“North Ontario Election” The Globe (12 July 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “North Ontario Election”, The Globe [Toronto] (12 July 1864).
Speaking of the contest in North America, the Hamilton Spectator uses the following language :—
“ Much as we have been personally opposed to the Provincial Secretary, we must regret this state of things, knowing as we do that his defeat will break ip the arrangement entered into between Mr. George Brown and the Conservative leaders. We have the most positive assurance that such would be the effect ; hence we trust there are some means left of averting such a disaster as it would unquestionably be. We appeal to out Conservative friends to take warning, and not persist in endangering the compact faithfully entered into, for by it alone can the Province be extracted from the difficulties which now surround it. Under the circumstances Mr. McDougall should be returned for North Ontario, since his defeat would terminate the alliance formed for the purpose of securing good government to the country.”
The point at issue is here out very plainly and forcibly. Coming from a journal so well known for its strong Conservative views, these words ought to be heeded by the thinking men of that party. It will not do to say that Mr. Cameron and his supporters were not consulted at Quebec, and that, therefore, they may do as they please in the matter of the North Ontario election. That does not meet the point. The Conservative party, as represent in the Cabinet and in parliament, did assent to the arraignment which brought the Coalition into existence. One great value of the assent was that it might reasonably be thought to imply that the agreement assented to by the party in Parliment would be acceptable to the voters of the party in the country. If it should turn out that the Conservative electors in the constituencies are not disposed to abide by the decision of the representatives, then one great value which the ratification was understood to possess disappears. If the approach to unanimity which characterized the proceedings at Quebec is not to be had in the country—if there is not to be the same disposition among the election as there was among the members of the House to give the Government full and fair opportunity for perfecting and submitting on their scheme, then are the difficulties in their way very greatly increased. Not only is the prospect of harmonious action and candid discussion so necessary to success very materially lessened, but the chance of arriving at a conclusion satisfactory to the mass of the people be comes in and exceedingly small one.
When there is so much depending upon the preservation of a good understanding between the two contracting parties, it is not too much to ask of those who profess to regard the contrast as patriotic and its purpose a desirable one that they will subordinate their personal hostilities and their personal ambitions to a consideration of the public interest. Having settled in their minds that they are able on public grounds to endorse the recent arrangement they are by that very decision bound to the principle that all personal considerations are entirely overdone by the importance of the purpose which the government has it hand. No man can, with any show of propriety, defend the Ministerial compact upon any other ground that that any lower ground would involve very great laxity in the matter of political morality. If, therefore, we suppose that the Conservative as well as the Liberal supporters of the compact give for their support of that compact the only reason consistent with that […] political honesty, then they are quite debarred from rising the personal issue against Mr. McDougall. They cannot fo it without displaying either an utter want of intelligence or of common candour.
We trust that it is not too late yet for a majority of the Conservatives of North Ontario to heed the warning which the Spectator and other leading Conservative papers give. The crusa[…] against Mr. McDougall, besides being utterly at variance with the terms of the compact, and also a gross injustice to an able man—to a public man who is especially fitted to take part in the important work which the Government had assigned itself. Surely it is not for the gratification of unworthy prejudices that any man having a proper sense of what is due to the country, can consent to take the responsiblity of most seriously embarrassing the great effect for constitutional reform. The intelligent men of the Conservative party in North Ontario, well as others having influence there, sure will not assume that responsibility. They must know that if they do they most seriously endanger the success of the constitutional moment, and run an imminent risk of throwing the country again into the embittered struggles between the two sections. They must know th[…]. Cameron cannot possibly be elected, […] come near to being elected, expect by polli[…] the mass of the Conservative votes in the riding. He cannot fo that without rousing a state of antagonism between the two parties, which will make future harmony a thing exceedingly difficult of attainment. In his opposition to the Provincial Secretary, he not only does what lies in his power to break up the present agreement, but also to render impossible any future co-operation between the two parties for any patriotic object, no matter what it may be. Is expecting too much to look for sufficient patriotism among the Conservatives of North Ontario to secure Province from such a calamity as even Mr. McDougall’s narrow escape would assuredly be at the present time?
The outcry directed against the Provincial Secretary is especially unfair when we recollect that, with the most violent of his detractors the enmity is due to circumstances in the highest degree creditable to mr. McDougall. Had he when a Minister of the Crown been less careful of the public property than he was, he might have found a ready means of earning the gratitude of certain persons who have to the extent of their power aided, if they have indeed not originated, this disgraceful and unreasonable clamour against him. But it is far better for him to have given his official influence in favour of protecting the interests of the country when influential public debtors were concerned, than now to be enjoying the applause of this whom the pursuing of an honest course has mortally offended. When we can trace the attempt to howl down the Provincial Secretary to motives so improper, it would be shameful to allow the outcry against him to weigh fro a moment against the qualities which so especially fit him for a position in a Cabinet formed to mature a measure of constitutional reform. Mr. McDougall is a man of clear, strong intellect—a man whose mind is especially adapted to calm thought and careful enquiry. To high natural abilities of that character, he adds those of a ready and logical debater. He has, moreover, the advantage of having paid close attention to the question of constitutional reform, and to questions of political economy generally. These qualities are too rare among our public men, as they perhaps must be among the public men of any new country ; and it would be the greatest folly to sacrifice their possessor to the ill-will or prejudice of any one—especially at a crisis when changes in the constitutional system of country are contemplated. The country is entitled to the benefit of Mr. McDougall’s most valuable assistance in the maturing of the proposed changes and that consideration alone—even if there were not many others of the strongest kind—should induce every friend of the new arrangement to utterly discountenance be unfair and ungenerous opposition of which the Provincial Secretary is just now the object.