New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates (5 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 134-140.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
MONDAY, June 5, 1865.
- (p. 134)
Mr. Landry.—I did not intend to say a word on this subject, and should not do so now but to reply to a statement put forth by the hon. member for Albert, (Mr. McClellan) that the priests used their influence with the people to get them to oppose Confederation at the last elections. I know that it was not so in Westmorland at any rate, for there they took no part whatever, either for or against. Some great men from St. John came up round our County, lecturing and talking to the people to get them to support the Scheme, and they went on so that the people thought they were mad. It has been said that if the question were to be submitted to the people again in six months there would be a change. I think there would be too, but the change would be that there would be more opposed to the measure than ever.
Mr. Kerr.—A great deal of time has been taken up in this discussion, and a large amount of money lost to the country by it. I thought that the country had spoken out so loudly that Confederation was not only dead but buried face downward, and so deep that, as the hon. member for Charlotte said, it would not appear again at least for a long time. It seems, however, that it is not so from these resolutions, and the appointment of new delegates. In Northumberland there were seven candidates in the field ; six for Confederation and one against. I conceived at that time that from the threats made against us by the neighbouring republic, and the intimation that the protection of the mother country would likely be withdrawn from us in care of difficulties arising, that it was necessary we should continue our united emerges to establish a power in these Colonies whose influence might be felt. Under these circumstances, I was constrained to support a Scheme that would not only thus unite us, but continue to us that powerful protection that we so much need. I have not changed my opinions since then.
I believe that Canada is destined to be a great country ; she already pays half a million of dollars to support a line of Steam Ships to and from England, and then look at the magnitude of her public works. It has been put forth by those opposed to Union that she is heavily in debt ; there is no doubt of that, but then she has claims on the different Railways and other works of $40,000,000 or $50,000,000, and the amount really due her is more than the interest on her whole debt. I believe that both the evils and benefits that would arise from a Union have been very much exaggerated. Let us now come down to the Resolutions before us. Since Responsible Government was first established here, we have never been called to deliberate on such a Resolution. I say there has never been a case where the House has been asked to appoint delegates to go to England to lay before that people and Government the position and state of this Province.
Last Session delegates were appointed to take into consideration a Union of the Maritime Provinces, and a few days ago the Hon. President of the Council brought in a Resolution to continue those negociations ; but notwithstanding the principle of the Initiation of money grants being entirely in the hands of the Government, we now find a private member of the House comes forward with Resolutions which, if carried, involves the expenditure of a large sum of money, we do not know how much. I say it is against the principle established by this House that a matter of this kind should be taken out of the hands of Government. With regard to what has been said about a power to be brought to bear on us to force us into this Union, I do not believe anything of the kind is contemplated. England never did bring any power to bear to force her dependencies or colonies to unite either with her or among themselves. In Scotland the matter was left entirely in the hands of the Local Government, and the same in Ireland ; no power was brought to bear upon them to force them to unite with England.
Hon. Mr. Anglin.— Only a strong outside pressure.
Mr. Kerr.—Neither Nova Scotia nor Prince Edward Island, have appointed delegates to go Home, and why should we ? I do not believe that having conceded to us the power of self-Government, the Imperial Parliament will compel us to take any action with regard to Union that is opposed to the wishes of the people. I do not agree with the statement set forth in the Resolution that a Union of these Colonies would be politically, financially, and commercially disastrous, neither do I believe that having passed a Militia Bill that it is necessary to send Home a delegation to show that we are willing to do all we can to defend ourselves. As to our loyalty, that is a truism which nobody doubts, and therefore the delegates are not needed to prove it. The seventh Section of the preamble states that it is to be feared that the Government and people of Great Britain are not aware of the true state of feeling here on the question of Confederation. If this is so, which I do not for a moment believe, why cannot they be informed without a delegation ?
Above all, however, why does the Governernment [sic] come to this House to ask our sanction to the appointment ? When we were sold to Jackson & Co. for ?90,000, did the Government come to this House, and on all the other delegations to Great Britain, Canada, and elsewhere, did they ask for sanction to appoint delegates? No, this is the first time since the year 1833, that such as course has been taken. Then, before the principle of Responsible Government was recognized, and when a feeling was going about that the people of these Colonies were disloyal, Judge Street moved for a delegation to England to lay before the British Government the true state of feeling in this Province. But the present action is unprecedented—a private member brings in a Government measure, and to day the Hon. President of the Council moves to take up the order of the day. I believe that any course of action taken by the whole Government by despatches would have more influence with the Imperial Government than anything which two delegates might be able to do by going Home. And when I see that anything which affects us must in like manner affect the other Provinces, and they have not appointed delegates, I do not see why we should take such a step. I shall therefore oppose the Resolutions.
