New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Debates of the House of Assembly [Mr. Fisher’s Resolution Regarding the Appointment of Delegates] (30 June 1866)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly  at 51-57.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Saturday, June 30.
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ADJOURNED DEBATE ON MR. FISHER’S RESOLUTION REGARDING THE APPOINTMENT OF DELEGATES.
Mr. Smith resumed—I complained yesterday of the way the Provincial Secretary met this question. I think his Speech was not of that character which we had a right to expect from the position he occupies. His object appeared to be to create prejudice against my standing and position. He charged me with having brow-beat members. I then stated distinctly that it was not true. I repeat that it is a charge unfounded in fact. But if it were so, what has it to do with the question? Is not such language undignified when men’s judgements are being appealed to, and not their prejudices. I consider that it was unfair, for I made not attack on him or any other member of the House. I felt impressed with the importance of the occasion, and having certain objections to the Scheme, I thought it right to lay them before the House. If they were entitled to any consideration, the Government should accord that consideration to them. The Provincial Secretary has enlarged upon the beauties of the Scheme, and I repeat: are we prepared to accept the Quebec Scheme? Several members of the House have stated they are not prepared to do so, because they have objections to it. Only two or three gentlemen have stated they were in favor of it. When Mr. Ryan stated he was in favor of the Quebec Scheme—( Mr. Ryan:—I said I was in favor of a better Scheme, if we could get it; but if not, I am in favor of the Quebec Scheme,) if he has a good bargain now, why does he want any more. It is of the most vital importance, in view of future time, that in adopting a measure of Union, it should be so prepared that it would work harmoniously, and do justice to every portion of the Confederacy, or the most disastrous consequences must result. We are told that we are to get an advantage over Upper Canada, because her population increases more rapidly than ours, and she only gets eighty cents per head on the population of 1861. That subject would be brought up in the General Parliament, and it would be said by the Canadians that New Brunswick getting eighty cents per head was unjust to their population, and they would make a great for their proportion out of the public chest. The Provincial Secretary said I made no objections to the financial affairs in the Scheme. I stated that the principle of Union had been decided by the people, and the object of all should be to get as good a Scheme as we can. I stated that it would be unjust to the people of New Brunswick to have to pay their proportion of the expense of constructing the Canals to open up the Great West. That is part of the financial question. Every objection which I made the Provincial Secretary seemed to think no objection. If the speeches made here are read by the politicians of Canada, they will say how can you ask for these alterations? Your Lower House approved of the Scheme because they have sent you, who thought no alterations were necessary, here to agree to the Scheme. The Provincial Secretary said it was unwise to state the policy of the Government. When this information goes to Canada, will it not excite distrust and suspicion there? Is it not an extraordinary position for the Government to take to say secresy was the policy of the Government, lest the members of the Legislature in Canada would find out what we wanted and defeat their object. The objection to representation by population the Provincial Secretary has failed to answer. He was asked why it was that this was inserted:
“The number of Members may at any time be increased by the General Parliament—regard being had to the proportionate rights then existing.”
giving the Government the power of increasing the representation independently of the decimal representation; and he passed it over with really no comment at all. When we are now to have 194 members, and an increase every decimal period: why should there be a provision made to increase the number of members ad libitum. This is a most dangerous principle, and would be most disastrous [sic] to us. I put it forward as a proposition that you cannot point to any portion of the British Empire where the representation is by population. When the Bills have been before the House to incrase the representation of Counties, the Provincial Secretary has said himself that representation by population was not right. He has repeatedly stated that it was not a correct principle. I oppose it as a principle. It is not right as applied to a federation or Federal Government, under the English system of Goverment where the whole Executive power is under the control of the people’s representatives. In a Confederation under that principle the larger powers often over-ride and swallow the less powerful. Under the principle of representation by population London would be entitled to send sixty-five members to the British Parliament, about one-tenth of the whole, whereas now she only sends sixteen. The principle is applied in the United States, but they have a salutary and sufficient check in their Senate. The Provincial Secretary has advanced no arguments against the objection I made, that we ought to have equal representation in the Upper Branch. If he says we have more than