New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates (3 June 1865)

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Date: 1865-06-03
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 129-134.
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SATURDAY, June 3, 1865.

  •        (p. 129)

Mr. McClellan resumed.—There were some remarks made by my hon. friend from Charlotte, (Dr. Thomson) during the interruption yesterday, in reference to as statement I had made about the influence of the clergy at the late elections. I did not design any disrespect to any denomination, and do not think any member could say I made use of offensive language at all. My hon. and learned friend from the City of St. John, (Mr. Wetmore) during the interruption, made some covert insinuation, that members who undertook to address this House after having been crammed the night before, were not entitled to great consideration. I did not clearly understand the inuendo at the time, at first I thought he referred to the splendid social affair at the Exhibition building the night before, and possibly the hon. member himself may have satisfied himself to expletion on that occasion, as for me, I was not present, and did not participate in those festivities. If he referred to intellectual as cramming, I can only tell him confidentially, for this matter does not concern the public at all, that on his part it is all a matter of fancy, not of fact.

It is better for hon. members to express themselves frankly and openly, and not deal in such ambiguous allusions, and if my hon. and learned friend thinks he can suppress discussion by interruptions of that kind he is very much mistaken ; it may be well to resist discussion upon important questions at an election, but it will not be so easy to strangle free discussion on the floors of the Legislature. My learned friend (the Dr.) has taken occasion to proclaim himself a representative of the Tory element ; he frankly avows his sentiments ; he said the duties and attributes of Tories were to ” fear God, honor the King, and deal uprightly with all men” ; and it was upon that his political principles were founded.

I recollect a story told to illustrate the principles of toryism. A Tory was represented as being like a toad which had been buried in the solid rock for a hundred years, but upon exposing him to the light of day and the vivifying beams of the sun he would, with twinkling eyes, pop out from his hiding place to the other toads, his compeers, and perfectly oblivious of the fact that he is a hundred years behind the age. I do not wish to apply this to the learned Dr. from Charlotte. I am not saying that he is hopping along with the other toadies. I merely refer to this to show the sentiments and principles of Torryism [sic].

The resolution before you says Confederation will be politically, commercially and financially injurious to this Province. I shall not speak now upon the financial part of the subject, because that has been gone into by the hon. gentlemen from Carleton and Restigouche. I think that aspect of the question has been met, and the opposition to the measure have failed to show such results would follow this union as would justify the appointment of this delegation. I feel confident that Confederation can be sustained upon financial grounds alone, without regard to the benefits arising from the construction of the Inter-colonial railway, which gives us 200 miles of railway, bringing the traffic of the West into New Brunswick. Immense advantages will flow from that road, uniting, as it does, the coal fields of the Eastern section with the metaliferous regions of the Western part of the Province and Canada.

This road is not to be built with our own money, but the money of a people who have been denominated by many in this House as strangers. They are not strangers, but brother colonists, united and bound one colony to another. We should have that feeling of regard for them as would induce us to legislate for their interests as well as our own. It is the correct principle for any people to so legislate that they will place themselves in a position to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest. This road will not only give us an extended market, but will enable us to receive the surplus productions of Western Canada ; it will produce benefits of which we have at present no conception. A person would suppose from listening to the remarks of some of the honorable gentlemen that they wished to re-enact the old protection laws, which were abolished years ago.

They tell us that those men who signed a document in St. John expressing their views on this question, were men of no influence. They were men doing a large business, and were favorable to the extension of the principles of free trade and fair competition with their neighbours, for they felt confidence in the resources of New Brunswick. The Hon. President of the Council alluded to a statement which I had made, that in six months there would be a change in the opinions of the people on this question, and there would be a large majority of the people of this country in favor of Confederation ; he took the opposite ground, and did not believe that this would be the case. I said “try it.” he answered that the cause of Confederation was desperate, and we were willing to try anything. I did not in my allusion refer to a dissolution of the House, but I referred to putting the matter before the country as a distinct question, outside of party difficulties and troubles altogether, so that the people could vote yea or nay upon the question, free from the entanglements of politics ; if it was so submitted, and means of instruction afforded them upon this question, I said they would have a two-thirds majority in a very short time in favor of this measure.

The hon. member says that was my opinion before ; I says I never was very sanguine of carrying this question before, for I knew the strength and ability of my learned friend —I knew his declamation powers—I knew his influence in the County of Albert, and I feared the effect of that declamation ; but in that County they took hold of the question and sifted it to the bottom, and they came to the conclusion that Confederation would build up this country, and it would prove a benefit to them whether they were miners, farmers, or fishermen. My hon. friend says my eyes were in Ottawa. I can tell him that I had no aspirations of that kind. I had no idea of going into a new arena, but was content to serve my country in that Legislature, which, to adopt their own style of arguments, would be a mere municipality ; therefore, I cannot see how they can stigmatize as being actuated by any views of self-aggrandizement. He has put forward his great magnanimity in resigning his large salary and giving up a high position to protect the country from a great infliction, as he expressed it a that time ; and he considers that a reason why the people should give him credit for being the most patriotic man in the country.

