New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [Mr. Fisher’s Amendment] (5 April 1866)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly  at 93-96.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Thursday, April 5.
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ADJOURNED DEBATE ON THE MR. FISHER’S AMENDMENT.
Mr. Wetmore resumed: I regret that I had not occupied a little more time last evening, so that there would have been no necessity for my making any further remarks. The debate has been protracted to an alarming extent, and has taken more time than we expected. I do not wish to occupy more time than is necessary to explain my views on this question. When the House adjourned, I was commenting on an important feature in this case. It is one on which I think the hon. gentleman who form the Government have sacrificed the views which they entertained on a previous occasion. It may be that the Lieutenant Governor has a right to receive that amount of salary. I express no opinion upon that point. What was the motive that induced the present. Attorney General to make a motion in 1864 to fix the amount of the Governor’s salary? Was it to create a turmoil in the House, to turn the Government out, and get some of his friends in? I do not charge him with any improper motives, for I presume he acted in a fair and legitimate manner, and did his duty as a member of the House of Assembly. He says nothing but the political exigencies of the country could induce him to take office; therefore it must have been to set this matter right. If His Excellency has a right to single penny, by the same principle he may draw every fraction from the treasury, for there is no limit. Though the excess of salary drawn is regularly paid back; yet it does not alter the principle that it is wrong to draw it without legal authority. The present Attorney General on that occasion said that the Lieutenant Governor should receive so much and no more, and if he drew one single penny, from the treasury outside and beyond the amount he was entitled to receive, the Government of the day ought to take the responsibility of it. I agree with that sentiment, and I think that upon the formation of the present Government, it should have been made a sine qua non that His Excellency should not have drawn this excess salary.
My hon. friend (Mr. S.) In 1864 sought to fix the responsibility of it upon the then existing Government. He then portrayed the evil of allowing money to be drawn, without legal authority, from the Treasury, in all its horrors. And now, when they have the power to stop it, they still allow the evil to exist. Is that the way a man should act who assumes the leadership of the country? I am prepared to say I have no confidence in men who act in that way. It shows a lack of determination, if not a lack of principle. My hon. friend (Mr. Smith) says there was a solemn agreement made between His Excellency and the former Government that this excess of salary should be drawn and paid back. The Government had no power to make agreements regarding the funds of the country to bind us for all time to come. Such agreements can only be made by legislative enactment. If His Excellency has a right to draw this money, he has a right to keep it. If arrangements of this kind have been made by the Tilley Government, it is no reason that the Smith Government should follow it up. for two wrongs do not make one right. I think the people of the country want to treat His Excellency with dignity and respect, and pay him such salary as his is entitled to without any paying back. His Excellency may be under the impression that he is giving us a bonus, and another Governor coming here may not have the same liberal spirit, and retain the full amount, which has been drawn and sanctioned by two Governments, and we would have no remedy. My hon. friend (Mr. Smith) talks about his patriotism, as though he was the only man that had given up any thing to serve his country. I gave up an office, because I was induced to come here to endeavor to prevent the passage of the Quebec Scheme. My hon. friend who did not want an office, jumped into the late Attorney General’s shoes before they were hardly vacant; he resembles one of the “No. I thank you men.” who when asked to have a piece of cake or a glass of wine, always said. “No, I thank you.” but they generally managed notwithstanding to eat and drink more than anyone else in the company. ( Mr. Smith—You wanted an office soon after you got into the Assembly.) If I did I sought an office fairly, and there was the most solemn pledges and promises given me. I hold the man that pledges his word to another pledges his sacred honor. and if he violates that word he is entitled to no respect. Why were those pledges not carried out? I am just as much entitled to an office as my hon. friend. My grandfather held on of the first offices in this country, and discharged its duties in an efficient manner. I never made a pledge to deceive any person and I trust my name will never be sullied by breaking a pledge to any man. In reference to expiring laws, the speech of last session says: “Your attention will be called, with a view to their renewal, to several enactments which owing to my inability to call you together at an earlier period, have either expired or are on the point of expiring.” And the answer says. “We will give our attention to such enactments as have recently expired or are about to expire.” If the Government thought proper to overlook the re-enactment of such laws, they acted improperly and are to blame. They tried to throw the blame upon Judge Allan and upon the leader of the former Government. The export duty law was known to have expired in September, and it was the duty of the Government then to have called the Legislature together to re-enact that law. Another law has expired providing for the prompt payment of all demands upon the treasury, and all money received without that is received without the authority of law. Unless there was a law for it, the learned Attorney General had no right to negotiate a loan of £15,000. I think they admit the error, for they have brought in a Bill. ( Mr. Smith—The Bill brought in now is included in the Treasury Note Bill of last year.) If the Government can make such arrangement as they please, pledging the revenues of the country without showing law for it, the country has got into a bad position. The Government, trying to justify the matter, only makes it worse; upon whose credit did they obtain money in England, and upon whose authority?