New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates (25 May 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 87-89.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
THURSDAY, May 25, 1865.
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Hon. Mr. Smith said that as the Legislature of Nova Scotia had passed a resolution to appoint delegates to confer with other delegates from the Maritime Provinces regarding a commercial or Legislative Union between the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward’s Island, he had prepared a resolution authorizing the Government, in case the Government of Nova Scotia appoint these delegates, to appoint a delegation also ; but he thought it was premature to discuss this question, as this delegation which they proposed to appoint would have no power to bind the House, but should be appointed as a matter of courtesy to Nova Scotia ; he would therefore give notice of the following resolution”
Whereas, the Lieut. Governor of this Province has received from the Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia copies of resolutions passed by the Legislative Council, and House of Assembly, of that Province, expressing a wish to renew the negotiation for a Union of the Maritime Provinces ;
And whereas, it is desirable to ascertain whether a Legislative or Commercial Union of these Provinces, on terms advantageous to all, is practicable ;
Therefore resolved, that a humble address be presented to His Excellency the Lieut. Governor, requesting him to appoint delegates, not to exceed five, to confer with a delegation to be appointed by the Governments of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward’s Island, on the subject of such Union.
Mr. Connell. — I do not rise for the purpose of discussing this resolution, for I am not aware what the opinion of the House is in reference to it, but it is a most important matter, and they should express an opinion upon it. It is a question that should be fully discussed, and if we are going to have a Confederation on a small scale we should understand it, and the Government should be prepared to give some reasons why a delegation of this kind should be appointed, when a delegation which was appointed last year reported against the measure. I think the question had better stand over until this afternoon so that we will have time to consider the matter, and I shall give my reasons why I am opposed to it.
Hon. Mr. Smith. — I cannot see any use in allowing this matter to stand over. I think it is due as a matter of courtesy to Nova Scotia that this delegation should be appointed. My hon. friend knows that when the last delegation met at Charlottetown their attention was absorbed by the grander union, that this union faded into insignificance, and they paid no attention to it at all. If this delegation which we propose to appoint meet and agree upon any union, whether legislative or commercial, then it would be submitted to the House, and the country could take time to consider it. Last year a resolution of this kind was moved by the Provincial Secretary, and we had little discussion upon it ; now we propose to do the same thing without committing hon. members upon the question ; but leave it until next session, when it will be for the House to determine whether to adopt or reject the report of the Committee.
Mr. Lindsay. — The first thing necessary to be done is to ascertain whether the House desires this union or not ; if it does not, it is unnecessary to appoint this delegation and put the country to this expense for no purpose, when the finances are so limited, and they are required for improvements in the country. Although I am in favor of the union of all the British North American Provinces, yet I am opposed to this union of the Maritime Provinces, and want to record my vote against it.
Mr. Otty. — The hon. gentleman has misapprehended the question, which is merely a matter of courtesy to Nova Scotia ; because Nova Scotia has passed a resolution of this kind, it is a matter of courtesy that we should do so too, and the discussion of the subject can come up hereafter.
Mr. McClellan. — I suppose there can be no objection if it is a matter of courtesy ; but I should like to see the members of the Government in their places, because the hon. Provincial Secretary made a remark when passing the supplies which made me suppose that no delegation would be required ; but I see those pleasant little excursions will be provided for the same as usual.
Mr. Cudlip. — I am not prepared to say […]
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[…] whether I shall vote for or against this Union when the question comes up ; but I am glad to see a movement taking place in this direction, but I think there need not be much expense attending this delegation, for the distance being short, the Nova Scotia delegation may come over to St. John. The members of the House can vote for this resolution without being obliged to vote for any union the delegation might propose. Some gentlemen say if they cannot have a large union they do not want a small one ; but I think this small union may be a benefit, while it might not be desirable to have a union of all the British possessions in the world. The appointment of this delegation may be the means of bringing about a commercial union, which would be a benefit to these Maritime Provinces.
Col. Boyd —It is very desirable to have a union of these Maritime Provinces, either commercial or Legislative. I would rather see a Legislative Union, because one Legislature would answer in place of three. If the gentlemen who were appointed last year to confer on this subject had done their duty, we might have been united now. It is very desirable that we should have one tariff, one currency, and the same postal arrangements in the three Provinces. After we have this union, and it is found to work well, we might have Confederation with Canada, if the Canadians would make reasonable propositions ; but at present we should creep before we walk.
