, and ask Her Majesty to force it upon the people of this country by Imperial Legislation. His Excellency goes on to say:
“In any event he relies with confidence on the desire of a great majority of the people of the Province to aid in building up a powerful and prosperous nation under the sovereignty of the British Crown. To their verdict His Excellency is ready and willing to appeal.”
This last clause was not in the manuscript submitted to the Government. One paper was given to them, another published in the Gazette, and another sent to St. John, and these three were all different. There is no justification for these alterations. In another part he says:
“The Lieutenant Governor, of course, feels that previous communication between himself and his advisers as to any step he is about to take, is, when practicable, both desirable and essential.”
The word essential seems to imply that it was his duty to consult his Council, but that word is not in the manuscript submitted to them, but has been substituted for the word convenient.
Mr. Wilmot said there was a very rough copy of the original kept, which was the reason His Excellency wished it sent back in order that they could have a copy of it.
Mr. Williston said that if he rightly understood Mr. Smith he agreed at the time to give the paper back.
Mr. Smith said he told Captain Hallowes that he could not return it, as an answer had to be prepared to it. His Excellency goes on to make other directions. He says:
“So strong was His Excellency’s wish that the contents of his Reply should be known to the Council before its delivery.”
That was added to the paper submitted to them, and it puts a different face upon the document. He (Mr. S.) would ask the House why it was, if His Excellency had so strong a wish for the contents of his reply to be known to his Council, that he used such unbecoming haste in returning an answer? Did he expect this effort of the Legislative Council would be successful, and the British Government would force the Quebec Scheme upon the people of this country. As sure as the sun sets in the west they will rebel against any such attempt. He (Mr. S.) felt satisfied that many of those gentlemen who desired Confederation wished to obtain it by constitutional means, and did not desire by coercion to force Confederation upon the people. He believed they would resist any such attempt to force upon the people of this country a scheme which they have rejected. There must be a hidden hand in the matter, for the answer of His Excellency to the Legislative Council was known to several members of the Opposition a day or two before it was delivered. If that be true is it not lamentable and outrageous that such a state of things exist. The question to be considered is not Confederation or anti-Confederation, but it is a great constitutional question. If he (Mr. S.) was the worst man that ever lived, it would be not excuse for His Excellency not consulting with his advisers, against whose character he could say nothing, for it was due to them that they should be consulted. The intelligence of the people of this country has been insulted by His Excellency’s telling them that his not consulting his Executive Council was the result of an accident. He (Mr. S.) felt assured that many of the members of the Legislative Council would now be willing to retrace their steps, for they feel that an injustice has been perpetrated upon the country. He did not know whether the House was prorogued in view of a dissolution or not, but he was satisfied that this transaction must inevitably end in a dissolution, in order that the people may express an opinion upon their conduct. He would now call attention to some resolutions which were now pending before the House, in order that they may see exactly the position they were in. There was an important principle in these resolutions, for they contained not only a want of confidence in the Government, but in the Governor himself. Mr. Smith then read the following Resolutions, moved by Mr. Otty:
“Whereas the Legislative Council in Provincial Parliament assembled, did, on the 6th of April instant pass an Address to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty might be graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, in one Government, such union to be based upon the resolutions adopted at the Conference of Delegates from the several Colonies, held at Quebec on the 10th October, 1664:
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- Therefore, Resolved, that this House as representing the People of New Brunswick, is in no wise disposed to admit that a Union of the Colonies under the Quebec Scheme is an object to be “highly desired,” or essential to their future prosperity or influence, nor calculated to strengthen and perpetuate the ties which bind them to Her Gracious Majesty’s Throne and Government; and this conviction was fully expressed by the people of this Province at the General Election held in March, 1865, by the return of a large majority of candidates opposed to the Quebec Scheme.
- Resolved, That this House is fully convinced that the Representative Body is alone competent to represent the sentiments of the people, and that the Legislative Council, representing merely the personal opinion of certain Members, and irresponsible to the people, is not an authority competent to require the passage of an Imperial Act compelling the people to submit to a Scheme subversive of the Constitution of the Province, and indignantly rejected by its inhabitants when lately proposed to them.
- Resolved, That no interference on the part of the Imperial Parliament with the Constitution of this Province, which should not be founded on the wishes of the people freely expressed either through the House or in any other constitutional manner, would in any wise tend to promote any scheme of Union between the Colonies, and the connection between this country and the Parent State, will be durable in proportion to the direct influence exercised by the people in the management and control of their own affairs.
- Resolved, That the Legislative Council, by acting with such aimed hostility to the sentiments of the people, have forfeited the confidence of this House of Assembly; and their proceedings during the session in passing the said Address to Her Majesty, and presenting the same to the Lieutenant Governor, previous to the passing of the Address by the House of Assembly in answer to His Excellency’s Speech at the opening of the Session, and during the continuance of a debate on a want of confidence motion, have destroyed all hopes of seeing the Council act in harmony with the House of Assembly:
And this House is convinced that Her Majesty’s Government will abstain from acting upon an Address emanating from an irresponsible body of the Legislature, and advocating a scheme for an important constitutional change, and one whereby the members of that body alone would individually obtain increased salaries and higher official position.
- Resolved, That the answer of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor to the Address of the Legislative Council is directly adverse to the views and desires of the majority of the Representatives of the people, and the assumption of the responsibility of such answer by the Executive Council would admit a willingness to adopt that very scheme which the people [text missing] the last General Election rejected by a large majority, and which the Members of this Council, with other Representatives, were elected to oppose.
- Resolved, That the manner in which the said answer was submitted by his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor to his Executive Council [text missing] sincere disapproval, [text missing] of said Executive Council having been consulted by His Excellency with regard to the terms thereof until within a few minutes before the same should have been and was delivered.
- Resolved, That we cannot but highly approve of the conduct of the Members of the Executive Council in tendering their resignations to a Governor who has exhibited so little regard for the wishes of the people, and treated with such discourtesy the Members of his Council, the Representatives of the people, and used such means to destroy the principles of Responsible Government which this country has hitherto enjoyed.