Mr. Lewis.—I believe that this Union of the Provinces is a great Scheme, which would result in great good to this Province. A great deal has been said and written on the subject, it has been canvassed and recanvassed, it has been before the people in every position in which it could be represented, and the people have spoken out upon it. I looked upon it with great favor, for I believed that it would tend to build us up and make us a great people. The great want we have always experienced was the absence of great public works, and these a Union would have given us. We wanted a Railroad running through the heart of our country, opening up our wild lands, preparing the way for a system of colonization, and connecting us directly with Canada, and this the Scheme would have given to us on much better terms than we can get it without. I believed also that it would be the means of promoting and fostering our manufactories. It has been said that we cannot manufacture for Canada ; but if our infant manufactories were encouraged, and a field opened up for the produce of them in the other Provinces, we should soon be able to compete with any other country. It has been said that […]
- (p. 135)
[…] this Scheme was got up for the purpose of making some of our great gentlemen Governors of these Provinces. Well I think that a praiseworthy object. (Laughter.) The Hon. President of the Council may laugh, but I believe that he would do honor to such a position. We should not be any the less loyal, because we had a few of our leading me in such offices, and the Governor General would still be the tie binding us to the mother country.
With regard to the elections in Albert, I may say that the question turned exclusively on Confederation. There were some discontented spirits who came among us to stir up strife, but they did not do much. There were seven candidates in the field, and five of them were Confederates, and out of the 1,350 votes, about 600 were cast for Confederation. But that question is dead the present, and I now come here to do my duty as a representative of the country, and if this Government introduce measures that I conceive to be beneficial, I shall support them. With regard to the Resolutions now before us, I believe that it is known in England just as well as it is here, that Confederation is gone, and they also know that we are, and always have been, a loyal people, and there is therefore no necessity to send Home hon. gentlemen just to flourish round through England, and over the continent for no real good. I think it would be much better to take the money that will be thus expended, and put it on the bye-roads of the Province. I am opposed to the Resolutions.
Mr. McMillan —Before the debate closes I wish to offer a few remarks in addition to what I have already said : In the County of Restigouche notwithstanding that Confederation was gone, and the leading members of the Government were overthrown before the election came off, yet the people cast their votes in favor of that Scheme. No Anti-Candidate need offer for that County. I may say that I feel under some difficulties in addressing the House again on this subject ; it is well-known that I have occupied more time this Session than ever I did before, and I have been forced to it by the fact that the hon. member for Sunbury and myself, are the only members of the late Government now left on the floors of this House.
I shall, however, glance at the arguments which have been brought by those opposed to this Scheme. And first in reply to the hon. member for the County of Saint John (Mr. Anglin). He has made use of strong language in reference to the Chamber of Commerce ; has said they were moved by some ” hidden hand,” and that falsehood and misrepresentation has been the order of the day. This ” hidden hand” has come to be a familiar term, yet it seems to be a ghost to the present Government, that frightens and terrifies them, and if they could by any possibility lay it as low, and bury it as deep as the hon member for Charlotte would have Confederation buried, yet it would rise to appal them. But I am happy to state that that hand is still under the control of a mind, and a grasp of intellect that has a power to make his opponents afraid and tremble. The dissolution of the House has been characterized as cruelty and oppression ; it might, certainly, appear like tyranny to those who did not wish to appeal to the people, but not to the people themselves. True, the season of the year was inclement, but then it took none of the people from their duties ; and that it was not felt to be oppressive is clear from the fact that a larger vote was polled than ever before.
Next is the Canadian tariff as compared with ours ; there it is 20 per cent, whilst here it is only 15, and it is argued that we should have to come up to them. We admit 32 articles free of duty, and Canada 44, and this, it is affirmed, would lower our revenue. But the way to arrive at a just conclusion on this point is to take the imports of the two countries and compare them, and we shall then find that whereas in Canada in 1863 it was 11 per cent., in New Brunswick it was 10 1.8 per cent. ; why then frighten the people with the cry of the tremendous difference in the tariff. Another point : it was said that the difference in 1863, if we had been in Confederation, would have been $250,000, and he said Mr. Tilley had made it $211,000.
Hon. Mr. Anglin.—Mr. Tilley said we could abandon our use of brandy and spirits and save the duty on these ; we could save 10 cents a pound on tobacco by manufacturing it here, and in this way he tried to make up the amount ; but I challenge the hon. ex-Surveyor General to take the free list of Canada and make up anything like an amount equal to the $250,000.