fair play, the Maratime [sic] Provinces have one third of the representatives; how then can he go to England and urge upon the Delegates to modify the Scheme in that respect? I believe a majority of the members of the House are opposed to the reasoning of the Provincial Secretary on that question. Statesmen should not only look to the passing hour, but they should look to the past, and judge of the future as to how any measure would practically work. I trust the Government will reconsider my objections. The Provincial Secretary seemed to take the position of an advocate, and his policy seemed to be to vindicate himself and show that the Scheme contained no defects. He arraigned and impugned the report of the Controller of Customs. ( Hon. Mr. Tilley I said his figures were right, but the conclusions arrived at by persons outside were not reliable.) If he says the report is all right I will read a portion of the report. ( Hon. Mr. Tilley then explained that some of the calculations were made by estimating what revenue certain articles would yield if a certain tariff was applied to them, and Mr. Smith read a portion of the report to prove that our taxation would be higher under Confederation than at the present, and continue.) The Provincial Secretary says that notwithstanding Canada has not surplus, Nova Scotia no surplus, New Brunswick no surplus, we are to have the Inter-colonial Railway built. Millions of money are to be expended on the Canals. The Hudson Bay Territory is to be purchased and our taxes reduced. ( Hon. Mr. Tilley, I said they would not be increased.) I think the Provincial Secretary is mistaken in that, but admitting he is not, how is it possible to incur all these expenses, without increasing our taxes. Will he pretend to say that stamp duties, on every description of taxation that exists in Canada will not be applied to us. I believe that the taxes will not only be as high as they are now in Canada, but they will be much higher if she incurs […]
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[…] these expenses. The Government of Canada is driven to the last extremity to get money she borrowed last year $2,000,000 and paid seven per cent. for it. We have never paid over six per cent. except the discount upon our debentures. The Secretary has failed to show that our finances would be improved by a Union with Canada, his financial statement in regard to this is utterly fallacious. He gives Canada the credit of providing for the deficiency in the Post Office Department. According to Mr. Odell’s report the office would be self-sustaining by the addition of a small tax upon newspapers, and this will be put upon them after we go into Union. He says we gain by not having to pay so large a proportion for the construction of the Inter-Colonial Railway, as we would have to do by a former agreement. I opposed that law, which has not expired, giving 3 1/2 twelfths of the money required for the construction of the Inter-Colonial Railway, because I considered that Nova Scotia in that adjustment had the advantage of us, for she is a richer country, has a larger population, and there would be the terminus of the road. I am not opposed to Railroads, but I am opposed to recklessly running a country in debt. The Provincial Secretary is not prudent and cautious enough, he was willing to do it without any hesitation at all. I said the benefits to be derived from the construction of that road would not be equivalent to the expenditure, and I resigned my seat as Attorney General in consequence. When the Provincial Secretary accuses me of not bringing forward great measures, I want him to point out what great measure he has brought forward that has not ended in smoke, like the Inter-Colonial Railway and the Prohibitory Liquor Law. He says my talents are for destruction and not for construction. Is this to be applied to me because I pointed out the objections to this scheme that suggested themselves to my mind and opposed the Inter-Colonial Railway? I think it is wring to make these charges. He says that when they prepared that scheme he saw it would be such an advantage to New Brunswick, that he thought the people would embrace it at once. This proves that his judgement is not reliable. he told us after his return from Canada that the scheme would not be submitted to the people until it had been first debated on the floors of the House. He told the people of Carleton that the matter would be submitted to the House.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I stated there, as I did at the Institute in St. John, that the measure would not be submitted to the Legislature until and election had taken place.
Mr. Smith—Will you deny the statement which appeared in the Morning News that you had stated to the people of Carleton that before a dissolution took place the matter would be submitted to the House of Assembly and discussed?
Hon. Mr. Tilley—The report was not a correct one. My statement was in answer to a question asked by Mr. Macshane.
Mr. Smith—That proves how difficult it is to understand his statements. I think he wanted to evade Mr. Macshane. Will the Secretary undertake to state distinctly that the Government did not come to a decision not to have a dissolution?
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I stated so.
Mr. Smith—Why then did the election take place in Northumberland?
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I stated that in the first place we thought we would meet the House, and at that time we issued the writ for that election, but subsequently we changed our policy.
