Newfoundland, House of Assembly, Debate on Confederation (24 February 1865)
By: Newfoundland House of Assembly, The Newfoundlander
Citation: “House of Assembly”, The Newfoundlander (27 March 1865) & “Speech of Mr. Renouf”, The Newfoundlander (30 March 1865) & “Speech of Mr. Renouf (Continued)”, The Newfoundlander (3 April 1865).
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St. John’s, Monday, March 27, 1865.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
FRIDAY, Feb. 22 [sic — 24]
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On motion of the hon Attorney General, pursuant to order of the day, the house resolved itself into committee of the whole on the further consideration of the Confederation of the British North American Colonies, Mr. Knight in the chair.
Mr. Renouf said he had much pleasure in giving the Resolution his warmest support, because it was of that character which met the views of the people generally on this most important question of Confederation. There can be no doubt, however much some hon members may now say to the contrary, but for the firm and independent stand taken by the few hon gentlemen on both sides of the house, sustained by public opinion out of doors, as expressed at the public meeting held a few days ago, we should not now have before us the present modified Resolution to speak to and vote on; but the Resolutions adopted at the conference of Delegates held at Quebec in October last. An affirmative vote taken on those Resolutions, would doubtless have the effect of binding us to this proposed Confederation, without giving a majority of the people, whose best interests are so deeply involved in the mighty changes contemplated, an opportunity of understanding the merits or bearings of the case, or expressing their opinions thereon. This matter was new to this house and the country, and he (Mr. Renouf) felt that we had no power delegated to us by the people to entertain this vital question either affirmatively or negatively, until such times as the constituencies should decide at polls in the general election to take place in a few months, this being the last session of this term of the Legislature.
The Resolution, therefore, accomplishes all that can be fairly desired for the present; and it would be for the members of the next Assembly to carry out the well understood wishes of the people, who would have to bear all the responsibility which this complete revolution in our affairs would bring about, in the event of Confederation being desired by them. This question of Newfoundland entering into a Confederation with the British North American Provinces, is, without doubt, the most important that has ever agitated the public mind in this country, since the advent of representative institutions. If we look to the sister Provinces, contemplated to form a part of this union, we find there the same strong manifestations of public opinion in favour of this momentous change in our constitution being decided by the people at the polls. This great question is also, with them, as it is with us, the subject of all engrossing importance, deep interest and thoughtful consideration, which, in the event of a union being carried, is to decide, not for a year, but for all time, the weal or the woe, the happiness or misery of those Provinces, which are at present governed by their own independent legislation.
The abstract principles of confederation have, under peculiar circumstances, much to recommend them; and more especially when the terms are based on justice and equality, where small states become closely allied to a strong central power, possessing all the materials of strength necessary to impart a tone and vigour to the whole body, for purposes of trade, commerce, and protection, without at the same time unduly restricting their liberties and privileges, or imposing upon them a too heavy burthen of taxation. It, therefore, becomes our solemn duty, as the custodians of the rights, liberties and priveleges [sic] of a free people, to clearly understand how far those elements of success and future prosperity for this country are contained in the terms proposed by the Quebec Report, and which can only be fairly arrived at by the calmest enquiry, the most mature consideration, and the deepest investigation. It was to him (Mr Renouf) and his hon colleagues, and to a majority of the house, as it was to the people generally, a source of congratulation that the Resolution was of that temperate tone, which neither affirms nor negatives this Confederation; but goes to the country for its opinion, thereby giving authority to the next Legislature to give effect to whatever decision the people may arrive at.
The advantages of such a course of action would be manifest. The people of the remote outports may of whom have yet scarcely heard a word about this Confederation, will, in the interim, have frequent opportunities of coming into close communication with those who have heard its merits discussed; and who have carefully studied it in all its details. The debates on it in this Assembly will go on the wings of the press to all parts of the island; and hon members who may go to theur constituents for re-election, would have to make this question the principal plank of their political platform, would have ample time and would feel the imperative necessity of educating the public mind, honestly, fairly and impartially, so as to enable it to arrive at a right decision on this, the greatest political, social and constitutional question that has ever affected our general interests. He (Mr Renouf) had listened with the deepest attention to the speeches delivered by the hon Attorney General and the hon member for Placentia and St. Mary’s, Mr Shea, one of the Delegates, who opened the debate on this Resolution, and he (Mr Renouf) could not deny the great ability and ingenuity displayed by each of those hon gentlemen, in placing this Confederation of the Provinces in the most captivating manner, in the most favorable light before this Assembly; and in the accomplishment of which they certainly never laboured harder on any question, since they had the honor of seats in the house, to bring conviction to the minds of their bearers of the inestimable benefits that might possibly flow from this union. All that ingenuity; tact, imagination, speculation and sophism could possibly accomplish with a bad case, was resorted to “to make the worse appear the better reason,” in pointing out those purely imaginary benefits of Newfoundland under Confederation.
The hon gentlemen failed to point to one single positive benefit that would accrue from this union. They dealt chiefly in hyperbole and speculation; and on those unsound theories and Utopian schemes, built their splendid superstructures of greatness and prosperity for our country and people, for all time to come. It is not very difficult to construct the most splendid superstructures on supposition by the rule of False Position; but such foundations are less reliable than those of sand are the most aerial conception, which the gentlest breath at once dissipates; and with them all those fancied visions of happiness and unrealized benefits for the people; and
“Like the baseless fabric of a dream,
Leave not a wreck behind.”
If Newfoundland enters this Confederation, he (Mr Renouf) trusted it would be on certain fixed and well defined principles, with material guarantees: and not on the vague speculations and unauthorised promises held out by our Delegates, to induce, if possible, a compliance with their wishes, which they doubtless led the Canadian Delegates, and those of the other Provinces to believe they would have sufficient interest and influence to realize. The Quebec Resolutions clearly define the terms, on which we may enter this union; and the hon member, Mr. Shea’s, clumsy attempt to cajole this Assembly and the country, by patching those Resolutions, agreed to, and signed by the thirty-two Delegates at the Conference, and which our Delegates have not the slightest power or authority to alter, is two transparent to deceive the people. By intelligence received yesterday by mail, we have learned that Nova Scotia does not view this change as at all favourable to her interests, on the plea that they are very well off as they are. New Brunswick was also divided upon this question, and her Legislature was dissolved, to go to the country on its results. If those Provinces, whose connection and interests would be so closely interwoven with Canada, and more particularly after the completion of the Intercolonial railway, running from Canada, through New Brunswick and terminating at Truro, in Nova Scotia, feel cautious in adopting this scheme of Confederation, how much more so ought we to be, who are so remote and isolate, and who must necessarily remain so, who cannot participate in those improvements, and who can have no reciprocal interchange of commodities?
