Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings (19 March 1867)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly, 23rd Parl, 4th Sess, 1867 at 25-65.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY DURING THE FOURTH SESSION OF THE TWENTY-THIRD PARLIAMENT OF THE PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1867.
TUESDAY, March 19.
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The House met at 2:30 PM. The adjourned debate was resumed.
Speech of Mr. McLelan.
Mr. McLelan said:—We are told that this debate must be brought to a close this evening, and for those who have opinions to express the time is short. The Provincial Secretary says this haste is imperative, in order that the public business of the country may not be interfered with. The exigencies of the country may now require this, but I ask who produced the circumstances requiring such hasty deliberations and forcing us to decide so important a question in so short a period? We in the country were prepared months ago to come here and discuss this subject and to attend to the ordinary business of the Legislature, but to suit the convenience of certain hon. gentlemen, the meeting of the House has been postponed to such a late period as to require that the most momentous question ever submitted to Parliament should be passed over almost in silence. For that reason we are told that we must limit our remarks to this single point:—the right of the people to be heard upon the question, and to decide on it for themselves. The Provincial Secretary told us yesterday that he felt proud of the position which he occupied on this question—that he felt proud of the improvements in the bill which is soon to come before us, as compared with the resolutions passed at Quebec. I do not see in the position which he occupies anything to warrant such utterances. He told us last session, as he has told us on every occasion, that the Quebec scheme was just and sound in its principles—that it gave to this Province all it had a right to demand; and the hon. gentleman’s colleagues in the delegation reiterated the assertion, and they stated that they were prepared to push that scheme through, and to make it the basis of a Union of the Colonies. If the bill gives us more than that scheme, then whatever it gives in addition is due to us who opposed the measure from its inception If the bill gives us five dollars more, the credit is due to the stern opposition the Anti-Confederates have given the question. The hon. gentleman is in this position: he has told us that the Quebec scheme was just and sound, and he has now come back from England claiming to have got more than justice. If these statements be true, he must have done a dishonest thing to some other people, from […]
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[…] whom he has taken more than he all along declared was just; and surely that is not a position to regard with pride. Turning to the only point we are to be permitted, in the magnanimity of the gentlemen opposite, to discuss—the right of the people to be heard on the question—I would first refer to the taunt made by the Financial Secretary. He said we had brought a case here without a precedent to support us, although we had a whole year to obtain such precedents if they existed. I tell him that I have had an abundance of authorities for the position I have taken—authority which I have not sought in the musty pages of Blackstone, to which the hon gentleman last year referred to sustain his position. I have been reading a nobler page than Blackstone ever wrote—a page which bears the impress and imprint of God himself: I mean ” the human face divine.” I have read the authority which sustains us every day in the year in the faces of my fellow countrymen. Our authority is the look of intelligence on their countenances; I see that in their faces which declares that they have the souls and the reasoning and reflecting powers to enable them to decide on a question affecting them and their posterity as this does.
These men till the soil, engage in commerce and fisheries; they have, by their labours and enterprise given us, under the blessing of Providence, all our prosperity, and I take them as my authority. Fifty thousand of these men are devoting their time and means to learn defence: ready to lay down their lives to protect their country, their homes and their altars. They have during the year paid into the Treasury through the customs, excise and other departments, nearly two millions of dollars of their hard earnings, and I say the men who thus in their persons and property are to be affected by this measure are my authority for saying that they should be allowed to decide the question. It is not only to the copies of this authority that are already abroad that I can refer, but every reprint preparing for circulation confirms that authority. These men are training children; they have sons who will be either taught principles and instilled with feelings that will lead them to rally round the old flag of England, or will lead them beneath a foreign standard to attempt, perhaps, the humiliation of England. When I see that I feel that my authority for maintaining the rights of the people is strong and conclusive, and should be recognised as such by this Legislature. In order to meet the sophistry and destroy the cobwebs which some gentlemen learned in the law are disposed to weave about the question, it is not necessary to labor the argument. I care not how many precedents from Blackstone is brought—I care not if they bring old Blackstone himself from the grave—there is a principle of common sense that would trample them all under foot and proclaim that this right belongs to the people. The very term “responsible government” tells us that the people should decide the question. Responsible to whom? Pass the bill and your responsibility is at an end. Our system of Government implies that you have either had the sanction of the people or intend to return to them for ratification. This bill does not contemplate that you should do that, for the very Act destroys the constitution, and is contrary to the term—Responsible Government. The gentlemen who have spoken on the other side affect to treat lightly the opinion of the people,—but who gave us all our positions? Who sent us here but the people? It is but a few years since they and all of us were portions of the people, and now forsooth, because they are placed in power beyond the control of their constituents they presume to ignore the rights of those who sent them here, and to destroy the hand that lifted them to positions of honor. I can scarcely restrain my feeling within reasonable bounds when I see the determination of gentlemen opposite to ignore the feelings and rights of the people on this question. We are told that the country has not been taken by surprise—that this is no new question, but I maintain that it is an entire surprise. It is true that for many years the subject of a union of British America has been from time to time discussed, but we all know that these discussions were considered more theoretical than practical, and not the least importance was attached to them as being likely to affect the country.
