New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [Mr. Fisher’s Amendment] (3 April 1866)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly  at 85-89.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Tuesday, April 3.
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The House in Committee agreed to an Act to aid the construction of the Woodstock Railway.
After which the order of the day was taken up, viz:—
ADJOURNED DEBATE ON MR. FISHER’S AMENDMENT.
Mr. Needham resumed. I shall now quote my hon. colleague’s (Mr. F.) Speech on a Want of Confidence motion in 1854. which was published in what is called the “political primer,” in which he gives his opinion of the Colonial office, and despatches from that, office, I shall make very few comments. This speech was delivered when the Hon. John, A. Street was Attorney General.
He (Mr. F.) said, “a despatch, in his (the Attorney General’s) estimation, was more of political value than the action of the Local Legislature,” and again, “he (Mr. F ) would like to see an attempt to carry the despatch into effect; he told Mr. Brown last spring, to pay no attention to it, and to come to the House if he wished. The Executive had allowed this to pass without remark or remonstrance, though it was a direct attempt to restrict them in the right to self-government.”
My hon. friend is not consistent here with the opinions he now expresses. He charges the seven with using strong language in their reply to Mr. Cardwell’s despatches, and in 1854 he accuses the Government of bowing down to the Colonial Office. Here was a despatch come out from home stating that a Legislative Councillor could not leave unless his resignation was accepted by Her Majesty, and that the Governor had no power to accept it. This was not only in reference to a despatch from the Colonial Office, but it involved one of the Crown prerogatives, which every man is supposed to submit to. But says my hon. colleague, though it be a royal prerogative, I say to you, Mr. Brown, pay no attention to the Queen’s prerogative. Pay no attention to the Colonial Office, but come to the House when you like. I hold he is bound in duty to his and my constituents, and to the people of this Province, to show why, after having made such a treasonable expression, he now turns round and charges this Government with truckling to the Colonial Office.
Then again, he says, “by allowing Sir Edmund Head to appoint Judge Cartier Chief Justice, the Council had quailed before him.” It seems to he his idea that any Government in which he is not, quails before the British Government. He goes on. “They had allowed the Province to be governed by despatches, and inroad after inroad to be made upon the principles of self-government. “If these were then his views, has he abandoned Responsible Government now? If we were to form our opinion of Responsible Government from its action in this country, and from the action of its supporters in this House, then in truth and verity is Responsible Government a humbug, while in reality it is not so. But I hold that if my hon. colleague meant what he said on that occasion, then his charges against this Government, in respect to those despatches, are utterly valuless.
He continues: “This discussion would put an end to government by despatches.” Who revived the ghost and brought it from the shades below? My hon. friend, he is the man who put him down, and now he blows his trumpet and the ghost appears. Then again he goes on: “It would teach all future Governments to act like men of spirit and independence and not truckle to any Governor or Colonial Secretary.”
But now he says, how dare you do as I told you ten years ago. That despatch, written by the immortal seven as they are called. is an evidence that they do not truckle to the Colonial Secretary. No man need be ashamed to sign that despatch, and the only regret that I have—if it is ever connected with the history of the country as it ought to be—is, that I cannot constitutionally append my name to it.
The Hon. Mr. Ritchie, who supported my hon. colleague in that debate, and assisted him to overthrow the then Government, says: “On the 28th April, 1851, he (Mr. R.) moved the following resolution:—
“Resolved, That while this House should always receive with respect, the House cannot but look on the extract of the despatch of Earl Grey, dated the 25th day of November, 1850, submitted by His Excellency, by message of the 13th day of February last, as a dictation inconsistent, not only with the interests of the country, but in direct opposition to the principles of self-government, heretofore conceded, and which, if successfully persisted in, makes Responsible Government a mere mockery and delusion.”
Dame rumor said, that when that Government was formed my hon. colleague agreed with Judge Ritchie that he was to have the Judgeship, and my hon. colleague, the Attorney General—( Mr. Fisher—No such agreement)—there were many ways of coming to an understanding and yet enabling the contractors to say it was not so. But, at all events, so the day happened Mr. Ritchie did get the Judgeship. My hon. colleague, the Attorney Generalship, just as Dame Rumor reported, in this instance, “common rumor was not a common liar.”