Mr. McMillan.—I do not think that is the right way to take it. I think the proper plan is to average the imports of the two Provinces. Canada has so far advanced that she can support her local manufactures and save importation to a large extent, and this is an argument in favor of Union, as we should go on with her and be able to support our manufactories, and get an increase of customers. While I am not prepared to say that our local expenditure would not be increased, I do not believe they would increase to to the extent that has been said. The general government would have to deal with general and large matters, and the time occupied in their discussion would be shorter than now, and the same in the local legislatures, where they would only discuss local matters ; and, while the expense would be, perhaps, somewhat increased, a great saving would be made in the time occupied in Session. It has been said that under Confederation we should dwindle down to a mere municipality, yet this Session only two measures have come before us—the Treasury Note Bill and the Post Office Bill—that would not be discussed in the local legislature.
But, it is asked, who would come here as a representation under Confederation? I reply that our young men of intellect and power would come here to obtain a political education, to fit them for positions in the General Government, and for a Governorship of the Colonies. It is a high and a grand principle of ambition implanted in the human heart and soul that would animate our young men to raise themselves to positions of rank and power. The hon. member for St. John further said that the 80 cents a head was a high sum for Canada to receive, but small for New Brunswick. I do not understand how this can be. I ask if ten years ago we did not get more for local purposes than we do now? Yes, and why? Because we have paid out large sums for our great public works, and therefore have not the money for local purposes. But under Confederation we should receive 80 cents a head for all time to come to add to our revenue for these works. And then there is the question of taxation.
Out of Confederation what are we to do ? In a few days we are to have up the resolutions relative to the Western Extension, and for that purpose shall be called on to vote $260,000 or $270,000 to commence the work, and if this be done how are the appropriations for schools, roads, bridges, to be upheld but by direct taxation. There will be no 80 cents a head to fall back upon. It is as clear as noonday that if we are to have direct taxation it would be farther off, at least in union, than out of it. Then for militia purposes we should have $1,000,000, and it is said that this is nothing at all. Then, I would ask, what is the $30,000 we granted the other day, for us separated, and a fragment as now ; but united under one power, one interest, animated by one common feeling I believe that $1,000,000 would be something.
Our proportion of that sum would be $70,000, more than double what we now give. How then can it be said that $1,000,000 is so small? It is not expected by the British Government that we are to do all toward our own defence. They do not look for it, and it is but right and manly and independent that we should contribute something. What does the Colonial Secretary say in his despatches : he hopes that operations can be carried on without imposing a tax upon the people ; shewing that the British Government do not wish to saddle the country with more than we are able to bear. The hon. President of the Council has referred to the difference in race and creed in the people of Canada. I will quote on this subject an extract from one of the most eloquent men on this continent, Mr. D’A. McGee :
“I venture, in the first place, to observe that there seems to be a good deal of exaggeration on the subject of race, occasionally introduced both on the one side and the other in this section of our country. This theory of race is sometimes carried to an anti-christian and unphilosophical excess. Whose words are those—” God hath made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth.”
This is the right view to take of this question. Look at the position of affairs in the Mother Country ; there they are composed of all peoples, and yet they go on quietly and harmoniously. Then another point taken up is our trifling trade with Canada. Why, the same cry was raised in Canada ; there it was said that the Lower Provinces were so poor that they were not worth the expense that would be incurred by Canada. The Hon. Mr. Brown says:
“I hold in my hand a return of articles purchased by the Maritime Provinces from the United States in 1863, which Canada could have supplied. I will not detain the House by reading it, but any member who desires can have it for examination. The total value of products which the Lower Provinces might have bought more advantageously from us, summer up to over seven millions of dollars.”
It is the want of direct trade that makes the hard feelings, and if these were broken down we should be much better off. Then the Hon. Mr. Ferrier shows what the Inter-colonial railroad would do that a trade in produce would spring up, and a large traffic would pass over it every day in the year. He shows that we import from the United States $2,000,000 worth more produce than we export there. If we had this road we should bring direct from Canada, whereas now […]
- (p. 136)
[…] we bring a large amount of the articles we use down from Canada to Portland, thence by boat to St. John, and then by rail and boat again almost up to Canada again. How much cheaper and better would it be to bring the articles direct. Then it has been said that the railroad would be of little good for the purpose of defence.
This is the first time I have heard such a statement put forth, and I think that all experience is opposed to such an idea. I regret to hear it used as an argument against this union that we should be dragged up to Canada to fight her battles. I think it a very narrow and contracted view to take of the question. Is it not our duty, as British subjects, if the enemy’s foot is planted at Niagara or in Nova Scotia, to march to the assistance of our neighbors in their troubles. Again it has been said that an effort will made to force us into Confederation. This would be direct violation of that principle of self- government which has been accorded to us. Why then put it abroad that the British Government will try and coerce us into a union against our wishes? I feel that it is my duty to raise my voice, feeble though it may be, to contradict any such statement, inasmuch as we have the despatch of the Colonial Secretary, in which it is emphatically stated that it cannot be.
