New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates (1 June 1865)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly of the Province of New Brunswick, During the Session of 1865 at 115-121.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
THURSDAY, June 1, 1865.
Mr. Costigan.—It has been stated by the hon. member from Restigouche (Mr. McMillan ) that the more the people became acquainted with this Confederation Scheme the better they would like it. Now, if the Government really thought it was a good Scheme they should not have been afraid of having it discussed. Whatever the intention of the Government may have been, the facts show they did not want the people to become acquainted with the Scheme. If that had not been the case they could have brought it up before the House, and then referred it to the country at the general election : people then could have all the information to be derived from the correspondence with the additional information which they would have gained by the question being debated on the floors of the House. This would have put the matter in a fair light ; but I believe the Government did not have confidence enough in it themselves to bring it before the House, for they did not think they could carry it through.
If the Government had been really strong, they would have been more cautious, but they were growing weaker every day, and unless something was done they would go over board. They thought this was a chance to keep them in a position they were anxious to retain. If they allowed the House of Assembly to meet again, they did not see how they could fight their way through the Session. In order to retain their power they took up this Scheme, and they thought it might place them in a higher position than before. There was always a bait held out to every man of influence, to induce him to support the Scheme. A great deal has been said about the position we would occupy in the general Government. I have always contended that it would be dangerous to place ourselves in the hands of the Confederacy. Some will say this is a narrow minded view, and we ought not to be afraid, for we would have evenhanded justice.
I read in a Canadian newspaper the opinion of a leading man in that country on a Union of the Maritime Provinces before this Scheme was brought up. He said in case a Union of the Maritime Provinces took place, Nova Scotia would absorb the influence of New Brunswick. If that would be the case in this smaller union, how much more would this influence be absorbed in this greater majority of this grand Union ? Is it reasonable to suppose that a better feeling will exist between New Brunswick and Canada than among the people of New Brunswick themselves ? I remember when a Bill was brought in to increase the representation of certain Counties, there was a strong feeling in the House to support it, because it had especial reference to the County of Carleton, as it was thought it ought to be entitled to one additional representative.
When the vote was taken on that question, the principle part of the members of the North were against it. That feeling of antagonism has always existed between the two sections of the Province, and they are afraid to extend the power on either side. In view of this, are we prepared to give an overwhelming majority to Upper Canada and trust to their liberality in dealing with us ? In regard to trade, when we are able to stock our own market, it will be time enough to look forward to increase the market. That time has hardly arrived. In reading a statement made in regard to the result of the election, and the votes for and against the Scheme, I have to state that statement does not show the whole of the anti-Confederate vote in the Province. I think it it due to myself, as well as to the constituency of the County of Victoria to state that there was not one vote polled for Confederation in that County.
Hon. Mr. Hatheway.—I will be very brief, inasmuch as I am almost afraid to speak upon any subject, because every advantage is taken of any remarks which I make. I can state my reasons for opposing Confederation without casting any more reflection on any gentlemen who may differ from me in opinion than is absolutely necessary in my own defence. At the last Session of the Legislature resolutions were brought in by the Provincial Secretary seeking for a Union of the Maritime Provinces. It was distinctly stated here that the Provincial Secretary asked for no further authority than to go to Prince Edward Island and meet the delegates from Nova Scotia and they had no authority to enter into any negotiations, for the matter was to be submitted to the House.
I little expected when we consented to the appointment of that delegation that a minority of the Executive Council would have gone to Canada and agreed to a proposition to unite these Colonies. I take the broad ground and put it forth without fear of contradiction, that when that Conference met at Quebec, there could be no doubt, from the language used by the delegates, that it was to be adjudicated upon by the late Legislature. If the Government of which I was a member, had been sufficiently strong to have carried that measure through the House they would have done so. It has been said that I had foresight enough to see what. would be the result of the election, but I assert and can prove that six hours after I saw the resolutions of the Conference, I took a strong objection to them.
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On the evening of the day when I first saw those resolutions, we were summoned to meet and discuss them for the purpose of carrying out the arrangements which had been entered into ; after looking at those resolutions, I went in the next morning to the Executive Council and told my colleagues that I met them for the last time, and went home and wrote out my resignation ; when I returned to Fredericton many of my constituents persuaded me not to resign. I was surprised that they should have known that such was my intention, for I had mentioned it to no one except my colleagues in the Government, altho’ I felt I was doing injustice to the Government and myself, yet I remained because I felt it was a duty I owed to my country to oppose the Scheme.
In Regard to the Intercolonial Railroad. prospect we may have had under the former arrangement would be swept away by this Confederation, for it would be the interest of Canada, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, to have it go by the North Shore route, and it was known in England and known by the Canadians that the line would be constructed by that route, and I would sooner it would go there than to be put through the centre of the country where nobody lives. Canada has a trade with the north part of the country already, and no party will remain in power that does not pass the railway through by that route. Let me ask my hon. friend from Restigouche, where is the survey of Mr. Fleming ? Does he know why Mr. Fleming has not reported ? Was it not promised that this survey should be published before the election ? Why is it that his report is kept back ?
It is kept back for a particular purpose, hence it is necessary to move this resolution. It was attempted to be urged that there was no necessity for us to appoint delegates ; that there was no necessity for telling the British Government that we were loyal. I we find men occupying the position that Judge Haliburton does in England, charging the men and Government of this Province with disloyalty ; telling the people in Halifax that the majority against Confederation in this country is only 400, and that something should be done to bring about a reaction. It was urged by the promoters of this Scheme, that we must go into Confederation to defend ourselves against the Yankees who were going to gobble us up ; to defend ourselves against a nation who have proved to the world that no two nations are able to compete with them, while the advocates of the Scheme admit that Canada is the most vulnerable point, and that we were placing ourselves in a position that they could, under the Conscript Act, take our young men out of the country to fight her battles.