Mr. McMillan.—I think in courtesy to Nova Scotia, we should not object to passing this resolution ; but I do not see any benefits arising from this small union, which would not have been much greater in the larger union. This small union was abandoned last year, but I do not think it was abandoned until the delegation was satisfied that it could not be carried out.
Mr. Fraser.—I do not think this is a proper time to discuss this matter, as we are voting for this resolution as a matter of courtesy.
Mr. Gilbert.—The interests of these Lower Provinces are identified in every possible way, and this delegation may lead to some beneficial results. I cannot see how the Government could well get clear of co-operating with Nova Scotia in discussing this matter. I shall support the resolution.
Mr. Hill—It is said this resolution is a mere matter of courtesy to Nova Scotia. I do not see that it is any more so than a similar resolution which we passed last year, the result of which certainly went beyond what we intended when we passed that resolution. It would be premature to take sides on this question now, inasmuch as our minds would be liable to change when we receive further information on the subject.
Although I am somewhat in favor of this resolution, thinking this union will come to pass in a few years, yet I should like to hear the arguments for and against it, in order to acquire further information. When the Canadian union was first moved, I was rather in favor of it ; but the more I looked into it the more I opposed it. ‘There is no subject which can come before the Legislature this Session that I would more gladly listen to than a union of these Lower Colonies. Some such preliminary discussion should take place, in order that we may be fully prepared to discuss the question when it comes up.
Mr. Kerr.—I am in favor of this resolution, because by negotiating with the Lower Colonies we have already been benefitted to a considerable extent. I recollect the time when there was a duty of two pounds on every horse that was imported from Prince Edward Island; but by an arrangement entered into the Governments of the respective Provinces, the productions of the different Colonies are entered at a uniform rate. I imported a carriage from the United States and paid 17 1/2 per cent. duty in this Province. If I had taken it to Nova Scotia I would have had to have paid but 6 per cent., and could have brought it home from there just as easily, and thereby escaped the extra duty. Merchants like to get their goods into the country at the lowest possible rate, and it is very desirable that such an arrangement may be made as will remove all the restrictions upon our trade, so that the importations into the various Colonies may be admitted at the same rate of duty. The heads of departments should meet and discuss this matter of a Legislative or Commercial Union, and the resolution which they adopt can be fully discussed in the House next winter.
Mr. Connell moved that this resolution be postponed for three months, and said :—If this resolution is a mere matter of courtesy, and no result to be arrived at, what is the use of appointing a delegation ? It is a matter which can be very well undertaken by the Government, and it is very right for them to do so, laying such information as they receive before the Legislature next winter. It has been said that we would have been swamped in uniting with Canada ; but the same argument will apply to a union of these Lower Colonies.
I should like to have seen the President of the Council go into an elaborate discussion of this matter, as they have done in Nova Scotia, not only in reference to a union of the Lower Colonies, but also the larger union with Canada. I should like the opinion of the country to be expressed on this question, as it might have an influence upon this delegation. If there is no movement made to discuss this question, how is the country to get information ? No action should be taken until the country has had an opportunity to express an opinion upon the subject. In reference to Confederation, I always expressed my opinion in the strongest terms, that the measure should never be submitted to the House for its final passage without being first left to the people.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—We might have a dissolution of the House upon the question.
Mr. Connell—I should like to see it. With reference to Confederation it was a great mistake that the matter had not been brought before the Legislature and discussed, just as I say this matter should be discussed before a delegation is appointed to go to Nova Scotia. If that had been the case the people would not have been misled the way they have been on this question of Confederation, and would have arrived at a different result, for I believe a large majority of the country are in favor of Confederation. I do not see any advantage to be derived from this connection with Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but think it would be decidedly injurious so far as Agriculture is concerned. I think it would be great injustice to the people of this Province to have the Seat of Government removed to Halifax, for it is there where it would have to go. I suppose the President of the Council thinks it will go to Dorchester, but he may rest assured that it will not, for we will have but a small minority in the House, and consequently cannot locate the Seat of Government where we choose.