Then the hon. member of the Government for St. John (Mr. Anglin) insinuates that the Government have received some information that a delegation is necessary to counteract the action of schemers, conspirators, and so forth. Why not then lay the information before the- House? I think such remarks are entirely uncalled for, and at any rate should not come from such a source. It is said that the leaders of Confederation were animated by feelings of selfishness in their action ; but are not the opponents of the scheme as liable to the same charge? The hon. President of the Council said that Mr. Tilley had changed. Is he not as open to such an intimation as any other man in this Province? Does he undertake to say that all political honesty is concentrated: in Dorchester Corner? I do not say Confederation will come in six months or in two years, but I believe it will come.
If the principle of isolation and stagnation which is now upheld be a correct one, how is it that the United States has spent so much treasure and spilt so much blood to preserve their union? If it is a true principle then must we charge them with folly after eighty years’ experience, and having grown to a people numbering some of 30,000,000 ; and with consummate ignorance in doing what they have to save a Union which we pronounce to be politically, commercially, and financially disastrous. The President of the Council goes on to say that we cannot find a parallel for the action taken by us. Supposing we had done as they did in Canada, then we might be charged whit striving to force the measure upon the people, but we never attempted anything of the kind.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—I said that there was no parallel in history where men without any authority from the people attempted to render up the independence of the country.
Mr. McMillan.—In the point of indepence [sic] I cannot agree with him. But does he lay it down that we should not meet and mature plans for the benefit of the people? And if this be done can we be charged with forcing any measures upon the people? It seems to me a strange coincidence that in the counties of York and St. John where the officers were opposed to the scheme that the elections were appointed to come off first. The hon. President further says that according to the amount given to roads and bridges in Canada we should only get $15,000 for the same purpose. This was met and answered by Mr. Steadman at Salisbury, but I will show that by the eighty cents a head arrangement we should get more.
LOCAL INCOME FOR NEW BRUNSWICK IN CONFEDERATION.
|Subsidy from General Gov’t||$201,600|
|Export Duty and Council Revenue||90,000|
|Supreme Court Fees||4,600|
|Interest on difference between real debt and assumed debt||65,000|
|In case the debt is increased to the amount assumed then we get $63,000 for ten years.|
|Balance left for our Schools, Roads and Bridges,||$251,500|
This is a much larger sum than we have given this year, but in reality we have nothing to do with what Canada does ; she can use her 80 cents a head as she likes. The next point is the debt of Canada. He says that she has exhausted all her means and had to fall back upon the stamp duties. Here is a financial statement of Canada. (Mr. McMilan here read the tables which already appear in the speech of Mr. Connell, to shew the comparative position of the two countries. The debt of Canada, per head, is there given as $20.93 ; whilst that of New Brunswick. per head, is $20.91.)
This is their indebtedness per head, with their immense resources, only two cents per head difference between them and us. The hon. President of the Council says there is one railway that is going to pay six per cent. I heard him make a very different statement some time ago. Then he remarked that every passenger that went over that line cost the country $20. I say this just to show that he too changes.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—I never said that one railway would not pay six per cent. 20 year hence.
Mr. McMillan.—I will now give the opinion of a celebrated Anti in Canada on the railway. The Hon. Mr. Rierson says :—
“Why, this Intercolonial Railway is to be built out of the funds of the Intercolonial Government that is proposed to be established, so that instead of Canada having to pay only five-twelfths of the whole cost she will have to pay ten- twelfths. This will involve five to seven millions of dollars of an expense more than we had any occasion for incurring, for the other Provinces were all willing to have been responsible for the rest, and there is very good reason why they should. The countries to be benefited by the Intercolonial Railway are New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but especially the former. In that Province there is an extensive wilderness with some valuable lumber limits if not much farming land through which this road will have to pass and every acre of land within twenty or thirty miles of the Road will be largely increased in value. New Brunswick would gain that advantage, while as for Nova Scotia, Halifax, its chief port, will be made an outlet by the construction of the line and will of course be largely benefited, so that they equitable. But in coming down with a scheme which involves us in twice as great an expenditure as was formerly contemplated, they seem not to have been satisfied unless we handed over to the Federal Government our public works. These, hon. gentlemen, are of immense value to Canada.