Mr. Smith—That shows their inconsistency; they determined first to meet the House, and then immediately afterwards to dissolve it. It was an act of tyranny for them to dissolve the House in mid-winter upon a question of such importance to the country. If the day appointed for holding the elections had been stormy, men who had to travel thirty or forty miles would not have been able to have got to the polls. Vast numbers of the electors were engaged in lumbering operations at that season of the year, and could not vote at all. The people should have had time to give a calm consideration to such a great question. The Government dissolved the House because they expected to carry the elections, but they were disappointed. Short as the time was for the people to consider the scheme, they would not submit it to them, because official etiquette forbade its being published until it was submitted to the eye of the Queen, and we first received it from Prince Edward Island. It has been said that the Queen and British Government were in favor of this scheme, and this was given as a reason why we should adopt it. They have rung changes upon it, that Her Majesty the Queen wanted the consummation of this scheme of Union. This was prostrating the Queen’s name. We know that in the House of Commons no man dare make use of the Queen’s name, for it is a breach of Parliamentary rule. The Queen can do no wrong, and her name can be identified with no party, She is ready to award the palm to those who win the victory. The Queen recommends the “Reform Bill” but in the discussion upon that bill it was not used as an argument that the Queen wanted it passed. Although she spoke of it she only spoke of the will of her ministry. Suppose the Queen did not want Confederation; with all her virtues she is but a woman, and what value would her judgment be regarding a country she never saw. What do the British Ministry know about this country? If they had the same means of knowledge that we have concerning it I would value their judgement. There is not a man in the British Ministry that has ever been in this country, and the people of England know little about it. They look upon it as a political matter for they see the necessities of Canada, and they know that some scheme must be devised or that country would be in the throes of rebellion. When we are asked to ignore our own judgment because the Ministry of England, who are men of great intellect, learning and erudition, are in favor of it I say their judgment in this matter is no better than ours. The people of England, we are told, want it too. We asked Mr. Cardwell if it was not be cause they assumed that the taxation upon them would cease for this portion of the Empire. Mr. Cardwell said this was true, but he was not prepared to admit that this was the only reason why they wanted it, but he acknowledged it to be one of the leading reasons, and he acknowledged the force of many of the objections. The people all seemed to think that it was to be a Legislative Union, and when it was explained to them that there were to be six separate Parliaments they seemed to be astonished, and said it was objectionable and wrong. The scheme has been prepared with reference to the difficulties of Canada which have existed for the last fifteen years in regard to representation by population. In 1841 and Act of Union was passed to unite the two Canadas under one Government, each to have an equal number of representatives. Lower Canada had then three or four hundred thousand population more than Upper Canada. If the principle of representation by population is right now it was right then. Mr. George Brown is the person who has been advocating this principle, and it has been the apple of discord between the two Canadas. Upper Canada has increased largely in population and wishes an increased number of representatives, and this difficulty has been increasing until the while machinery of Government has come to a dead lock. The scheme is deficient in not providing some tribunal to appeal to in the event of a conflict between the General Government and the Local Legislature. The Prov. Sec. seems to think that the General Government […]
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[…] should determine what out rights are. Although they might be disposed to do justice, it would be the decision of a political tribunal, and their decision, though right, would not be satisfactory. I have no desire to prolong this debate I feel that Confederation is a fixed fact so far as the people have the power, but I consider it my duty to state my objections to the scheme, and his is made the subject of a telegram published in large letters in yesterday’s Telegraph: “Smith speaking against tie. He objects to everything and offers and amendment. Tilley meets him and crushes him.” I do not think I am annihilated yet, neither am I chargeable with speaking against time, and no hon. member can sustain such a charge.
Mr. Stevens—My hon. friend spoke on an important point, that was in regard to the respective Colonies having no right of appeal. I should like to know his views, I thought the Governor General presided over all, and the appeal was to him.
Mr. Smith—I should prefer having judicial tribunal composed of Judges, and they might make it a Court of Appeal, for all the local Legislatures. I would not appeal to the Governor at all or his Council, because it is a matter that requires to be interpreted the same as other contracts. we ought to have the best judicial minds in the country to determine such disputes. I suggest this in all fairness. I suppose Canada would be willing to concede this unless she feels that she has the power and means to exercise it arbitrarily, and is going to hold the Local Governments in the palm of her hand. I shall call attention to some of the facts connected with the resignation of the late Government. The Prov. Sec. takes the opportunity, feeling he is addressing a sympathetic audience, to make an attack upon me and the late Government. I shall feel it my duty to vindicate myself so far as I can. I challenge him to point to any act of our administration that will not bear the light of day—to point to a single act of misappropriation or embezzelment of the public funds, or an wilful act of wrong done. I challenge him to a strict enquiry. It is well enough to say the conduct of the late Government was such as to destroy confidence. I deny it. There were charges brought against us, but the House felt that we had been guilty of no wrong, and had committed no act of misfeasance or mal-feasance. We pled guilty to an act of omission in allowing the export duty law to expire. We came o the House the first day of April, and the law expired the first of May. The Provincial Secretary was more to blame than any member of the Government, for it was his duty to have know that it was about to expire, and communicated the fact to his successor. If he knew of it he was very culpable indeed, for it would not injure the Government, but would injure the country. The country placed him in a position of power and honor, and it was his duty in justice to the people to make it known. We did not when leaving the Government appoint a Magistrate or appropriate a dollar out of the public chest. We had a most determined and reckless opposition aided by the Provincial Secretary, who was they forty-second member, and knew everything that was going on. The Governor consulted with the opposition, which it was wrong for him to do, for every Government is entitled to have the confidence of the Governor, and he should know no other man so far as the constitution is concerned. This is a right that belongs to the people, and the people were insulted by the Governor when he took the advice of the opposition. The people delegate to the Government certain powers, and we were entitled to all the privileges incident to our position, which were guaranteed to us by the constitution. When the Governor consulted with the opposition he violated the constitution and the people have sustained him, but I believe the time will come when they will see their error. The time that the late Governor Manners-Sutton dissolved the House the people ignored the constitutional question, but in less than twelve months they asserted their constitutional rights and maintained them. The Governor sent for Mr. Mitchell to come to Government house before the House met and never communicated that fact to the Government, and I think it was resolved then to have a dissolution. The Provincial Secretary entered the political campaign, and I think told the people that the House would never meet.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—We intended to petition the Governor and get a dissolution.