Dr. Thompson.—There is no basis upon which to rest a discussion. If the delegates agree upon anything before the next Session, that will be the time to discuss it. We will have one Legislature instead of three if we adopt this Union, and consequently can reduce our number of representatives from each County, or form electoral districts. There will be an advantage in uniting the seaboard Provinces where the trade is all of the same kind, whereas if we united in Canada we would have nothing in common, for we could take nothing to them, and receive nothing from them except provisions. This delegation may suggest something in regard to trade that will be an advantage, but it will be time enough to discuss the subject when their report is brought before us.
The House decided in favor of the resolution.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Smith, the House went into a Committee of the whole to take into consideration
A BILL TO PROVIDE FOR THE PAYMENT OF DEBENTURES ISSUED UNDER AN ACT RELATING TO THE SAVINGS’ BANK AND OTHER PROVINCIAL LIABILITIES.
Mr. Costigan in the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—In 1856 the Legislature passed a law authorizing the Governor in Council to issue debentures to the amount of £90,000. In 1862 an Act was passed enlarging the grant to $500,000, and the late Government have issued debentures to that extent ; but £30,000 sterling of those debentures remain in the hands of the Messrs. Baring in London ; the object of which was to meet any call upon Savings’ Bank deposits. The time of those debentures was limited to ten years, that time expires next May. The object of this Bill is to provide for the issue of debentures to the extent of $500,000, to meet those debentures when they fall due. In this Bill I have given a discretionary power to the Government, having put in no limitation as to time ; we can pay at such, whether in sterling or currency, as may seem most advantageous to the public interest.
Mr. Kerr. —There are now already debentures to the extent of £30,000 sterling in the hands of the Messrs. Barings lying unsold, which were issued under the Act providing for the issue of $500,000. Before these new debentures are issued there should be some provision made to satisfy the country that these debentures lying in the Messrs. Baring’s hands would be destroyed, so that the amount would not be charged against the Province with the amount authorized to be issued. We are all aware that the Bank of England always destroy their notes when received, and never issue them a second time. In Nova Scotia also, the Provincial notes are destroyed in the presence of a Joint Committee of the Legislature. A section should be added to this Bill providing for them to be destroyed, and stating in whose presence it should be done.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—I do not see any necessity for an amendment of that kind, for these debentures are to be withdrawn and the Government will see them destroyed ; if they are withdrawn, it is just the same as if, they were never issued, for they cannot be sold alter they are overdue.
Mr. Kerr.—I entirely differ from my hon. friend. It may be that after they are due they are not saleable, but they might be transferred from hand to hand. […]
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[…] It might happen that these debentures would not be all taken up when they are due, and if any of those unsold debentures should fall into the hands of a bona fide holder, will not this Province feel bound to pay them. I think it is necessary for this Province that as many of these debentures should be issued here as possible, so that the interest can be saved in the country, which at present is a great drain upon our resources.
Mr. Connell.—I have no objection to this Bill further than this, that some provision should be made to prove that those bonds had been destroyed, and some record kept here specifying those bonds that have been taken up. I understand by the Bill that the whole amount of debentures to the extent of $500,000 can be issued if the Government think proper.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—It is the intention of the Government to leave $30,000 in the hands of the Messrs. Baring, to provide for any run which may be made upon the Savings’ Bank deposit. There is some weight in the objection taken in regard to having those bonds destroyed, and there should be some provision made for it.
Mr. Kerr moved the following additional section to the Bill which was carried :
” The debentures issued under the said security acts, and remaining unsold, shall be cancelled or destroyed before any debentures shall be issued beyond the amounts now actually in the hands of purchasers ; evidence of such cancelling or destroying to be made appear to the satisfaction of the Governor in Council.”
The Bill was then agreed to as amended.
Hon. Mr. Smith moved the House into Committee to take into Consideration
AN ACT IN ADDITION TO AN ACT RELATING TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF RAILWAYS.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—It has been stated in the House that Mr. Levesey, on behalf of the International Railway Company, made a proposition to the late Government regarding the construction of the railway from Moncton to the Nova Scotia boundary. There is reason to believe that some effectual arrangement may be made with him during the coming season, and this Bill provides for the taking of land for that purpose ; there being no provision of that kind now made.
Mr. Cudlip.—I am not willing to vote for building a railway to Nova Scotia., unless as part of the great highway to the United States. The Government should have the power to stay proceedings on that line until Western Extension is undertaken by Government or a Company. I am not willing to tax the people of this Province to build a mere section of the road, unless it is built as part of the great whole
Hon. Mr. Smith.—Does the hon. member mean to say that if Mr. Levesey choose to build this portion of the line, Government should be called upon to build Western Extension. If any company choose to build this road under the Facility Bill of last year we could not stop them.