I came into the House in 1851 to oppose the then existing Government. My hon. colleague and Judge Wilmot were in the Government, and I was sent here by the Liberals of St. John, who believed in the doctrine of Responsible Government—to oppose them because they had forfeited their right to be called Liberals, by abandoning Responsible Government, by shelving themselves in with parties who were their opponents, and having done so they could not say they did it with their eyes shut, because they knew that after Responsible Government was adopted in Nova Scotia, through the hard work of the Hon. Joseph Howe, they formed a coalition with the so-called Tory Government, and the result was that they smashed to pieces.
When they attempted to do the same thing here, they must have known they would have fallen into the same dilemma. Messrs. Gray, Wilmot, Tilley and myself were sent here to oppose that Government. I did it to the best of my ability. I opposed them right or wrong, and that is the way I like to see a Government opposed. I do not mean to say they should do this on ordinary measures, but they should oppose them on measures introduced as Government measures. It is well known that I did it when I came to the House on that occasion, but for some reason or other we could not beat them.
The next year Messrs. Wilmot and Gray joined that Government, and Messrs. Ritchie, Simonds and They resigned, and they called […]
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[…] upon me to do the same thing. I said, No! I do not see why you resigned; why could not you hang on to the ship; let us act like men and fight out the matter. It may be that they supposed they could not do anything; but that is not the way for political men to act. If I was in the Opposition, and only had two men with me, I would oppose them, and keep the snowball rolling, and it would gather in as it went. I do not believe it was right for those hon. members to resign, yet I got all the obloquy for not resigning. When I came to the House at the next session, we appointed two of our party to determine our platform, and when that was drawn only two out of the seventeen Liberals signed it. I then said I would offer no further factious opposition to the Government.
My hon. friend (Mr. Connell) read a letter showing the necessity of pitching into the Government. (Mr. Needham then read a couple of letters from his constituents, eulogizing the Government, saying they had done their duty faithfully, and continued.) I could give you more of these, and they contain the opinion of the men of York. My hon. friend has made a charge against the Government in regard to the appointment of the Judges. I believe if there are men in this country whose names ought never to be handled, or their actions made the subject of debate, it is the Judges. It has been the pride of this country, that its Bench and Ermine have been kept spotless. They have had men on that Bench from its earliest history to the present period, who by their integrity, honesty of purpose, and knowledge of law, have invariably covered that ermine with glory. I never will be the man to say or do anything to bring the Judges of the country into disrepute.
My hon. colleague (Mr. F.) has charged the present Chief Justice with cabaling, and a more gross charge cannot be made against any Judge. I do not know a solitary instance of any of the members saying that in reference to Judge Wilmot. I believe the Government did right in appointing Judge Ritchie Chief Justice. At the last session of the Legislature, when the question of Confederation was up, I referred to His Honor Judge Wilmot, and I appeal to the members of this House whether I referred to him in a derogatory manner, yet I was represented as having made a great boast about it. What I say here I am prepared to say to Judge Wilmot, and I do not want to be misrepresented in regard to the matter. My hon. colleague has said he read out of the same book with him. I can almost say we were born in the same house; we ran and played in the same house, and my feelings of friendship for him were and are very strong. I have gone through mud and mire to canvass for him, without his knowing it, because I believed he was right, and I have asked no favors at his hands; and if I did I would not get them. All I want as a lawyer before him, is justice, and that I will have.
After the last session of the Legislature, I signed a document to the Government, asking them to appoint Judge Parker Chief Justice, and so on according to seniority. If I had not believed that Judge Wilmot would have made a good Chief Justice, I would not have done so, and that is enough in regard to his legal character. It is no detraction to a great man to say there is a greater. We know there are stars differing in magnitude, and that all flesh is not the same kind of flesh. I acknowledge that Judge Wilmot has done a great deal for the country, and I acknowledge the country has done a great deal for him. If I devote twenty or thirty years to this country, and, in consequence, am placed on the Bench, with a competent income to sustain me and my family, I should consider the country had rewarded me for my services to the fullest extent.