We have never shown anything else but allegiance to the Sovereign ; we hare never burnt our Province buildings, or professed anything but respect for the Queen’s representative. If they have got into difficulties let them protect themselves, and not call upon us to support them. If there was no other Section of the Scheme that would condemn it this Section would, which allows the Government of Canada to make any advance which they may deem necessary for the Militia defence of the country, and the debt would be assumed by the General Government. I was amused at the remarks made here that if the constituents had an opportunity of speak out there would be a majority of the people of the country in favor of Confederation.
It might be so in the County of Albert, or the County of Restigouche, where, I believe, one of my hon. friends was returned by 400 votes, and the other by 300. In those little counties influences are brought to work in regard to their mines and minerals, but after all they could carry but a bare majority, and this is not criterion to judge or base an opposition to this resolution. The Government expected to come in with a majority of no less than twenty-six. I say this question was not fairly tried, the Opposition had to contend with the promises of nine or ten million dollars that was to be expended in the country ; these strong influences were brought to bear on the tradesman and mechanic. We, on the other side, could draw no picture of the future ; we could not go out and tell the candidates to come out in favor of Anti- Confederation, and we would secure their seats ; we could not go out and promise mean that we would do this and that for them. It, therefore, comes with a bad grace for the other party to say that these elections were carried by the side issues.
I have heard it stated that the Scheme of Confederation was not tried at all at the election, but that it was rejected because the Government had made themselves obnoxious to the people. When I left that Government we were in a majority, and could have carried that measure—if Dr. Dow, Mr. Fisher and myself had been united—through the House of Assembly by a majority of twenty-two. When I hear it put forth to the country that the dissolution was caused in consequence of the necessity that existed, inasmuch as Canada and Nova Scotia were going to pass the measure, and time would be lost if we waited another year. When did that occur to the Government? If that was correct, then was the Government of which I was a member guilty of an outrageous fraud upon the public in the County of Northumberland, in issuing a writ for the return of one member.
There was no such intention or determination on the part of the Government to dissolve the House. It was not dreamed of, until it was made known that I intended to resign. We were told that Nova Scotia was going to carry the Scheme by an overwhelming majority ; Canada was going to carry it, and that New Brunswick would be left out in the cold. Why did not Nova Scotia carry it? No statesman there dare run the risk of losing his position by bringing it forward, in view of New Brunswick having rejected it. They had honesty enough to admit that they could not carry it. We were told that by the assimilation of our tariffs the people were to grow rich and that we had no field for the operations of the mechanics, unless we went into Confederation ; while the fact was, that Canada had abundance of every thing with which we could supply her ; and we would have to depend upon her for all time to come for the necessaries of life.
Then it was said we would get the railway at one- twelfth of its cost ; but was it no behind the scenes that it could not be built without going on with the simultaneous construction of the Canal system. It had to be built with our own money, but under the direction of the Government in Canada. If we believe that there are strong representations made to the British Government which might cause them to take action against us—is it not our duty to appoint a delegation to check that influence ? In the report of a speech of a leading statesman in England, that the Scheme was rejected in Prince Edward Island, in consequence of religious disaffection, every one that knows the Island, knows that it is not the case.
The Government put forth all its influence to carry this Scheme. They told the people of Fredericton that in view of the Intercolonial railway coming near them, the seat of Government would be established there for all time to come, and they would derive advantages which no other County would ; they had a great portion of the talent of the country in their favor. The delegates were men of great talent, and they had within their means promises of elevation to the other branch of the Legislature. I met in my canvas, letters calling upon men to vote for Confederation. If I have done no other service in opposing this Scheme than bringing out the talent of the late Surveyor General, which, but for this Scheme, would have remained hidden ; for this I feel I am entitled to the thanks of the constituency of Restigouche. In the reply made to the move of the resolution, he had evinced the ability of an able financier, and when the House knew that he had none to assist him, that his own fertile brain, they were entitled to every consideration. If this Confederation Scheme had been carried, it would have brought our Legislature down to a mere municipality, and no man of any standing would have accepted a seat in it. It may be that there is a hidden hand somewhere, and it may be that they are sincere in their motives, or it may be a desire to get back into their positions again. I would rather lose my position to-morrow than I would do an act which I believed would bring a stain upon the Legislature or a stigma upon the country which gave me birth. I am not prepared to give the people’s rights to Canada, knowing their former history.
We have nothing to gain by this connection, while Canada has every thing to gain ; they could come into the Province and take thirty thousand seamen to man their boats. I am not going to say that our safety consists in our helplessness ; but I believe that there is no more danger of the United States declaring war against New Brunswick than there is of our declaring war among ourselves. Heaven forbid that I should be an annexationist ; yet, in any attempt to force this measure upon up, I could have my own choice which of the two evils to take (Mr. Connell.—You would force others.) I would force you to remain where you are for the next three years, if my voice would help to keel down Confederation. I shall not take up any more time, but having made these few hurried remarks in reference to it, I shall take my seat.