- Resolved, That His Excellency, by thus exercising his authority, prevent the Legislature from going into consideration of the matters contained in his Address; and although a large majority of the Representatives have expressed their opinions upon the want of confidence motion in approval of the course of the Government, and sustaining them therein, yet by such conduct a Government possessing the confidence of the people have been compelled to resign, and the rights and Constitution of a free people trampled upon and disregarded.
- Resolved, That it is deeply to be regretted that His Excellency should have persisted in such a course, after the almost unanimous expression of this House antagonistic to the Quebec Scheme at its last session, and adopted upon a calm, patient, and deliberate consideration of its provisions, and also after so decided and independent a majority of the people had expressed their condemnation thereof.
- Resolved, That in thus placing himself in direct opposition to the recorded opinions of the majority of the House of Assembly, and also of his Executive Council, his Excellency has pursued a course fraught with consequences so detrimental to the interests of the Province, and so subversive of the rights and liberties of the people thereof, that the same should immediately be brought under the notice of Her Majesty, in the hope that He Majesty will be graciously pleased to make such a change in the Executive Department of this Province as will ensure the affairs of the Province being so conducted as to secure harmony among the different branches of the Government, and perpetuate that system of Colonial Policy and Government which was secured to us by the success of a former political struggle.
- Resolved, That an Address of this House, based upon and embodying the foregoing Resolutions, be at once transmitted to Her Most Gracious Majesty, and a copy of the foregoing Resolutions forwarded to his Excellency.
Was there any precedent in this country for His Excellency’s proroguing the House before it has passed the address in answer to the speech. The Opposition, during the continuance of this debate on the address, lost all hopes of overturning the Government by their motion of want of confidence, and they had to resort to another method. He hoped the prerogative of the Crown would not be [text missing] prerogative of the Crown, and said, thank God we live in a free country, and have enjoyed a free Government for many years, and it was their duty to cherish it, and maintain its principles inviolate. He had no doubt but that the people of the country would do this, and that they would not surrender their privileges to any man who came from England, and would not probably stay here twelve months. He respected the man who was sent here to preside over them, and he would be sorry to encroach upon his privileges and prerogatives, yet it was the duty of the House to protect the liberties of the people. The prerogative of the Crown was committed to the Crown, not only for its own benefit but for the benefit of the people. It does not involve a mere passive obedience to the will of the Sovereign, but it is a high and mighty agent which should never be employed except for the benefit of the people. This prerogative of prorogation, which is for the benefit of the people, is now to be used to interpose between the voice of the people and the Governor, who was sent here to govern them. This is a high handed proceeding, when those resolutions are before the House involving a question between the Lieutenant Governor and the people. We ask permission to lay our grievance at the foot of the throne, and we have a right to be heard. Has the Governor a right to use his prerogative to stifle the voice of the people, and prevent them from being heard by Her Majesty, who will condemn these proceedings? That is what we ask for, and it is our right. We have assembled here by the lawful authority of the Crown, but we feel an act of outrage has been perpetrated upon us, that our constitutional Government has been violated and we want to be heard by Her Majesty the Queen. Is that an unreasonable request? If not, why are we not allowed to have it? He trusted the Government would stay their hand, and allow them an opportunity to discuss those resolutions, and have them laid at the goot of the throne, in order that justice may be done, which is a reasonable request. He (Mr. Smith) had not heard the speech of the member of the Government in the Legislative Council, but he had been told that it was an attack upon him, and that he (Mr. Mitchell) had referred to a conversation with him.So far from having a conversation together, they held no intercourse. So fixed was the Government’s determination to hold no intercourse with Mr. Mitchell, that he (Mr. Smith) thought they were scarcely courteous to him. He (Mr. S.) had told the Governor that whatever was done, was done with the full concurrence of his (Mr. Smith’s) friends. His Excellency admits that a committee was to be appointed. Why did he not wait until the committee was appointed? It has been said that the answer to the address given to the Legislative Council, when they presented to His Excellency an answer to the speech, foreshadowed a [text missing] and they prevailed. This present address was to […]
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[…] be presented to Her Majesty and not to His Excellency; why then could he not have spoken professedly in behalf of Her Majesty? in so doing he would have discharged his duty. He (Mr. S ) had no doubt but that there was an arrangement beforehand. When he was sent for, His Excellency asked during the course of his observations, “if we had not better give up, and allow him to form a new Government, and get this question of confederation out of the way.” His Excellency thought that he (Mr. S.) had better bring his colleagues to the Government House; doubtless he thought that rather than take the responsibility of his reply they would resign, and Mr. Stratton was there he (Mr. S.) believed for the purpose of swearing the new Government in. Could this conduct be justified? (Mr. Wilmot said he had read a note from the Governor, stating that nothing of the kind was intended.) Mr. Smith said his hon. friend may not have known anything about it; the note he (Mr. W.) had read did not relieve his position. His Excellency had said that Mr. Stratton was there to obey any commands, but he (Mr. S.) believed that one of the commands which His Excellency expected to give him, was to swear in a new Government. He (Mr. S.) could not tell when this extraordinary change came over his Excellency’s mind, neither could he tell the agencies or means employed to induce him to change his opinions. Will it not astonish the country to hear that those parts of the despatch of the 12th of July, which have been called insulting to her Majesty the Queen, were written by his Excellency. (Mr. Wil mot said that in the original draft drawn by his Excellency, there was a paragraph in favor of union, this was struck out, although upon the question being taken, Mr. Hutchinson and himself had declared themselves in favor of union. The late Attorney General and the Government are already committed to a principle of union, and were prepared to carry it through the House in their own time and way )
Mr. Anglin asked leave to explain, he had been called a mean low fellow—one who would insult the Queen—was disloyal to the throne, because it was said he had written a despatch which was an outrage upon the people of this Province, and induced his colleagues to sign it while drunk. Every part of that despatch, to which objections have been made, was written by his Excellency. He had a section in it which would have committed them to a principle of union, but they repudiated it at once. If things had proceeded in the ordinary course, and party fought party in the House, he (Mr. Anglin) would have been ashamed to make any allusion to the fact that his Excellency had prepared that portion of the despatch which has been characterized as insulting to the Queen, but as he has chosen to take an extraordinary course, he (Mr. A.) would no longer bear the odium which some of the members of the late Opposition attach to the writer of those portions of the despatch. The Government were charged with violating the principles of Responsible Government by truckling to the Governor in not making certain appointments. His Excellency in a conversation with the leader of the Government objected to making any alterations, not on the ground that it was not right to make such changes, but because he thought it would be prejudicial to the purpose for which the delegation were going home to England. His Excellency said he wished to write home certain letters to help the delegation, and the Government agreed to postpone the changes until after the return of the delegates. When they returned, the Governor was on his way to England, and they knew the administration would not desire to make any changes during the absence of his Excellency. (Some conversation then took place between Mr. L. P. W. DesBrisay and Mr. Hatheway in regard to changing officers in the County of Kent.)