Mr. Kerr.—If I understand this Bill it makes every necessary provision to enable any company to construct any of the lines provided under the Facilities Bill. My hon. friend from St. John stated he would not consent to build that portion of the line between Moncton and Nova Scotia boundary, un less it was concurrent with Western Extension. I might, with with equal justice, say I would not consent unless the line on the North Shore was built. If a company could be induced to build it they should have the same facilities as any other portion of the line, for I think it is very unfair to hold out an inducement of $10,000 a mile , and then tell the Company they cannot enter upon the line.
On a division of the House on this Bill was agreed to.
Messrs. Lewis, A. C. Desbrisay, Young and Coram, requested to have their names recorded on the journals as voting in favor of the resolution for the appointment of delegates to confer with other delegates on the subject of the Union of the Maritime Provinces.
Mr. Needham.—I certainly think that when that resolution came up members necessarily absent on business in the Committee Room should have been called, for it is a subject of the greatest importance, and more particularly affects the County of York than any other County in the Province. I am decidedly opposed to it, for I do not think any such union can be effected that will be a benefit to New Brunswick ; on the contrary it would materially injure the Province. With regard to a commercial union or the adoption of a uniform tariff, and postal rates, I have no objection ; if we can assimilate our tariff, postal arrangements and currency, it will, no doubt be a benefit to the colonies, but I never will consent to a legislative union, which is part and parcel of this resolution, which certainly commits the members of this House ; for if this delegation agrees to a Legislative union, how can any member get up and oppose it after having voted for this resolution.
Now, as a matter of courtesy, when a proposition is made by one Province to another, I am willing to extend all the courtesy I can, consistent with my duty, but I am not willing to have a delegation go there and determine whether we shall have a legislative or commercial union, for those who vote for it will be bound by it. I believe that a legislative union would be more destructive to this Province than that grand Confederation scheme, and if we must choose between two evils we had better choose the least. If I had to choose between a Legislative Union of the Lower Colonies, or this grand Confederation scheme which I do not believe in, I would say, give me the Confederation scheme ten to one.
This Union of the Lower Colonies would dwindle us down into absolute insignificance; it would deprive us of our seat of Government, and render the whole Province less than a municipality. I confess I feel strongly on this subject, and do not wish to be misunderstood. I want to record my vote against it, but I do not want to record a silent vote. We do not know what this delegation may do, when they get there, but I do not feel disposed to give them the power to legislate for a Legislative Union.
Some persons might say because I was away from my seat that I shirked the question. Perhaps I may be rather too bold, but I never shirk. I am prepared to speak, vote and act as I think, whether it is right or wrong, and then I am responsible for what I do. If the word Legislative Union had not been there I would have voted for the resolution, for we ought to have a delegation to consider a Commercial Union ; but I would not give them any power to discuss whether we should have a Legislative Union or not. If those power were contained in the resolution I trust the House will allow me to record my vote against it. I feel that I am bound by every principle of honor and integrity to carry out the principle which I was sent to this House to sustain, as I believe my constituents, men, women and children, would rise up and condemn me, were I to assent to a proposition which I have so often attempted to show would be to the detriment and injury of the Province.
Mr. Wetmore.—I wish my name recorded in favor of this delegation, and if they come to the conclusion that a Legislative Union is necessary, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying I shall go cheerfully for it. My impression is rather in favor for it ; but, however, it is better to have the matter discussed by the delegation, and let them recommend what they consider the best for the country.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—One of the members for York (Mr. Fraser) was present when this discussion came up, and he expressed himself favorable to a Commercial Union, but I was to be taken upon the subject at all.
The House in Committee agreed to ” A Bill to amend an Act to provide for the erection of an Alms House Work House, and to establish a Public Infirmary in and for the City and County of St. John.”
Also, ” An Act to explain certain sections in a Bill relating to Sewerage.”
Also, ” A Bill relating to marriage.”
Also, ” A Bill to establish a Police force in the Town of Chatham.”
Also, ” A Bill to amend an Act to Incorporate the Trustees of the St. John Church in Chatham, in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia.
House adjourned to meet to-morrow, at. 9, A. M.