By imposing tolls on our canals to an extent which they would easily bear and which would not prevent us carrying on the same immense trade as at present, we could readily raise half a million of dollars a year. The Welland Canal alone has produced a revenue of $200,000 a year Well, all such sources of income are to be thrown into the hands of the Federal Government, while New Brunswick is to give us a Railway which only pays three-eighths of one per cent. over its working expenses. This small sum, remember too, is what is paid now — two or three years after the construction of the line. But when the rolling stock get out of repairs, the rails want renewing, and other matters usual after a railroad has been some time working have to be attended to. The expenses of this line to the Federal Government will constantly increase. The road will be a drag, and I say to hon. gentlemen we are opening an account without knowing when it will be closed. By engaging in the construction of the Inter- colonial Railway and the assumption of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia lines, we are entering upon undefinite liabilities., the whole being non-paying property in which we shall find a heavy bill of expense.
Then, if not satisfied with this, we are giving a sort of Regium donum of $63000 for ten years to the Province of New Brunswick.”
If I recollect well the President of the Council made use of the same argument in 1863, with regard to the payment of Railways as this gentleman does. It is clearly evident that they think they are giving us a much better bargain than they gain. I wish to put a question to the Hon. Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works, and I am sure he will answer it. All manner of insinuations have been thrown out that the leader of the late Government intended to force the question through the House ; I now ask him if when the question was asked, “What was to be done” he did not reply, “That is left to each Government to decide ?”
Hon Mr. Hatheway.—The reply of the Provincial Secretary was most decidedly. It was on the 16th of November that he told us, and Mr. Fisher, Mr. Galt, Mr. […]
- (p. 137)
[…] Cartier. and Dr. Tupper, made a similar statement in their respective Provinces.
Mr. McMillan.—A compliment has been paid to me by the statement that when the matter came before the Council I was the one to stand out against its not being submitted to the people. But I now state that there was not a dissenting voice in the whole Council. The Hon Chief Commissioner has said that when he was in Canada he found that they would not agree that the Intercolonial Railroad should go by any other route than by the North Shore, and that this was decided in Nova Scotia and in England.
Hon. Mr. Hatheway —While in Canada, I heard that the Duke of Newcastle had told Mr. Tilley that no line would go within 15 miles of the river Saint John, as it was not considered safe in case of difficulties with the United States.
Mr. McMillan.—I never knew that any particular route was decided on ; I thought it was to be left to England to decide. I wished, very naturally, that it should go by the North Shore ; but I did not know it was settled on. Then, it is said, there were a good many disappointed politicians who expected to go to Ottawa ; but I will not say anything about that. Now for the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Wetmore): he delivered a speech that, from the style of its delivery and its beautifully rounded periods, must have been thoroughly prepared. If inuendos, if the imputing of all manner of motives, are arguments against Confederation, then his speech is unanswerable ; but if the points are that Confederation is commercially, financially and politically disastrous. then his speech is a great failure. He took up the Coles’ Island Bridge, Mr. Watters’ election as Mayor of St. John, and how the would-be Mayor was caught in a trap, and money interests at elections; what have these to do with Confederation? But another point that he seemed to imagine was most convincing was the export duty from Canada. It appeared to be very funny, but it had little to do with the question before us.
I will now only make a few general remarks in conclusion. I have referred to the history and experience of the United States, and the efforts they have put out to sustain their union, but we, in our wisdom and with our population of 250,000, repudiate any such idea as union. Instead of bringing a charge against our public men, that they aspire to be Governors of Provinces and are actuated only by selfish and wrong motives, the idea ought to be fostered and encouraged. This charge came first from the hon. President of the Council, and it has been echoed by his satellites all over the country ; but it should not have any influence in such a question as this. Then what has the Government now to depend on to raise the resources of the country—what is there but lumber to depend on ?
But in Confederation we should not be so dependent as now ; if lumber fails, we could fall back on the crops of Canada, and the Provincial Secretary would not have the difficulty he now experiences in making up his budget. I feel that I am not able for this great matter ; but, having been associated with a man who, although charged with being a “conspirator” and as using a ” hidden hand” to work out his designs, has yet an intellect and financial abilities that would fit him for a high position and do honor to any land, I feel called on to speak out in his behalf. It may be said that those in favor of this scheme are subject to “cramming,” but that is not likely to deter me from my purpose. I regret he is not on the floors of the House to raise his voice in answer to the opponents of this measure , then there would be less said then there has been on this question, and the hon. President of the Council might again decline to enter into an argument with him.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—Now I wish to say, once for all, that I did not refuse to enter into an argument with Mr. Tilley. That gentleman, I believe, stated that he challenged me to speak at Lingley Hall, in Sackville, but it was thus : I received an invitation from the Secretary, but he stated that I should not be allowed to speak. When the statement was made that I had refused to meet Mr. Tilley, I wrote to the papers—both the Freeman and the Telegraph—that it was not true.