Reference has been made to the action of the Legislature in 1861, when Mr. Howe, whose name has been so frequently mentioned in this discussion, moved a resolution declaring that the subject of Union had been from time to time considered, and that as serious obstacles existed, which could only be removed by consultation of the leading men of all the Colonies, a delegation should be appointed with the view of setting the question at rest. That delegation met, and it resulted in no action being taken by this Legislature or by the people. The delegates no doubt found it impossible to reconcile the conflicting interests existing among the Province, and they made this report, setting it, as a public question, as was believed, at rest. It may be said that Canada was not anxious for Union at that period,—but in 1858 they had asked for it by a despatch signed by Messrs. Cartier and Galt, men who were prominent in the Quebec Conference. That despatch declared that the harmonious working of their constitution had been rendered almost an impossibility, and asking for a Federative Union of the Provinces of British North America on ” grounds peculiar to Canada.”
In 1858, then, you had Canadian ministers expressing a desire for union, and-declaring, through a public despatch that the administration of government had been almost an impossibility in Canada; and when Mr. Howe went in 1861 to set the question at rest, the desire existed on the part of Canada to overcome the difficulties of their system, and to unite with us. Why, then, this being the case, was not the Union accomplished? The language of the resolution is, “by mutual consultation,” implying that there should be mutual concession: and perhaps the main reason why a basis of union was not then arranged was that the Canadians were unwilling to make such concessions as Mr. Howe, in a due regard for the interests of Nova Scotia, believed should be made before we went into any Union—And let me ask here what concessions they have made in the scheme under consideration? It is impossible for the delegates to lay their finger on a single feature in this scheme and say, there is something that has been conceded to us by Canada […]
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[…] as a compensation for the great loss we shall sustain in going into this Union. Then I say that in 1863, when the elections took place, the question, as a public question, had been set at rest, and did not come under consideration at the hustings. Take the speech of the Provincial Secretary in 1864, when he introduced the resolution for a Maritime Union, and you will find that the idea of a Confederation with Canada, whatever he may have said about it in his lecture at St. John, was not entertained by him as being likely to yield any practical result. He says in that speech:—
“The proposal which was made and advocated with such singular ability by my hon. friend the leader of the Government several years ago in this Legislature was for a Legislative Union of the whole British American Provinces. On that occasion the whole subject of a Union of the Colonies was so fully and ably discussed by the leading minds of both sides of the Legislature as to render it unnecessary that any great amount of attention or time should be occupied in going over the grounds which have been so ably detailed. But difficulties have been found—and I may say insuperable difficulties—in grappling with that which so many of the ablest minds in this country have advocated in connection with this subject. The union of the Maritime Provinces with Canada has hitherto presented insurmountable obstacles.
“I believe that to be a question which far transcends in its difficulties the power of any human advocacy to accomplish.”
In 1864, when this gentleman was on the delegation, he declared to the people of Canada that the people of this Province were uninformed on this question. That was a year after the elections had taken place. This was his language as found in that report of his speech published by Mr. Whelen, of P. E. Island, on page 67:—
“Uninformed as the public mind in the Lower Provinces was on this question, the visit and the statements made by the gentlemen connected with the Government of Canada have aroused attention to it,”
Here, then, we have the acknowledgment made, after the election of this House, that the public mind was not awake to it,—not even when this question was about to assume a practical shape; and yet we are now told that the country was not taken by surprise, and in the House of Commons that the subject was discussed at every polling booth.