Even in Canada matters did not run so smoothly as was expected; the opposition to the scheme was much greater than was at first anticipated: dissentions existed amongst the supporters of that government; dissolution of their parliament was looked for, to make an appeal to the people. Prince Edward Island, like ourselves, being isolated from sharing in the continental improvements of Railroads and Canals, was also showing decided opposition to the scheme, with but a faint hope of her adopting it. There can be little doubt that our Delegates represented themselves to the Canadian government as the chosen agents of our people, the duly authorized exponents of their wishes, desirous for this union, and with high position and commanding influence to carry it, whereas they proceeded on their mission of enquiry only, not clothed with official capacity by resolution of this house and not authorized to sign any convention which certainly led the Secretary for the Colonies, Mr. Cardwell, to believe that the acts of our Delegates would be ratified by this Assembly and the people. Our Delegates went and came, and the majority of the public were ignorant of their mission; and now that their views are fully before this house and the people, on this question of union, are repudiated on all sides. The history of Canada, since the union of the two provinces, and more especially of late years, would show how necessary Confederation was, in order to remove the political difficulties which are embarrassing her, and which have, in several occasions, led to a dead lock in her government.
This is difficulty arises from the number of representatives to each province being equal—65 members; which was agreed to at the time of the Legislative union; when Lower Canada had the larger population of the two; but now as Upper Canada has an increase of about 500,000 over Lower Canada, she claims an increase of members on the basis of population; and which being resisted by the Lower Canadians, the government was unable to hold power longer than a few months, and upon one occasion lately, only a few days. The hon George Brown, the leader of the dominant party in Upper Canada, has admitted that the great object to be gained by Confederation with the maritime provinces, would be an increase of Representatives; to enable them to shake off the thraldom in which they have been kept by Lower Canada, and from which there was no possible chance of escape but by the proposed Union. The representation of Upper Canada on the basis of population, however, had not been lost sight of by Mr. Brown at the conference; and by calculations correctly made, it was clearly shown, that at each decennial arrangement, owing to her large increase of population over the lower Provinces. she would be steadily gaining, and that in 36 years hence, she would have an increase of 66 members over the number she had on entering the union, thereby giving her a total of 148 members against 116, or a majority of 36 members over Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P E Island, and Newfoundland.
The agricultural interests of Upper Canada would then certainly rule the commercial and shipping interests of the lower provinces and any influence our eight members could have in that Legislature was an absurdity, even to think of. However beneficial Confederation might be to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, whose general interests are more identified with Canada than ours can ever possibly be, who form part of the same continent and may be closely connected by railways, there are no possible means of making those improvements subservient to our interests, of reducing the distance of over 600 miles we are from the nearest point, Halifax, or removing that barrier of ice, which, for five months of the year, completely shuts us out from Canada for any purpose of trade.
Our poverty has been used as an argument by our Delegates, why we should be anxious for Confederation with the rich, prosperous and powerful country of Canada. Did our delegates use this argument at the Conference, as a reason why we ought to be admitted into the union? Did they speak of the poverty of Newfoundland at the Conference, and at the public entertainments given them by the Canadians, on the termination of their labourers? Certainly not. They spoke of our great resources, healthy state of trade, sound public credit, flourishing revenue, most valuable fisheries, furnishing inexhaustible mines of wealth, from which, from time to time, immensely large fortunes have been drawn, and that Newfoundland would not enter the Confederation empty handed; but could do so in the character of independence.
Those were the arguments used by our delegates in Canada; but the moment they return, and came before this Assembly with their views on this question, what “a wonderful change comes over the spirit of their dream.” Our country is altogether different in every aspect to what they represented it in Canada; and they have now the effrontery to characterise it as beggarly, half starved and pauperised and which ought to be glad of the chance of getting so good a stepmother as wealthy Canada. Such fraudulent inconsistency, on the part of our Delegates, for purposes, no doubt, best known to themselves. needs no comment; and carries with it the condemnation it deserves. Our fisheries certainly, for the last three or four years, have not been prosperous; yet our merchants have been able to hold their own, and still issue supplies on an extensive scale. Our people are, no doubt, suffering much from those bad voyages; but it is not the first time in the history of the country that we have had, several years in succession, bad fisheries, and yet managed to retrieve our position without Confederation; and he (Mr. Renouf) would ask, what position would Canada be in, had her crops failed her for the same number of years?
(To be continued)
St. John’s, Thursday, March 30, 1865.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
FRIDAY, Feb. 22 [sic — 24]
SPEECH OF Mr. Renouf.
[Mr. Renouf]: Would her finances or her population be better off than ours are to-day? It is idle to say that this Confederation would make good any shortcoming in our prosperity created by bad voyage. Without good fisheries, which are our principal mainstay, any union can do but little for us; and, under Providence, with returning prosperity, and the properly directed efforts of our people, we shall, have no occasion to sacrifice our country and all that we value as free men, because of our present distressed state, to enter into a union, whose grandest feature is the wildest speculation. The hon member, Mr. Shea, has told us that history pointed to Confederations as being generally beneficial to the interests of states so connected, and referred to the time of the Heptarchy in England, and Henry IV. of France, to show the good effects of such combination of states, as a principal argument in favour of our joining the proposed Confederacy. But he (Mr. Renouf) failed to discover the slightest analogy in our position and the countries referred to. Neither the petty kingdoms of the Heptarchy, nor the provinces of France were separated from the provinces of this intended confederation. The kingdoms of the Heptarchy and the provinces of France were closely interwoven with each other, and had a complete identity of interests for trade, commerce and defence, and mutuality of wants, which we cannot possibly have with those provinces we are sought to be allied to.
The union of England is also pointed to, as an evidence of the necessity of our entering Confederation. Here again there is not the slightest analogy, and of the means used to bring about that union, he (Mr. Renouf) would not speak, but Scotland has no isolation from England, but is closely connected by Railways, which bring the capitals of the two countries into the close proximity with each other. Scotland had no navy, and it was a great object with her to have the protection of England for her commerce in all parts of the globe; and which has greatly conduced to her advancement and prosperity since the union. History also pointed to other Confederations, which the hon member, Mr. Shea, studiously avoided naming; such as the union of Poland with Russia, and Hungary with Austria, whose histories are written in characters of blood, from the crueities [sic], oppressions and barbarities, which make humanity shudder, practiced against a brave, and generous people.
The union of Ireland has also had reference made to it; but it is a most unfortunate one for the hon member. We have but to refer to her splendid public buildings in decay, her commerce destroyed, her nobles and landlords absent, her tenantry evicted from their holdings and starving on the road side, her brave and noble sons expatriated, her taxes made oppressive for another’s benefit, and her virtuous peasantry flying from the land of their fathers as from a plague-stricken country, to seek a home in the United States, and we have the honest reply as to what Ireland has gained by her union. The repeal of the union, the late lamented O’Connell, Ireland’s liberator, laboured with all his ability and eloquence to accomplish, until under the burdens which are unseprable [sic] from the responsible [sic] position he had assumed, he sank into almost a prenature grave. To enable him to carry that repeal, and consummate his wishes; patriotic Irishmen in all parts of the globe enrolled themselves as Repealers, and deeply sympathized with him in his efforts to accomplish the wish nearest his heart, and the hearts of all his true countrymen.