Mr. McMillan.—I took my information from the papers, but it is no matter. Now for the resolutions—what are they ? I have no hope that any thing I may say will change the views of any one on the floors of this House, They state that an election has taken place—that an appeal has been made to the people—that they have decided against Confederation—that they know every attention will be paid to the expression of the people, and then, in the face of all this, they ask that a delegation be sent home to tell the people of England all this that they already know as well as we do. There are intimations that in Canada, in Nova Scotia, and in this Province there is some ” hidden hand,” and yet they do not lay their information before the House. We know that Confederation will not be forced upon us, and yet we must send men home to ask that it be not. Suppose they go, the Imperial Cabinet will ask, “What is your business, Mr. President?” “Oh, we hear that there is some underhanded work going on, and we came over to let you know that we have decided against Confederation.” This would, certainly, be very satisfactory, and well worthy of the expense to be incurred. I am opposed to the Resolutions.
Hon. Mr. Gillmor.—I claim to be a good listener, but have no pretensions to being a good speaker. I have listened attentively to the speeches made upon these resolutions. The hon. ex-Surveyor General has made several long speeches ; he has now made a sort of general reply to several hon. members, so I shall not attempt to follow him ;—their speeches will appear, and the public can judge of the arguments. He asks me how I feel ? In reply, I beg to inform him that I am quite well, both physically and politically ; and if we can succeed in getting a few matters set right on the other side of the water, in reference to Confederation, all will be well. I do not think it important that the question of Confederation should now be fully discussed ; it has been ably handled, both through the press and upon the platform, and the people in this Province have given their verdict, and it has been so decidedly in condemnation of the scheme that a wayfaring man, through a fool, need not fail to understand. The friends of this scheme had it in their own hands, and managed it in their own way ; and yet, was there ever a question upon which the people of this or any other country spoke out more plainly, and gave a decision more conclusive ?
The hon member for Albert says, this question of Confederation is not new. I have been a member of the Assembly for ten years, and neither I nor any other member ever heard it discussed in this Assembly. I remember to have read a discussion had between the Hon. Joseph Howe and, I think, a Mr Uniack, some ten years ago, and occasionally Judge Wilmot has alluded to it in some of his speeches ; and, except occasional allusions of this kind, it is new to the people, and not one in a hundred of the electors knew anything about this until after the delegates returned from Quebec. This scheme had its origin in Canada ; their necessities called for it, not ours. An idea of this scheme was communicated to the leading politicians of the Lower Provinces, and they went to Quebec and held the Conference. I shall make no reference to the constitutionality of this delegation, but I do know that the people did not send them.
Now, if there is any class of persons that are calculated to impose upon the people more than another, it is the makers and venders of quack medicine. These doctors went there, and in the space of seventeen days they prepared what I call a quack medicine ; having got it prepared, they next had to return and make the people feel that they were sick. They might have labelled it, “health and ? fort for all ;” so they told them that they were financially distressed and commercially depressed ; that they could not get along or expand unless they took this medicine. So they went to work recommending the panacea, and some of the people soon began to feel sick, but many began to ask how much the medicine was going to cost. If you look into the scheme, you will see a medicine fixed up for all the politicians ; they had certain ends to work out, and so they put into this medicine a larger amount of Soothing Syrup, and this was especially intended for the House of Lords ; and it had its effect as forcibly upon men as it does upon children, as recent events have proved, and they expected it would so operate upon all the people.
This matter was argued out by the candidates upon both sides. and in Charlotte County the Confederates had an advocate, who, for eloquence and fluency, was not inferior to the ablest advocate in this Province ; and yet, in a constituency of some 3,200 voters. I do not think there were more than 600 out- and-out Confederates. In this I may be mistaken, but that is my opinion. The arguments in favor of the scheme were vague and indefinite. They said our young men were going away, and this was going to keep them all at home ; adopt this, and no fond mother was ever to weep for an absent son, and no tender lover was ever again to part from his sweetheart. The people, however, had no idea it was going to produce such results ; in Charlotte, this quest on, at least, was fairly tried. During the ten years I have been in politics, I have given the late Government my support ; and, although I have voted against some of their measures, up to the time of the last prorogation I would not have voted against them in a direct vote of want of confidence. Now, if this Confederation scheme was so old and so good, why was it never discussed upon the floors of this House ; during that long term they had not discovered that we were such an insignificant people and that our resources were so limited.