Mr. Anglin continued—The appointments were never actually made, because they thought they would have a prejudicial effect upon the delegation. His Excellency’s connections held a high position in England, and the Government thought it was of importance to secure his earnest co=operation, in comparison with which a few paltry appointments was a matter of small account. The Governor in Council never refused to make one single appointment. His hon. colleague (Mr. Wetmore) thought he had made a strong point when he spoke of the Governor’s salary. At a meeting of the Council they told his Excellency that they were individually pledged, and the people of the country required that there should be some arrangement made concerning this matter. They found, according to an arrangement made with the previous Government, the Lieutenant Governor drew the whole amount and refunded part of it. They discussed the question, and maintained that he should receive the same amount as under the old arrangement. His Excellency said that would put him in a position of having taken what he was not entitled to. The Council replied that they must have the matter settled one way or the other, and His Excellency spoke of writing home to be recalled rather than settle it. He suggested that he should have time to obtain permission from the Home Government to withdraw the despatch sent by the Duke of Newcastle, so that he would not be disobeying orders. The Council thought that would not affect their rights, and that the salary would then be taken out in the old way. That was made a distinct understanding, but he (Mr. A.) was informed that this arrangement was never carried out. Whether or not it was the fault of the late Government in neglecting to carry this out. It is clearly the duty of the present Government to do so.
Mr. Smith said he told His Excellency that he was determined to have the matter settled, and he would not sacrifice the course which he had taken.
Mr. Wilmot said he was the person that had brought the question up.
Mr. Smith said that the Government expected the arrangement would have been carried out when they went to England. He then spoke of Mr. Wilmot as the leader of the Government formed to carry out the Quebec Scheme, and Mr. Wilmot replied that he was not more favorable to the Quebec Scheme than before. Mr. Smith said he (Mr. Wilmot) was bound hand and foot to the Quebec Scheme, and had no way to extricate himself. His (Mr. Smith’s) motives had been impugned by his hou. friend (Mr. Fisher) when he charged him with not acting upon principle, but from a feeling a ma lignity against the late Government. He (Mr. S.) did not think the question involved the position of the Government at all, as the Governor had power to draw these warrants himself. This arrangement made by the Tilley Government to allow his Excellency to draw this money and pay it back, was an extraordinary thing. Did they want a donation from him? If he was entitled to the money, it was but justice that he should have it. Mr. Smith then spoke of the despatch of the 12th of July, and said his Excellency had himself written the most objectionable part. He then referred to a remark made by a member of the Upper House that he was twice sent for by his Excellency. He (Mr. Smith) did not think his Excellency was doing right in consulting with a member of the Opposition. When he (Mr. S.) returned from the United States his colleagues told him that some scheme for union was in contemplation, and that the Governor had consulted with a member of the Opposition regarding it. He had mentioned to the Governor that this rumor was in circulation. Why did not his Excellency say at once: “It is true, I advised with Mr. Mitchell.” That would have been a frank and generous course; instead of this he said, “Mr. Mitchell and some others dined at Government House.” He (Mr. S.) did not blame Mr. Mitchell but he had no language strong enough to express his disapprobation of the Governor’s consulting him, while a member of the Opposition, in regard to matters which ought to be considered of a confidential nature, instead of taking the advice of his own Government. (Mr. Wilmot asked whether any arrangements were made to bring the subject of Union before the Council.) Mr. Smith said that his hon. colleague knew exactly what was done. The arrangement was that he (Mr. S.) was to consult his friends, then the despatches were to be submitted to the House, and afterwards referred to a Select Committee. They discussed the question whether they should refer them to a joint committee of both Houses or separately to each House. This matter was discussed from time to time, and the names taken down of those who should be on the committee. He insisted that the friends of the Government should have a majority in the Committee, and he wanted a Joint Committee of both Houses. On a late occasion, when he was at Government House, he felt there was treachery contemplated, that the Governor was under the influence of some evil genius who was acting antagonistic to them. He told the Governor that he had violated the understanding between them. His Excellency replied that circumstances had changed, and he did not know that the Legislative Council were going to do as they have done. He (Mr. S.) said that they could not control the Legislative Council, and therefore they had no authority to take any action in this matter, and he told him that the Government were prepared to carry out their arrangements, and they expected his Excellency would do the same. The despatches were not before the House, therefore they could not yet take any action in the matter. His Excellency did not charge him with using deceit or duplicity, though now the Government is charged through outside influence with being guilty of deceit because we did not act to suit the purposes of those who favored the Quebec Scheme. It was a cool proposition for the Governor […]
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[…] to say that the Government had better resign their seats and let him form a new Government to carry out the scheme and get rid of it. He said this while we were fighting an unscrupulous Opposition, and while victory was perching upon our banners. He (Mr. S.) told his colleagues this, and he also told them of another conversation, where his Excellency stated that he had taken down in writing the results of their different conversations. He (Mr. S.) asked if that was right, and told him that he repudiated the paper, and he would not allow it to rise against him in judgment. His Excellency said he would destroy the paper, but instead of that the paper is now part of the document which has been submitted to them. He (Mr. S.) told his colleagues at that time that His Excellency was trying to place him in a false position, and subsequent events have proved the truth of his statement.
Mr. Wilmot asked whether the late Government had agreed to bring the question of Union before both branches of the Legislature, and were going to give weight to any scheme agreed upon, by sending a delegation to England.