Mr. McClellan.—I rise to reply only to that portion of my hon. friend’s speech which has referene to the County of Albert. The Chief Commissioner has complained of the members attacking him in the House ; we have done so because he was the only organ of the late Government in the present. Although there may be a great gulf between the present and late bridge over that gulf, it must be the Chief Commissioner himself. I have not attacked him unjustifiably, because in my remarks that have been made he has been generally the aggressor ; he has on several occasions alluded to the influences which were at work in the County of Albert to secure my influence in favor of Confederation. At the last Session of the Legislature, a motion was made to appoint a delegation to confer on the Union of the Maritime Provinces ; if he had […]
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[…] listened to me then, he would not have been ignorant of my views in regard to Intercolonial Union. I understood the commission to refer to outside influence.
(Mr. Hatheway.—I alluded to a paper published in the County of Albert, and from his card in it I concluded that altho’ he was in favor of Confederation, he was not in favor of the Scheme. What surprised me was, that, knowing that it was distinctly stated that the Scheme could not be altered by the dotting of an I, or the crossing of a T —any person could be in favor of Confederation.)
[Mr. McLellan?] If he read my card published in the Eastern Advocate, it made no such statement. I stated in my card that I was in favor of a Union of the North American Colonies based upon fair and equitable principles, and went on showing the benefits of uniformity in our tariffs and postal arrangements, which could be brought about by a Union. I did not say a word about this Scheme, for I held it derogatory for a member to commit himself to the details of an arrangement which only a few months before had been laid before him. I was at that time attending to my own business, and had no time to fully consider the merits of the Scheme ; therefore, I did not explain that I was prepared to commit myself to every detail, but so far as I had examined the Scheme, I saw nothing objectionable in it. The Chief Commissioner has on two occasions allude to the influence of the Government in respect to the election in the County of Albert.
I say I do not feel myself in a position to acknowledge any favor from the Government ; there was no expenditure of money came from outside of the County of Albert to influence the election there. The Banking influence of men who make money out of poor people, who wished to retain their power of discounting notes, and securing money from the poverty of the country, helped to defeat Confederation. I was returned to represent the County of Albert without any influence being brought to bear either directly or indirectly ; but there may be other constituencies in the Province which are not so pure, on which money influence may be brought to bear. To prove the fearful existence of bribery at elections in some places, arising probably from the fact of there being in a small Legislature so many prizes and so few blanks, I have only to refer to the testimony of Mr. Allen, one of the representatives of York in 1857, now Attorney General. I presume matters may not have changed much, and it is therefore easy to conceive how Confederation was defeated in York.
Mr. Needham.—What authority do you refer to?
Mr. McClellan.—Speech of Attorney General delivered in this House in 1857, in reply to Mr. Hatheway, then opposed to him. I referred to this the other day, when the people of Albert were charged by the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Works, of their elections being influenced by money of the wealthy, &c. Mr. Allen stated, among other things, ” that the most unhappy desecration of the franchise prevailed, not among the men who labored with their hands, but the most influential men in York would sell their votes at elections, and the evil had really become fearful. What is found at elections but the grossest frauds and corruptions practised by the wholesale purchase of votes. Come to this House and you find it little better.
Mr. Lewis.—I do not think there was one dollar expended in the County of Albert to influence the votes on that occasion, neither was there any promises of preferment ever given in any shape or form. (Mr. Anglin.—Why was it then that a member of the Government was there at the time, and afterwards boasted that he had carried the County ?)
[Mr. Lewis?] If he did say so, it was not the case ; his presence in the County had no influence upon the election.
Mr. Cudlip.—In reference to the remarks made by the hon. member from the County of Albert. I feel bound to say that extraordinary efforts were put forth by the Government to carry this election. Suppose two candidates start even to run an election, they will both spend money ; but if one has the support of the Government he has a prospective advantage, for there is always an indirect tendency to go with the strongest side. When my colleagues and myself were elected it was put forth that we were elected by the rabble. The hon. member for Albert said Confederation was defeated on account of the Banking influence. It is a strange thing that the men holding the money of the country can be the rabble.
Dr. Thomson.—I thought it was my duty as a British subject, with British feelings, to strive to retain our privileges from the grasp of parties who tried to sweep away the rights of our Province. At one time we were united with Nova Scotia, but were separated by the consent and direction of the British Government, because it was thought it would be conducive to our welfare. This proposed Union is not for the purpose of having one Legislature, but is a Federal Union where the dominant party will have power to tyrannise over us if they think proper. It is an old saying that we should “Give glory to God, honour to the King, and live honestly with all men.” The Liberals have not done this, for they have taken all the glory to themselves, and have honored neither King, country, nor anything else. This country was not big enough for them, and they wanted to extend it, like the fable of the frog and the horse. The frog enlarged himself until he burst, and so it was with these delegates, they would not act in such a sway as was commensurate with their means; this country was too small for them, and they must get up this big scheme ; but the “hand writing was upon the wall,” and their place knew them no more.
If we went into this Confederation we would have to put up new buildings, and it would cost us as much to keep up this Central Parliament as it would be to keep a standing army of thirty thousand people. We would gain nothing by going into Confederation either directly or indirectly ; we are in the habit of importing more dutiable goods than the Canadas, more particularly Lower Canda ; therefore, we would contribute to the general revenue about double the amount that they do. The delegates may have thought that it was a good move for us to enter this Union, but they did not were over-ruled by the people of this Province. If there are any influences at work in England in regard to legislating for this Province, we should send a delegation home to counteract it ; we must protect ourselves, for ” self-preservation is the first law of nature,”
This delegation is not for the purpose of annoying others, but for the purpose of setting ourselves right before the people and Government of England, for oftentimes a small matter, if allowed to remain, will grow to something worse ; upon this ground Iwould like to see this delegation. The same delegation that are to go to Halifax might as well be appointed to go to England, to save the expense of appointing two delegations. The expenses of this Scheme would have been enormous, inasmuch an we would have had to have kept up our own Legislature, and a union of all the Legislatures in Canada, and we give them the power to tax us as much as they please ; if there was any necessity for this Union it would be better to have one Parliament for all ; by this means we would save a great deal of expense. I believe, instead of this Union, we should try to get a Union with Britain, by getting a few members in the British Parliament ; there they could do us some service ; there should be a few members in the British Parliament for every Colony that is, of British descent.