Mr. Smith—Why did you not do it? I can prove he said the House would never meet. Is the Provincial Secretary prepared to endorse such conduct as that? Is not that back stairs influence. We know that every agency was employed to win from us our supporters. Offers of office were made, and we were misrepresented in every way in order to overturn the Government. It was told that I had pledged myself and signed the Quebec Scheme, a statement willfully false; but the Provincial Secretary now repeats the statement, and says I was committed to the Quebec Scheme.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I put it in this way: If the hon. member learned from Mr. Galt and Mr. Howland, when he was at Washington, that no change could be made in the Scheme, and then came back and negotiated with His Excellency concerning Union, he would be said to be in favor of the Quebec Scheme.
Mr. Smith—This is one of his evasions.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I rise to order. There is no evasion about it. It is parliamentary that when a member, rising in his place, makes a statement, it is to be taken. If he says it is an evasion, he is out of order.
Mr. Smith—I say it was an evasion of the great point in the question, and is unfounded in fact. He must have seen in the correspondence between the late Government and the Governor that I did not commit myself to Union or the Quebec Scheme.
Mr. Wilmot—I do not know the meaning of the Speech then.
Mr. Smith—The Speech says: “I have received Her Majesty’s commands to communicate to your a correspondence on the affairs of British North America, which has taken place between Her Majesty’s principle Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor General of Canada; and I am further directed to express to you the strong and deliberate opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, that it is an object much to be desired that all the British North American Colonies should agree to unite in one Government.” There is not one single word in that Speech which attaches the slightest responsibility to the Governor’s Ministry. The Governor himself admitted that point; he wished us to put something in favor of Union in the Speech, and we rejected it. The Provincial Secretary says we took all the responsibility. Before the election he did not speak so boldly, and say he was willing to assume all the responsibility of the acts of the Governor, but he is very bold after the battle is fought and the victory won.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—I did at the hustings.
Mr. Smith—They said it was a matter between the Governor and his late advisers, and they had nothing to do with it. I believe His Excellency’s Advisers wanted to shirk the responsibility, but they do assume it. The Governor wrote a memorandum, making an attack upon his late advisers—making a charge of felony against the for taking a paper off the file in the Council Chamber. Does the Council assume responsibility of that and endorse it? He may be the scion of the House of Gordon—
His Hon, the Speaker—You should make no charge against the Governor.
Mr. Smith—The House will make some indulgence for men who stand here defending themselves against a charge false and unfounded. This charge was made against me when the elections were pending, and published in the Royal […]
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[…] Gazette, and sent over the country to have an effect upon the elections.
The Paragraph in the Speech attaches no constitutional responsibility upon the late Government. The answer to the Legislative Council was the subject of much debate. His Excellency wished to put something in it in reference to Union, but we said No, and he gave way. They say we were committed to Union. I say I stated in my place in the late House that I was for Union provided we could get a Union advantageous for this Province, for it was my country and I would consent to no Scheme of Union that did not give protection to the rights and interests of the people of this Province. This is also stated in the correspondence, and in all my intercourse with the governor. I always maintained the same principle. When the Provincial Secretary said that I had pledged myself to Union and consulted my friends upon the subject he did not do us justice. I asked him if he knows that Mr. Mitchell was sent for a few days before the House met. ( Mr. Tilley. I do.) The first time he was sent for I was in the United States, and not a single member of the Government knew that he was sent for. The second time he was sent for the Provincial Secretary knew of it. Does that look as if the Governor was acting bona fide with us, when he concealed from us the fact that he had sent for a member of the Opposition? Was such conduct justifiable? I protested from time to time against the Governor’s acting with the members of the Opposition. The Provincial Secretary knew every thing that was to take place and every thing that did take place. When the Governor sent for me about twenty minutes before three, he had his answer prepared for the Legislative Council. I told him that he had violated his agreement. He said he did not know that the Legislative Council were going to present this address. No said I, but we are not responsible for the Legislative Council, he did not pretend to deny that he violated the arrangement, but tried to justify it. He then told me he would give me half-an-hour to consult my colleagues. I told him no, the debate on the want of confidence motion was going on, and they would have to be in the House; he said “he would send the coaches down for them to come up.” I said they could not leave the House. He replied, “I suppose not;” he then left me but before he did so, he said very cooly, if you do not like the answer you can relieve yourselves of the responsibility. I asked him if this was fair. He said had we not better resign, and get out of the way. I am informed that the Clerk of the Executive Council was there ready to swear in a new Government. It was a proposition made by this man who boats of his good name, that we should resign the seals of office and let our enemies come in and take the Government of the country, or in other words that we should prove recreant to our trust, and to every principle of honor which bound us faithfully to fulfil that trust. The Provincial Secretary says I was to consult my friends about Union, he knows that is not correct. He knows that I was to consult my friends about the appointment of a committee to take the subject of Union into consideration. I said I could not pledge myself as to what the Committee were to do. They might authorize another Conference or authorize a Conference of the Lower Colonies. I ask the Attorney General whether it is the intention of the Government to unite New Brunswick with Nova Scotia and Canada or whether they intend to make it a sine qua non that all British North America shall be united. I made certain objections to the Quebec Scheme, viz.:
- Representation by Population.