Mr. Smith said that the only arrangement made was that a select committee should be appointed. They often discussed what this committee should do, and what power they should have, but he (Mr. S.) would declare before this House and the country, that he never would consent, by word or deed, that a delegation should be appointed to go home to England and there settle upon the terms of a scheme to be effected, without being left to the people of this country. He knew that the Quebec Scheme was confirmed at the Colonial Office, and he knew that the Canadians had great influence there therefore it was mere mockery to send a delegation home, for they might as well save the expense. The House has no right to arrogate to itself the power to delegate men to go to England for this purpose. A delegation of this kind should only be appointed by the consent of the people, for if a scheme is forced upon the people without their consent, it will lead to dreadful consequences and disastrous results. He had told His Excellency that he had many objections to the Quebec Scheme; he had looked over the scheme with His Excellency, and there was scarcely an objection which he pointed out that did not meet with His Excellency’s concurrence, but now when he is about to leave the Province he has altered his mind in regard to them. His object may be to build up a reputation for himself at the Colonial Office, and thereby elevate himself to a higher pinnacle. He has changed his mind since he went to England; when he helped prepare the minute of Council on the 12th of July, his mind was not under this influence; he had brought all his influence to bear to help the delegation which went to England to prevent the consummation of this union. His judgment then was of more weight than now, when other influences are brought to bear upon him. He (Mr. Smith) believed that Mr. Wilmot’s resignation was prepared with a view to his being appointed to form a new Government. ( Mr. Wilmot said that there was no such understanding.) Mr. Smith said he assumed it to be so, and he was prepared to draw his inference; he did not believe Mr. Wilmot could at that time have formed a Government which would have stood. ( Mr. Wilmot said that he believed the reason his resignation was recommended to be accepted was, that the Government had come round and would support a scheme of union. That was proved by these documents.) Mr. Smith said that during the whole of this discussion on the vote of want of confidence, there was not a charge made against the Government for which he (Mr. W.) was not responsiblh [sic], even to all observations made in reference to that minute of Council. He speaks against a Government, and charges them with acts of mal-administration and with being derilict [sic] in their duty, although he was a participator in those very acts. He was as much bound to vote against that “want of confidence” motion as any man in the Government. He (Mr. S. regretted that the prerogative of the Crown was to be used in order to stop Mr. Otty’s resolutions, which involved the recall of the Governor. If they looked into the annals of any free country, they would never find the prerogative of the Crown interposed to prevent the people laying their grievances at the foot of the throne. The country has been forty-eight hours without his Excellency’s having constitutional advisers, and this when we are in danger of invasion by Fenians from abroad. Instead of disunion being created at this time every man, woman and child should be bound together to defend their common country. He would resist this Quebec Scheme to the last, as it would destroy the best interests of the people of this country He had studied that scheme thoroughly, he had heard all that could be said in its favor both in England and by the Canadians, and the conclusion he arrived at was that it was prepared with reference to the local politics of Canada. He said he had made sacrifices, and he was prepared to make more for the good of the of the country. The people had placed their confidence in him for fourteen years, and if now they withdraw their confidence, and he died politically, he would die struggling to maintain the honor and independence of his country.
At 5 P. M. his Excellency summoned the House to the Legislative Council Chamber, and delivered to the Legislature the following
Mr. President and Hon. Gentlemen of the Legislative Council; Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly;
I recognize in the Bill for Naval Defence of the Province, to which I have just assented, a fresh proof of your loyal determination to guard from all attack this portion of her Majesty’s dominions, and to frustrate the designs of unprincipled marauders.
I have with pleasure assented to the Bills you have passed for extending the Railway system in this Province.
Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:
The patriotic zeal which led you to authorize the amplest expenditure necessary for the purposes of defence has already been acknowledged by me.
The precautions already taken, and the military arrangements now already in progress have, I confidentially believe placed the Province in a position of security.
Mr. President and Hon. Gentlemen of the Legislative Council: Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:
I have deemed it necessary in the present condition of public affairs, immediately to prorogue the present session of the Provincial Parliament.
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CORRESPONDENCE ON THE RESIGNATION.
“To His Excellency the Honorable Arthur Hamilton Gordon, C. M. G., Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of New Brunswick, &c. &c. &c.
The Executive Council in Committee beg to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s Memorandum of the 7th instant, and the Reply therein referred to, which are as follows:—
“His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor transmits to Council a Copy of the Reply which he has this afternoon returned to an Address of the Legislative Council, requesting His Excellency to transmit to Her Majesty an Address, praying that Her Majesty will be pleased to cause a measure for the Union of the British North American Provinces to be introduced into the Imperial Parliament.
FREDERICTON, April 7th, 1866.
“Mr. President and Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council:
“I will immediately transmit your Address to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in order that it may be laid at the Foot of the Throne.
“Her Majesty the Queen has already been pleased to express a deep interest in the Union of Her North American Dominions, and will, no doubt, graciously appreciate this decided expression of your opinion.
“I rejoice to believe that the avowal of your desire that all British North America should unite in one Community under one strong and efficient Government, cannot but tend to hasten the accomplishment of this great measure.”
The Council would subjoin a copy of the Address referred to in the above.
“TO THE QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign:
“We, Your Majesty’s faithful and loyal Subjects, the Legislative Council of New Brunswick, in Provincial Parliament assembled, humbly approach Your Majesty with the conviction that a Union of all Your Majesty’s British North American Colonies, based on the Resolutions adopted at the Conference of Delegates from these several Colonies held at Quebec on the tenth day of October, 1864, is an object highly to be desired, essential to their future prosperity and influence, and calculated alike to strengthen and perpetuate the ties which bind them to Your Gracious Majesty’s Throne and Government, and humbly pray that Your Majesty may be graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of thus uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, in one Government.”
The Council, in reply, would respectfully remark, that in their opinion it was incumbent upon your Excellency to consult your Constitutional Advisers in regard to the answer so given, and in assuming to yourself the right to reply to such Address without consulting them, your Excellency has not acted in accordance with the true spirit of the Constitution.
In connection the Council would beg to refer to the statement appended hereto, giving an account of two interviews between your Excellency and the Attorney General.
The Reply so given by your Excellency to the Legislative Council is a distinct and emphatic approval of their proceedings, the responsibility of which your advisers are unwilling to assume for the following reasons:
1st. That in any measure involving an organic change in the Constitution and political rights and privileges of the people, they should be consulted, and unless approved of by them no such measure should be adopted or forced upon them.