If there is any change to be made in our Constitution we should have a two-third vote before we adopt it, and that vote should be given fairly ; every man above twenty-one years of age should have a fair vote, let it be for Annexation or whatever it may be.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—As I feel an anxious desire to close the Session as speedily as possible. I shall make a very short speech. I stated during the canvas at the election, that the delegates which discussed this Scheme of a Union of the North American Province was wholly unauthorised, and I am prepared to assert now in my place, that in my judgment their whole proceedings were entirely unauthorised. History will be searched in vain to find a parallel to this case. If it was necessary for the delegates appointed to discuss a Union of the Lower Provinces, to have Legislative authority, how much more necessary was it to have authority to discuss this larger Union ?
I do not think another case can be found of a Government meeting in Conference and agreeing to a Scheme, making an organic change in the Constitution of a country. I think before they gave their consent to a Scheme, and pledged themselves to carry out that Scheme with all the influence their high position gave them, they should have first consulted the people. These delegates who assembled on Prince Edward Island for a particular purpose, abandoned their business and arrogated to themselves powers that did not legitimately belong to them, and undertook to alter the Institutions of the country and surrender the independence we have so long enjoyed. Is it not the duty of the Government to exercise their functions within the four corners of the Constitution ? Is it not their duty to preserve inviolate the independence of the people ?
In my opinion these gentlemen transcended entirely their powers : they should not have gone ; or if they went upon the invitation of the Governor General, they should have gone and listened to the proposition and returned, before pledging themselves to use all their power, with all the agency the Government could wield, to sustain this Scheme. How did this originate ? Did not you hear in the early part of the canvas that it had emanated from the British Government ? How fraudulent was that ; nothing the kind had taken place. It was concocted in Canada. I will call Mr. Galt to show how it originated. Did it originate in Canada for the benefit of the Maritime Provinces ? Did it not originate from their own political necessities? I can prove it out of the mouth of Mr. Galt himself. He says : “The circumstances under which the Government found itself the last Session of Parliament […]
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[…] were these : One Government had resigned from inability to obtain Parliamentary support enough to govern the country. Another of which, he (Mr. Galt) was a member, had been defeated by a majority of two ; and it did not appear possible to form any Government under which any material difference in this respect could have been produced.
Under these circumstances it was the duty of those administering the public affairs to make sacrifices of their interests and of their personal position, and to unite to seek a remedy for the evils that existed ; and he was happy to say that men were found willing to undertake this responsibility. He desired in this connection to allude more particularly to his friend and colleague, the Hon. George Brown, who, feeling that the period had arrived when extreme views should no longer be pressed, in the most patriotic and straightforward manner approached the Government of the day when they were considering what course to take, and suggested that some basis should be found on which a common platform could be raised.
This consideration resulted in an undertaking on the part of the Government, into which the Hon. George Brown and two other gentlemen representing the Liberal party of Upper Canada had entered, to address themselves to the preparation of a measure that would partake of a federal character as far as necessary with respect to local measures, while it would preserve the existing Union in respect to measures common to all ; that they would endeavor, if necessary, to strike out a Federal Union for Canada alone ; but that at the same time they would attempt, in considering a change in the Constitution of this country, to bring the Lower Provinces in under the same bond, as they were already under the same Sovereign.
It was highly proper that before touching the edifice of Government that had been raised in Canada, they should address the statesmen of the Lower Provinces, and try to induce them to form a common system. If it were found impossible to have a Legislative Union of all the British American Provinces, then they could reserve to the local Governments of the several Provinces the control of such subjects as concerned them, while the rest should be committed to the care of the General Government.” Now do we want any further testimony to show that this did not emanate from the British Go vernment. These delegates were assembled in session before they had any communications from the British Government at all.
This Scheme arose from the political embarrassing necessities of Canada, and not from the philanthropy of Canadian statesmen for the benefit of the Lower Provinces, but to enable them to obtain power. I made a statement in different speeches which I delivered upon the electioneering tour. I ventured to suppose that the authors of this new Constitution, framed in a short time might be biased in their views by the prospect of personal aggrandisement ; for this I was taken to task, and was told I was imputing motives. I say it is our duty to watch those in power, for the tendency of power is to be aggressive. This Conference held their meetings at Quebec to frame a new Constitution, with closed doors. It was different in the United States, the
public there were admitted, and some of the speeches made on that occasion have been handed down as model of eloquence. It was curious that in connection with this Conference there was a geographical sketch made, pointing out the particularadaptability of persons for the different offices to be created by the resolutions of this Conference ; although it may be, that the gentlemen who went from this Province and Nova Scotia had’no idea of going into any office under this new administration. This Scheme, which was the most ingeniously contrived piece of political machinery that was ever planned by any set of men, was to be pressed through the then existing Legislature without any reference to the people Keeping that fact in view, and allowing this Scheme all the elements necessary to bring it into existence, how were the Legislative Council to be appointed ? ten of them were to be taken out of the Legislative Council of this Province, irrespective of party politics.