Although I never was in a position to give up a salary, or an office, yet I have been in a position to refuse to accept of one ; when parties were evenly balanced in this Legislature, I was offered one of the highest positions in the country, if I would desert my political principles, but I felt that while men were only for the passing hour, principles were undying. I hope that when this delegation—or this little pleasure excursion—goes to England at the expense of both Confederates and Anti-Confederates, they will represent to the British Government the true state of feeling in this country, had state that a large majority of the other branch of the Legislature are in favor of the Scheme. When they arrive in England they will receive very little sympathy from the English people, or ministry. The British Government will reply to them in this way : “Gentlemen, we knew this before ; we have received information that the people of New Brunswick have rejected this Union, therefore we do not see the object of your mission.”

After they have received this rebuff they had better lengthen their excursion, and go to Africa. There, according to Dr. Livingston or Capt. Spoke, they will find little kingdoms with about 20,000 inhabitants holding their Courts with all the ceremony of larger kingdoms, their interests all being centered in themselves, each one of these having its own peculiar habits and customs, and it is their particular care to keep these distinctions up. There they will find the exact exemplification of the principles enunciated here. They are not willing to break down the barriers of trade and carry out the principles of liberalism and reform, neither are they willing to unite these Colonies and make them the germ of a mighty nation. They are not willing to do what would advance our best interests and prove a lasting benefit ; for to unite would prove a benefit whether we remain as a great Colonial Confederacy united under the British Government, or whether we adopt the other alternative and drift into Annexation. I can imagine the feelings of this delegation on their return, after finding the matter had been fairly discussed in the House of Commons. Homeward bound, they will repeat the old nursery rhyme:—

  •        (p. 130)

“The King of France with twenty thousand men,

Marched up the hill and then marched down again.”

It has been stated that those gentlemen who have taken a prominent part in advocating this Scheme, are consulting their own interests by so doing ; it that is an argument, to be used against Confederation, it might as well apply to the people who voted for Union, which was to make these united Provinces one of the brightest jewels in the British Crown, because by doing so they are advancing their own interest. The hon. member from St. John (Mr. Anglin) alluded to conspirators, and hidden intrigue. Now, I know no such imputation applicable to any of the delegates ; it is true it was rumored at one time that a countryman of the hon. member’s, and a man of brilliant talents, Mr. D’Arcy McGee, was at some former period of his history concerned in seditious movements in Ireland ; that gentleman has made the amend honourable, and has well redeemed his character for loyalty. Conspiracy ! treason and stratagems ! cries the hon. member. My belief is, that if there exists any treasons and stratagems, they are connected with the spoils at the present time. It is all a false alarm. Like Shakspear’s [sic] Macbeth :  

“Is this a dagger, which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come let

me clutch thee ; I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

To feeling as to sight ? or art thou but

A dagger of the mind ; a false creation

Proceeding from the heat oppressed brain?

I see thee yet, In form as palpable

As this whish now I draw.”

There is nothing to be gained by sending this delegation to England to express the state of public feeling, because that expression is known there, and it has been stated in the London Times that there is no intention to coerce the people of this Province. Then why is it that 150,000 Confederates are to be taxed to send a delegation home to misconstrue their opinions ? What great measure, in so short a period of time has ever taken such a firm hold upon the people of the country as this has ?

This great measure, improving the constitution of a country, has received the approval of nearly one-half of the people of this Province, and in a short time there will be a majority in favor of it. We have shown that this Confederation would be a benefit to the people of this Province, politically, commercially, financially and socially ; therefore this delegation is unnecessary. If these resolutions had to be passed in the Legislative Council, they would probably meet with the same fate as other measures that have been tried to be foisted upon the country during the present year. We are not in a position to express by a delegation of this Legislature, the exact state of public feeling which now exists, and which will exist six months hence. A large majority of British North America have spoken out in favor of this Scheme ; we are not in a position to express our views ; we have placed ourselves right in regard to our loyalty by voting $30,000 for Militia purposes ; we are recovering our positions and there is no need of sending two or three men home to tell them what they know already. ” Unless we can do a noble deed, in heaven’s name let us be silent.”

Mr. Otty.—I think a part of the quotation from Shakespeare which my hon. friend has made in very applicable to the Scheme of Confederation, for I think Confederation is—

——”a false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppress’d brain.”

I do not think it necessary to take long to discuss this subject. Some years ago, when a proposition was made by Mr. Howe for a Union of the North American Colonies, I thought it would be a benefit to us, by raising these Provinces into a nationally. I was glad also when I heard that this delegation had proceeded to Quebec to take into consideration this question ; but afterwards on reflection I thought there would be found something wrong in the details of the Scheme, for those thirty-three men had taken only seventeen days to consider a subject of such vast importance, and those days were interspersed with feasting. This was a very short time compared with the time taken by the United States to frame their Constitution, they being four months in actual session, therefore I considered there would be some details in the Scheme that would not bear the light.