—(Mr. Smith There was no money obtained at all, it was simply a cash credit. In the event of our wanting money we made an agreement to authorize us to draw it.) I suppose my hon. friend will tell me whether there has been any drawn of not. ( Mr. Smith—There has been £5000 drawn recently in consequence of the Fenian excitement causing a run upon the Savings Bank.) I am rejoiced that at last we have got some information He has admitted the fact that £5000 have been drawn. By virtue of what authority was that money drawn? What right had he to pledge the credit of the Province of £20,000. There is no law to justify his doing it. ( Mr. Anglin—There is a law authorizing the investing in England the surplus amount in the Savings Bank, which is held there to meet any run upon the Bank ) Where is the surplus money? It is all gone. ( Mr. Smith—It is all right.) It may be all right, but it has been invested in England. My impression is, that there has been a wrong committed in obtaining this money without the sanction of law. If that be the case I have no disposition to give the Government an opportunity of interfering with the finances of the country. The Attorney General talks about personal attacks. I have attacked the Government because I thought they deserved it. It is well for my hon. friend to consider, who set the example. He as assailed the hon. 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[…] mover of the Amendment, and he has assailed a gentleman who is noi [sic] here to protect himself. I was present at a public meeting and heard this gentleman challenge my hon. friend to meet him on the public platform and discuss the question of Confederation; he made a positive offer, distinct and emphatic, each, by turn, taking half an hour, on the following Thursday My hon. friend (Mr. S.) said he was engaged on Thursday. If he wanted to discuss the question he might have named some other day, instead of making that an excuse not to discuss the question at all.
(Mr. Wetmore then read the law regarding the appointment of the Auditor General and said.)
Why was not and Auditor General appointed? It was one of the most important offices in the country. It may be that the accounts are kept in a better manner than they were, if so why do not they appoint the gentleman who has charge of the accounts to the office, or are they holding it out as a bribe to somebody else? Why was it not given to Mr. Wilmot when he had the promise of it? When promises are made in this way and not carried out, I think the gentlemen making those promises are not entitled to our confidence. If a man promises to pay you a certain sum of money and he deceives you, you say he is not entitled to your confidence. The same rule should apply to the Government. I will now read a document which was presented to the Government about the 8th of September, before the appointment of Chief Justice was made and signed long after Judge Wilmot had spoken from the Bench on the subject of confederation,
“We, the undersigned members of the General Assembly for the Province of New Brunswick, having been informed that the honorable Sir James Carter, Knight, contemplates resigning the office of Chief Justice at an early period, and feeling it important the appointment of his successor should be made in accordance with the course adopted in England, beg leave to suggest, as our opinion, that the Attorney General is, by virtue of his office, entitled to claim the appointment if he thinks proper to exercise the right. But if the Attorney General thinks fit to yield in this respect what we consider his privilege, our opinion is the office should then be offered to the respective Judges, commencing with the senior Judge by appointment, and on his refusal to accept the office, then to be tendered to the next senior Judge by appointment, and so on until the office is accepted We entirely disapprove of the tendering the office to any junior Judge until the senior Judges, by appointment shall have had an opportunity of accepting the office. 10th June, A. D. 1865.
John J. Fraser,
The Attorney General, in making his speech, read a letter written by Judge Parker, in which it was stated that his Honor Judge Parker would not have accepted the office of Chief Justice, if he had not been afraid that his Honor Judge Ritchie would not get it. I do not believe one word of it. If they had the power to appoint Judge Parker, did they not have equal power to appoint Judge Ritchie at that time. They had made pledges to give it to Judge Ritchie, and I can prove it. It never was the intention to give it to Judge Parker, who was a man of high legal attainments, and one of the ablest lawyers in America, and for whom the people entertain the greatest respect. He was appointed in consequence of that document which I have read being presented to the Government. ( Hon. Mr. Smith.—I stated that Judge Parker would not have taken the office if he thought Judge Ritchie could have got it. We pressed the office upon Judge Parker irrespective of any such conditions, and all the members of the Government were desirous of seeing him accept it.) If the offer had been made to Judge Parker, and he declined it, would not Judge Ritchie have got it? This paper, signed by all the strong supporters of the Government would have had no effect.