This would have the effect of neutralizing any opposition there, for they are men, and like ourselves are susceptible of these influences. How are their places to be filled up ? Would there have been no members in the House who could have been fonnd ten men in the House who would be influenced by considerations like these. Then there were seven men in the Government, that would make seventeen, and there would be only four more wanted to carry the Scheme. I think those four men could be found. It might be, they would be animated by patriotism ; but if not they could be prevailed upon by some influence which the Government could wield, and thus twenty-one members could be found to carry the Scheme.
This was my view, and for stating that view I was criticized and maligned. I intend to condense my remarks, because to notice all the points would take hours. If I had consulted my own feelings I should not have spoken at all, as I have become tired of the subject ; it is like addressing a jury after they have rendered their verdict. When I hear the hon. member for the County of Albert put forward the bold proposition that if the people of the country were better informed, they would support the Scheme, and the ex-Surveyor General says the same thing. I want to ask that gentleman, and through him the members of the late Government, why it was, if they courted enquiry or discussion, that they dissolved the House, after Mr. Tilley had distinctly stated to the people of Carleton that a dissolution would not take place.
I characterize it as an act of tyranny and cruelty to the people of this country to dissolve the House in the winter season, when, if they had not been especially favored with fine weather, not one-half the aged men could have got to the polls to render their voice against this question, in which was involved the rendering up of their rights which they had so long enjoyed. When this question first came up, I asked for information on the subject ; but official etiquette forbid its being known to the people of this country until after it had been shown to Her Majesty the Queen, and we were indebted to Mr. Palmer, of Prince Edward Island, for the details of the Scheme. These delegates kept back this information, but called an assemblage of the people in St. John, and condescended to tell them what they had done for them but would not allow them to see the agreement by which their country was sold. Was it right for Mr. Tilley to proclaim to the people that a dissolution would not take place until after the House had met, and thus lull the people into a false security. That was the effect upon my mind, for I thought the first place in which the subject would be discussed would be in Parliament.
You may search history in vain, to find a case in which, when the Constitution of a country was changed, it was first discussed at a public meeting before it was discussed in Parliament. They should have told the people of the country whether they were going to dissolve the House or not. While we were lulled into a false security, those delegates were impressing their views upon the people of the country, and telling them that they would become rich, because millions upon millions of money were to be expended among them, while their taxes were to be reduced. I do not see how any man could believe it possible, when looking at our condition, and the condition of Canada, and the enormous sums of money to be spent, that our taxes can be reduced, unless it can be proved that the more a man owes the less it will take to pay his debts ; yet, many did believe that statement to be true that a large expenditure of money was to be made, and our taxes were to be less.
How could Mr. Tilley, or any other man, say what this Confederation would do? after it was once organized they could not control it. How then could they say how much per head our taxes were to be nuder Confederation ? These delegates might be there, and they might not. Men die and pass away, but the Constitution would live after them, and Mr. Tilley or anybody else could not say what they would do, and what they would not do, after the Constitution was once adopted. This taxation must be inevitable, for any man that knows anything of the history of this country for the last forty years, knows that our wants increase as our population increases. Then what must be the dernier resort ? what must be the remedy for that state of things ?
It will be direct taxation. I will call the testimony of Mr. Galt : ” If they increased their expenses in proportion to the growth of population. they would be obliged to resort to direct taxation.” This is a statement from Mr. Galt, unquestionably true. Then, in regard to this Intercolonial Railway. You are aware of the fact that Mr. George Brown has always been opposed to the construction of this work, and he was the cause of that railway scheme not being accepted by the people of Canada. But now Mr. George Brown says, that rather than not have Confederation, he would consent to build half a dozen such railways. Has he such a care for this Province that he willing to tax his own people to give us better terms that was provided two or three years ago ? Mr. George Brown, through the consummation of this Scheme, will accomplish the object which he has advocated all his life—that is, representation by population, which will give Canada, by the rapid increase of her population, the controlling power of this whole Confederacy By adopting this Scheme we surrender our independence, and become dependent upon Canada, for this Federal Government will have the veto power upon our legislation.
The 51st section of the Scheme says: ” Any Bill passed by the General Parliament shall be subject to disallowance by Her Majesty within two years, as in the case of Bills passed by the Legislatures of the said Provinces hitherto ; in like manner any Bill passed by a local Legislature shall be subject to disallowance by the Governor General within one year after the passing thereof.” Here is a written Constitution with certain rights given and accorded to the local Legislatures, and […]
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[…] certain rights are given to the General Government. Suppose there is a confliction between the two Governments where is the appeal? In, the United States they have an appeal to the Judges of the land ; but here the General Goeernment has an arbitrary veto and we have to submit. I think this is a very serious defect in the Constitution. Then in regard to this representation by population.
We should look simply to the passing hour when framing a Constitution, but should look into the future, and lay the foundations broad and deep, in order to meet the requirements of coming time. How is this eighty cents per head on the present population going to provide for our local wants fifty years hence, for we know that the wants of a country increases with the population ? We will have to resort to direct taxation. We will now see the amount we pay for Roads and Bridges, and what Canada pays ; for when we are invited to join our interest with Canada, we should see how she provides for her own people. We know that we have to pay $119,000 a year for our Roads and Bridges, and that it is insufficient to provided for them ; but the Canadians pay, on an equal amount of population, only $15,000 for that purpose. For Education we give $13,000 ; in the same proportion Canada gives $5,000 or $6,000. The late Surveyor General says this taxation is a ” great bugbear.” Bugbear, forsooth ! It may be for those who occupy high positions and get their ?600 a year, and do not much for it ; but it is of vital importance to those who have to labor, and it is a question that affects the great mass of the people in this or any other country.