I was more confirmed in this view when I read the resolutions which they had adopted carefully and considerately, for I found that New Brunswick would be swamped in the Legislative Assembly, we being only allowed the small number of fifteen members, the whole number of members being 194. But the advocates of the Scheme say there is a check to this influence in the Legislative Council ; but if you read the l4th Section of these resolutions you will find only the first selection of Councillors are to be taken from the Legislative Councillors of the Provinces, and any subsequently appointed may be selected from Canada to represent the Lower Provinces.

The 16th Section says : ” Each of the twenty-four Legislative Councillors representing Lower Canada in the Legislative Council of the General Assembly shall be appointed to represent one the twenty-four Electoral Divisions. * * * and shall reside or possess his qualification in the division he is appointed to represent.” That clause affects Lower Canada only. The Councillors of every other section of the Union may be appointed—after the death of the present Councillors—from the residents of Canada. That is a very serious defect in the Scheme, for it allows Councillors to be selected from any district, and they may have no interest in the Province they represent.

In the United States their Senators are elected from their representatives, and they are well fitted to represent their own particular State. It is said that the people are not educated on this subject. In the County of King’s, during the late election, every means was taken to provide information for the people, and it speaks well for that County, that when I, a new man, who had never taken any interest in political life, came before them as a candidate for their suffrages, they returned me, giving me nearly 300 votes over their favorite candidate, who had represented them so many years. This shows the opinion of the people in that County on Confederation.

To go over all the arguments against this Scheme would take more time than we have at our disposal ; but there is one item particularly objectionable, that is the 51st Section. According to that, any law which we may pass, if it happen to conflict with the interest of Canada, can be disallowed at any time within one year after it has passed our Legislature. We give up our dearest right, the right of taxation, over which we have no control. for it would pass into the hands of Canada, and she could use such a system of taxation as she pleased. We get eighty cents per head for giving up all our revenue. This is not enough to support our roads, schools, and bridges, therefore we will have to resort to direct taxation.

Mr. Hill.—I rise for the purpose of replying to some of the remarks made by my hon. friend from the County of Albert, (Mr. McClellan). I do not intend to go over them all, for at least two-thirds to go his speech has been upon matters entirely foreign to the subject under consideration. He has dealt with matters connected with himself and the President of the Council ; it will not be expected that I will follow him upon those points. I will reply now to one allusion which he made. He advised the delegates to extend their trip to Africa. I think that comparison will scarcely apply, because even under this Union these little courts will be held, having less influence than they now have. His proposed Confederation will be very much like the case of Austria, which is burdened down by a heavy debt which has not been caused by external war, but by internal dissention.

The Empire is composed of Provinces, with different interests and different languages, and they do not work harmoniously together. We find Hungary and Italy breaking out into rebellion ; we find the country loaded down with debt, simply because they are confederated together, with no interests in common, but alienated one from another. He (Mr. McClellan) said that the delegation had as much right to confer on a Union of the Colonies making a total change in our position as a people, as a delegation had to go to England to make arrangements on railway matters. If a delegation went to England to make arrangements on railway matters, it was to make arrangements for the construction of a railway, already authorized by the Legislature, and had there been the subject of discussion. It was entirely different from the delegation going to Quebec to take into consideration the making of arrangements which were to change our whole political condition. I have doubts as to the constitutionality of the course taken by the late Government and delegates in this matter. The hon. gentleman says we have not a written Constitution, and it is liable to be changed—every Act of the Legislature being a change. This is true, and it is true of the British Constitution ; but was any Constitution ever changed by the action of self-appointed delegates. My hon. friend says this Scheme was defeated on account of the unpopularity of the Government. This has only lately been discovered.  

Mr. McClellan.—I did not make that statement. I was replying to a statement of the President of the Council, and I said that as a distinct question outside of politics, when the people understood it, they would sustain it by a large majority.

Mr. Hill.—With regard to the unpopularity of the Government, I do not know whether they had any influence in the County of Albert ; but I know Confederation received a large amount of support from the people throughout the Province in consequence of the influence of the Government. I do not accuse that Government of sinister motives. I do not believe they really wanted to sell the country ; and I think if they had believed that the measure would really have been injurious, they would not have urged it upon the country : but I believe the views of men are modified by views of  […]

  •             (p. 131)

[…] their own interest, and they took a view of this question from a wrong stand-point. The Government had a strong influence in support of Confederation, even when not directly exercised, because men who did not understand the question would support the measure as they considered that it must be a good Scheme, for the members of the Government who had given the subject every consideration had supported it.