The Prov. Sec, however, claims that the intelligent sentiment of the country is with him;—if that be true the hon. gentleman’s course is simple and plain,—what objection can he have to presenting this question to the people and saying, “Will you who are to be affected for weal or woe by this measure accept it?” The answer he gives is that party feeling is so high that a fair decision cannot be obtained at the polls, but he has the proof that party feeling will not interfere when he has seen gentlemen from his own side of the House rallying into opposition, and leading gentlemen formerly opposed to him in politics forgetting the ties of party and going to his support. This is the best proof that the question overrides party feeling, and that feeling will not interfere with its just consideration at the polls. The question has assumed such importance that no man should allow party spirit to influence his conduct in opposition to his just convictions. I for one honestly believe the measure to be wrong, and I will cooperate with any man holding this opinion and willing to oppose the scheme from beginning to end. This, I claim, is the only question be fore the country,—all other parties and all other questions are for the time being set completely aside, and the only plank in the platform of the party with which I wish to co-operate is the determination to stop or repeal the measure. Men, to whatever side they may belong, may express various opinions about the present state and proposed organization of the empire, but the only principle which I can recognize is that this thing must be stopped. Because a leading man connected with the Province has chosen to write an article on the state of the empire, the Prov. Sec. has undertaken to say that is our platform, and that we are bound to stand or fall by it—that we are bound to present something in opposition to the scheme which they have submitted. But I tell him we possessed a satisfactory system of government before this scheme was brought here. Let me now say a word or two respecting the Organization of the Empire. It has been time and again stated and acknowledged that the weakest portion of the British Empire is B. N. America, and we, placed alongside so powerful a neighbour see and feel the truth of the statement. When last night this subject was touched, my imagination pictured the horrors of a war between England and America with Nova Scotia for the battle ground as it would be. The picture presented I cannot find language to describe, nor can the most vivid imagination truly paint the desolation which would come upon us should the demon of war drive his horrid ploughshares over this fair Province. The very graves of our fathers would be uprooted and their cherished dust scattered to the winds. Every man sees and feels, moreover, that the chances of war with us are greatly increased by our connection with the mother country. Yet still if treated as men, permitted to enjoy legitimate rights, the British feeling within us will lead us to maintain at all hazards, our allegiance and our connection with Old England, and to contribute our all; if it comes upon us, to give new triumphs to British arms and new lustre to British fame. Placed in this position—the weakest of the Empire—what does Mr. Howe propose? Simply, to strengthen and protect the weak point by bringing to our aid all the might and power of two hundred and fifty millions of British subjects; whilst the delegates would bring at most but thirty millions to the help of a people perhaps divided in sentiment, or as we verily believe leave us to the protection of this new nationality alone. As was said here last evening Nova Scotia must belong to some great naval power. We are so situated that a gunboat can shell almost any part of our territory, and not only the treasures of coal and minerals we have within call for protection, but our commerce without; our ships on every sea demand it; and yet this scheme which is being forced upon us will leave us only to the protection of Canada. What! leave us only under the protection of Canada? What absurdity: Why, sir, it could not protect one of our potato shallops Put one in the harbour and bring to its protection the whole navy of Canada, and there is hardly a fifth rate naval power in the world but would consider it alight task to take possession of the boat and perhaps pelt its defenders to death with the cargo. And then as to the protection of […]
[…] our fisheries against the Americans—it is simply preposterous. They could not protect a smoked herring in Digby, much less alive codfish or a school of mackerel sporting along our coast. And feeling the force of these facts and the importance of our position, we are told that in declining to form this connection and set up shop in this new concern in company with Canada, we are disloyal; and all through the story these gentlemen have been preaching to us about loyalty. They rightly estimated, to a great extent, the feelings of the country when they played upon that word. They have from the outset labored to make us believe that the measure was forced on us by the mother country in order that the feelings ot attachment and the desire to yield to the wishes of the parent state might lead us to favor the connection, and time and again we have been accused of disloyalty in declining to go into this copartnership.