According to the principles of Responsible Government, of which he was the Gog and my hon. colleague was the Magog, he might have stepped from the Attorney Generalship to the Chief Justiceship. He did not do it. If the principles of Responsible Government were as strong in them as the principles of non-Confederation were in the anti-Confederates, they would never step to the Bench or anywhere else, until they had carried out those principles to their legitimate consequence. To carry out the principle of Responsible Government, he should have claimed the Chief Justiceship or remained on the floors of the House until the people put him there by acclamation. I feel bound, and proud to say, that the leader of the present Government has refused the office of Chief Justice for the sake of sustaining the principle of anti-Confederation against Confederation. ( Mr. Wetmore.—Do you believe it?)
I do not utter things in this House which I believe to be untrue. I have undoubted authority for stating that my hon. friend, the Attorney General, might this day have been Chief Justice had he chosen to accede to the offer of those who could have given it to him. He declined to accept that office because he had embarked his all in this grand, glorious, magnificent fight against selling the country to the Canadians. This will stand imperishable and indestructible in the records of the country, and when many of us are dead and forgotten, it will be told for the honor of New Brunswick that we had one man who sacrificed place and emoluments rather than sell his country.
When Chief Justice Chipman resigned, my hon. colleague complained that the appointment was arranged between the Home Government and Sir Edmund Head, and my hon. colleague complained that they had to submit to the over riding of the Home Government, as they had not given Judge Wilmot the place of Chief Justice, but had directly interfered with the principles of Responsible Government by giving the place to Judge Carter. Therefore, he did not refuse to accept the office for the sake of carrying out the principles of Responsible Government.
Nothing was said in regard to the appointment of the other Judges, therefore I shall not say much about them, as I must take it for granted that these appointments have been received by the country as correct and good, and futurity will justify them. I did not blame Judge Wilmot because on two occasions he expressed his opinion on the great constitutional question of confederation. I did not think it was prudent, but that was for himself to judge. I do not think he made himself a political partizan by doing so, and I shall give him credit where I think he was not blameable; but while I am quite willing to say this, I do contend that the moment Judge Wilmot voted for Mr. Fisher, an avowed opponent of this Government, he showed himself hostile to the Government, and if any favors were to be given to one Judge more than another—if they had even acted upon the principle of distributing their favors to their friends, or upon the principle of carrying out the doctrine long held in this country, that “to the victors belong the spoils “—they should have given those favors to Judge Ritchie and not Judge Wilmot. Party Government necessarily involves this principle, they are bound to take care of their friends, and let their enemies take care of themselves. I am asked why my friends did not carry this out?
There is a great difference between a constitutional question and a party political question. Confederation involves no party politics, for it is a great constitutional question, and I hold that in a great question affecting our constitution, every man, whether a Judge or a subordinate officer, has an undoubted right as a British subject, and a free man, to go the polls and calmly and quietly vote on that question, either for or against it, and that Government would be wrong when they got into power upon a question like this, to turn a man out of office because he voted against them. But on a party question, when a man holding office under the Government opposes that Government and votes against them, I say he ought to be turned out, and I believe no Government can sustain itself unless it does so.
I know it is a necessary concomitant of a Federal Government, but I do not believe that it was a necessary concomitant of Responsible Government, though it seems to be of party Government. I hold that the former Government perpetrated a foul wrong when they turned men out of office for opposing them, without letting them know that that was the principle they were going to adopt. They set the example, and I fell this Government, or any other Government that may come on the floors of this House, that they never will be able to sustain themselves unless they do likewise. You have to sacrifice your feelings to sustain your party. No matter whether a man is a good officer or not, if he is a political partizan you have to give him the cold shoulder, and put a man in his place, even if he is inferior to him. That is the course which must now be pursued, for the former Government have set the example, and they must be bound by it.