The hon member, Mr. Shea, said it was only better terms the Liberator sought for Ireland. No doubt better terms they procured and extorted from England’s fears, but nothing less than a repeal of the Union, which would restore to Ireland her own Parliament, would have been sufficient to satisfy his intense love for the freedom of his country. The United States, since the time of the Confederation of the thirteen colonies, which the necessities of their position for mutual protection and defence, forced upon them, at the time of their separation from Great Britain, have greatly increased in population, wealth and commerce, far beyond elder countries in Europe or America. Her unrivalled position in the New World, her natural resources—genial climate and the great fertility of the soil, and her mild laws and free institutions afforded all those advantages and inducements for settlers from different nations of Europe, who brought with them to the new republic, that varied ability, intelligence and industry, which has contributed so largely to her general prosperity. With all those advantages, we have for the last four years, beheld with horror the most gigantic struggle of the Southern Sales to secede from the union, which being resisted by the Northern States and the Government, had led to the most disastrous consequences with excessive taxation and an immense national debt. The high productive duties in favour of the manufactures of the Northern States, against the producers of the South, have contributed largely to bring about this revolt, which is decimating her people by tens of thousands, devastating her fertile lands, and destroying the land marks of her advanced civilisation.
The prosperity of Canada since the union of the two provinces, about twenty-five years ago, has also been referred to us in glowing terms by out Delegates, as an evidence of what we should necessarily become under Confederation. There can be no doubt that Canada has certainly much improved since the union, but she should never have been separated with her distinct Legislatures, &c., where there was not even a natural or immaginary [sic] line to point the demarcation of the separate provinces. It is not because the one land, intersected with railways, canals and rivers, and having interests immediately and closely interwoven with each other, should confederate, that there could be the slightest analogy in her position and ours, or that we could directly participate [sic] in the railways and canals which so closely bind the interests of those formerly separate Provinces, any more than we could participate [sic] in the Railways and canals of England. But with her progress, we must not be forgetful of her large indebtedness since the union, to a great extent brought about by the grossest corruption and jobbery of her government, which cannot he more clearly shown than by the following quotations from a lecture delivered in England before the Society of Arts, by a well known Englishman, Mr. Ashmore, who said:—
“In the period which has elapsed since the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were united, the public debt has been increased from one million to fifteen millions sterling, meanwhile the expenditure of this money has been lavished in every description [sic] of loans and advances on colonial credit, made to the municipalities and for public works. The members of the House of Assembly being returned by the municipalities, give their support to the ministry on the condition of the advance of some loan to their constituents for a speculative object of local improvement. The loan is sanctioned out of money which has been raised under public guarantee. It thus happens, not unfrequently, that the money so easily obtained is wasted or applied to an unprofitable purpose. The inhabitants cannot or will not pay the rates imposed to defray the interest, and the public treasury is hence called upon on the guarantee.” “The municipalities, being in this unpleasant condition, are now appealing to the provincial Parliament for aid, upon the ground that, having given them these large powers, they are implicated. Such disclosures do not give up a favourable estimate of Canadian public morality, and it will be important to consider what may be the result of corruption in the representatives, and no immediate check between the demands of the constituencies and the public exchequer.”
“We have already stated that the public debt of Canada has increased from one to fifteen millions sterling, and we may further observe that along with this continued borrowing, the Canadians have gone on increasing, year by year, the taxes on our manufactured imports, to pay ourselves the interest. The rates of customs duties levied upon imports range from 10 to 100 per cent. and within the last twelve years, there have been to fewer than seven changes of the tariff, increasing the duty upon British manufactures, variously from 19 per cent to 20 and 23 per cent.”
That quotation carries with its own commentary on Canadian political morality, more powerful than any language which he (Mr. Renouf) could apply to it. The hon member, Mr. Shea, has stated that in the event of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States being repealed, notice of which intention has been given by that government, in a fit of petulance, owing to the conduct of Canadian officials in the matter of the St. Alban Raiders, no retaliatory measures would be adopted by Canada, and that he, Mr. Shea, spoke advisedly, having received a telegram on this subject from Mr. Galt, finance minister of Canada. It is the merest [sic] absurdity on the part of the hon member, Mr. Shea, to expect that this Assembly will accept either his, or Mr. Galt’s opinion in this matter as a guarantee for what the general Government might do. It is not by such ad captandum statements in argument that we are to be led into compliance with the ardent wishes of those gentlemen; who would not be the sole arbiters on this important question of commercial policy. It is probable […]
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[…] that with the Reciprocity treaty abolished, and a heavy duty reimposed on the produce of those provinces in the United States, the General Government would admit the produce of that country into her markets duty free, and all for the purpose of showing a good example? He (Mr. Renouf) had not the slightest faith in the carrying out of this one-sided doctrine of extreme liberality on the part of the Confederate Government.
The hon member, Mr. Shea, also said he did not believe the Reciprocity Treaty would be abolished. He (Mr Renouf) held a different opinion, which was sustained by facts, and would quote from a debate before the senate at Washington in November last, on this matter, as follows—Mr. Summer stated, “On an estimate founded on the trade before the treaty, Canada would have paid to the United States, in the ten years of the treaty, at least $17,373,800, which she has been relieved of. This sum has actually been lost to the United States. In return Canada has given up only $2,650,890. being the amount it would have collected if no treaty had been made. There is consequently a vast disproportion to the detriment of the United States.
During the ten years of the treaty the United States have actually paid in duties in Canada $16,802,962, while during the same period Canada has paid in duties to the United States the very moderate sum of $330,445.” The foregoing facts and figures are certainly more reliable than mere speculative opinions, without any sure foundation; and the public will have no difficulty in deciding which of the two they will accept. We have been further told that England will no longer, defend us unless we agree to enter this Confederation; and he (Mr Renouf) supposed on the terms of the Quebec Resolutions. This is another of the wild speculations of our Delegates, for we have not a single word in the Despatch from the Secretary for the Colonies, Mr. Cardwell, on this subject, that would lead us to infer that the oldest and most loyal colony of the British Empire would be discarded, unless she sacrificed her best interests to gratify the inordinate ambition of a few, to the great injury of the whole country and people.
Our defence must be a naval one, and such as England and not the Confederate Government can afford to give us. If England made a present to the general government of her fleet on the North American station, have our Delegates counted the cost of its maintenance in a state of efficiency; and also the additional heavy tax that would create, our proportion of which we should have to contribute? The assertion had been made that there is to be no navy—not for very many years to come, but in view of the fact that the United States intend placing six ironclad steamers on the lakes, for defence of her territory against raiders from the Canadian side, must not Canada meet the emergency by equipping a similar armament? And is it likely that the British Government will defray the expense? If the United States expand $10,000,000 on her Lake defences; must not Canada be also up, and doing?
And he (Mr Renouf) would like to be informed by our Delegates, who must also be sound authorities on naval and military matters, how far will the $1,000,000 go, being the amount set down by the 32 delegates to build up a naval and military defence, not for Canada alone, but for all the Provinces and Colonies in the Confederation? Our Delegates have also said that Newfoundland, being no longer a benefit to the British Navy, as her extensive commerce furnished a nursery for seamen to man her Navy, she cared little about us, and might throw us off without hesitation. But he (Mr. Renouf) had greater faith in the justice of the mother country, who could not forget that the Banks of Newfoundland contributed to a large extent the seamen who helped to win her most important naval victories.
If the Confederate Government is not to have no navy for many years to come, how are the maritime provinces to be defended from without? But the 13th Section of the 29th Resolution of the Quebec Report admits it, and the hon the Speaker, in his reported speech at the de jeuner at Toronto, said, when speaking of the wants of Canada, as follows. “You want the maritime element, and we are able to give it to you. You may by and by require seamen to man your navy, and where will you be able to obtain them more readily than in Newfoundland?” So that, in the event of a war between Canada and the United States, and Newfoundland in this Confederation, our fishermen could be drafted to fight the battles of a country in whose quarrel they had no interest.