2d. That in March last a dissolution took place professedly with a view to ascertain the sense of the people upon the Quebec Scheme, and they pronounced unmistakably against its adoption by large majorities.
3d. That the Representatives of the people at the last Session of the Legislature passed resolutions condemnatory of such Scheme, by a majority of twenty-nine to ten.
4th. That the Legislative Council are not elected by the people, and are not constitutionally responsible to them for their Legislative conduct, and have no rightful authority to pray Her Majesty to give effect, by Imperial Legislation, to any measure which the people have rejected.
5th. That such proceeding violates every principle of responsibility and self-government, and is subversive of the rights and liberties of the people, and seeks to take from them their Constitution, not only without their consent but against their clearly expressed wishes.
6th. That such a course is calculated to bring the Legislative Council and House of Assembly into collision, and disturb that harmony that should subsist between them, and manifests an entire disregard of the power and majesty of the people. That the Legislative Council have a legitimate right to express their opinion upon any public question, the Council do not deny; but to invoke the aid of the British Government to coerce the people into Confederation, is a proceeding in the opinion of this Council without parallel and wholly unwarrantable.
The Council would further remark, that they have good cause to believe your Excellency has, ever since the opening of the Legislature, consulted and advised with gentlemen of the Opposition, and made known to them matters which they think should be regarded as confidential. This we feel your Excellency has continued to do, notwithstanding the repeated objections of one or more Members of the Council who told your Excellency that it was not right, and that it gave the Opposition a decided advantage in the debate then pending; and your Excellency having taken the advice, as they truly believe, of a gentleman of the Opposition, as to the answer given to the Legislative Council on Saturday last, instead of that of your Constitutional Advisers, they would respectfully express their conviction that such a course was unconstitutional, and without precedent in any country where Responsible Government exists.
The Council would further state that the Government were supported by a majority of the members of the House of Assembly, of which fact your Excellency was fully aware.
Under these circumstances, the undersigned would beg respectfully to tender to your Excellency the resignation of their offices as Executive Councillors.
George L. Hatheway
John W. Cudlip
Memorandum of Conversation between His Excellency and Mr. Smith.
On Saturday the 7th instant, about 11 o’clock A. M., I called at Government House and had an interview with His Excellency, and in the course of conversation, the proceedings of the Legislative Council were referred to when I spoke in terms of disapproval of the course which they had adopted in reference to the subject of Union. Something was said about the presentation of the Address, and His Excellency’s Reply thereto, when he asked me what answer I would advise. I replied that in my opinion the answer to be given should simply be that he would transmit it to Her Majesty. His Excellency said that he would think of it and see me again. He did not state that he intended to receive them […]
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[…] that day, and I had not the most distant idea that he intended to do so. I then parted with him.
A few minutes before three o’clock of the afternoon of the same day, in my place in the House of Assembly, I received a note from him saying that he wished to see me at once. I immediately repaired to Government House, and after a short conversation with him upon other matters, he informed me that he was going to receive the Legislative Council with their Address at three o’clock. I expressed my surprise at this, and inquired what answer he intended to make. He then handed me a paper which contained his proposed answer, accompanied with a Memorandum for the Executive Council. I expressed my disapproval of it, and complained that he had not advised with his Council before preparing it; that as they were responsible for it, they should at least be consulted before it was given. He remarked that, if they did not approve of it, they could relieve themselves of responsibility. I replied, even if that were true, was it courteous and fair that the Council should be treated in that way; that what they asked from His Excellency was fair play, not as a favor, but as a matter of right? He then proposed that I should drive down to the House of Assembly and see my colleagues, and return in half an hour, and he would keep the Legislative Council (who in the meantime had arrived at Government House) waiting until I returned. I said I could not di this, that the Debate on the Vote of Want of Confidence was going on, and that they could not leave the House, and besides, they could not possibly consider so important a question in a few minutes. His Excellency then proposed to send one of the carriages that were standing at the door for them. I then stated that they could not leave the House. He replied, “I suppose not.” I further stated that it was unfair and ungenerous, and not such treatment as the Council had a right to expect, to be called upon in this sudden and extraordinary way in a matter so important. I expressed my condemnation of the course adopted by the Legislative Council, and urged the impropriety of their praying Her Majesty the Queen to cause a Law of the Imperial Parliament to be passed, giving effect to a scheme of Union which both the People and the House of Assembly had rejected by overwhelming majorities, and that I never would consent to any Address which authorized the Imperial Parliament to pass an Act of Union without reference to the people. I thought His Excellency seemed disposed to yield the point and strike out the last paragraph of the answer, which I consider very objectionable. He then asked me to excuse him, and left the room to consult, as I thought at the time, and from information received since, I am confirmed in that opinion, a gentleman of the Opposition and a member of the Legislative Council, who was in the House at the time. He returned in a few minutes, and after some conversation similar to that already detailed, told me that he would deliver the answer as it was, and send me a copy in the evening. I remonstrated against such conduct, but concluded by saying that it he had resolved upon that course, it was in vain to protract the interview. I then left him.
(Signed) A. J. Smith
The Lieutenant Governor has received from the members of His Executive Council a Minute, tendering the resignation of their seats at the Council Board.
The reason assigned by them for this step is a disinclination to accept the responsibility of a reply made by His Excellency to the Legislative Council, when requested by that body to transmit to Her Majesty an address, praying that a scheme for the union of the British North American Provinces may be introduced into the Imperial Parliament.
Several causes for this disinclination are enumerated by the Council. They may, however, all be resumed in the objection, that the Legislative Council, in adopting the address in question, overstepped the limits of action prescribed to it by constitutional principles and usage.
In this view, His Excellency cannot at all concur, and he perceives with regret the name of a member of the Upper House, for whose character and abilities he has a sincere respect, appended to reasoning which would, in His Excellency’s opinion, go far to destroy the position of that Chamber as an independent and co-ordinate branch of the Legislature.
The papers on which the address in question was founded, were laid before both Houses of the Legislature by Her Majesty’s express command at the commencement of the present Session.
It had at that time long been known to Her Majesty’s Government, that the General Election in New Brunswick in 1865, had terminated unfavourably to the cause of Union, and the communication of these papers was made to the Provincial Parliament in the avowed hope that the question might be again considered and more favourably received there.