Mr. Hill.—I was told by Mr. Wetmore in the City of St. John, that he wanted me, and the other members for Charlotte, to sign this paper. I told him I was unwilling to sign it, for I was opposed to having the Attorney General ap pointed Chief Justice. I said that it had been stated that Judge Wilmot—for whose benefit this had been signed—was not the soundest lawyer, and that he had taken a course on confederation which would prevent the present Government from giving him the appointment. He (Mr. Wetmore) said this was true, but he added, if Judge Wilmot is not appointed we will lose the vote of every Methodist in St. John, under these circumstances, and as a favor to Mr. Wetmore, I signed this paper.
Mr. Wetmore.—I said it would be an indignity to every dissenter throughout the Province, and when they get an opportunity they will express the same opinion. I do not think he signed it to oblige me. He signed it after he knew that Judge Wilmot had spoken from the Bench concerning confederation, making the following reservation:
“We endorse the latter portion of the foregoing with respect to claim of senior Judge, but dissent from the principle that the Attorney General has first claim to any vacant Judgeship by virtue of his office irrespective of other qualifications.”
My hon. friend (Mr. Hill) is now prepared to support this Government which treated the opinions of its supporters with the most perfect contempt. ( Mr. Anglin—This paper was signed before the York election.) I think the Judge had a right to vote. My impression is, that Judge Parker has voted time after time at elections in St John, and has addressed Grand Juries on different subjects, requiring laws to be enacted for a particular purpose. Dame rumor says that Judge Ritchie used to express an opinion averse to confederation, and if the matter was fully investigated, it would be found that Judge Ritchie had taken as active a part on that question as Judge Wilmot, except the remarks made before the Grand Jury. I will ask my hon. friend (Col. Boyd) if he was not asked to come up here to assist in forming the Government after the last election. (Col. Boyd.—I received a letter from Mr. Gilmor asking me to come up to assist in forming a Government, and I told him I would.) Why was this aged gentleman asked to come up here to assist in forming a Government when they had not the slightest idea of accepting his assistance? Was not my hon. friend (Col. Boyd) promised the office of Sheriff? ( Col. Boyd.—Yes.) Was that promise carried out? (Col. Boyd,—No.) The Government have never yet made a promise which has been carried out in all its integrity. Are these the men that should have the confidence of the country? I will ask my hon. friend from the County of Kings (Mr. Otty) if he has not been promised the office of Solicitor General? ( Mr. Otty.—No.) How was it, then, he was canvassing on the supposition that he was going to get that office? ( Mr. Otty,—I made no canvas.) Do I understand my learned friend to say that he did not speak to the electors of the County of Kings, and tell them that he was quite likely to run an election? ( Mr. Otty.—I deny it.) I was not present on the occasion, and I must have been misinformed. I am very glad to hear he did not expect it, for he would have been sure to have been disappointed. l was elected to vote against Confederation, and I feel it my duty to vote against it, because elected on that ground. But in regard to my views on this matter, I will state that after giving the matter more serious consideration, my views are very materially modified It is my impression that the paragraph in the Speech concerning Confederation was put to there against the wishes of the Attorney General, but whether it was so or not, they have to take the responsibility of it. We cannot tell whether they intend to bring forward any scheme or not, for all information is withheld on that point. Then the Address in the other branch of the Legislature regarding Confederation had the sanction of the Government, and they have to take the responsibility of it. If they do not take the responsibility of it, they are not acting according to the principles of Responsible Government. This question of Confederation has been put into the Speech, and into the answer to the Address, and the Government submit to it sooner than resign their seats, thus acting in direct opposition to the principles of Responsible Government. In conclusion I will call the attention of the House to an appointment to a St John Battallion of volunteers, of a gentlemen residing at Fredericton, who has been appointed Major, instant of selecting a person from that Battallion for the appointment. When the young men of this country go to the expense of furnishing accoutrements, and attend drill, if any appointments are to be made, these gentlemen ought to receive them, and the Government should take the responsibility. I will now thank the House for their attention, and close my remarks.