Then in reference to this Intercolonial Railway. Was it stated by those who advocated this Union that, as a compensation for the advantages we were to derive from this road, we were to contribute to the Canal system ? Do you think Mr. George Brown would change his mind on this Railway question, unless he felt there was an advantage to be gained for this Canal system, for he is a man that has ever been characterized as having an eye single to the interests of Upper Canada. Those Canals will not only be of no advantage to the people of the Lower Provinces, but will be an injury to them if the Intercolonial Railway is built, because they would take the traffic in another direction instead of going on this Railway to Halifax. We will have to pay our share for extending those Canals, which are going to be an injury to us. Hon. members say there will be two parties in Canada, and the Lower Provinces will hold the balance of power. I am prepared to admit that, in general politics ; but when we come to matters of local expenditure they will be united in one.
By way of illustration, we will say : my hon. colleague and I are in opposition, and take different sides in politics ; but when a Bill comes before the House for an appropriation of money for the County which we represent, we work side by side. If $20,000,000 or $30 000,000 was to be levied upon the people of the Confederacy for the extension of those Canals, those parties would be united as one ; their political differences would not divide them, but they would act together and form one unbroken phalanx. In seventeen years Upper Canada—taking the ratio of increase for the last twenty years—would have a numerical majority of representatives over all the rest, whereas we get no increase, but are liable to decrease ; because if Lower Canada increases faster than we do, our number will be reduced. Numerical strength is power, and they will use that power whether it be for our advantage or disadvantage. We are told we enter this Confederacy upon the most favorable terms, and that Canada is going to build our railway. Where is the money to come from if they are not able to pay the interest on their own debts ?
Their expenditure has been more than their receipts except last year ; they have exhausted every resource ; they have their toll gates on the roads, and they resort to the most obnoxious taxes to which no country resorts, except in the last extremity ; they have imposed their stamp duties, which are never imposed until every other means of raising money has failed. If we entered this Confederation we would have these stamp duties, and our taxes would be increased and applied to the Canal extension in Canada, and the opening up of the North Western Territory. It is provided in the Scheme that ” the communications with the North-Western Territory, and the improvements required for the development of the Trade of the Great West with the seaboard, are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federated Provinces, and shall be prosecuted at the earliest possible period that the state of the Finances will permit.” Who is to determine when the state of the Finances permit ? Who is determine when the North West Territory is to be opened up ? It will be Canada, for she has the unlimited power of taxing the Confederacy, and her part of the taxes will be more than made up by the increased expenditure. Who then can say we go into Confederation under more favorable circumstances than Canada ?
She can make the Canals entirely free in order to attract the trade within her own bosom ; her debt being contracted for rebel losses, and the expenditure on these Canals will never be productive, which will never yield two per cent. Our debt is incurred in constructing Railroads in the Province which would become the property of the Confederation. We go into this Union with a debt of $7,000,000, and if our railroad pays six per cent, which it may do after Western Extension and the connection with Nova Scotia are built, we will go in without any debt at all ; we will give up our revenue of $700,000, and receive $0 cents a head, amounting to $201,000. The control of our railroad will be in Ottaway, and any man who has a charge against the road will have to go to Canada to get redress. That accounts to my mind why it was that public officials connected with the Railway became active partizans in favor of this Scheme ; never did I see the powers of Government so completely prostrated ; they used their influence upon all persons who held office, and all those who expected to get office ; they controlled thousands and thousands of votes in this country ; but the people of this country were true to their own interest, and resisted the influences brought to bear, and rose in their power and rejected the Scheme with indignation.
I should like to have some one here to speak on behalf of that delegation ; they have two of the delegates in the Upper House, for the people could not reach them, but every one of them the people could reach they hurled from place and power. Everything that was in the power of the Government to do, was done to carry the election ; they told the people of Fredericton they would secure the seat of Government for ever. Was that fair to appeal to people’s prejudices and local feelings in order to influence them on this great question ? Why was it that the officers in the Post Office Department took an active part in this election? It was because every man connected with the Post Office would become independents of the people of this country. When the Custom House officers in this Province were appointed in England, the people were not treated as well as they are now. Neither would the people of this Province be satisfied or their interests served by having their officers only responsible at Ottaway.
It is said now that our Legislature is too small to work out the principles of Responsible Government ; for after it is divided into two parties it is difficult to find men competent to discharge the duties of these offices. Let us imagine this Legislature reduced to a mere Municipality. Would any man of talent accept a seat in it ? and this Legislature would have to keep up all the officers in the Government, as they have now in conducting the administration of the country. To do what ? To issue Tavern Licenses and fix bells on sheep, as the hon. member for York has remarked.
Under the provisions of this Bill they have agreed to give Newfoundland $150,000 per annum. According to that, the people of this Province will have to pay Newfoundland twelve or thirteen thousand dollars a-year; that is our portion of what is paid for her mines and minerals. I can conceive Newfoundland refusing to go into Confederation, and this was a bribe offered her to induce her to enter. I put it distinctly to the country, whether they are willing to invest to the extent of $13,000,000 a-year for ever in those mines and minerals which are utterly valueless.
Then again, it was agreed that all engagements entered into for defence, should be assumed by the General Government. It is well known that a delegation went home from Canada, and it was supposed they went in connection with this business, and we would be bound to contribute our share towards any expense so incurred. Is it not surprising that this Government should give its consent to a proposition of that kind, that they should go blind fold into an arrangement when they had no voice in regard to how much should be expended. Then again we could derive no advantage commercially, because Canada can manufacture articles much cheaper than we can.