The Address in answer to His Excellency’s Speech at the opening of the Session, even as originally proposed, conveyed an assurance that those papers should receive a careful and respectful attention from the Legislative Council.
But the chief documents which the Members of that body thus pledged themselves to consider, were the Resolutions adopted at Quebec, the approval of that Scheme by Her Majesty, and the expression of a hope on the part of Her Majesty’s Government, that its provisions might be favourably reconsidered in New Brunswick.
On the questions then thus submitted to them by Her Majesty’s command, the Legislative Council was bound to form and to express an opinion. In so doing they have intimated their approval of a Union of the British North American Colonies, and indicated the basis on which it might in their opinion be accomplished.
It is neither constitutional nor reasonable to maintain that the Legislative Council is incompetent to act with reference to a Scheme thus submitted to them, until after its previous approval by the House of Assembly, nor can it be imagined that the Legislative Council alone is debarred from that right of appeal to Her Majesty which is accorded to all Her subjects without distinction.
The Council also take exception to His Excellency’s having delivered this Reply, without previously communicating to them the terms in which it was couched.
Without enquiring how far their Ministerial responsibility, from which it is always in their power to escape, requires that the Council should possess a previous knowledge of all the Lieutenant Governor’s words and actions, His Excellency must observe that the non-communication to the Council, of the Reply in question, was the result, not of design, but of accident, and that it was his intention and desire to have submitted the terms of his reply to the consideration of his Council.
The language employed by His Excellency to the Legislative Council was not, however, inconsistent with the policy which his Advisers had informed him they were inclined to follow; or, in his judgment, with the reply which, with the knowledge and consent of his Council, he had returned a few days previously to an Address from the same body. His words were, that he “rejoiced to believe that the avowal of the desire of the Legislative Council that all British North America should unite in one community under one strong and efficient Government, cannot but tend to hasten the accomplishment of this great measure.” This by no means conveys an approval of the particular scheme to the provisions of which his Council so strongly object, although it does express a hope that an Union of the British North American Provinces might shortly be accomplished. But from previous communications with the leader of the Government, His Excellency was fully entitled to assume that this hope was shared by his Council.
On the 8th January His Excellency received from the Honorable R. D. Wilmot, a letter tendering the resignation of his seat in the Executive Council, and assigning as his chief reason for so doing, the indisposition of his colleagues to entertain propositions for a closer Union of the British North American Provinces. To that resignation His Excellency declined to reply until after the return of the President of the Council from Washington, which took place on the 14th February.
On the following day His Excellency had several communications with that gentleman, in the course of which His Excellency observed that the resignation of Mr. Wilmot, and the fact that the Legislature had now been summoned for despatch of business, rendered it necessary that a distinct understanding on the subject of union should be arrived at between himself and his Advisers
His Excellency stated that it would be his duty, in accordance with his instructions, to submit the question again to the Legislature on its assembly, and to express the conviction of Her Majesty’s Government with respect to the benefits likely to attend the measure.
That if Mr. Wilmot were mistaken in supposing that the Government were hostile to all measures of union, and Mr. Smith and his colleagues were prepared to consent to the introduction into the speech at the opening of the Session, of the recommendation of Her Majesty’s Government, conveyed in Mr. Cardwell’s despatch of the 24th June, 1865, it would have been His Excellency’s duty to accept the proffered resignation of Mr. Wilmot; but if, on the contrary, the statements made by him in this connection were correct, it would be a matter for grave consideration whether His Excellency could accept the resignation so tendered, and whether His Excellency would not be bound to enquire whether Mr. Wilmot was prepared to undertake the responsibility of recommending to the people the adoption of a measure which was, in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, calculated to confer benefit on Her Majesty’s subjects in this Province, and the […]
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[…] accomplishment of which His Excellency was directed by every means in his power to promote.
The Lieutenant Governor also endeavored, to the best of his ability, to point out to Mr. Smith the advantages of a real and effective Union of the British American Provinces, and the urgent necessity, under existing circumstances, for effecting such a measure.
His Excellency stated his confident belief, that after being accepted as a basis, it were found that the details of the Scheme agreed to at Quebec were open to just and serious objections on the part of the Maritime Provinces, the representation of their Legislatures to that effect would be certain to receive a respectful attention from Her Majesty’s Government, and from that of Canada. His Excellency concluded by handing to Mr. Smith the following Memorandum:—
“The Lieutenant Governor has been instructed by a despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, bearing date June 24th, 1865, to express to the Legislature of New Brunswick, on its next re-assembling, the strong and deliberate 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 “in one Government.”
The Lieutenant Governor has now fixed the 8th proximo as the day upon which the General Assembly is to meet for despatch of business, and before that period it is highly desirable that he should be informed whether his advisers are prepared to recommend the Legislature to give effect to the opinion thus expressed by Her Majesty’s Government.
(Signed) A. GORDON.”
Fredericton, February, 1866.
This Memorandum, in compliance with Mr. Smith’s urgent request, was not formally transmitted to the Council, but it was carefully read by him, and its substance communicated to his colleagues.
Mr. Smith must have perceived, although His Excellency abstained from any expression calculated to wound the susceptibility of his Council, that had the question proposed by that Memorandum received a negative response His Excellency was prepared to decline to accede to the recommendation that Mr. Wilmot’s resignation should be accepted, and to entrust to that gentleman the responsibility of attempting to carry into effect the policy on account of his adherence to which he desired to quit the Government which, in conjunction with Mr. Smith, he had undertaken to form.
After several communications with the other members of the Council, Mr. Smith ultimately informed His Excellency that whilst unable to accept in its integrity the Scheme adopted at Quebec, he and his colleagues were not indisposed to meet the wishes of Her Majesty’s Government; and that it appeared to him that the requisite sanction for the adoption of such a course might be obtained if the Message transmitting the papers on this subject to the Legislature were referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses, with an understanding that that Committee should report in favor of a measure of Union.
His Excellency replied that he had no objection to such a course, provided it was clearly understood beforehand that this reference was to be made only with a view of rendering it easier for the Government to adopt a course which they had themselves in any case resolved to pursue, and with no intention to cast upon the Committee the duty of finding a policy for the Government; for that a reference of such a description, besides involving an abdication of their proper functions as a Government, would cause much delay, and might after all terminate in a report unfavorable to union, in which case it was needless to point out to him that so far from any progress having been made in the desired direction, the position of the cause would have been materially injured.