I may be here pardoned for referring to the fact that the history of Canada has shown that her people have not always paid due respect to the British flag. No such charge, however, could be made against our people, and it would seem, from the despatches which have been made public during the discussion of this question, that the statesmen of England felt a security so long as we remained loyal and were not tampered with by the Canadians. It seems that on the. 27th of January, 1860, the Duke of Newcastle sent a. despatch marked “confidential,” in which he commanded that no delegates should be sent to confer with other Provinces without permission from the Home Government. or without the occasion of their conference first being stated to him. So far, then, from the British Government forcing the union upon us, our Government were obliged to obtain permission before these gentlemen could go upon the delegation. The Lieut. Governor says, in a despatch dated the 18th July:—
“It seems proper that l should call your attention to the despatch of the 27th January, 1860, marked ‘confidential,’ addressed to my predecessor by his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. In that despatch his Grace, whilst apparently expressing no disapproval of the discussion of such a question as that which is now imminent, concludes with the following instruction: ‘Previous to sending delegates to Quebec or elsewhere, such a proposal should not be authorized by yourself without previous communication with the Secretary of State. in order that the question of the delegates and the instructions to be given them may be known beforehand to Her Majesty’s Government.’ “
We have in the public despatches the clearest proof that the question originated with the delegates themselves: they churned up the whole matter in order to butter the fingers of a few leading politicians; and having done so, they tell us we are disloyal because we are unwilling to adopt it. We refuse rather because we feel that our loyalty might be affected by the connection. Canada has been, within the recollection of men around me, twice in open insurrection, and within a few years there has appeared a manifesto declaring that annexation to the United States was the only remedy for the political evils of the country. That manifesto was signed by many public men who have since occupied prominent positions in her Parliament and Government; and yet we are called disloyal because we refuse to join with her. I ask gentlemen around me—men of family, who have perhaps daughters whose beauty, whose accomplishments and virtue is their just pride, and whose fair name they would at all hazards maintain,—I ask them what they would say if such a daughter was publicly charged with a want of modesty and virtue for no better reason than a refusal to share the bed of one twice taken in adultery—one who declared publicly (as in that manifesto) a determination to again play the harlot? I tell the hon, gentleman that if there be any disloyalty in the question, or any show of disloyalty, he and his friends have given it. We have been told that Mr. Howe and the other people’s delegates are disloyal because they referred to the temptations to annexation, in the case which they placed before the British Parliament. Is there any disloyalty in telling the whole truth? Was it not the duty of these gentlemen, as public men writing a letter to Imperial statesmen, to present all the features of the question? When the Financial Secretary gave that taunt, did he forget that that distinguished statesman Lord Durham, in his report to Her Majesty on the state of these Provinces, took the very same course? Earl Durham came out, and examined and understood the whole case of the Canadas; he saw the position of the country, and does not seem to think he makes himself amenable to the charge of disloyalty in stating the whole truth, and in drawing attention to the contrast which exists on the two sides of the boundary line. Lord Durham says:—
“Throughout the course of the preceding pares I have constantly had occasion to refer to this contrast. l have not hesitated to do so though no man’s just pride in his country and firm attachment to its institutions can be more deeply shocked by the. mortifying admission of inferiority. But I should ill discharge my duty to Your Majesty—I should give but an imperfect view of the real condition of these Provinces—were I to detail mere statistical facts, without describing the feelings which they generate in those who observe them daily, and daily experience their influence on their own fortunes. The contrast which I have described is the theme of every traveller who visits these countries and who observes on one side of the line the abundance. and on the other the scarcity of every sign of material prosperity which thriving agriculture and flourishing cities indicate, and of civilization, which schools and churches testify, even to the outward senses
“It cannot be denied indeed that the continuance of the many practical grievances which I have described as subjects of complaint, and, above all, the determined resistance to such a system of responsible government as gives the people a real control over its own destinies, have, together with the irritation caused by the late insurrection, induced a large portion of the population to look with envy at. the material prosperity of their neighbours in the United States under a free and eminently responsible government. and in despair of obtaining such benefits under their present institutions, to desire the adoption of a Republican constitution. or even an incorporation into the American Union.”
Here this statesman tells her Majesty that very strong temptations to annexation existed, which can only be counteracted by giving to them (the Canadians) the control of their own institutions and revenues. He puts this in stronger and clearer terms than those used by Mr. Howe and his associates? and I have yet to learn that Earl Durham was for this ever charged with a want of loyalty. Mr. Howe, after having presented the case, and exhibited the temptationt [sic] which exist to annexation provided our rights are overridden […]
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[…] and disregarded, says that if we are left undisturbed and with the control of our revenues there will be no thoughts of annexation. Listen to this conclusion:—
“We have thus, my lord, simply stated the case as presented to us by General Banks and the Quebec Confederation. With all the temptations offered us at Washington, we ask simply to be let alone, or we ask to be folded to our mother’s bosom, and not cast out into the wilderness of untried experiments and political speculation. Nova Scotia says to England, as Ruth said to Naomi, ‘ Where you go we will go; your people shall be our people.’ This love and affection spring from a thousand sources that we need not linger to describe, but which it would he a fatal mistake to suppose can ever be transferred. You cannot endorse our hearts or our allegiance over to the Canadians as you would a note of hand.”