- That each Province should have an equal number of Legislative Councillors.
- That the Lower Provinces should be exempt from taxation for the Canals of Upper Canada, and for the purchase money and other expenditures connected with the North West Territory.
- That the Revenues collected in the Provinces should be for the benefit of each Province when collected, except a certain amount to be given for the support of the General Government.
The Governor acknowledged that the objections were reasonable, but now he is willing to go for the Quebec Scheme. I told him that if I went into political oblivion for ever, I would never consent to representation by population, unless it was neutralized by some checks. This I stated to the House several times during the last session. I told the Governor that I never would go into Union blindfold, and trust to luck as to what kind of Union we were to get, but I must know the terms of the Union proposed before I would agree to it. I will be here at all times to raise my voice in vindication of the people’s rights and interests, and I plead for them that the Scheme may be altered, because I think the country is opposed to it. I think it is the intention of the Government to appoint men to proceed to England who were delegates at the Quebec Conference, and as the Provincial Secretary has undertaken to dissipate every objection made to the Scheme, when this is known to the Canadian delegates they will not consent to have it modified. Therefore I ask them to send some men who were not at the Conference at Quebec. I do not think it would be right to take men from the Opposition, but they should take men who were not committed to the Scheme so that we may get a Scheme under which justice would be done to every member of the Confederacy.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—A large portion of the speech of my hon. friend is more adapted to another time and another occasion. We are not here to discuss the question of the position of the late Government in all its bearings. He complains that the subject was dragged in my the Provincial Secretary. I think he himself was the first aggressor. He objects to the mode of carrying this Union measure, and says it was aided by the treacherous conduct of the Governor. I do not intend to follow him in but very few of his objections. He referred to our position when the House was dissolved by the late Governor Manners-Sutton, and compared it with the action of His Excellency, but there is a great difference between the two. He and I were in the Government at that time, and one ground of our complaint was that the Governor had allowed the members to return to their ordinary business before the question was raised regarding the Prohibitory Law; had he raised an objection to it during the Session of the Legislature, the dissolution might have been avoided. His great paramount object was to oust his Government, and the Prohibitory Liquor Law was made the stalking horse to accomplish that object. I am not going to follow him through the mazes of his correspondence, but will only say that after reading it and reading the speech, I came to the conclusion that my hon. friend’s Government had agreed with the Governor upon some question of Union. I have not had much to do with the back stairs influence to which he has referred. From the time the Governor came to the Province until I entered this Government, I have never had five minutes conversation with him upon any political question. When I entered the late House my mind was made up that no power on earth would induce me to assist that Government to carry that Union. I came to the House pledged to oppose them. I believed they acquired power unfairly, and their opposition was an opposition to the Government more than an opposition to Union. It was not discussed fairly before the country. Every man was told that his horses, cows, hens, dogs, and every thing he had, would be taxed if he went for this Union. Men went from hustings to hustings proclaiming everywhere that we would be taxed to death.