Mr. Anglin.—This debate has now been carried on for upwards of three weeks, and we are all very anxious to see it brought to a close. I would prefer not to occupy the time of this House, but I feel, under the extraordinary circumstances in which we are placed, that I would not be doing my duty to the people of this country if I was not, on this occasion, to speak my sentiments. We find the Opposition very busy deliberating and determining where to find fault with the Address; we find them, through their leader, giving notice of a particular amendment, and we find that when he moved that amendment. he had made considerable alteration in it, so that it now stands simply as a motion of want of […]
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[…] confidence. In all that Address, which, they say, was prepared by pigmy politicians, the Opposition, with all their talents, could not find one paragraph to which they could make objection. It stands there unobjectionable, according to their own positive admission. I must express my deliberate conviction, which I believe to be the conviction of ninety-nine out of every one hundred people in this Province, or in British North America, that this debate, in whatever light we may choose to regard it, is a debate on the Quebec Scheme, and nothing more or less. Many members of the Opposition who have addressed you, are still opposed to confederation. I do not question the honesty or sincerity of what they say, but I tell them they are much mistaken if they imagine that there are, in this House any but themselves of the same opinion. I receive papers from all parts of this Province, and the neighboring Provinces, and they all hold that the Opposition are anxious for the Quebec Scheme. It has been contended by hon. members most anxious to upset the Government, that this is a mere vote of want of confidence, and they accuse them of crimes of omission and commission. They have acknowledged the crime of omission, but the crimes of commission will not amount to one serious charge, even if you take the statements of the hon. members themselves. We have listened to the eloquence of my hon. colleague from St. John (Mr. Wetmore), who has delighted the House for the last two days with his eloquence; but setting all the rhetoric aside, and come to the substance and what does it amount to? He takes extraordinary views. I will endeavor to ascertain from his speech what really are the charges which he brings against the Government. He states that in the formation of the Government they had a great deal of trouble, and that promises were made which were never carried out. I have no hesitation in saying that great difficulty was found in forming the Government. It is not every day you find parties who have been opposed to one another for years, brought together to labor for the protection of the country. My hon. friend (Mr. Kerr) seemed to imagine that there was no agreement among the members of the Government, and that they were continually quarreling with one another. He is entirely mistaken; from the day I joined the Government until the day I left them, I never heard in the Council, between the members of the Government one harsh word. We often differed in opinion, but we argued the point in the most kindly manner possible. I think my hon. friend (Mr. W.) asked why Mr. Wilmot was not appointed to the office of Provincial Secretary. He declined the office not because he was afraid to go back to the people for re-election, but for private reasons of his own. For my part I never asked, nor expected to be, a member of the Government, and when it was proposed that I should be a member of the Government, I said I could, as a public journalist, render the Government more assistance out of the Government than I could if I was in, and they had better leave me out. They determined I should become a member of the Government, and my colleagues wanted me to take the office of Provincial Secretary: this shows how little they were afraid of opening a constituency. It was said, why did they not put Judge Allan on the Bench at once, and let Mr. Smith take the Attorney Generalship. That was proposed by Mr. Wilmot, and was one of his views in the construction of the Government. He (Mr. Wilmot) pressed the office of Attorney General upon Mr. Smith, who showed not the slightest disposition to accept it. He (Mr. Smith) said he wanted no office, although every member of the Government united in trying to induce him to take it. My hon. colleague (Mr. Wetmore) spoke of some promise made to him. There was some mention made of his being made a member of the Government, and some proposed that he should be Solicitor General. My hon. friend (Mr. Smith) at that time proposed that after Mr. Allan became Judge, the office of Attorney General should be offered to my hon. colleague (Mr. Wetmore). I appeal to every member of the Government if that was not the fact.
Mr. Wilmot.—I proposed that Mr. Wetmore should be appointed Solicitor General. The resignation of the Chief Justice was then in hand. His Excellency thought there was no necessity for appointing Judge Allan to the office of Attorney General.