Mr. Smith answered that he could not of course formally pledge beforehand a Committee of the Legislature, but that in making himself responsible for the recommendation, it would be with the view of honestly carrying out the policy so indicated.
The Committee having reported, the next step to be taken appeared to His Excellency to be the introduction by the Government of an Address to the Queen, praying Her Majesty to take steps for the accomplishment of the union, and His Excellency drew out the rough outline of such an Address, similar in substance to that adopted by the Canadian Parliament; but adding a representation that portions of the scheme agreed to at Quebec were received with apprehension and alarm by a large part of the people of this and the adjoining Province, and a prayer that Her Majesty would be pleased, in the preparation of any Imperial Act to effect the desired union, to give just weight to the objections urged against such provisions on their behalf, and would afford the Provincial Legislature an opportunity of considering the scheme agreed upon, before its final adoption. To this proposal His Excellency understood Mr. Smith to assent and his impression to that effect is confirmed by finding it so stated in a note made at the time, and read by His Excellency a few days subsequently to Mr. Smith, and in the Despatch based on these notes, addressed by His Excellency to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Mr. Smith has lately, however, assured His Excellency that he only meant that such an Address might “grow out of the Committee,” and did not intend to pledge himself in the first instance to propose it.
A controversy with respect to the words used in conversation, and the meaning intended to be conveyed by them, is seldom capable of satisfactory settlement and it is not His Excellency’s intention to discuss the greater accuracy of Mr. Smith’s memory, or his own.
It is sufficient to remark that whatever the precise nature of the course agreed to on the 17th February (for the discussion lasted three days,) was, it was one to which it was felt that it would be more difficult to reconcile the friends and supporters of the Government, than its actual members, and Mr. Smith at once left Fredericton in order to prepare his principal adherents for the altered policy he proposed to pursue, asking His Excellency to observe the strictest secrecy on the subject until his return to report either the acquiescence of his friends, or the failure of his efforts.
Mr. Smith on his return informed His Excellency, on the 3rd of March, that his party generally were willing to assent to the course which he had consented to pursue. It was accordingly agreed to insert in the Speech on the opening of the Session, the recommendation of Confederation made by Her Majesty’s Government, and as early as possible to move the appointment of such a joint Committee of both Houses of the Legislature as should ensure the adoption of a Scheme of Union, whilst the objections to the Quebec Scheme were to be carefully weighed and examined at the same time by the Committee.
What the precise alterations in that Scheme were which would have satisfied Mr. Smith His Excellency was never able exactly to learn; but he found that representation according to population, to which he entertained a strong objection, would not be regarded by him as an insuperable obstacle to union, should a larger share of representation be secured to New Brunswick in the Upper Branch of the proposed Federal Legislature.
His Excellency, considering that the speedy accomplishment of a measure of union was now a matter of almost absolute certainty, addressed to Mr. Smith, on the 7th March, a letter of which the following is an extract:—
“I have been much gratified, though not surprised, to find that you are disposed to approach the question of union, as it now presents itself, in a large and statesmanlike spirit, and to realize as facts the necessities which are imposed by the actual condition of affairs. There is nothing which more distinguishes a statesman from a man incompetent to deal with great affairs, than this power of appreciating the changes, the mode, and the obligation, (often a most irksome one,) of acquiescing in a course which, per se, he considers open to objection, in order to prevent evils of yet greater magnitude.
* * * *
“You have it in your power to render the Province the inestimable service of depriving its accession to the principle of union of that character of a party triumph, which it must otherwise wear, and of those feelings of bitterness which such a triumph would engender.”
Mr. Smith did not contradict the presumption on which this letter was founded, and verbally acknowledged the terms in which His Excellency therein spoke of his conduct.
Having thus, therefore, as he presumed, ascertained that his Council were not indisposed in their own way, and at their own time, to recommend to the Legislature the adoption of an union policy, His Excellency felt that much forbearance was required in order that this change of course might be accomplished in the manner which the Council might think least injurious to themselves, and most calculated to ensure the ultimate success of the measure; and with this view he sought to secure the co-operation of some of the leading friends of Confederation ordinarily hostile to the Government.
In doing so it was His Excellency’s earnest desire to strengthen the hands […]
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[…] of his administration in the conduct of a difficult enterprise, believing it to be of the highest importance that this measure should not be carried as a mere party triumph, but as the expression of a national wish; nor did he suppose that the course he then took could be misunderstood by those in whose interests it was taken.
It is true that Mr. Smith, and on one occasion one other member of the Government, remonstrated against this course, and Mr. Smith observed that it was unnecessary, as he felt that he could carry out his plan without any assistance from his political opponents, an assertion the correctness of which His Excellency at the time felt disposed to question, and which, even if accurate, appeared to him of doubtful policy, as it was desirable the union should be accomplished in virtue of as general an agreement as possible among the leading men of every political section in the community; and His Excellency more than once suggested that the principal advocates of Confederation should be called upon to meet Mr. Smith and his colleagues in order that a line of action might be adopted by common consent on a question of such general importance, and with regard to which, now that the Government had adopted the principle of union, it seemed difficult to believe that a common understanding might not be reached.
Upon the distinct understanding, therefore, that the Government would endeavor to procure the passage through the Legislature of resolutions affirmative of the principle of union, and with the impression that an address praying Her Majesty to move the Imperial Parliament to give effect to such resolutions was to be subsequently adopted His Excellency felt justified in omitting, at the request of his Council, from his speech at the opening of the Session the strong recommendation of union which he would otherwise have felt it his duty to introduce, but the responsibility for which his Ministers felt they could not then assume.
To what extent the other members of the Executive Council agreed with their President, His Excellency cannot say, as except on a few occasions in February, he had little communication with any of them on the subject; but His Excellency is convinced that when Mr. Smith returned to Fredericton on the 5th March, he imagined that he would be able to carry out the pledges he had given, and that he fully intended to do so.
Since the commencement of the Session, however, the course of the Government has shown little indication of a movement in this direction.