The hon. member has also said that the influence of the President of the Council was as great in regard to promising offices as the late Government. There was no influence in this respect, for it was prophesied from the beginning of the election campaign that Confederation would be carried ; the newspapers said that there would be twenty-six returned in favor of it at the very least, and even those opposed to the Scheme feared it would be carried. The Reverend Editor of a paper told us that a majority would be returned in favor of Confederation, whether Charlotte elected men in support of it or not, and others said that if we wished any favors from the Government, we must return men who would support them, as they were sure to be elected and have a majority in the House. This had a great effect in influencing the votes of the people in favor of the Scheme. Again, reference has been made to eclesiastical influence.

In our County I am not aware of any clergyman taking any part in the elections ; but in the City of St. John, the organs of religious denominations were in favor of Confederation. They raised an issue that it was a question in which religion was largely involved, and they had an influence among the people throughout the country. The hon. gentleman from Albert says why should we send this delegation home, as Confederation is dead. I say we want to bury it and carry it face downwards, so deep that it can never be resuscitated. I do not think it right that we should burden ourselves with debt, and deprive ourselves with all power to regulate our own affairs for the sake of giving twenty-five men a larger field in which to exhibit themselves.

The more this Scheme is discussed the less favor it will find. The Government chose their own time ; they made their statements to the public first, they had the press in their favor, and they used every opportunity to bring their views before the country. The election took place in winter when the lumbermen were absent, and those who got to the polls had little information on this subject, therefore they had every advantage which their influence and position could give them. The proper method would have been to have submitted the question to a direct vote of the people, apart from all political considerations, or the popularity of this or that candidate. My hon. friend said the extension of the Canals in Canada might be as popular in New Brunswick as in Canada. He has given us credit for a great deal of disinterestedness in stating that we would be willing to help build those Canals, which will have the effect of carrying the trade away from us.

We are not generally so disinterested; the people of the North are not willing to be taxed to build Western Extension, unless it is to get something in return. The hon. gentleman says we should rise above the position of politicians into the position of statesmen ; he would have us rise above all considerations of the interests of our own Province. I say it is the duty of the statesmen of New Brunswick to look after the welfare of their own Province. So far as business is concerned, Canada is a foreign country to us. He says that we stand in the same position to Canada that the seaboard in the United States does to the great West. He must give us credit for a great deal of geographical ignorance in regard to the United States and Canada Railways. It is only 469 miles from the City of Toronto to New York ; but it is by the Intercolonial Railway 1,100 miles to St. John, and goods will be sent to the nearest outlet. We are told this Intercolonial Railway is to cost us nothing, and it will develop our mines and minerals of Albert and Carleton Counties.

I would ask what route it will take? I have understood that it will take the central route, then it will pass through neither of these Counties. It has been said by a Canadian statesman that after the Intercolonial Railway was built, he would not undertake to run it, for the whole revenue of one of the Lower Provinces. My hon. friend dwelt upon the great advantage that would accrue to the people of this Province from the increased market which we would have for manufactured articles ; but the fact is, that the manufactured articles of Canada sell on the upper St. John now at cheaper rates than those of home manufacture, notwithstanding the cost of transport and duty upon them. They can manufacture cheaper than we can, because labor and food are cheaper ; in addition to that they can get their raw material, iron and coal cheaper than we can ; inasmuch as many vessels leaving ports in England to go to Quebec, for the purpose of getting a cargo of timber, take out coal and iron at low freight as ballast ; therefore we find they are quoted cheaper there than in St. John, besides that they have the market and the consumers at their own door. I do not believe the manufacturers who signed that circular in St. John, had any idea of sending their goods to Canada, but they may have thought of sending them to Nova Scotia.

All the advantages that would be gained by this Union, would be gained by free trade among the Lower Provinces, or a maritime Union. Great stress is laid upon the fact, that we obtain our flour from Canada. It was said by the hon. member from the County of Albert, that we would buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest. Quebec never will be the cheapest market for us to buy in, taking into consideration the cost of transport, and the fact that Lower Canada is not a grain producing country. If we wish to obtain it from Montreal we have to transport it a distance of 550 miles, if we bring it by the Intercolonial Railway ; but it can be brought much cheaper to Portland, as the distance by the Grand Trunk Railway is but 290 miles and from there to St. John it can be brought at an additional cost of twenty-five cents per barrel. It is said they may put on certain restrictions that will prevant Canadian goods from finding an outlet. It is not to be supposed that the people of the United States will be so blind to their interests as to prevent the expenditure of millions of money in the transport of Canadian goods. It has been stated that this Scheme was rejected on account of the unpopularity of the late Government, this is not the case in our section of the country, for the Liberal party are there very popular ; but when this Scheme came up, our people said they would sacrifice the Liberal party for the sake of opposing Confederation.

