Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Confederation (1 March 1866)

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Date: 1866-03-01
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 3rd Sess, 1866 at 25-30.
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THURSDAY, March 1.


  • (p. 29)

Mr. Annand said that in anticipation of a discussion upon a highly important subject, he wished to ask the government to lay on the table a comparative Return showing the amount oi revenue derivable under a Canadian Tariff’ for articles chargeable under such a tariff. He intimated that some difficulty might arise in furnishing an exact return, but it would be useful as furnishing information.

Hon. Prov. Secretary said he was entirely ready to afford any information or submit any document in possession of the Government, but he did not understand that he was under any obligation to furnish such a return as that asked. The hon. member asking it had held the office of Financial Secretary and was as well acquainted with all the papers necessary to the compilation as any officer of the Government, and had them as entirely under his control. If such a course were adopted as that required the greatest obstructions would be occasioned. He would submit the request to his colleagues, but it appeared to him at the first blush to be asking for something outside of what it was usual or the government to furnish.

Mr. Annand said he differed from the Provincial Secretary in the remark made to the effect that the papers were as open to him as to the Government. He would remind the House that the papers had not been laid on the table, and no member, therefore, was in a position to prepare such a statement as the one asked for ; he did not see why the Government should shrink from furnishing such information.

Hon. Prov. Secretary said that one very serious objection had been thrown out by the hon. member himself when he intimated that there would be some difficulty in furnishing an accurate return, and that the answer must necessarily be hypothetical. The statement, if prepared, would admit of discussion as to whether it was correct and judicious, as the materials did not exist for giving an entire analysis. It was therefore throwing a scarcely legitimate duty upon the Government, and as to the observation that the necessary papers were not on the table, that difficulty would probably be removed on the following day when his colleague who had taken charge of the Financial Secretary’s department would be prepared to submit the documents furnishing the necessary data. If such a return were furnished, instead of its being what a public document should be-so exact as to command confidence— a great deal of difference of opinion might arise upon its merits.

Mr. Annand replied, that no difficulty had been found in New Brunswick in furnishing this information, and he did not see why the Government should put itself in the position of being confessedly unable to submit documents which the Government of the other Province submitted without hesitation.

Mr. Tobin enquired what the house had to do with the Canadian Tariff. If any gentleman was desirous of addressing the House or the public on the subject of Confederation, and thought he was in a position to draw an argument from that source with advantage, he could go to work and contrast the public documents and the revenue laws, the exportations and the consumptions, without applying to the Government. He did not rise for the purpose of objecting to the Government furnishing the desired information, but he thought it a question which no Government should be bound to answer. This he considered the introduction of the question of a Union of British North America in an indirect manner, and if it were so understood and a discussion were to follow, he could not shrink from expressing the opinion he always held Every man looking at the condition of the British North American Provinces, must come to the conclusion, that they could not long remain in their present position. This was seen and felt in the House, where things had greatly changed in the progress of six or seven years. (Mr. Annand here rose to order.) Mr. Tobin continued, arguing that the object in making the request was to show that a Union with Canada would result in overtaxation, but would the Canadian Tariff be the tariff of the United Provinces? When the men representing all the Colonies met together, they would no doubt frame a new tariff with wisdom. If the Government chose to furnish the information and to employ their clerks in preparing this return it would be their own business, but he thought it could be done as well by any hon. member.

The subject then dropped.

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