Mr. Smith—I said taxation would be increased. I said nothing about taxing dogs and hens.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—Writings putting forth propositions of that kind were circulated over the Province, and that intend […]
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[…] men to vote against Union. The election in the County of York was the commencement of the “silent rumbling” that hurled the Government from power, and it should that the minds of the people of the country were against them. My hon. friend speaks of patriotism and party. I say that it was party that decided the question of Union, when it was first brought before the people; the people were humbugged and they felt it. I believe the Government in November last desired to recast this measure of Union, but I believed the people had been cheated, and I said I would go to the House of Assembly to prevent the Government from carrying any Scheme of Union through that House. I said the question should be again left to the people, and the men who inaugurated the principle were the proper men to carry it out. The only pledge I ever made to my constituents in my life was that I would agree to no Union unless there was an appeal to the people. I differ with my hon. friend in regard to the constitutional part of the question. I hold when he put the question of Union in the Speech he committed the Government to Union. He was not obliged to put it in; he could have said to the Governor that there was no necessity for putting that paragraph into the Speech, because those despatches could be laid before the House, but if put in the Speech they would have to endorse them. My hon. friend said his life had been a burden to him. He felt the difficulties that surrounded him; he recommended appointments to office, and the Governor would not make them; he held office without responsibility and without power. He told us the country was in great peril. Who were they in peril of? He had succeeded in cajoling the people only fifteen months before, but during that time the people had time to consider and they went against him by an overwhelming majority. I do not think there is a man on the floors of this House, or a man in the country, that would not say, after reading the address in answer to the Speech, that the Government had agreed to some kind of Union. This paragraph in the address says:
“The correspondence which has taken place between Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor General of Canada, on the affairs of British North America, when laid before us, will receive due attention, and the opinion expressed by Her Majesty’s Government will command that respect and attention which is due to suggestions emanating from so high a source.”
That is a full avowal of their policy of Union, but in order that the world might know that Mr. Anglin had them in the hollow of his hand, they add the rest of the paragraph.
Mr. Smith—When the hon. member speaks of Mr. Anglin having the Government in the hollow of his hand, he states what is not true.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—The Government could not live with him, and they could not live without him and were turned out.
Mr. Smith—It is not true.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—It is easy to say it is not true, but that does not alter the case, for the fact is indisputable. He helped to prepare that celebrated “Minute of Council,” and that was one of the things that helped to kill them at the election. The paragraph continues,—”but in any Scheme for a Union of the British North American Colonies which may be proposed.” I ask the House what that means “any Scheme of Union which may be proposed.” Proposed by whom? By the Government. Did they intend to bring forward any measure? If the Government had been sustained last year on the “want of confidence motion” we would have defeated them on this paragraph, for there were constitutional men enough in the House to have done so. I think that any man with a knowledge of the English language would say after reading that paragaraph [sic] that some Scheme of Union was in contemplation; and that Scheme would be a measure and that measure would be a measure of the Government. For what purpose? For the purpose of uniting these Provinces, and providing sufficient safeguards for their protection. There cannot be any doubt that this was the meaning of that paragraph. The Government complained of the address of the Legislative Council, and tried to induce the people to believe that they were a body who represented nobody, and were not a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. They have taken the first action on this question as also have the Legislative Councils of Nova Scotia and Canada. My hon. friend complains that the Governor in answering the address of the Legislative Council, did not give him time to consult his colleagues upon the question. He says “a vote of want of confidence was going on.” That was a mighty matter. He had not time to come down and discuss the matter for Mr. Anglin was speaking and had the lobbies filled to order.
Mr. Smith—The Governor proposed that I should take half-an-hour to come down and consult my colleagues.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—I would have taken the half-hour and sent for my colleagues to Government House and discuss the matter. I do not think they would have been confined to half-an-hour for if they had come he could not have turned them out. It was Saturday afternoon and the House would have been glad to have adjourned until Monday morning. All he had to do was to tell the House that the Government had important business to transact with the Governor, and Mr. Anglin would have been willing to postpone his remarks, and that would have obviated the difficulty. The Government at that time were holding power against the will of the people. The Government wished to make certain appointments and the Governor would not make them.
Mr. Smith—The hon. member has made a statement that I have explained half a-dozen times. The Governor did not refuse to make these appointments. The Governor did not think it desirable to make any displacements before he went to England, in view of its effect at the Colonial office, and this met with the concurrence of his Council.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—It was stated differently by Mr. Hatheway.
Mr. Smith—I have stated it often, and there is no occasion to refer to Mr. Hatheway for he is not here to answer for himself.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—I was informed that the Government wanted to make these appointments, and it was more than insinuated that his refusal was one cause of Mr. Anglin’s resignation. Mr. Anglin in order to sustain the humiliating position the Government was in, said, the country was in great peril, and this corrobates [sic] that idea. The Government were afraid to dissolve the House because they knew the feelings of the country were against them. They had an evidence of this in the York election, but they resolved to hold on to power as long as possible. This Union question should rise above all party questions; it is a questions of patriotism and its object is to promote the welfare of our common country. My hon. friend says the policy of the Government is a policy of concealment. I should not think he would mention it, after the exhibition the Government made last session. After they came down to the House, they were silent beyond measure on this important question.