I am desirous of seeing this delegation because it is necessary to make use of some such means to correct the misrepresentations that have been made there by the Canadian delegates. There is one point on which I can agree with my hon. friend from the County of Albert, that is, in his choice of delegates ; he thinks the hon. Mr. Smith and the hon. Mr. Anglin are the proper persons to go on this delegation. There are no two men who so well represent the sentiments of the people of New Brunswick on this question, and there are no two men who have done so much to oppose this Scheme, which would have brought so much evil upon the people of this Province. It has been said that the hon. President of the Council might have allowed a desire for position to influence his course. It is well known that this is not the case. He has made a sacrifice of his time and money for the good of the country ; he has devoted his time and his ability to enlighten the people. If it is ambition, to have labor, care and anxiety for the benefit of the public without any remuneration, it is of an unblamable kind, and I wish we had more of it.

Mr. McClellan.—I did not charge him with that. I said he was just as open to the charge of ambition as any other man.  

Mr. Hill.—They tell us that anti-Confederation had but four or six hundred majority, and that is reported and reiterated and adopted as being the true state of things. It appears that the mantle of prophesy has fallen upon these gentlemen ; they tell us now as they they told us before the election that Confederation is sure to be carried. They are like Miller prophesying the destruction of the world ; when the time comes for the prophesy to be fulfilled they prophesy anew. These gentlemen imitate the rallying cry of Mahomet, ” Great is Allah and Mahomet is his Prophet,” and substitute ” Great is Confederation and many are its profits.” But the profits would be to Canada and the expense to New Brunswick and the other Maratime Provinces. Much stress has been laid by the advocates of Confederation upon the military and defence portion of the question. We have been told that we were in danger of being swallowed up by the United States, and that we must unite with Canada in order to place ourselves in a position to repel any attack from that quarter.

The Monroe doctrine, in all its terrors, has been harped upon. Do these gentlemen know what the doctrine is, and where it originated ? Do they know that it emulated from the British Government, and that its promulgation was urged by that Government through its Minister at Washington upon the Cabinet of President Munroe. France had formed an alliance with Spain, and one of the objects of that alliance was the reconquest of the Spanish American Colonies, for the purpose of again bringing them under the domination of the Latin races. The British Ministry, anxious to prevent the success of this Scheme, strongly pressed upon the American Government the adoption of that policy, which was almost immediately accepted by President Monroe, and embodied in his famous message to Congress. This policy, then first declared, was that the United States would not consent to the establishment of any Foreign Power upon American soil, and that they would not, without resistance, allow any European nation to obtain further foothold in America beyond that already existing.

And now, while the establishment of Maximilian by French aid in Mexico is an infringement of policy so laid down, the British North American Provinces do not come within its restriction and it was […]

  •             (p. 132)

[…] never intended to be applied to them. I do not believe that we are in danger of being attached by the United States. Every expression of sentiment by the leaders of public opinion in that country is opposed to such a course. We heard Henry Ward Beecher, on the first day of the present year, saying to his congregation : ” I am not for war with any nation, and that man is not my friend who declares war against the people of our Fatherland. All that is dearest to us, of what we brought hither, we brought from thence, Laws and Institutions, and Christian civilization, and woe be to the day that begets estrangement between the Christians of England and the Christians of America !”

We hear Secretary Seward, when addressing the crowd who were congratulating him on the surrender of General Lee, saying that as long as Canada preferred remaining under the rule of her noble Queen, to voluntary incorporation in the United States, she was safe from attack from them. But in case of invasion, how shall we be secured in Confederation. It is proposed to expend a million dollars for defence. Why that is just about six hours of the expenditure by the American Government during the last two years—they have averaged over two millions per day; during the last week the tramps of two hundred thousand men has resounded thro’ the streets of Washington, besides the tens of thousands of soldiers scattered from Maine to the Rio Grande. We should have two thousand miles of sea coast, and three thousand miles of land and lake frontier. Can Canada send us assistance when she has two and a half millions of people, and the very States touching her frontier contain twelve millions ? Can we in Confederation with three millions of people defend ourselves against thirty millions, who have, by so many railroads and other means of communication such power of concentrating their forces on our borders ?

If they have ten times our population have they not far more than ten times our power in all other resources of war, wealth and supplies, and all the vast implements and machinery for warfare. But shall we fall back on the old exploded falsehood, that the Yankees will not fight ? that one Englishman or Provincial would be equal to three. Has history taught us nothing ? Are we not descended from the one race ? A branch of that great Argan race, who from its earliest traditions in remote antiquity were a fighting people. Starting from the remote regions of Central Asia, whither in their migrations they overran the plains of Hindostan, or the forests of Germany, wherever they laid their hands upon a people, it was the hand of a conqueror. And is not the Anglo Saxon the noblest branch from that race, either in the arts of war or of peace. I could never see why the Englishman, the Irishman, the German, would not, with the same discipline fight as well upon the western shore of the Atlantic, as upon the Eastern ; and I could never see why an imaginary line of frontier should make the Provincials so much better men than their American neighbors.