It is very evident that that speech, made by the hon the Speaker at Toronto, was after the champagne began to circulate freely, from the very remarkable fact of his forgetting all the good things he said in behalf of his native land in Canada, and which, since his return, he was altogether oblivious of, his opinions having undergone a radical change, Newfoundland being only a paltry, poverty stricken, and pauperized country, in the estimation of the hon and learned Speaker. The allusion to the rendezvous of the Russian fleet at New York, two years ago, for the purpose of proceeding to the Pacific, to pounce upon and destroy the Australian colonies, in the event of England interfering on behalf of Poland, was merely an opinion, and not sustained by any information which leaked out from the Cabinet of St. Petersburg! and even if the report was true, it could not be applicable to our position, which would at all times be free from any attack by the Russians. As regards taxation, he (Mr Renouf) would admit that where it was relatively applied, it could not fail to be of general advantage, as in the construction of public works and improvements of a reproductive character; thereby giving remunerative employment to our operative population; and in this sense it might be said that taxation and civilization went hand in hand.
What was the condition of this country thirty-five years ago, when we had no taxation, and before we had representative institutions? Almost in a state of wilderness. Now we have roads, bridges, educational establishments, colleges, steam and telegraph communications with the outports and provinces and United States, and many other improvements which characterize the advanced civilization of more favoured countries. But the increased taxation which, under Confederation, we would have to bear, would not be for our local improvements, but for the extension of railways, bridges and canals in Canada. The hon member, Mr. Shea, stated that the people of Canada paid less taxes per head than ours. He (Mr Renouf) admitted that fact, because our taxes are made upon imported goods, which are the necessities of all classes of our people, whereas the agriculturists and others in Canada supply their wants with coarse articles of clothing of their own household and do not require to purchase every imported requirement, as is the case with us.
But what about the other heavy direct taxes which the people of Canada have to pay to meet the reckless extravagance that has been practised by successive governments in the administration of their public affairs, and which has helped to create their huge debt of $64,000,000? If we are now taxed $4 per head of our population, it would not probably be less than $6 under Confederation, with the present Canadian tariff, which would add nothing to the 12s. per head which the people of Canada now pay. Any reduction that was promised in that tariff by our Delegates, which is also speculative, would still have the effect of lessening the taxation in Canada and increasing it in Newfoundland, providing it was reduced from its present 20 and 25 per cent to 15 per cent, which is the highest rate we pay on imports. Reference was made to the poverty of our outports, to many of our houses being unoccupied, and many with bad tenants, and the alarm of our landlords from fear of increased taxation, which would flow from this measure. As regards the fears of our landlords, they have good reason to dread increased taxation, and feel alarmed too. The present heavy water tax, which owes its parentage to the hon member, Mr. Shea, has given them a foretaste of what they may expect, if the General Government gets the power of taxing them. And in what manner Confederation was to reduce the poverty of the outports, and procure good tenants for our empty houses, and turn out the bad ones, he has not ventured to touch upon, or even to make a promise. He (Mr Renouf) did not believe this Confederation scheme would be such a potent remedy for our ills, but would be somewhat like a celebrated quack medicine which promised to cure every thing, even earthquakes, but after being tried was found to be only an in position for getting money.
The hon member, Mr. Shea, also referred to the tradesmens’ petition, which he (Mr Renouf) presented to the house a couple of years ago, the prayer of which was protection for their industry, and to prevent them becoming paupers on the government. The principles of protection which he (Mr Renouf) then advocated, in regard to that petition, he was prepared to advocate again; but what support did the hon member, Mr. Shea, who now seems to be a convert to their views, give to that petition? He turned a deaf ear to it; but now tells us that our trades men can get, under his darling scheme, Confederation, all they petitioned for. And why? Is it that there is a brighter vista of future greatness in store in Canada for others than our tradesmen, that he now condescends to notice their wants and wishes. Where is the employment for our people who are not engaged in the fisheries; and even for our fishermen and their families during the intervals between the voyages? Where is the employment for our youth of both sexes, who crowd our thoroughfares, and are constrained to live in idleness on the earnings of one or two earners out of each family? Employers they cannot procure, because there are no workshops, and many articles are imported ready made at low duties; which, if made up in the country, would give employment to thousands, many of whom have to take their industry to the United States, or remain here in, a half starving condition, and not unfrequently a burthen upon the public funds of the colony, which should be appropriated to purposes of public improvement and general benefit.
Why do our government send orders to other countries, which give employment to their people at the sacrifice of our own, for many articles which could be manufactured here, and then accuse them of their poverty, and drive them to apply for poor relief? Is such the case in the other Provinces? No, whatever the skill and industry of their artisans can accomplish, finds a ready market with them. How different is the case here? Many articles that could be manufactured by our tradesmen, and required for our public institutions, could be supplied both good and cheap; but there is no protection for home manufactures. Many articles that we night supply are imported and made a job of, the government preferring to make paupers of our artizans, rather than encourage and stimulate their industrial pursuits. Our Delegates who are now such ardent admirers of Canada and her protection for her manufactures, should look at home; and if she has, by such means, risen to this great state of prosperity, what is there to prevent the application of the same means to the industry of a large portion of our people, to make them happy and prosperous; and without Confederation? But it appears that what benefits Canada cannot benefit us, unless we sacrifice ourselves to Confederation, which is set forth to be the great panacea to cure all ills, and leave us nothing to desire after it would be effectuated.
The hon member, Mr. Shea, said he referred to the tradesmen’s petition, merely to show the inconsistency of hon members, then supporting its principles, and now repudiating them when they have the power of giving them effect, of coarse, only under his darling scheme of Confederation. He (Mr. Renouf) had no doubt that the hon member fancies he can lay the “flattering unction to his soul,” and pride himself on his political consistency on all occasions, in this Assembly and out of it also; and that all reliance could be placed on his fixed principles. When this important question of Confederation was slightly touched upon, in Committee on the address in reply to His Excellency’s speech at the opening of this session, he (Mr Renouf) referred to the Canadian tariff of 1863 as applied to our imports for the same year, which would give an increase of taxation of about £40.000. The hon member, Mr. Shea, in preparing his financial statement under Confederation, to place before the country, applies the Canadian tariff of 1863 to our imports, instead of the tariff of 1864, the former giving a smaller amount of increased taxation, a luxury which the hon member knows is not over palateable to the people, from the experience they have had of the Water Company’s tax, which the hon member led the house and the country to believe, when he introduced that measure, would be scarcely felt.