Mr. Smith—My hon. friend is entirely mistaken. We told the House we had no measure to submit.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—I am not entirely mistaken. One great object of my motion was to draw them out upon the subject of Confederation. I tried to get some expression of opinion on the subject from the ex Surveyor General, but he treated it in the most child-like way. His reply to my question was: Are you for the Quebec Scheme? The present Government have never concealed their action in this matter. They say that any Union proposed must be based upon the Quebec […]
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[…] Scheme, and they are determine to secure the best terms they can for New Brunswick. Though the thirty-three delegates agreed to the Quebec Scheme, it was but a compromise, for it is a lot to be supposed that any one member was perfectly satisfied with all its parts. No Scheme could be made where there are different interests without a compromise. My hon. friend says there was a vast amount of haste used in preparing this Scheme, and there was no parallel case of a constitution being prepared in so short a time. I differ with him. You may search the history of the Colonial Empire, and you will not find a constitution, the formation of which has taken more time than this. The constitutions of Upper and Lower Canada were likely drawn by some second hand lawyer. The constitution of United Canada was drawn by the British Government, and all the knowledge they had of what was required was from Lord Durham, and one element was not introduced into that constitution until Lord Durham complained of its omission. United Canada is now a flourishing country, but before the Union there was a dullness and lassitude in the country which contrasted unfavorable with the United States, where all was life and action. It is in Canada now that you see the great elements of advancement. Is it not this Union that has made Montreal the populous city she is? They have built Railroads and Canals, and their population has increased very rapidly. This has been the result of their Union, and it will probably be the result of this. How long did my hon. friend want the constitution to be kept in the political crucible before it could be formed? It was formed by thirty-three gentlemen, and most of them were men of good education and constitutional knowledge, and had been occupied in public business during the greater part of their lives. The realisation of this Union is one of the day-dreams of my live, and I consider it will prove a great advantage to the country. We have the example of the United States. There were some thirteen States who saw that it would be for their mutual benefit to unite, and they have since risen in wealth and prosperity until they have attained their present position. The model of our Constitution has been the British Parliament. The head of our Government is to be the Queen’s representative. We only apply the principle of the American Constitution as far as they work out some of the principles we have adopted as incident to our position. My hon. friend (Mr. Smith) says he cannot agree with the principle of representation by population. I understood him to assent to that principle last winter, and only wanted certain checks. We never can be united without representation by population, because Upper Canada will not consent to any other basis. Lower Canada will not consent to Legislative Union. I will ask my hon. friend if he prefers a Legislative to a Federal Union?
Mr. Smith—I will answer that at some future time, for it requires a lengthy reply.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—I take it my hon. friend would prefer a Legislative Union with representation by population, to a Federative Union, because he says that the principle of representation by population is inapplicable to a Federative Union, but then he says he is willing to go into a Federative Union provided he could get the necessary checks. I think the Constitution provides checks in the Upper Branch. This Branch is entirely distinct from the American Senate. The Senate together with the people can make treaties, and they require no further action from the Legislative body, but a treaty made by the Government of Great Britain is a powerless instrument unless enacted by the Parliament. He says in the United States Senate each State has an equal representation, and objects to the Scheme because it does not make this provision. He is in favor of united the Maratime [sic] Provinces with a view of uniting the whole. After they are united he will have exactly what he wants, for then each Province will have twenty-four members in the Upper House and four more from Newfoundland. In the United states all power is in the people, and they confer a certain portion of that power upon the Government of the different States, another portion to the Federal Government, and another portion they keep themselves. There is no analogy between their Government and ours; they require a Court of Appeal as necessary to their condition. Our Parliament is all powerful, all the power that is not conferred upon the Local Legislature is given to the General Government. The tendency of this arrangement is to a Legislative Union. It will arise out of this in the future, and be the final result. There is a provision made for assimilating all the Laws in every part of the Confederacy except Lower Canada. The provisions made for selecting Judges from any part of the Confederacy is I think a good arrangement, and will be an advantage to the public interest. I was concerned in a case where there was only one Judge in the Province that could try it on account of having an interest in it.
Mr. Skinner—I will ask my hon. friend if he has any objections at all to the Quebec Scheme, and if he has I wish him to state what they are.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—My idea is if we can get any improvements I will go for them. I said before that I did not believe that there was one gentleman out of the thirty-three but what objected to some of its provisions, and it is but a compromise, each one giving up certain objections in order that all might agree. You cannot devise a Scheme that all will agree to each provision in it. We may acquire some advantage for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in this controversy, for we know that a few thousand pounds would be an advantage to us, but it would be very little advantage spread over the whole Confederacy. The hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Young) says the great question with this country is regarding the eighty cents a head, to aid us in supporting our local improvements. In Canada they do not get a single dollar from the Government towards local improvements. They have municipal corporations to attend to those matters, and through their agency they make their public improvements. In the United States every improvement is made by direct taxation, and they receive no money from the public treasury. In the conference we took the position that our people had been accustomed to receive from the public treasury certain sums of money to enable them from time to time to carry on their schools, roads, and local improvements. The enquiry was then made of what would meet our resources in future, and the conclusion arrived at was, that eighty cents per head, with our casual and territorial revenue, our underdeveloped minerals and unproductive forests, would make all the improvements we required, to as great an extend as in the past. There was a remark made by my hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Skinner) about giving the delegates some instructions. I think they will be pretty well instructed, after hearing the discussion in this House. If you send delegates with instructions, and the delegates from the other Provinces receive pacific instructions, and they all stand by their instructions, they can never come to an agreement; there must be a mutual concession and compromise amongst them all.