His Excellency has never ceased to urge on Mr. Smith, the expediency, and indeed necessity of a bold avowal of his intended policy; not has he failed to express his apprehensions as to the consequences of delay in doing so, believing that until that avowal was made, Mr. Smith would become daily more and more entangled in contradictory pledges, from which he would find it impossible to extricate himself, and which might act most prejudicially on the prospects of the cause; whilst at any time circumstances might call for such action on the part of His Excellency as would place him in a position of apparent antagonism to his Council and prove productive of very serious embarrassment. This course, however, the Government did not pursue, and it became more and more clearly apparent to His Excellency that they lacked the power—he will not suppose they lacked the will—to carry out their original intentions. Their hostility to the particular form of union agreed to at Quebec, was distinct and emphatic, whilst their approval of even an abstract union of an indefinite character, because daily more vague and uncertain.”
Declarations were publicly made that no proposition for an Union would be made during the present Session, and arguments were reported to be used by members of the Government and their supporters, which were not only against the Quebec Scheme, but equally directed against any plan of whatever description, for a closer Union with Canada.
On more than one occasion His Excellency noticed these facts to Mr. Smith, who replied that the reports received by His Excellency as to the language used were inaccurate; and that it was desirable not to indicate too soon the line he meant to take, as it would give an advantage to his opponents and might estrange some of his friends.”
In the desire to avoid giving cause of embarrassment to his Government, and at their request, His Excellency delayed for nineteen days the reception of the Address of the Legislative Council, in reply to the Speech from the Throne; nor was it until it became evident to His Excellency that further delay in this respect would seriously imperil the harmony of the relations between himself and the Legislative Council, and the Legislative Council and House of Assembly, that he fixed a day for its reception.
Mr. Smith frequently expressed a hope that the Lieutenant Governor did not entertertain [sic] any doubt as to the necessity of his intention in carrying out to the letter the understanding between them, as to the passage of resolutions on the subject of union
At length the presentation of the Address to the Queen by the Legislative Council brought the question to a decided issue.
Up to that time the Government had given no public sign of an intention to grapple with the question, or to substitute any amended scheme of union for that adopted at Quebec, and the Lieutenant Governor in accordance with his instruction—and as an officer of the Imperial Government—could not but feel it his duty to express satisfaction at the avowed approval, by one branch of the Provincial Legislature, of a policy the adoption of which had been recommended by him in his Sovereign’s name, and by her command, at the commencement of the Session.
If the Lieutenant Governor’s Advisers cannot concur in these sentiments, and decline to become responsible for their utterance by His Excellency, it is no doubt their duty to tender, as they have done, the resignation of the offices held by them.
His Excellency accepts those resignations with regret. His relations with his Advisers during the past year have been harmonious and cordial;—for many among their number he entertains strong feelings of personal esteem; nor can he forget to acknowledge the attention which his views have generally received at their hands, or the readiness with which his wishes have on most occasions been met by them. But he has no doubt, as to the course which it is his duty to pursue in obedience to his Sovereign’s commands, and in the interests of the people of British America.
His Excellency may be in error, but he believes that vast change has already taken place in the opinions held on this subject in New Brunswick. He fully anticipates that the House of Assembly will yet return a response to the communication made to them not less favourable to the principle of Union than that given by the Upper House; and in any event, he relies with confidence on the desire of a great majority of the people of the Province to aid in building up a powerful and prosperous Nation, under the sovereignty of the British Crown. To their verdict His Excellency is ready and willing to appeal.
The Council also express dissatisfaction at His Excellency’s personal conduct in regard to his relations with them.
That is a matter of infinitely less importance to the public, and will be very shortly dealt with by His Excellency, although as His Excellency has met at all times with the utmost courtesy and consideration from the Members of his Government, it would be a source of sincere regret to him to believe that he was justly liable to any imputation of such a nature.
That a leading member of the Opposition was more than once communicated with by His Excellency, is perfectly true. This communication was made with Mr. Smith’s full knowledge, and in the believe on His Excellency’s part, that it would facilitate Mr. Smith’s accomplishment of the end in view. The gentleman in question met Mr. Smith at Government House on the 5th of Match, and His Excellency believes that a very protracted interview subsequently took place between them; nor was it until a very late period that His Excellency relinquished the hope of seeing a combination effected to smooth the passage of the contemplated Resolutions.
His Excellency things it right also to state, that his reply was prepared by himself alone, and that his Council are in error in supposing that its terms were the subject of advice from any member of the Opposition.
His Excellency does not admit the entire accuracy of Mr. Smith’s report of his conversations with him, appended to the Minute of Council, but at the same time readily acknowledges that the difference between his own impression of those conversations and that of Mr. Smith, is only such as might naturally arise under the circumstances. Mr. Smith has, however, omitted to state that at his first interview His Excellency pointed out, as he had frequently done before, the embarrassing results of the non-avowal of his Union policy, and observed that the Legislative Council had now passed an Address, at the adoption of which he should probably feel obligated to express satisfaction.
The Lieutenant Governor of course feels that previous communication between himself and his Advisers as to any step he is about to take, is, when practicable, both desirable and essential, and it was His Excellency’s full intention to have afforded the Council ample opportunity for the consideration of his Reply, an intention which he much regrets that accident should have frustrated.
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The Committee of the Legislative Council did not wait on His Excellency till after 12 o’clock, and until that Address was before him he could not officially communicate with the Council on the subject of his Reply to it.
Immediately on its reception he sent for Mr. Smith, intending to put the draft Reply into his hands, and request him to communicate it to his colleagues.
Mr. Smith, however, appears not to have received His Excellency note until half-past two o’clock, and His Excellen cy’s intentions in this respect were consequently failed.
So strong was His Excellency’s wish that the contents of his Reply should be known to the Council before its delivery that when, during their last interview, His Excellency left the room as stated by Mr. Smith, it was not, as that gentleman supposes, to consult a member of the Opposition respecting the omission or retention of a paragraph in his Reply—a point on which His Excellency received no advice from any other person than Mr. Smith,—but for the purpose of ascertaining whether it might not even then be possible to postpone the reception of the Address for a few hours. He found however, that it would have been impossible to do so without gross discourtesy to the Legislative Council.
(Signed) ARTHUR GORDON,
Fredericton, 12th April 1866
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