The hon member has told us that the Canadian tariff of 1854 was increased for special purposes, which being now accomplished, would be again reduced. There can be little doubt that it was increased for special purposes, to raise a sufficiency of revenue to meet their extravagant expenditure, which for seven years prior to 1864 was, on an average, $2,914,756 per year over their income, so that there is little chance of the present tariff being reduced. In the space of twelve years, Canada has had no less than seven tariffs on the ascending scale, and it was only last year, and owing to unusual prosperity, that she had an excess of revenue over expenditure. He (Mr Renouf) held in his hand a Customs’ return, of the application of the Canada tariff of 1864 to our imports. which would give a total increase of taxation of £64,570, dedicted [sic] from which, a total decrease of £17,413 on some articles, would leave a net increase of additional taxation of £57.156.—The increased taxes would be on the following principal articles, viz. rum £803; molasses, £3,585; sugars, £2200, coffee, £568; tobacco, £3,141; soap, £1 114; boots and shoes, £7,162; wearing apparel, £1,331; leather, £2,401; manufactured goods, £23,732; cordage, £3,280; bread, £7,181; Guns, powder and shot, £482; paints, &c., £332. The decrease would be on the following principal articles, viz., whiskey, cordials, gin, brandy and wines, £2,756; teas, £702; fishing tackle, £1,318; canvas, £990; salt, £336; dried fruits, £187; rice, £123.—He (Mr Renouf) had prepared a statement (which appears below) which could show pretty fairly what Newfoundland would have to pay under Confederation, and not including what may be raised in case of emergency, by direct taxation, which power the General Government would possess, by the 5th section of the 29th Resolution of the Quebec report, as follows−”the raising of money by all or any other modes or systems of taxation.”
This Assembly would, no doubt, hesitate before increasing our taxation to the figures as shewn under the application of the Canadian tariff, which increase we could apply to the purposes of local improvement, developing and working our minerals—and opening up new sources of industry for our people, Yet this power, which we are tearful to exercise ourselves, we are willing to transfer to the General Government, for the extension of railways, canals, and other improvements in Canada and the other Provinces, which would be about as beneficial to our direct interests, as the railways and canals of Great Britain. He (Mr. Renouf) would now refer to our exports of fish, oil, herrings, salmon, skins, &c., which by the 2nd section of the 29 Resolution of the Quebec report, would give to the General Government the following powers: viz. “the imposition or regulation of duties of Customs on imports and exports, except on exports of timber, logs, masts, spars, deals and sawn lumber, and of coal and other minerals.”
There can be little doubt then, that our exports would be liable to the risk of taxation, in case of emergency, notwithstanding all our Delegates might say to the contrary; and to place the matter beyond the reach of doubt, suspicion or dispute, they should have stipulated that our exports should form an exemption, as well as the timber, &c., of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. An export tax of 5 per cent on our shipments, would raise another pretty item of revenue for the General Government, of about £60,000 a year, a very small portion of which would fall to our share for local improvements. The hon member, Mr. Shea, calculates there would be a credit balance of $783,471 in favour of the General Government, after defraying all expenses, providing in the amplest manner for the defence of the Confederated provinces; which item of defence was put down at only $1,000,000, an amount barely sufficient for Canada alone, and to which might safely be added another $1,000,000 for the other Provinces.
Again, would not the promised extension of the canals of Western Canada absorb the credit balance referred to, to pay interest on monies to be borrowed for that purpose? Mr Brown, in his speech at Toronto:—”I am happy to say, that with the unanimous consent of the Delegates, we have agreed to the extension of the Canal system of the West,” which would certainly cost many millions of dollars, and would be a set off against the Intercolonial railway for the improvements of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The 69th Resolution promises that the North West territory is to be opened up, when the finances would permit; but poor Newfoundland was to be left out in the cold, and have no place in the grand arrangements which are to secure such prosperity to the other Provinces. He (Mr. Renouf) was not singular in his opinion, that the improvements and necessities under the General Government would leave no credit balance, but a deficiency of over $2,000,000, applying the present Canadian tariff to the maritime provinces, and which deficiency must be met by increased [sic] taxation; and whether indirect or direct, on property, income, back stock, bills of exchange, &c., is no bugbear or claptrap; which hon members who do not agree with the views put forth by our Delegates, on this question, are accused of resorting to.
But this question of increased taxation, was the pith and marrow of the scheme, so far as the interests of Newfoundland are concerned; and must form the basis of negotiation in the matter. We have heard a great deal about what Canada could do in supplying us with manufactures of woolens, cottons, boots and shoes, &c., cheaper than we could import them from Great Britain. How is it, then, that she has not taken advantage of our market up to this time, which is as free to her as to the mother country? How is it also that our merchants and shopkeepers do not import from Canada, in preference to Great Britain, it the articles are as good and the terms better? Great Britain supplies all the markets of the world, and successfully competes with all countries in the quality and cheapness of her manufactures, owing to improved machinery and cheap labour. Canada is a very large importer of manufactured goods from England, amounting, last year, to $16,000,000, and, in spite of 20 and 35 per cent duties, England was able to undersell them in their own markets. The United States, with her extensive manufactures, imports largely from Great Britain also; and even the raw cotton and other materials which England imports from America, she is able to tranship manufactured, and compete with her in price and quality in her own markets.
The hon. member, Mr. Shea, asks, is not Britain also an importer to some extent, from France? Certainly she is; of the finer quality of silks, gloves, laces, &c., which we can well dispense with, and is not a paralel [sic] case. The infant manufacturies [sic] of Canada, with high priced labour, are not yet, if they ever will be, in a position to supply us and the other provinces on as good terms as we at present enjoy. By a report made to the Executive Council of Canada, and signed by the hon W. P. Howland, Receiver General, it would be understood to what extent, and in what articles of manufacture, she could supply our wants. It is as follows. “With a more extended trade between Canada and the Lower Provinces. We should compete in their markets, not with the productions of Great Britain but with those of the United States, These consist mainly of agricultural produce, in raising which we excel, and of articles the manufacture of which is rapidly increasing here,” and that a large proportion of the goods which the maritime provinces now buy in the States could be supplied by Canada.
That report fully disposed of the delusions manufactured by our Delegates on the subject of Canadian manufactures. We have the assertion of the hon member, Mr. Shea, that the tariff of the General Government will be revised, to meet the wishes of the lower provinces; and he has that assurance from Mr. Galt, in a telegram lately received. It must be evident that Mr. Galt, who is so very anxious for the consummation of this scheme, would make promises ad libitum, by Telegraph, to induce us to look more favorably upon it. But would the General Government, not yet in existence, feel itself bound to act on the unauthorized promises of Mr. Galt; Those important points should not be left to the uncertainty of telegrams between Mr. Shea and Mr. Galt, a mode of doing business neither safe nor satisfactory.
Once in the union, our wishes would have to be subservient to Mr. Galt, and the Canadians, who would have the power to make them so Another great consideration urged by the hon member, Mr. Shea, in favour of our becoming a part of this future great empire that is to be, is, the line of ocean steamers connecting us with the mother country and with Canada; and also another steamer on the Western postal route. The hon member is very strong on this question of steam, in which he takes the deepest interests; but he (Mr. Renouf) failed to discover a single word about it, in the form of a promise, in the Quebec Resolutions; where it should properly appear; and not be left to vague speculations. It may be well to ask how it came that our Delegates did not secure these advantages for us at the Conference, and have a guarantee for it in the Resolution, as well as the opening up of the North West territory the extensions of the Western canals, and the laying down of the Intercolonial railway. The hon member being forced to admit a large increase of taxation under Confederation, asks if this line of ocean steamers that is to be is not worth £10,000 a year to us, and modestly places it in his financial statement, as one of the assets against the new taxes. That was certainly a dexterity in managing finance questions, unrivaled by even the great Finance Minister of Canada, Mr. Galt. A line of ocean steamers was all very well in its way; but, in view of the Cape Race telegraph station, it could never be worth such an amount to this country, where the carrying trade was well supplied by our own first class clipper vessels.