Mr. Skinner.—I did not say I would give the delegates pacific instructions. I said we should discuss and mature this matter, and have a plan, and instruct the delegates, but allow them a margin to go upon to better enable them to get what they want.
Hon. Mr. Fisher.—I thought from the tenor of his speech that he wished to give the delegates positive instructions. I do not think he is acting consistent; […]
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[…] he ran his first election upon the Quebec Scheme, and his second election upon the proposition made by the Government.
Mr. Skinner—The first election, was said to be run upon the Quebec Scheme as it stood. At a meeting held at the Institute previous to the election, Mr. Tilley stated to the people that if they did not like the Quebec Scheme in its entirety not to reject it, but to sustain Union although they might not believe in every letter and sentence of the Scheme. So I claim to have run the election and yet have my own judgment about the Scheme. The Confederate party when they come here have still the right to exercise their judgement as to whether they would suggest any amendments.
Hon. Mr. Fisher—I supposed the elections were generally run on the proposition made by the Government. I think the whole representation of our country will go for the Quebec Scheme if they cannot get a better. They talk about Nova Scotia not coming in to this Union. Would it not be a good think for us if she did not come in for a year or two. Look at the advantage we will derive from the construction of this Inter-colonial Railroad, two-thirds of the money expended to build it will be circulated in our Province, and all our young men in every station in life will be employed. It will open up our country and develop our resources. I believe if a vote was taken to-morrow to build the road under the arrangement of 1862 the people would decide to have it built. Under that arrangement we were to build 3 1/2-twelfths but now we have to contribute but one-thirteenth. They say we will have to pay for the canals in Canada. I say if I went to Ottawa I would vote for the canals at once, for I believe they would be beneficial to us. I was astonished when I was there, at the progress of that country, and if those canals give us the trade of that vast west—if the teeming wealth of the soil come down to this country, and St. John is made the vast emporium, who can conceive the greatness and power of that city. The Erie Canal has made New York the Empire City, and like means produces like effect. If the Union alone was subject to all the objections made by my hon. friends, I believe this Inter-colonial Railway would be an answer to the whole of them, for it will cause towns and villages to be built along its course, and continuous benefits will be derived therefrom. There has been a desire for many years to make a railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and it is only through British Territory that favourable passes can be found. Explorers were not aware that they had passed the rocky mountains till they found the descending [sic] waters on the other side. I want to carry this Confederation to the Pacific Ocean. There are Iron, Gold and other Minerals at the Red River Settlement, and the Americans are ready to go in there and settle and organize a Government. The reason the people of England take such an interest in this question is this: they see by our constitution that we admire the institutions of the mother country, and that we are going to form a nation which is to be part of themselves; and they further say, if we wish to separate from them they do not wish to retain us; but if we wish to remain, all the power of the nation will be put forth to sustain us. A member of the British Government in speaking of the Fenians said: “the murderers have attacked these Provinces. What harm have these Provinces done them that they should be attacked. I have no doubt but that the Provinces will be able to defend themselves, but come what will the whole power of the Empire will be put forth to defend them.” We find the old feeling is there yet, let us then form one great country and depend upon it they will respect us. Let us unite, and we will become a powerful nation, our resources will be developed, our condition improved, our railroads built, and our prosperity increased beyond any thing we at present anticipate.
The question was then taken whether the amendment should be added to the Resolution, when there appeared.—
Yeas—Messrs. Botsford, Smith, Meehan, Landry, McQueen, Caie, McInerney, Young,—8.
Nays—Messrs. Fisher, Tilley, McMillan, McClellan, Williston, Wilmot, Connell, Kerr, Stevens, Sutton, Johnson, Baveridge, Lewis, Hibbard, Chandler, Dow, Beckwith, Thompson, Quinton, DesBrisay, John Flewwelling, Babbit, Ferris, Wetmore, Lindsay, McAdam, Ryan, Perley, Skinner, Herbert,—30.
The original resolution was then put, when the same division took place, the yeas, voting nay, and the nays, yeas.