Judge Wilmot would have made a good Chief Justice, but when a Judge, for views of his own, comes down and opposes a Government by openly voting for an opponent of that Government, he should not expect to receive favors from them. The Attorney General has stated that it was not upon those political grounds at all that this appointment was made, but was made at the request of the late Chief Justice Parker, a man whom you cannot eulogise too highly, and of whom it might be said, when he died in St. John, as it was said of a King of Israel when he died, “This day has a great man fallen in Israel.”
My hon. colleague said that the Hon. John A. Street expressed an high opinion of Judge Wilmot, in reference to the trial of a case in the County of Albert—that was correct, for I heard him express the same opinion—and he has so high an opinion of the judgement of Mr. Street, that he thinks that was a carte blanche for the appointment of Judge Wilmot to the Chief Justiceship. We will now see what Mr. […]
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[…] Street said about my hon. colleague in the same primer, when speaking of the School Law.
He says: “He (Mr. Street) was glad to hear it, and therefore inferred that the hon. member approved of the law; but other hon. members of the opposition had censured it, and he (Mr. Fisher) had made sweeping charges against the Government, and against him (Hon. Attorney General) in particular, stating that he had not a modern idea in his head, and knew nothing but law. He would reply, that if to possess modern ideas, it was necessary to square with the sentiments and opinions of the hon. member, he would pray from such modern ideal and opinions “Good Lord deliver him;” and as to the hon. member’s opinion of his legal attainments, he would only remark, that the success which he had met with in his professional career was the most satisfactory proof of the opinion of the public on that score, and that he should feel much humbled indeed it be had nothing better to support his legal reputation than the opinion of the hon. member (Mr. F.)”This was the character of my hon. colleague, as portrayed by Mr. Street at that time.
He says he (Mr. Street) had not a modern idea in his head, and (Mr. S.) whom he now speaks of as a shining light, must in those days have been a dark lantern. Then we have the hon. Mr. Street’s opinion of my hon. colleague. “What, he would ask, could any Government have done more for the furtherance of Railways, and the internal government of the country at large. This was at all events more progressive than anything the hon. member (Mr. Fisher) had been guilty of and yet that hon. member had the audacity. Well, if the word was unparliamentary, he would use a softer one, and as the hon. member had the presumption to say the Government was not progressive, and that he (Hon. Attorney General) had not a modern idea in his head.
The hon. member (Mr. Fisher) no doubt had some modern idea in his head, and one of his most brilliant conceptions was that of trying by cunning not manœuvring to step into his (Hon. Attorney General’s) shoes. This was the hon. member’s great desideratum, and one of his progressive movements.” This was a splendid movement, and he thinks the same thing should be done now. He wants to move out the Hon. Mr. Smith and get in his shoes, but I doubt if they are large enough for him. Then the Hon. Attorney General winds up by saying, “He did not pretend to be a great politician, but if low cunning manœuvres, political tergiversation, and a readiness to accomplish his ends any and every means constituted a politician, he (Hon. Attorney General) was both glad and proud to say that he was not one, although his successor (meaning Mr. Fisher) in that sense might be.” That was the opinion of the late Attorney General (Mr. Street), and if that opinion is worth what my hon. it is, in what position does my hon. friend say a colleague stand to-day.
If that great light, before he died, pronounced that eulogy upon Judge Wilmot, I would ask my hon. colleague. when he re-reads this primer, whether he does not feel that is position was wrong in accepting the testimony of that great light, and give up this matter. I will now say a few words in regard to the Delegation, and then speak on the main point, which in Confederation. This Delegation which went home to England this last season, cost seven hundred and odd pounds. My hon. colleague and another gentleman went home on a Delegation to make some arrangements about Railroads, and the Delegation cost £787 18s. 4d.
If the Confederation Delegation had jolly times, the Railway Delegation must have had jollier, for they spent £87 more. I thought this was a large sum, but I find there is a certain allowance for their pay, so much a day for one of them. If the Province sends a Delegation home, they should put them in a position that they would not he called upon to spend their own money. I have made a calculation of how much money my hon. colleague has received from the Province in these twenty-four years he has been here, and l find he has received fifty thousand dollars, therefore I think the count has paid him pretty well for his services. I think if I had it I would be as mean as was possible in saying anything about delegations. The delegation to Quebec cost the Province $3337.97. This delegation was unauthorized and uncalled for, and it was not right to take that money out of the public chest. It was a public robbery, and they ought to pay it back, and if I had the power I would hold on to them until they disgorged it.