On the contrary, they were continually telling us that we had vast resources, and were all right, both politically and financially, and it was a favorite expression of one of the delegates. “that he had an abiding faith in the people.” I do not know exactly what he thinks of that now. When the late Government came into power ten years ago this Province was really free from debt. It was […]
- (p. 138)
[…] thought we wanted public works, and I supported them in their Railway Scheme of 1856 ; that undertaking involved us, with other liabilities, to the extent of six millions of dollars. This, in their opinion, was not all we could stand, so they undertook 3 1 2 12ths of the Intercolonial road, estimated to cost three million pounds sterling. According to the cost of the St. John and Shediac road, as compared with the cost, that amount might be doubled ; but we are safe in saying it would cost fourteen millions of dollars, our part of that would be $5,833,000. Not thinking, even then, that our resources would be exhausted, at the last Session they introduced and carried their Subsidy Bill, providing $10,000 per mile for 188 miles of road, involving an additional liability of $1,780,000 more-making in all at close of last Session $13,613,000.
These acts were upon the statute book, and, of course, they thought and said we were able to carry all this out ; if so it ill becomes them to speak of us as very insignificant and poor and isolated. I thought then, and I think now, they over estimated our resources, and if there were any political trouble, they had time and power to have remedied them—but the discovery was made just when they wanted this great change. I do not profess to be well acquainted with the history of Canada, but it is well known that for many years there has been a great deal of political discord there, and to remedy this I think this scheme was originated. My hon. friend from Albert says they are our brother colonists, and we ought to go in and help them out of their difficulties.
It reminds me of a little story told by my colleague, Mr. Hill ; A steamboat was coming down the Mississippi ; there was on board a tall, grave young man—so grave and sober that he was observed by all the passengers. When the boat arrived at Vicksburg and the passengers landed on the wharf, there was a great fight going on there. This young man brightened up, and asked some of the bystanders if it was a free fight? They said ” Yes.” Says he, ” Has any one a right to go in?” “Yes.” said they. He took off his coat and pitched in. In a short time he returned to the boat, with a pair of black eyes and his nose considerably canted, very strongly convinced that it would have been for his interest to have remained out of the fight. Now this man got served as we should had we gone into this Union, with this exception—he got out, we would have had to remain in.
It has been stated by some of the advocates of this scheme, that when the Delegates left the Conference, the Governments of each of the Provinces were to use such measures as they thought best to secure its passage in the different Colonies. Those who could get it passed without submitting it to the people were to do so ; those who felt sure of carrying it by going to the country were to do so. This, certainly, was not a very uniform mode of commencing this great nationality. I am not aware of what the intention of our Government was on their return home ; at the time I thought they would call the Legislature together at the usual time, discuss the question, and decide it at the General Election which would have been this summer ; and not until a very few days before the dissolution did I believe the House was to have been dissolved. It was stated that Mr. Tilley, in answer to a question put to him by Mr. McShane, in Carleton, as to his intention to appeal to the people, said that it would not be decided without an appeal to the people.
Had I been present, I should certainly have concluded from that reply that he did not intend to dissolve the House ; but the answer was a perfectly safe one. If he intended to dissolve at once, as he did, he was all right ; and if he intended to discuss it, and appeal to the people at the General Election, then he was all right,but which he intended no one but himself knew, but certainly he was not very frank and candid. The advocates of Confederation had in this Province a decided advantage. They had some of the ablest men as lecturers, and certainly they improved the time. They had the influence of the Government, which is certainly very great. They had, I think, four-fifths of the entire Press of the Province. They had that disposition in man, a desire to change, which is very common, and a great many believe their condition is a hard one, and any change would be for the better, and they made the best use of all theses advantages ; but the people had some common sense and some judgment, and rejected a scheme which would certainly, in my opinion, if adopted, have been destructive to our best interests.
One very singular feature in this scheme was, that every colony had got the best of the bargain. Mr. Tilley had in finance outwitted all the rest. In Upper Canada the politicians had made so good a bargain, that they could afford to build several Intercolonial Railroads and then make in the transaction. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, all had made a wonderful good trade ; how all could have got the best of the arrangement and no party the worst, I cannot understand. It might be considered smart to get the best of the bargain, but if it were done knowingly, it could badly be considered honest, and if discovered, not calculated to add much to the harmony of the Union. One great argument, and one which was used to good effect, was the Railroad.
Now, I am free to admit, that the chances were that the road would have been built in Confederation ; but not, I think, quite so soon as some people imagined. It depended entirely upon what a majority of the Federal Parliament concluded after the Constitution was complete ; it depended upon what a majority of that Parliament might think necessary. They might conclude that the finances were not just at that time in a state to warrant the undertaking. They in Canada played false, so Mr. Tilley said, and they might do so again ; but I think they would have built it, and I think further that it would not have paid either them or us after it was built. The immense traffic and the terrible increase of manufactories were all or nearly so in the imagination of the Confederates.