But because with such heavy odds against us, I do not think that we should be able to repel an invasion from the United States. I do not wish the gentlemen upon the opposite side of this question to think that the wish is father to the thought. I would that it were otherwise, more than anything earthly. I could desire that my own Province and country was strong enough to defy attack from any quarter. I would go into Confederation with any sacrifice of political or financial interests if I thought it would accomplish this. I believe that I would gladly lay down my own life, if by so doing I could prevent the subjection of my country. But I cannot shut my eyes to facts that are patent as the noon day sun. If it is loyalty to bury one’s head like the ostrich and refuse to see what is clear to all others, then am I open to the charge of disloyalty. But if it is loyalty to have a strong love and admiration for England, for her history, her institutions and her literature, and to hope that her flag may always float over these Provinces, and that I may always live under her sway, then I am loyal.  

Mr. Wetmore.—I do not wish to be understood as stating my own merits, but having been returned by the grand emporium of this Province, I feel I would but ill discharge my duty, being placed to the high position which I occupy, did I not express my views on this great scheme of Confederation. It is true the matter has been handled politically, commercially, and financially, very ably by the hon. gentlemen who have spoken on the question. I will not take up the time by going into minute details, but shall express my views briefly and generally against the Scheme. In the first place it is said that there is no need of a delegation, because the people of England are aware that the grand scheme of Confederation has been defeated. It might be sufficient that the British Government in the exercise of their powers will have a consideration for the constitutional rights which we have. But this is a matter on which discretion is to be exercised.

It is said the appointment of this delegation is a concession to Confederation ; in like manner the building of Penitentiaries is a concession to criminals. We have a law in this land to prevent the commission of crime ; but would a man, if he thought his house was going to be destroyed, if he did not take a reasonable means of defence, lie down on his bed satisfied as if the law was going to protect him ? I feel that where the constituency of this country has been maligned every effort should be made to protect our rights and our homes in the land in which we live. It has been said by several hon. gentlemen that those who have been returned on the Anti-Confederate ticket have been returned by the rabble. Several times this basest of slanders has been uttered. I have been returned as one of the representatives of St. John, and I can say I have not been returned by a rabble. I represent more intelligence, wealth and independence than the Confederation party can begin to boast of. It is a base, malignant slander, got up for the basest of purposes. I possess little influence in St. John, and was opposed to men who held high positions, men of political standing who brought political and monetary influence to bear, and who had experience in elections for a number of years ; therefore it required a large amount of intelligence to return me to this position which I have the honor to hold.

The election was not held upon any backsliding of the former Government ; it was conducted upon the question of Confederation, or no Confederation. The Government had some slight amount of backslidings, but they sunk into insignificance and were never spoken of during the election ; our thoughts then were to protect our homes where we lived, for we felt they were about to be sacrificed. It may have been that the Government thought this Scheme was absolutely necessary for the interests of the people, or it may have been that designing men were seeking to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the dearest rights of the people ; that was the question, and it was the all-absorbing question, and fair, reasonable, and proper men were taken to explain to the people the nature of this Confederation, and the effect it would have upon the community.

It was said that the Hon. President of the Council went about the country promising offices to people to support his party, but wherever that gentleman’s voice was heard, there was a declaration made in the papers that all he said amounted to nothing, and the people that advocated that scheme were the people that must be returned to represent the interests of this Province. If that was the case, is it a reasonable proposition to suppose that any individual could hold out inducements to persons to join the opposition. There was a fair canvass. I had something to do with the election in St. John, and I never knew a fairer canvass conducted in my life. Public Meetings were held by each party. While I say there was no influence on the part of the opposition, I may say all the Government influence was used ; every thing was done that could be done to retain the offices which they held. Was not this celebrated “Cole’s Island” operation a Government influence. Were these men aware that the voice of the people should be the voice of the Government?

Where the people had expressly declared that no such undertaking would be conducive to the interests of the people. I cannot conceive how men, elected under the principles of responsible Government, can prostrate that influence, and use the people’s money for electioneering purposes. It is said that the views of the people of this Province have entirely changed on this question ; it is very well to put forth this assertion, but we have to exercise our own judgement whether to believe it or not. The late Solicitor General, in the City in which he lives, was proverbial for his popularity, and the greatest amount of sympathy was felt for him when he lost his election and had to give up his office ; since then he was a candidate for the office of Mayor in St. John ; his talents, integrity, and the length of time he had lived there gave him great influence, every effort was made to secure his election ; at the election of representatives he received 1400 votes in the City of St. John, but now after this Confederation scheme has been defeated, and the influence of the Government withdrawn, he received but 300 votes. Does this show that those who were Confederates have altered their opinions and are now against the scheme?

It has been said by my hon. friend from the County of Albert that the election was a matter of accident. I think it was so. I believe it was the intention of the leader of the Government not to submit this to the consideration of the people at all. It has been said that when these delegates returned from Canada they anticipated that there was a majority in the House of Assembly who would carry this measure through. If it was the intention to submit it to the people, why was this election held over in the County of Northumberland ? It is said that this delegation is not required ; that the Home Government know that the people of this Province have pronounced against the Scheme. It might as well be said, what is the use of the Canadians sending home a delegation ? The Home Government know that the Canadians have […]

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[…] passed resolutions concerning a Federal Union, and they can be signed and forwarded to them. When the Canadian delegates met at Halifax there was a torch light procession took place ; what had they done for Nova Scotia that they should be accorded this honor ? Was it not done to influence the public in England, and lead them to believe that a reaction had taken place ? Why did not the Government of Nova Scotia bring in the question, and propound it as a Government measure? or if they were not satisfied without submitting it to the people, why did not they dissolve the House, and get an expression of opinion from the people ? It was because they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it must be defeated.