Whatever it cost for the delegation to go to Prince Edward’s Island they had a right to, but they had no right to one cent of the other. The only fault I have to find with the present Government about money matters is, that they are not generous enough. It is no wonder the late Government could have friends. when they spent $3337 without authority, and without a vote of this Legislature. There was a time in the history of this country when expenses of this kind were put under the head of shoveling snow; but days of greater light have come in, and an account has to be given of every root of the public money, to whom it is given, and how it is expended.
This House ought to pass a resolution, calling upon those delegates to refund every shilling of that money. My hon. colleague (Mr. Fraser) referred to an important fact with regard to the Jackson contract. My hon. colleague (Mr. Fisher) and Mr. Robertson went on that delegation, which cost £800, to make an arrangement with Jackson, Peto & Company. The original contract was not made by the Tilley Government, but the moment they got in they thought they found some flaw in the contract, and they thought they would not be able to carry it out. This contract was drawn by Judge Ritchie, and revised by Messrs. Grey, Street and Hazen, the ablest lawyers in the Province, yet this cry was got up, and those delegates were sent home to make arrangements with Jackson, Betts. Brassy, Peto and Company.
When they returned, their report was laid before the House on the 11th day of March, and this matter was under the consideration of the House until the 27th of March, when it finally passed and it was a singular fact that the original contract was in some pigeon-hole in the Secretary’s office, and was not found until the whole thing had passed through the House. ( Mr. Fisher,—The paper was mislaid in the Provincial Secretary’s office, and the Government got from Mr. Gibbs a certified copy of the original contract.)
I now ask if any of the members who voted for annulling that contract, knew from the statements of my hon. colleague that if they had allowed Jackson & Co. to extend the time of their contract for three months, they would build the Road. I have heard Judge Allen say that he never heard it, yet a Bill was hurried through this House to give that company £90,000 of the people’s money and release them of their contract, and £290,000 was spent in building that road above what it would have cost if it had been built by the Jackson Company. who only required the extension of the time of their contract for three months. This was an outrage perpetrated on the people of the country, resulting in the loss of £290,000.
My hon. colleague made some other charges against the Government, and the one he considered the most important he reserved until the last; that is, regarding the Export Duty Law. This was a mistake, placing $60,000 in jeopardy, but it was not half as big a sell as the “pigeon hole” That mistake cost the Province £290,000. After all, this mistake about the Export Duty Law amounts to nothing. It is a tempest in a teapot, for there was not a dollar lost to the revenue. I do not know who wrote the letter to Mr. Lingley in St. John. If he had received that letter a day sooner, he would have been a gainer, but the country would have lost. We say no wrong has been done; forgive us. And the House said, we forgive you, when they enacted the low to remedy the difficulty.
I will now come to the main point, which is Confederation. My hon. friends from the North say this is a pure question of Confederation, and if this Government had foreshadowed and come down with a scheme, they would have supported them. When they take that ground, I believe it is simply and purely a question of Confederation, and that if the present Government is turned out, the Government that will come in to supplant them will be formed on a Confederation basis of the worst kind. If a majority of the House say they have no confidence in the present Government, they never need look to me again for support, if they do not dissolve the House and go to the people.
I came to this House pledged to go against Confederation; and knowing that under the present Government we are safe in this respect, I am prepared to sustain them at all hazards and risks. They say the Government have foreshadowed a scheme in the Speech, but no construction of the English language can justify them in coming to that conclusion. This Confederation scheme was originated by an unauthorized delegation, and the resolutions were sent home by Lord Monck to the Colonial Ministers, and was agreed to by the British Ministry. It was stated we had to take it word for word. There could be on alteration made from the beginning to the end; and it is propounded now that that objectionable part, representation by population, is unalterable—that we will never have Confederation on any other basis.