This Confederate Parliament was to be conducted by men of the first talent from all the Colonies. Our fifteen representatives would have little influence there, even if they were all united ; these fifteen gentlemen could do a great deal more for New Brunswick in our own Parliament, and would be quite as well able to consider these general matters here as there. I have never known this Assembly to decline the consideration of any question on account of its magnitude, particularly the late Government ; and we have no right to suppose that our fifteen members would be united in their politics, they would represent both political parties. Human nature would not be changed, and party feelings would not be removed by the new order of things. The hon. member for Restigouche says parties would be so evenly divided that our men by going to eitherside could effect their object, that would not be a very moral way to get what we thought belonged to us, to ask our representatives to join any party, right or wrong. That hon. member said the Conference had tried to copy after both the Constitution of Britain and the United States. They have succeeded in getting a good deal of what is not perfect in both, and not a great deal of the good qualities of either.
The truth is, Mr. Chairman, that an long as we remain Colonies of England, we do not want any such expensive establishment : we want no such power between the Colonial Legislatures and the Crown. If we are to become separate, then we may copy after the Federal Union, and perhaps improve some upon their system ; but until we are seperate, we do not want this fifth wheel to our coach. I think there is not a desire in this Province to become independent of England. There may be such desire in Canada West. It has been urged that this arrangement was to bind us more closely to the Mother Country. I think it would have an entirely opposite effect. Union they say is strength. They have had for twenty-five years a union of Upper and Lower Canada. They have had great difficulties, and at last come almost to a stand still.
And this Union of the Colonies was the only remedy the politicians of Canada could think of, and it was their troubles, and not ours, that suggested it. In the appointment of the Delegates they commenced a Coalition. The late Government of New Brunswick never used to think any advice or assistance necessary to manage the affairs of the country ; in fact the thought the opposition had mismanaged it, but now there was a matter to be carried out that would suit all the political leaders. The unanimity of the delegates, and the different Governments was certainly most remarkable, and only by accident did we discover that any difference of opinion existed : but we have heard that in the Constitution of the Federal Council there was a difference, and that part of the Scheme was carried by the casting vote of the Chairman, who was Mr. Tilley. I think that body should at first at least have been elected, so that the people in the first instance could have chosen that branch of the Legislature, a branch powerful enough if they chose, to stop all legislation. Canada did some seven years ago adopt the elective principle for their Legislative Council, and the British Government evidently thinks it should be so in this Scheme, and suggests it.
The Colonial minister objects to two most important principles in this Scheme, said to be so perfect, and hints strongly that there are a goodly number of smaller defects ; but here it was to be taken just as it was, being humanly speaking, perfect, —and in the Federal Executive Council it would be exceedingly difficult to so compose it with the local and sectional differences as to make it work harmoniously, and in fact I think it would not have worked at all, and am pleased thus far that the people have not decided to let them try it. The Scheme does not provide how the local Governments are to be constituted. They are to have a Lieutenant Governor,, who shall be appointed by the Governor General ; the local Government and Legislature of each Province shall be constructed in such manner as the existing Legislature of each Province shall provide, so each can have about what they like, no uniformity is provided for all the Colonies.
This great Confederation was to amalgate the whole; […]
- (p. 139)
[…] all races and creeds were to be united. Certain exceptions as to education are provided for in Canada, the ministers there are provided for in the arrangement. Why not provide for Catholic or Protestant ministers in other Colonies. if necessary in Canada ? Why not in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and all the other Provinces ? The Delegates look with favor upon this scheme ; but so far as the people have had a chance to speak out it has been condemned. The British Government, I regret to say, favors it, and as much as I regard our connection with the Mother Country and prize the relation, I do not choose that they shall decide our destinies in this matter ; and it is because that I think matters have been wrongly represented, that I think it important a Delegation should go home. There is no reason why this Union should be entered into, but there are strong reasons why it should not ; the time may come when a Federal Union will be necessary.
The hon. member for Carleton says, if we had this and if we had that we should be a wonderful people. If that gentleman’s aunt had been a man, she would have been his uncle. The Hon. President of the Council, in reply to some hon. member, said he could not understand him, unless upon the principle that the more a man owed the less it required to pay his debts. That is really the case when men are not satisfied with living and doing business within their means ; they usually become involved in difficulties, and, in many cases, pay twenty shillings with five. There are certain principles which govern the growth of nations as well as individuals, which cannot be changed without great injury. We had better not try to put on false appearances, or pretend to be what we are not. If my hon. friend from Carleton was to sit for his photograph and try to look like the Duke of Wellington—for the Duke was every inch a soldier—he would try in vain to look like him ; he also had a frank and honest countenance, and in that the failure would be as great. I would not have spoken on these resolutions at all, but the time would have been occupied by others. Really, no good can arise on this discussion. The Confederates have failed before the people to make out a case, and I think have as signally failed here.
On motion, the Committee then divided on the Resolutions : Yeas, 27 ; Nays, 9.