It would be, without doubt, a great convenience for wealthy persons, to enable them to travel comfortably and expeditiously across the Atlantic, beyond whom the great bulk of the people would derive little or no benefit. If we had £10,000 to spare, after providing for the public service, would we be justified in voting it is a part subsidy for ocean steamers, and particularly after the Galway line failure? Would this Assembly agree to it, in view of the many more useful purposes to which it might be applied? A year or two ago, this house was cajoled into giving £15,000 of our revenue to the Galway Company; and how much did it benefit the country? And it was given at a time too, when our languishing resources, required sustainment. That money was recklessly thrown away, to carry out a visionary speculation, which was to lift up the country by the introduction of large capital, thereby infusing new life and energy into every branch of our trade and business. We could afford to throw away £10,000 on the Galway line of steamers, but could not give one penny to develope our mineral resources, or encourage our Bank, Mackerel and Herring fisheries, which are successfully prosecuted by strangers, at our own doors, or encourage agriculture, all which would have the great effect of striking at the root of that gigantic evil, pauperism.
Then, there is the other steamer, that is to be running between the capital, western outports, and Canada; which has no place either in the Quebec Resolutions, and is set down to us at the annual value of £4,000, on the same sound principle as the £10,000 for ocean steam. That our tradesmen, labourers and fishermen, when times, would be depressed, and their circumstances poor could take passage in these steamers for Canada, where there would be plenty of employment for then at high wages, is another of the arguments used by our Delegates, although we understood at first there was to be no more depression in circumstances or poverty amongst the people, after we joined this Confederacy.
(To be continued.)
St. John’s, Monday, April 3, 1865.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
FRIDAY, Feb. 22 [sic — 24]
SPEECH OF Mr. Renouf.
[Mr. Renouf]: How our people are to find the means to enable them to get away to the great country, they have not yet informed us; or how are we to carry on the business of the country with only the aged and the infirm left behind. Again, how is the money that is to be earned by our people in Canada, and spent there to benefit the country? And will the government here have to provide a maintenance for their families during their absence, and should they not return with golden harvest to gladden their hearts? This is indeed a novel way of making the country prosperous, by depopulating it of its hardy population, which we were so anxious to increase only a few years ago, when we expended £1,000 in bringing emigrants from Boston and Ireland into the country. Then the public works going on in Canada would give employment to our people if they could get there.
But how was it when the public works were going on, which created the debt of $64,000,000, that our operatives did not move in that direction for employment? There is no scarcity of labourers in Canada, to meet the demand for their services? In the summer, and during shipping season, the wants are supplied by thousands of emigrants arriving daily while the navigation is open, from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. Some of our tradesmen and others who were induced to try their fortunes in that country, had to return, and by no means in improved circumstances. If Canada is this great country to give employment to all, is it not a remarkable fact, that of the many who left this country the last four years, they give a preference to the United States, with all the risks appertaining to the time of war? Are there not thousands of Americans in Canada at present, who went there to escape the draft, and whose labour has over supplied the market?
The hon Attorney General supports the Canadian employment argument, by pointing the vast number of Irish reapers who go to England in the harvest season and return with their earnings. But he forgets that the distance is only a few hours’ sail, and the passage money not more than half a crown. Therefore there is no analogy in the two cases. The intercolonial railway, when finished, that is, in the event of a union of a Province, may be of large advantages to them, although, even in Canada, there are some, whose opinions are entitled to great weight, who are doubtful of the advantages to be achieved from its completion; and he (Mr. Renouf) would quote from Canadian statistics on this contemplated great undertaking:—
“It has been strongly urged by an influential portion of the press of Canada, 1st, That the revenue is already two or three millions less than the current expenditure, and the expense of this undertaking would vastly swell the deficit. 2nd, That besides the loss of the interest on the capital sunk, the road could not pay the working expenses, thereby entailing a heavy additional loss upon the Province. 3rd, That the road is only necessary in winter, and during this season the snow would be required to keep it in running order. 4th, That the freight traffic between Canada and Lower Provinces is not of a description to pay railroad ra es, and would continue to be interchanged almost exclusively by water, as at present. 5th, That judging from past experience in Canada, the construction of such a great work would bring on a repeition of the corruption and jobbery which have already exhausted the public purse. 6th, That the Grand Trunk Line form Richmond to Reviere [sic] de Loup would be forced upon the hands of the Province, and an additional outlay required to maintain this unproductive line. 7th, That as a military road, it might easily be rendered useless, inasmuch as running for a considerable distance along the enemy’s frontier, a few squadrons of cavalry could, in a few hours, render it impossible.
The hon member, Mr. Shea stated that we have an interest in the railways and canals of Canada, as they improve the means of supplying us with cheaper provisions. But if we look to the transactions of the past teny [sic] years that we have had Free Trade, Canada has taken little or none of out products, only a few thousand barrels of herring from Labrador in the fall of the year. And we have received from her less than from any of the other provinces, although she has the provisions we require for the wants of our people. That universal principle of Commerce, to buy in the cheapest, an sell in the dearest market, has strongly operated in limiting our trade relations with Canada, and in giving a preference to the markets of New York Boston &c., where our merchants and Importers could procure better terms and greater facilities. Large shipments of provisions have been constantly making, at all seasons of the year, from the markets of the United States, on consignment here and how very few indeed have we received from Canada? The reason is apparent to all.
At the time of the Free Trade treaty going into operation, hon gentleman, who are now the loudest advocates for Confederation, told the same beautiful stories of grateness [sic] and prosperity in store for the country, as the certain results of that measure, that every second shop in water street would be stocked with Canadian provisions selling at fabulously low prices, that our deserted outports would again become the marts of busy industry and extensive commerce, by the introduction of new capital, that the railways and canals of the American continent would carry our products to the markets of the far west, that pauperism would flee the land, and be only an evil of the past, with many other grand promises; but to what extent those great things have been realized for the country, the people, who have been asked to accept the latest scheme would be the best judges.
Then it was free trade that was to do for the country; now it is Confederation. The results of the former were disappointed expectations; but of the latter, who can say that it may not be our enslavement? There was no free interchange of products between this country and Canada which has her own fisheries, not only to supply her wants, but to enable her to export largely, and complete with us in foreign markets. If she were a customer for our products, our vessels would return laden with her provision but it would never pay to send our vessels in ballast; which could only be in the summer season, up the dangerous and expensive navigation of the St. Lawrence, while we have the facilities of the American markets, where many of our vessels discharge freights, on the return voyage from Brazil and the West Indies.
For the past five years our average import from Canada amounted to only £50,000 a year, while from the United States they were £350,000. Our markets for Canadian products could not be more free under Confederation, that they have been under the Reciprocity treaty; and the same disappointment, would be the probable results.—The intercolonial railway is to be the means of preserving us from starvation in the event of war between England and the United States, according to the views of the hon member, Mr. Shea; but, he (Mr. Renouf) would ask what force would be necessary to protect that exposed line of over 600 miles, in some parts so contiguous to American soil, or what would present its being destroyed by a few squadrons of American dragoons, who are so well up to such work? And how long would Canada be able to resist the well disciplined, powerful invading armies of the United States, in the event of such an unfortunate war? We have been further told, that, without this railway, the granaries of Western Canada, although full stored with wheat, could give us supplies.