Mr. Cardwell did not fancy it was unalterable. The Imperial Legislature may legislate for us, and may alter what we dare not alter. We have hot to swallow it down, body, bones, and all, but they can change it and make it more palatable to them. What kind of doctrine is that for free men holding the right of self-government to proclaim to the world?
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The very fact of the scheme coming in that way to a free people is enough to make them reject it. Those delegates have been compared to the men who signed the declaration of independence in the United States. Those men took their lives in their hands, and looked forward to jails and gibbets. Did those men who went to Quebec and sat seventeen long days in concocting this scheme to ruin us, take their lives in their hands?
I rather think they had a jolly good time; champagne in the morning, sherry in the afternoon, toast in the evening, and glorious times all the way through. The Canadian politicians looked out for themselves. They were justified in doing so, and I find no fault with them for doing so, but I find fault with the delegates from the Maritime Provinces that they appended their names to such a scheme. Look at it, read it, and understand it.
The 64th Section says:—”In consideration of the transfer to the General Parliament of the powers of taxation, an annual grant in aid of each Province shall be made equal to eighty cents per head of the population.” All our revenues go to Canada. Those revenues amount in round numbers to a million dollars a year, and are collected at the different custom offices in this Province, and the moment it is deposited it finds its way into the great maw of Canada. Where are our eighty cents?
Up in Canada, and we have to get it by an annual vote of Parliament, where we have fifteen members out of one hundred and ninety-four, and they tell us that is the best scheme they could get. Suppose this great confederation scheme is carried, and in our Legislature we make a law that cows found on the commons shall be impounded, that law has to be taken to the General Parliament to get their sanction. They come down and say we want to extend our territory and buy the North Pole, and we want $3,000,000 a year, are you prepared to tax New Brunswick for that? No. Then you shall not have your cows impounded. Is that all? No. You shall not have your eighty cents per head.
Could not the Delegates have made a clause in the constitution, that the different Provinces should, by a warrant on their treasury, draw that amount before it went to Canada? Ought they not to have had it when they are giving away a million dollars a year to Canada, and if this Confederation increases the population of this country, as they say it will, our revenues will be increased, and in a few years we will have two millions to send away, but we only receive back the same $200,000 for the support of roads, schools, militia, and the expenses of the local Government (if Parliament chooses to give it).
If these Maratime Provinces were united to Canada under that scheme, the men that originated and sustained it, had better clear out of the country before fifteen years, for they would not be tolerated here, after having absolutely sold us. I do not believe any man in New Brunswick when he reflects upon that clause in it, allowing them to give us $200,000 or not, just as they please, would go for confederation. Another objection to this scheme is, that two languages are to be used. One-half of the members will get up and jabber French, and not one of our members will understand what they are saying. The courts of law are conducted in French too. In Lower Canada one lawyer talks to the jury in French and another in English. This is a system with which we want nothing to do.
It was asserted here during the election, that by going into confederation they secured the seat of Government in Fredericton for all time to come. My hon. colleague (Mr. F.) heard that assertion made by a gentleman who was lecturing for his benefit, and by his silence gave consent to it. If we look at the fifty-third resolution, we will find that the seats of the local Governments shall be as at present subject to any future action of the respective local Governments. This gentleman had the abominable audacity to declare in the face of his own resolution—which, as Mr. Cartier says, was signed by him and sworn to—that the seat of Government was fixed for ever. We can imagine that these Canadians saw the difficulty about the eighty cents, and they said let us put a bait on the hook to catch these lawyers.
A resolution was inserted stating that “until the consolidation of the laws of the different Provinces, the Judges of these Provinces shall be selected from their respective bars.” That consolidation will take place when it suits the convenience of the Canadians, and then the Bench of New Brunswick will be filled with Canadian lawyers. The bait was so thin that it showed the hook, and they did not catch all the lawyers. It seemed to be the desire to invest Canada with all the power they possibly could. It is hard in that scheme to define the power given to the local Parliament, or whether they have any power at all.