Then in regard to the Intercolonial Railway ; a fair and equitable arrangement as could be made between man and man was made between the Provinces for the construction of that road. This road would have been of great advantage to the people of Nova Scotia, though I doubt whether it would help us much ; yet that agreement having been made, it was binding upon all parties, but Canada violated her trust, and her honor politically had been scattered to the winds. Then what had these Canadian delegates done for Nova Scotia, that they should be honored with a torch-light procession ? One of our distinguished men was among that party, and he was honored in the same way. What had he done for Nova Scotia ? What was his position then? Defeated in his election ; the people had spoken in a voice of thunder, and said they had no confidence in his party.

Why then this ” torch-light procession?” It was done that a great outcry might be raised on the other side of the water ; that the opposition go their election by accident ; that the voice of the people was against them ; that if the question of Confederation was again submitted to the people their position would be reversed. This being the case, is it a proper course to be silent, because we have expressed our opinion, and allow those men to make misrepresentations concerning the state of feeling in this country on that question, with nobody to counteract their influence; we must not trust to existing right alone, but we must take all reasonable precaution. What is the use of troops if people are to depend upon mere existing right, without taking means to enforce that right?

Therefore, to send a delegation is a matter of the greatest importance. I only regret that this delegation had not been sent a little earlier. With reference to the resolutions which authorized those gentlemen to go to Prince Edward Island to meet other delegates to discuss a Union of the Maritime Provinces, I would say that when I find men disposed to violate one right, I would be loth to put trust in them again. We find these men who were elected on the principles of Responsible Government, and who boasted that they entertained the confidence of the people, go forth with the resolutions of the House of Assembly, and, through Canadian influence, treat those resolutions with the most consummate contempt. These delegates then proceeded to Quebec, where a meeting took place, not authorized by the people of the Province or by the British Government, as the Hon. ex-Surveyor says, for they had left for Quebec before the dispatch came out.

Mr. McMillan.—I did not refer to that dispatch. I referred to a despatch sent out in 1862 regarding a Union of these Colonies.

Mr. Wetmore.—The Governor of Nova Scotia did feel authorized to send delegates without the express direction of the Colonial Secretary, but they had departed before they received a dispatch authorizing them.  

Mr. McMillan.— By what power were they appointed ; if the Governor did not appoint them, who did ?  

Hon. Mr. Anglin.—The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia when appealed to by the Governor General, at first refused to send delegates until he could get authority from Mr. Cardwell. Afterwards he wrote to the Colonial Secretary, stating that he was satisfied that the Governor General was acting with the knowledge and sanction of the Imperial Government ; therefore, he had complied with his invitation, and sent delegates to the Conference. because if he had withheld his consent, Nova Scotia could not have been represented.

Mr. McMillan.—Was he not aware of the fact that he was acting under the dispatch of 1862?

Hon. Mr. Anglin.—Although the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia knew that despatch was in existence, still he did not feel authorized to send them.

Mr. Wetmore.—The action of those delegates was a direct violation of the principles of Responsible Government, for it was their business and duty to attend to what the people sent them to look after, and that consideration was not given that should have been given to the voice of the people of this Province. They treated those resolutions with the greatest contempt, and in direct violation of them they go to Canada at great expense to the people of this Province, and there mature a scheme to destroy and sacrifice the country in which they live. I believe it was those delegates’ intention to cram the scheme down the throats of the people of this Province ; therefore, there was an unpardonable violation of our rights, and the people did well to express their opinion at the polls.

It is said the Government of the present day is a matter of accident ; but I consider it a most fortunate circumstance, for it saved the country. In reference to this Intercolonial Railway going to be of so much advantage to us, I have listened with great attention to the arguments of many public men expressed at public meetings at St. John, and I have endeavored to bring the best judgment I could to bear upon the subject, but I failed to discover that we would commercially derive any benefit from it. It is said that there is a large amount of money to be expended upon this road if we go into Confederation, and it will cost us a very small amount indeed, but what is the difference who pays the cost, as they are going to take our money from us. Suppose they do expend a large sum of money in the country, it will be spent among the railway navvies and contractors, creating extravagant habits and causing drinking shops to be set up, thus doing a wrong and an injury to the country. What are we going to carry upon that Railway ?