I will state to you the reasons which Mr. Annand gives why Nova Scotia did not accept the offer of free trade from Canada. Some two or three years ago when it was pressed upon Mr. Tilley and himself by the Canadian Finance Minister : —
“BECAUSE WE FELT that as in Brunswick and Nova Scotia there existed a number of infant manufactures, it would be unfair to the manufactures, without notice or opportunity to invest their means in other pursuits, to bring them into competition with the more advanced manufactures of Canada ; and secondly, because the Provinces had agreed to assume heavy liabilities, viz 3 1-2 12ths each of the cost of the Intercolonial Railway, we felt it would be unwise to jeopardise so large amount of revenue. The following memorandum, under date 18th Sep., 1862, signed by the Premiers of the three Provinces, is conclusive on this point ;
The delegates of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the Government of Canada, having under consideration the report of the Hon. the Finance Minister, of Canada, of the 8th September instant, on the subject of Intercolonial Reciprocity, agree— […]
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[…] 1. That the free interchange of goods, the growth, produce, and manufacture of the Provinces, and uniformity of tariff, are considered to be an indispensible consequence of the Intercolonial Railway.
2. But in consequence of the recent dimunition of the revenues of the respective Provinces arising out of the war in the neighboring republic and increased liabilities incurred by the additional obligations necessary to the construction of the proposed road, the delegates from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia regret that they are not at this moment in a position to adopt measures to carry this important principle into practical effect.”
This memorandum was signed by Messrs. McDonald, Howe and Tilley. That was a distinct proposition for free trade made by Canada, and declined by those gentlemen because it was thought unfair for the infant manufactures of these Provinces to enter into competition with the more advanced manufactures of Canada. What extraordinary change has taken place in the minds of these men that induces them now to think that we are to become rich by this free trade which was declined in 1862. I did think this delegation which we propose sending to England could have been avoided, for these delegations should not exist except public interest require them ; but judging from what we see around us, I think this delegation is required, for after the Scheme had been rejected by the people of this Province by an overwhelming majority — in Prince Edward Island almost unanimously — the leading statesmen of Nova Scotia, afraid to submit it to the Legislature—referred in Newfoundland to the next general election—we find Canada has passed in her Legislature a memorial or petition to the Queen, asking the Queen and the British Parliament to take steps to confirm this Scheme.
They have also sent a delegation to England for the same object, and these gentlemen are misrepresenting the state of affairs in this Province. I think that statesmen of Canada have not treated us well, in sending a delegation to England to impress upon the Colonial Secretary the desirability of his using some measures to force us into this Union after we have rejected it. I do not think the Government of England will attempt any means of coercion ; if it does it will produce a feeling of alienation from that Government with which we desire to live in connection as we have done in times past, as freemen and not as slaves; any attempt to force us into this Union we will resist even to the death. I regret that a delegation is necessary, but I am satisfied that it is our best policy to contradict those statements which are circulated in England that a strong reaction has taken place here favorable to Confederation.
When I hear my hon. friend say that in six months after the people become enlightened they will have a majority in favor of Confederation, and that we only represent the rabble and ignorance here; this has also been stated in the newspapers. In reply I can say that this House compares favorably with any House that has ever assembled here before. They say the public are not sufficiently enlightened. Some gentlemen say that they will spend two years enlightening the public mind. Do you think there is nothing but pure patriotism and love of country in this ? It is an arrogance which no man ought to assume ; to state that the people are steeped in ignorance, only one or two being able to grasp the mighty Scheme of Confederation, and it is necessary for them to go forth and enlighten the people.
Mr. Connell —I rise to address you at a great disadvantage after the eloquent oration which you have heard from the President of the Council. I know that there are but few on the floors of this House that are in favor of the great principles of Confederation, but it is not so throughout the country, for those principles are gaining ground. I will make a few observations in reference to the impropriety of appointing this delegation. I am one of those who believe it is the duty of the Government of the day to initiate the various measures desirable and necessary for the country, and to bring them before the Legislature. I believe the Quebec delegation acted in a constitutional manner, and had proper authority to act in regard to this Intercolonial Union. I find that in 1862, this despatch was sent by the Earl of Mulgrave to the Duke of Newcastle :—
Downing Street, 6th July, 1862.
MY LORD, —
I have duly received Your Lordship’s despatch, No. 47, of the 21st of May, accompanied by a copy of a Resolution which was passed in the House of Assembly on the 15th of April 1861, relative to an amalgamation of part, or all, of the British Provinces in North America. The resolution points out that the question might be considered either of a distinct Union of the Maritime Provinces, or of a general Union of them with Canada ; and suggests that it might be desirable, upon so important a subject, to ascertain the policy of her Majesty’s Government, and so promote a consultation between the leading men of the Colonies.
Your Lordship explains that, for various reasons, your Government were of opinion that it would inexpedient to act on this resolution last year, but they now wish it to be brought under consideration.
No one can be insensible to the importance of the two measures which are alluded to : and I am far from considering that they do not form a very proper subject for calm deliberation. They are, however, of a nature which renders it essentially fit, that if either of them be proposed for adoption, it should emanate in the first instance from the Provinces, and should be concurred in by all of them which it would affect. I should see no objection to any consultation on the subject amongst the leading members of the Governments concerned ; but whatever the result of such consultation might be, the most satisfactory mode of testing the opinion of the people of British North America, would probably be by means of resolution or address, proposed in the Legislature of each Province by its own Government.