The General Parliament shall have power to make laws regarding public debt and property, the regulation of trade and commerce, the regulation of duties and the raising of money by all or any other modes or systems of taxation. This is like the Calvinistic theology. It must have been a lawyer that drew it, who was thinking of the old form of indictment, which names every part of the body and then says all other parts. This General Parliament will have the power to tax by all or any other modes of taxation. There is something underneath this that has not been let out. Why did our great statesmen who have been held up as the very “solons” of this age, let them put in such a clause as that. Mr. Galt, in speaking to his own people, says “that a union of the Provinces will relieve Canada from distress and depression, for at this moment Canada, standing alone, her credit is seriously depressed, but if Confederation is gone into, will have larger means to pledge for the security of the public creditor.” They want us to pay for their defalcations.
No wonder there is a dead lock. We go into Confederation with a debt of $7,000,000, and Canada goes in with a debt of $62,000,000, and they claim actual assets valued at $70,000,000, from which they, two or three years ago, received a return of $471,461, which is a little more than one-half per cent. It follows as a necessary consequence that a great part of that debt is represented by unproductive public works, and a large proportion of bad debts, which is no property at all. This is not declamation, but is the honest truth. The debt of the Province is $5,800,000.
We have nothing to show for $800,000 of this, but for the $5,000,000, we have a railroad paying $40,000 per annum over and above working expenses, and when Eastern and Western Extension are built, which time is not far distant, it will be a paying property. This is acknowledged by every man who pretends to know any thing about railroads. If we go into Confederation, Canada assumes her portion of our debt of $7,000,000, and we give her property equal in value to it. At the same time we assume our proportion of her debt of $62,000,000, for which she gives us $70,000,000 of unproductive property, part of which is comprehended in the Grand Trunk Railroad, built by money filched from the widow and orphan at home, and that money has never been repaid, and never will be. If we had a railroad built in that way I would railroad it out of existence.
How was that money obtained from them? Pamphlets were written to induce the people of England to think this road would pay ten per cent., and the widows and orphans of brave soldiers who fell defending the honor of old England, withdrew their money from the three per cents at home, and invested it in the Grand Trunk Railroad. Hundreds of those widows are now living by the bounty of the British Government, and have become the tenants of the work houses and poor houses at home, while Messrs. Galt and Brown are revelling in their money in the Grand Trunk Railroad. Our taxes average 12 per cent., and our revenue is $1,000,000, while Canada’s taxes average 20 per cent., therefore, if we bring our taxes up to the taxes of Canada, we would still have to pay it all to Canada, yet we would only get the same $200,000 back. This I think would be very unfair. We have been charged with exaggeration about Canada. I will read an extract from a speech by Mr. Dunkin, in the Canadian Parliament “
“I do not care to see Upper and Lower Canada more dissevered than they are. On the contrary, I wish to see them brought into closer union, and I am far from regarding this scheme as cementing more closely the connection of these Provinces with the British Empire. I look upon it as tending rather towards a not distant disunion of these Provinces for the British Empire. I look upon it as tending rather towards a not distant disunion of these Provinces from the British Empire.”
Here the cry was you do not want to preserve the union with the Mother Country, because you do not go into Confederation. That is not only the language of Mr. Dunkin, but it is the language of the Edinburgh Review, which is edited by the most talented men in England, and they regard this scheme as a direct strike at independence from the Mother Country. Mr. Dunkin says again:
“And now what have we? Why, the cry that the whole thing must be passed, now or never. It will never pass, we are told, if it does not pass now. Was there ever a measure of this magnitude before, on which the heart of a country was set, the whole of which was so wise and good as this scheme is said to be; and yet that had to be passed (the whole of it) now or never? We are even told that it is a positive treaty, made, however, by the way, by parties who were never authorized to make any treaty at all. I must say, for one, that I cannot see in all this precipitancy the unmistakable admission de facto that the Government themselves know and feel that the feeling they have got up in favor of this scheme is a passing feeling […]
- (p. 89)
[…] of momentary duration, that they themselves cannot rely upon.”
This gentleman’s idea coincides with my own. That was the reason they wanted us to swallow it now, for the more it was looked into the more hideous it would appear. I lately read of a ghost which appeared in the United States, which had three descriptions of heads and two descriptions of horns; its eyes were like fiery streams illuminating all around with a greenish blue flame That was the ghost of Confederation let down there, and they did not know it.