But in the event of a war, it is not difficult to forsee that not a single grain of that wheat would reach the seaboard, over that line, for our supply. In the railways of Spain and Brazil we have positive interest, because those countries are two of the best customers for our fish; and their railroads facilitate the transmission of it to the interior; where, a few years ago it was hardly known, thereby largely increasing the consumption, and realizing higher prices than formerly. Another false bacon held out to the people, especially our ship carpenters, joiners and labourers, is the establishment of a dock for repairing large disabled ships and steamers, which, it was said, now pass our own habor, owing to the want of such a convenience.—We have at present, a floating dock capable of taking up vessels of considerable size, that may be disabled and make our harbor, and it has afforded to those vessels, as well as to our own shipping, great ficilties [sic] for repairs.
When Mr. Newman brought the matter of his large dock, by Bill, before this house two years ago, it was presented in such a questionable form as could procure it no support; and it was a very doubtful as to the number of large distressed steamers, on a yearly average, that would have necessity to use it, and also that its object was to take up large and small vessels; and thus interfere with the vested rights of the present Floating Dock Company. The roads leading to Placentia and Trepassey, the electoral district of the hon member, Mr. Shea, were to receive the market attention of the Confederate Government; also the Northern Mail route to Twillingate and Fogo, the electoral district of the hon member, Mr. Whiteway, another pro-confederate. Hear that, ye men of Placentia, St. Mary’s, Trepassey, Twillingate and Fogo; what the General Government would do for you, if, next election, you would only throw up your caps, and go in for Confederation.
Our roads would still have to remain under the management of the local government; and should the next ministry be unfortunately permeated with, and adopt the very anti-civilized idea, that roads don’t pay how to fond hopes which the hon member is anxious to raise in the breasts of the innocent outharbour people will be disappointed. An army for the defense of the Confederated provinces, we have been told, would consist merely of militia and volunteers in the several provinces, the total expense of which was set down at $1,000,000. The hon. Mr. Smith, of New Brunswick, estimates it at $2,500,000, which is nearer the mark; and we find, by information received by lost Mail, that the equipment of the Militia of Canada alone, this year, up to the 1st of May next, will amount to $1,000,000, in anticipation of the trouble with the United States, owing to the encouragement given to raiders into the union from Canada.
It was also said that a militia was not applicable to the pursuits of our people, being engaged in the fishery. Yet we could not forget the great excitement which prevailed in 1843, when a militia Bill was introduced to the Assembly, and would have been carried but for the determined stand made against it by the people, when it was withdrawn. The General Government, under Confederation, will have the power of passing the militia Bill, without consulting our Assembly, or the wishes of the people; and in the event of an emergency, would demand our quota of men and money, to fight the battles of a country in whose quarrel we had not the slightest interest. Who would have thought, five years ago, that a military conscription, such as exists in countries under despotic rule, would have been resorted to in the United States, that country whose proud boast was freedom, and whose motto was liberty? Does not our humanity shudder at the hundreds of thousands of her sons, drafted against their will, from their homes and pursuits, who have perished on the battle field, in prison and by disease?
In the presence of troublesome neighbour, such as the United States would be to Canada, and more especially after the present war is over, she will always require to maintain an expensive Military Establishment, the cost of which would be immense; and our proportion we would have to bear. This is one of her principal difficulties, which she is anxious that we and the other Provinces should share the burden of. The chief argument used by the delegates in the neighbouring provinces in favor of confederation, is the necessity for union, and natural protection and defence against aggression from their Republican neighbour. But what protection or defence could Canada give us? She would require it all for her own indefensible, straggling 1400 miles of frontier territory, without any resources to fall back on, save a wilderness.
Our natural defence and protection must be a naval one: and that we shall receive, not from a union with Canada, but from our present connection with that glorious empire on whose dominions the sun never sets, and under the aegis, “whose flag has braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze,” we shall be free from all invaders. Our merchants have been accused by the Delegates of selfishness in their opposition to this scheme; and the argument was, that they have been always opposed to everything tending to the improvement of the country. Admitting that such was the fact; do we not also find that some of the strongest advocates in this house for that great change, for instances, the hon the Speaker, and the Attorney General, have also in their day been the deadly opponents of progress, from representatives institutions, responsible government, &c?
But now their views have changed; they confess their political sins and solicit absolution, on their sinners conversion. The latent fire of patriotism, which has been so long smothered in their bosoms, is now suddenly kindled, never more to be extinguished—and is to be the future guide of their once benighted minds;—and those who differ from them in the speculative benefits to be achieved under Confederation, are, to their minds, actuated by other motives than the public good. He (Mr. Renouf) would give the Delegates and hon gentlemen the full credit to which they were entitled for patriotism; nor would he be inclined to take an uncharitable view of things. Yet the fact is very significant that one of the Delegates, the Attorney General of Prince Edward Island, wrote a letter over his own signature, in which he refers to the generalship practiced at the Conference, where the business was progressing very slowly until it received a wonderful impulse, so soon as the decision was arrived at, that the General Government would have the appointment of local Governors, as well as Judges.
A great deal has been said about Canadian capital working our mines which are now lying dormant, owing to our want of means. But all that Canada could do, would be to explore and survey which could be done by our own government, when, if the prospects were good, capital would be invited to work them; and it was to be regretted that no attention had been given to this important affair in times of prosperity. It however appers [sic], that the capital that is to come from Canada to work our mines and give employment to the people, cannot be found to work their own. He (Mr. Renouf) would quote Confederation document styled the “Resources of Canada,” which said “The mineral wealth of Canada is almost fabulous, and only awaits the introduction of British and American capital to astonish the world. The Acton copper mine in Lower Canada is among the richest in the world. Although the operations of the present proprietors have been partially paralysed by attempts to do so much. The Lake Superior copper has become already famous for the extent of the deposit and the value of the ore, while Lake Superior and St. Maurice iron need only to be mentioned to arrest the attention of practical miners. The iron deposits of lake Superior country are believed to be inexhaustible. The gold diggings of the Chaudiere and Gilbert rivers, in the Easter townships, have turned out well, within the last two years. Americans have taken large tracts of land there, and a new company has been formed in New York with a capital of five millions of dollars, to operate on the Chaudiere.”
Those who expect so much benefit and increased employment for the people to result from Canada having possession of our minerals and waste lands, should pardon seriously over the extract from the “Resources of Canada,” and they cannot fail to understand by whom clap-trap is resorted to, to prop up a scheme which has so few real merits of its own to sustain it before the light of public examination and enquiry. The hon Attorney General says we are asked to join a great empire, which it certainly will be in fifty years time, a rather long time to look forward to, with the possibility of being swallowed up by the United States before three years are at an end. We should have no desire to separate from the empire which now protects us, to become a fragment of a would-be empire, torn asunder by political fractions, and unable to meet her fictional engagements. The hon Attorney General admits that the general government would have the power to tax us directly when any occasion arose to render it necessary, for the protection of the whole.