Beyond this expression of the views of Her Majesty’s Government as to the preliminary steps which might be taken towards the decision of this great question, I am not prepared to announce any course of policy upon which an invitation proceeding from one only of the British North American Provinces, and contained in a resolution of so general and vague a character as that which you have transmitted to me. But if a Union, either partial or complete, should hereafter be proposed, with the concurrence of all the Provinces to be united, I am sure that the matter would be weighted in this country, both by the public, by Parliament, and by Her Majesty’s Government, with no other feeling than an anxiety to discern and promote any course which might be the most conducive to the prosperity, the strength, and the harmony of all the British communities in North America.
I have the honor to be, &c., (Signed) NEWCASTLE.
The Right Hon. the Earl of Mulgrave. &c. &c. &c.
There was authority to the different Legislatures to act in reference to this subject. What better course could they have taken to come to a common agreement than the course they did. I find also a despatch from the Colonial Secretary to the Governor of Nova Scotia :
“I have your despatch of the 15th of Sept., communicating such details as you have been able to learn of the recent Conference which has been held at Charlottetown on the subject of Inter- colonial Union of the British North American Provinces. I have to thank you for the interesting intelligence you have conveyed to me and to state with reference to your request for authority to permit certain members of your Executive Council to repair to Quebec, there to resume the discussion of this subject, that I have received an intimation from Lord Monck, that he intends communicating with me upon it, and as time is important, since it is proposed that the meeting shall take place early in Oct., I have no hesitation in giving you at once the required permission.”
Here is distinct authority from the Home Government. The Government have a right to initiate and prepare measures for the benefit of the people, and when certain measures come before them so desirable for the interest of the country, it is the duty of the Government to prepare them to lay before the Legislature for their approval or rejection. The report made by the delegates from Nova Scotia, in my view, affirms the desirability of such a course. They go on to say—
“After deliberating daily at great length until Thursday, the 27th Oct., the Conference adjourned to Montreal, where a final meeting was held on the 29th Oct. At this meeting it was unanimously resolved that the various delegates should present the annexed report, as the common result at which the Conference had arrived, and which it was agreed should be authenticated by the signatures of all the members. Dealing, as this report does, with every branch of the subject, it is not necessary that any elaborate remarks should be added in order to place the whole question fully before your Excellency, but we have much gratification in stating that nothing was more conspicuous in the discussions of the Conference than a unanimous sentiment of devoted loyalty to the Crown, ardent attachment to British institutions, and a uniform desire to adopt such a constitution as would united the resources of all the Provinces represented in a common effort to preserve the rights and liberties which their inhabitants now enjoy as British subjects, and to ensure their continued connection, with the Parent States.
The undersigned cannot conclude this report without placing on record their lively appreciation of the uniform good feeling which marked the deliberations of the Conference, and the extreme courtesy and kindness manifested on every occasion by the Government and […]
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[…] people of Canada to the delegates from the Maritime Provinces.”
I merely refer to this to show the first statesmen in these Provinces, who were nominated by the several Lieut. Governors to meet at Quebec to confer, not for the purpose of taking away the liberties of the people, and for the purpose of acting tyrannically in the matter, but for the purpose of considering a union that would be for the good of all the different Provinces, and we find by the Colonial Secretary’s despatches that the course pursued by them met with the highest commendation of the British Government and people. It is said Her Majesty the Queen and her advisers de sire to force upon the people of this country a union which will take away their liberties. This is a direct charge against the British Government and against her Majesty the Queen. Although there are but few in favor of this union in the House, yet I am happy to know that throughout the country there is now a large majority in favor of it.
The hon. member for St. John (Mr. Cudlip) talks about rebelling ; is that a proper position to take, because a change of opinion takes place? In reference to this subject not having been discussed in the Legislature, I can say I always was of opinion that the Government was wrong in dissolving the Assembly before this question was discussed. Before the dissolution of the House I took no part in this question on account of my health, being unable to leave my room the whole winter, and I would not have been in my place now only that I considered the question of such vast importance to the country. If this question had been fully discussed in the House, the people of the country could not have complained that the question was not fairly settled. As it was the people did not give a fair expression of opinion upon it.
Those opposed to the scheme took advantage of the prevailing opinion among emigrants from the old country of the unfairness of the union between England and Ireland, and argued that because that union was the means of depopulating and bringing a tax upon Ireland, the same state of things would exist here if we entered upon this union. It was argued that it would bring a tax upon every thing they had, and finally they would lose their Parliament, which would be carried away to Ottawa.
Was not this unfair to represent these things in the most odious light and circulate them where they would have most effect, in order to alarm the people. The President of the Council says how very convenient it was for the Government to state there would be twenty four seats in the Legislative Council at Ottawa for the members of the Legislative Council in the Lower Provinces, and this would have a great influence upon their votes. That may be the opinion of the hon. member, and it may be the opinion of those who are anti- Confederates, but it may not be a correct opinion after all, for they have always been characterized as an independent class of men. The President of the Council has also discussed the great bug-bear of taxation. I believe, under the arrangements made by the delegates, we would be in a far better position than we are now ; under that arrangement we would have had the Inter-colonial railway built at cost? of “$14,000.000 or $15,000,000, of which we would have to have paid but the one thirteenth part, we would be relieved of our debt on which we now pay about £90,000 a year interest, and would have a large amount of money at our disposal for our roads, bridges and schools, and other local purposes, then we now have.
House adjourned until 10. A. M., tomorrow.