I have listened with patience, but have listened in vain, to hear any arguments to prove that we will derive any commercial benefit from it. My impression is, that it will go by the North Shore route ; my hon. friend from St. John thinks it will go by the middle route. If the Government did not know by which route it was going, was it fair between man and man to state to the people of the North Shore that it was going by that route? If it was true, I do not blame them for getting the benefit of it; but if it was false, and there was no reasonable ground for the statement, was it a fair canvass to make the statement when they knew it to be false ?

Then, again : was there any thing to justify the assertion that it was going by the Sussex route? This question of the railway route was a political fiddle with three strings: there was the North Shore string, the Central string, and the Southern string; put that and the Coles’ Island operation together, and I say it was not a fair canvass, for the question was not treated on the broad principles of Confederation alone. Then in reference to the trade on the Intercolonial Railway, we have nothing to send to Canada that they do not have. It has been said that our shipping interest will be increased.. Who ever heard of a Canadian buying a New Brunswick ship, or a New Brunswicker buying a Canadian ship? We cannot compete with Canadian manufactures, for ours are in an infant state ; this opinion was expressed in 1862 by some of the most prominent advocates of the present scheme. Suppose I have a mill on one side of the Restigouche River, and have to pay a heavy debt, and my hon. friend from that county has a mill on the other, free from debt, can I compete with him under those circumstances, and sell my lumber as cheap as he can ?

If we employ the same number of hands and the same amount of capital, and he gets his logs near his mill and I have to bring mine from a distance, I cannot begin to compete with him. Suppose we have manufacturers in this country, with the same facilities and same number of hands employed as the Canadians, we cannot sell as cheap as they do, from the fact that the market is in Canada and we have to pay the cost of transport. We have to get our flour from Canada, and have to pay so much money for it ; that is the same as if we had to pay so much debt. But in Canada they produce their own flour ; therefore, we cannot feed our operatives as cheaply as they can in Canada, where they have their flour and market at their own door. Therefore, we can send nothing to Canada on this Intercolonial Railway—neither will the Canadians send their flour by that route, because they can send it much cheaper by way of Portland.

Then we are told that, in a military point of view, it is important that this road should be constructed, because the Yankees are going to gobble us up. It was anticipated that the revolution in America was drawing to a close ; and, while they had this large army unemployed, they would make an onslaught on these Provinces. I do not believe for one moment that that great nation, because they had the power, would make power right, and attempt to invade us. What object would it be to that mighty nation to invade these insignificant Provinces ; we were told that the Americans were to be upon us immediately, and we wanted this railway for military purposes. How long would it take to construct that railway ? It could not, and would not be done in ten years ; and it is not to be supposed that the Americans, if were rapacious enough to invade us, would put their soldiers in camp and feed them for ten years in order that we could get our railway built, so that we could send our soldiers up to Canada to have a fight. We are told that ” Union is strength ;” no doubt some kinds of union are strength. I will call the attention of the hon. President of the Council to that fact ; but there is a union that is not strength.

I believe a Commercial Union between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would strength us, as we have been in the habit […]

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[…] of dealing and trading with each other, and no inconvenience would arise from this union. If you take two bean poles and bind them together, you strengthen them, but if you put them end to end, it does not increase their strength. This Union between Upper and Lower Canada, has been like a cat and dog union ; and they want to get us to help them out of the scrape.

The population of Upper Canada increases very rapidly, and as representation is by population, we would soon be entirely swamped, and if the Canadians wished to make an advantageous bargain with the United States, they could give up the fisheries of New Brunswick for the sake of getting an additional advantage for themselves. We are promised eighty cents a head on the population. We are to have $63,000 for ten years, our debt is to be increased to $7,000,000, and a large amount of money is to be expended on the Intercolonial Railway ; but what security have we that those promises will be performed ? Ireland was induced to unite with England in consequence of certain inducements being held out. They were promised Catholic emancipation, but how many years was it before they got it, and at what an expense of heart-burnings before it was accomplished, twenty-nine years after this union was established.

This union was with a power celebrated for its integrity, but it was only after the most desperate efforts that Ireland could succeed in getting what she was promised as a condition for her entering this union. We, on the contrary, are asked to unite with a people, that have tricked us once in regard to this Intercolonial Railway, and should not trust their promises again. Then in reference to this eighty cents a head ; as our population increases, our wants increase, and we require a larger expenditure for roads, schools and bridges ; but instead of getting more we actually get less, for we get $63,000 a-year for ten years, and is it to be supposed we will not want it eleven years hence. In a hundred years hence, our population will have increased very largely, and our revenues will have increased immensely, for the people of this-Province consume more duitable articles than Canada ; therefore, it is an outrage to say we shall receive only this small amount, eighty cents a head on the population of 1861. It is our duty to legislate for those who come after us ; and it is our duty as statesmen not to give up our country to gratify a few vain individuals. When we find men, who, instead of looking after the interests of the people who have elevated them to a high position, attempt to fly to still higher, their flight is generally downwards, like that of a man who went to the top of a house with paper wings to make a bird of himself. This has been the case with statesmen before, and will be so again. 


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