Mr. Anglin.—At the time the appointment was made, the Chief Justice had intimated his intention to resign, but had not actually sent his resignation in. I think it was after this time that His Excellency came down to the Council, and read the resignation of the Chief Justice. This resignation was not to take effect until the September following. After that vacancy had occurred, the Attorney General again made the same proposal that Mr. Wetmore should be Attorney General. I said no: the interest of the country requires that it shall not be. To Mr. Wetmore personally, or as a lawyer, I had no objections, but as a politician and leader of the Government, I had strong objections, for he had been but one session in Parliament, and therefore had not had political experience enough to be the leader of the Government. I was one of those who insisted that the present Attorney General should take office. It has been said that he was greedy for office, and created the office of President of the Council to suit himself. I proposed that the office should be created, and it is not considered the first office in the Council. In Canada the President of the Council is not the Premier; he is merely the man who sits in the chair while the Council is in session, and for that small duty he receives $5000 a year. The Hon. Attorney General refused the office of Chief Justice, which was offered him at the formation of the Government. The man who has twice refused such a position is not the man to be held up before the country as a man who seeks office, who holds on to office, or who truckles to the Governor, or any other man. Neither the country nor the House will believe it. Though my hon. colleague (Mr. W.) and myself will vote on different sides on this question, yet I hope we will agree after it is over in carrying on the business of the country. Among other charges he brings up the question of the Governor’s salary. I hold strong grounds on this subject myself; but standing here and knowing what I do, I say the present Government are not to blame, and though my hon. colleague appears to have a case, in reality it is no case at all. The former House, by rejecting the resolution of the Attorney General, clearly, decided that His Excellency had a right to draw this money as he does. All the warrants on the Casual and Territorial revenue for the Civil List are not drawn in the usual form. In the Civil List arrangements, that was placed absolutely and entirely at the disposal of the Lieut. Governor, who draws the money by his own warrant, but the Government have to take the responsibility, for they are responsible for everything done in this Province by the Governor or his subordinates. Another point which my hon. friend (Mr. W.) spoke upon was the appointment of Judges. He went on to state his belief in a great many things that took place. His belief and his information often led him astray, and he assumed things for facts which were in reality not facts. I will inform the House that I never saw that document concerning the appointment of Judges, which was signed by seventeen supporters of the Government, but I heard on board of the steamboat as I was coming to Fredericton to attend a meeting of Council, that there was such a document got up by Mr. Wetmore himself. He (Mr. W.) talks of the Government truckling to other parties, when he was the very man to get up that document and get signature to it, and then send it in to intimidate the Government. They, of course, disregarded it. I said, as one member of the Government, if it comes before us, pay no attention to it whatever. I stand here responsible for my acts, and will do what I consider to be the best for the interests of the country. I am prepared to hold myself responsible for what I do when the House meets again. I will allow no set of men to dictate to me. If they think I have done wrong, they can turn me out, and punish me so far as they have the power, but they have no right to express an opinion to one in such a form as that. That document never came before us when the appointment was made. My hon. friend (Mr. W.) says that document was presented on the 8th of September. I believe the Chief Justice was appointed prior to that. ( Mr. Wetmore,—The paper was received before the appointment was made.) When His Excellency informed the Council of the resignation of Sir James Carter, he put the question, who should be Chief Justice, and there was but one expression of opinion—that was, that Judge Parker should be Chief Justice. His Excellency undertook to offer the appointment to Judge Parker, and I was authorized to state it. Judge Parker at first refused to accept the office, and there were several telegrams passed between the Governor and Judge Parker before the appointment took place. Judge Parker stated distinctly that he could not in honor accept the office of Chief Justice, unless it was understood that, if he was not appointed, Judge Ritchie could not get it. The Government declined to answer this, but said, “We offer you the office; will you accept it?” They declined to speak of Judge Ritchie at all. They said to Judge Parker, we wish you to take it, for the interests of the Province requires it. The answer came, that, under these circumstances, he felt he could no longer refuse to take the office. This is the way Judge Parker was appointed, and when any hon. member says Judge Ritchie cabaled, he must be misinformed. I think the explanations I have given show that there is no foundation for such a charge. I am satisfied that the House will come to the conclusion that if the Government had […]
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[…] so much desire to give the office to Judge Ritchie, they would not have taken such pains to press it upon Judge Parker. After having offered it three times to Judge Parker. and he refused to accept it, they might have said—You refuse to accept the office; we will appoint the man we think, and you think, best to fill it.
The House was then adjourned until 10 A. M., the debate to be resumed by Mr. Anglin at 11 to-morrow.