Mr. Cardwell said that Scheme could be altered, and this is what he writes back to Lord Monck:
“Her Majesty’s Government have given to your despatch and to the resolutions of the Conference, their most deliberate consideration. They have regarded them as a whole, and as having been designed by those who framed them to establish as complete and perfect a union of the whole into one Government, as the circumstances of the case and a due consideration of existing interests would admit. They accept them, therefore as being in the deliberate judgment of those best qualified to decide upon the subject, the best framework of a measure to be passed by the Imperial Parliament for attaining that most desirable result.”
Mr. Cardwell acknowledges the Scheme was right, because they were best qualified to decide upon it. Our Government said to Mr. Cardwell, we will not adopt it, for we are the best judges of it, but Mr. Cardwell does not believe that, because it does not suit his purpose, for he thinks this union will be a most desirable result, and will relieve him of a vast amount of difficulty. He says it is the best framework of a measure—our delegates told us it was a building perfect, with foundation and superstructure all complete. Why then does Mr. Cardwell call it a framework set up, which has to be finished? He is perfectly satisfied that if that Scheme was adopted, it would add new burdens to the country. He says:
“Her Majesty’s Government cannot but express the earnest hope that the arrangements which may be adopted in this respect may not be of such a nature as to increase—at least in any considerable degree—the whole expenditure, or to make any material addition to the taxation, and thereby retard the internal industry or tend to impose new burdens on the commerce of the country.”
Although willing for Confederation, Mr. Cardwell puts on record that he gave us warning, whether we choose to take it or not. In regard to this $10,000,000 to be spent in Railroads. How and when do we get it and who is to pay for it. Our revenue in ten years will amount to $10,000,000, and we can have this expanded in the country year by year without going into Confederation. In Canada everything is taxed, and they have even enacted a stamp act, and when we go into Confederation our taxes will have to conform to theirs. I will support the Government as long as they are true to anti-Confederate principles, and no man can charge me with being inconsistent in this matter. I hope to see the day come when this question will be settled and settled for ever.
I know there are men whose souls soar away beyond us, who are satiated with all the little New Brunswick can give them, and they reach forward to the celebrated towers and palaces of the far-off Ottawa; for this they would let New Brunswick go to the winds and be lost for ever. Bring us near to the darling of our souls, the far away Ottawa, with its miles of cornice and its acres of plaster, and let us revel there in vice-regal glory. But there are loyal sons of New Brunswick who will not be carried away by all this splendor, and when the time comes, it will be seen that this splendor has been like a dissolving view to their eyes, become “the baseless fabric of a vision which leaves not a wreck behind.”
In conclusion, I will thank the members of the House for having listened to me so long, for I felt I could not do justice to myself and to the question if I occupied less time than I have done. I regret that it is out of my power to bring before this House all that I would like to bring before them, in order that the people of the country may understand the question. I have shown enough I think to satisfy hon. members that I have a right to take the stand I do, that I have a right to feel I am pursuing an honest and disinterested course in sustaining that Government, who have determined with me to resist to the political death any onslaught on the rights and liberties of this free people; and I, so far as I am concerned in this matter, believe I stand connected with men and with a party of men who are quite willing to endorse the principles of the Poet:
Strike till the last armed foe expires,
Strike for our altars and our fires,
Strike for the green graves of our aires,
For God and our native land.”
When I forget my country so far as to sell it for Confederation, may my right hand forget its cunning, and if I do not prefer New Brunswick, as she is, to Canada with all her glory, then let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. When the day comes when we shall have, according to the wish of my hon. friend from Charlotte (Mr. Hill), Confederation deposited in the grave, those that will be there will not be there as mourners, but as glorifiers, and they will sing, with hearts elate with patriotic joy:
Then safely moored, our perils o’er,
We’ll sing the songs of Jubilee,
For ever and for ever more,
New Brunswick, Land of Liberty.
The House then adjourned until 10 A.M. to-morrow.