There can be no doubt, then, that the necessities of this grand empire would immediately commence, on the laying the foundation of her protection from aggression on the part of her American neighbour. And here would be the beginning of the many necessities incidental to extended territory. We have been reminded that England is anxious to rid herself of the military expense of the colonies; and that she would look coldly upon us if we would not enter that Confederation on present terms. It was an absurdity to think for one moment that the handful of troops who occupy our garrison was the sore point with England. No. It is the large number of troops, Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers and Infantry, which Canada requires for her defense, and who are scattered over such an extent of country, that it would render it impossible for them to combine for the defence of any particular point attacked by the enemy, that England feels alarmed at, in view of the immense standing army which the Republic would maintain, at the termination of the present war. England reminded Canada, a few months ago, that she must prepare herself to take the burden of a large effective military organizations, owing to the unfriendly and warlike feeling manifested towards her by the people of the United States; and not without great provocation. There is not the slightest evidence to show that England, although anxious she may feel for this union, will coerce us into it upon such unfair terms as are contained in the Resolutions, which are not based on justice and equally, so far as Newfoundland is concerned.
Another great inducement […]
- (p. 2)
[…] held out was the large field the Confederation would give to our youth seeking that honourable and lucrative employment which was debarred them at home, owing to the limited field of operations. From that it would be inferred that our sons are all to get situations in Canada, and more particularly having eight members as their friends to apply to. It might so happen that our members would be so absorbed in their own interests as hardly to bestow a thought upon the wants of o hers; and we knew to a certainty that no influence those members could possibly bring to bear on the General Government would prevent the Canadians enjoying, as they do at present, the patronage of their offices to make place for ours. Here the Government and every officer under it, the Legislature, &c., are with a few exceptions filled by our sons; but could this state of things continue under Confederation? We transfer our Customs, Post Office, and Lighthouses to the General Government, and in the event of a vacancy taking place in either of these institutions, would not the appointment be made at head-quarters and not in favour of a native? The curtailment of our Legislature alone would destroy more patronage than we should enjoy at the hands of the General Government.
The hon Attorney General grew a little facetious when he referred to the sphere of advancement which Confederation opened up to the hon member for Ferryland, Mr. Glen, in the event of his being chosen a member of the House of Commons at Ottawa, when he might have the chance of holding the office of Receiver General, at $5,000 a year. Politicians of Mr. Glen’s great financial ability and incorruptible honesty would undoubtedly be of great advantage to the new State, in place of some of those whose political career was inseparable from official corruption and jobbery; but he (Mr. Renouf) felt confident that all the allurements so blandly put forth would not have the slightest effect in swerving the hon member from the honest and conscientious position which he had taken on this momentous question. He, (Mr Renouf) it was further stated, might also attain distinction in military affairs under the General Government, nothing less than a Field-Marshal’s baton.
Strong inducements, certainly, but very unreliable, like the rest of the good things that are in store for us. However, he (Mr Renouf) would contentedly remain a Captain of Volunteers, in defence of his own native land, rather than sacrifice her best interests and the rights and liberties of the people for self-aggrandisement. Our law students also are to have, under Confederation, a large field and every favour, with no end to the briefs and retainers, and reminders too. Why it was only last year that a lawyer from Canada came here seeking his fortune, and admitted that, bad as the trade was with us, it was far worse where he came from, with 1,571 lawyers and attornies, or one to every 1600 of the population, against one to every 16,000 here, which speaks volumes for the honesty of our country. So much for the enlarged field for our lawyers. The hon Attorney General used another very singular argument in favor of Confederation, which was nothing less than that, in the event of a bad fishery, we would have some party to fall back upon or apply to for assistance—that we could go to the General Government and ask them to relieve our people in their distress.
No doubt we could make the application, but more than likely their portals of charity would be closed against our appeal. There is, to a certainty, one thing which they would give us to relieve the necessities of our distressed fishermen, and that would be direct taxation, as per Resolution No. 29. Our political history since 1832, with our elections every four years, is further evidenced by the hon. Attorney General as a potent reason why we should be in this Confederacy, as if every country with representative institutions is not subject to the same ordeal of excitement. Was there any exception to this rule out of Newfoundland? Would the ascerbity of feeling be less, with a reduced House of Assembly, and with eight members to be returned for the House of Commons in Canada? Was it less so even in Canada or the other provinces? This is a specimen of the humbug and clap-trap used by hon members who favor that scheme; but the delusion was too transparent to merit even serious consideration.
Now it was evident that certain hon members after selfishly monopolizing for years the emoluments of office amongst themselves and their friends, were anxious to destroy our Legislature and sacrifice the liberties and privileges of the people which it protects, that they might on its ruins take splendid positions under the new government. The hon Attorney General admits that our population cannot increase very much, whereas that of Canada would double and treble in a short space of time, owing to the tide of emigration setting in in that direction, and owing to natural causes. It cannot be denied that such would be the case; which after every decennial census would give an increase of members to Upper Canada, that, in not many years to some, would place her representation in excess of Lower Canada and all the lower provinces combined, thereby making her mistress of the position, while we should still be confined to eight members. The representation scheme the hon Attorney General considers fair, which it appears to be at first sight, but in reality is not the case. Newfoundland, the key of the St. Lawrence and the Confederation by sea, with her valuable fisheries, rich minerals, extensive trade and commerce, splendid harbours, and great natural advantages, would have only the same representation as a town with the same population in the backwoods of Canada. It was not so much on the basis of population as by position and resources that she was entitled to a larger representation.
It was admitted that the Canadian frontier was long and straggling, and so was that of the United States; but what comparison would the means of defence, resources and supplies of Canada bear to those of the Republic, which have been proved to the amazement of the world during the past four years? What were we going to do, was asked by the hon Attorney. General and other pro-confederate members of the House, if we don’t enter the Confederation. In reply, he (Mr Renouf) would ask, what would we do it this grand scheme did not turn up, this great panacea, according to our political doctors for all our ills, bad fisheries and paupers? Trust in Providence, and grapple with our difficulties with a vigour and manliness equal to the emergency and the means at our disposal. Could we do more in this Confederation, which to some hon members seems to be such a Providenial escape from our present temporary embarrassments, and is seized by them with the death grasp of the drowning mariner clinging to the last plank of the wreck? There could be no doubt that any change which would prove generally beneficial to our country, is a consummation devoutly to be wished for by all; but the extreme change contemplated by that union must not be based on wild speculations and uncertainties, which would be sure to result in bitter disappointment and degradation.
On the part of the people there could be only one universal desire to embrace this Confederation, if they felt satisfied or convinced in their minds that the objects to be gained would be for the improvement of the country and the amelioration of our condition. He (Mr Renouf) had given to that most important question the serious consideration which its vast importance demanded; and calmly and dispassionately considering it on its own merits, and in all its bearings in relation to our necessities, and was now prepared to fearlessly express his opinion before that Assembly and the country, that for Newfoundland to enter the Confederation on the terms proposed by the Resolutions adopted at the Quebec Convention, would not only be politically, commercially, and financially to her disadvantage, but would, in all probability, result in ruin.
Statement showing what Newfoundland would probably lose under Confederation.
|Assetts [sic] of Newfoundland for 1865, as per Financial Statement of Receiver General laid||$492,500|
|Increase of taxation under Canadian Tariff||1,228,627|
|Salaries payable by the General Government||$149,228|
|Interest on debt, allowance for mines and Crown lands, and 8 cents per head on the population of 130,000||369,376|
|Balance against Confederation||2[number missing]2,463|