These were the sentiments offered by Mr. Howe, and for which the Financial Secretary undertakes to make the charge of disloyalty. I only wish that there were more men in the British Empire who gave as true and firm allegiance to the Crown as Joseph Howe. I wish Nova Scotia had more sons occupying the exalted position in which he stands, and as mindful of her interests. In all his actions and speeches the interest of the Provinces appears uppermost, and one cannot but be reminded of the Persian ambassador who took with him to France a turf dug from the soil of his own land, to which every morning be paid religious salutation, so that he might bear throughout the day the recollection of his country, and labor for her advantage. So is it with Mr. Howe; he seems ever to have with him a recollection of his country and her interests, while other politicians go on delegations or embassies, engage in exhaustive festivities and in salutations to the products of other countries forget the interests of their own.
We are told that we are disloyal on account of our allies, of some expression made by public men in the neighboring States in connection with this matter. You will remember that at at [sic] the period of the Canadian insurrection a large amount of sympathy was manifected [sic] by the people of the United States with the Canadas, and what does Earl Durham tell us in his report as the reason why that sympathy was drawn towards the Canadians? Was the belief that there was a desire to violate the constitution of the country, and to take from the Provinces the control of their revenues? He thinks that was sufficient cause for the people who had taken so much pride in their war of independence to bestow their sympathy, and it may be that the people on that side of the line look on this measure as an attempt to take from the people of this colony their constitution, and to deprive them of the control of their measures without their consent. But, because these people live on that side of the line are they the less able to judge of the merits of the question?
I hold, as I have said, if there be any disloyalty in the matter it is on the part of those who here and elsewhere are attempting to force on us this scheme of Confederation, and are thereby weakening the Empire and endangering our connection with England. I need hardly remind the house of the term which these gentlemen have used: we are to form a “new nation,” the Confederation is to be a “new nationality,” and these terms imply that it is to be separate and distinct from the mother country. I turn back to the debate on the Canadian Militia Bill in 1863, and there I find one of the Ministry, Mr. McGee declaring that he favored connection with Britain merely that Canada might have time to grow and strengthen and obtain the Maritime element—” to give Canada and the other provinces time to be linked together, and become a great united nation.” Here is the declaration of one of the Canadian Ministry, and again you have the Prov Sec declaring in the following language that the object of promoting union was to effect a change in the system of Government. At a public dinner at Quebec he used this language—”When it is understood that the object of this meeting of delegates is to ascertain whether the time has not come when a more useful system of government can be devised for these British American Provinces, I need not say its importance is one which it is impossible to overestimate. ” Again—” As was observed by Mr. Cartier, great as is your country, large as is your population, inexhaustible as are your resources, the maritime provinces have something to give you equally essential to the formation of a great nation.”
Hon. Pro Sec.—Go on—the more the better.
Mr. McLelan—Yes, the more the better, provided the people of this country desired to change their system of government, and, if it were possible, to make of these disjointed provinces stretching along almost the whole length of a continent, a united and prosperous nation. If the provinces, laid side by side as one with one interest, extending over the whole from a common centre, you might talk of forming a nation, and say ” the more the better,” but you are in this attempting physical impossibilities, and will only bring into conflict separate and distinct interests, which can only be worked harmoniously from England or some other independent centre. Let me just say to the hon. gentleman—”That which God hath put asunder let no man attempt to join.”
But Mr. Archibald seems also to have aspirations after a new nationality, I find him using this language in Canada, ” Nova Scotia came not asking Canada to accept her, but she told Canada that with the magnificent back country of the latter, and her territory and wealth and her desire to become a great nation, Nova Scotia had a frontier and resources of which she need not be ashamed; but if she enjoyed as she did, all the advantages and freedom of responsible institutions, why was she desirous to change her relations? The time had arrived when we were about to assume the position of a great nation, and such being the case we should not shrink from its responsibilities.” I tell him that Nova Scotia was not ” desirous to change her relations;” her people regard our relations with the Mother Country with just pride,—and the gentlemen who give utterance to such sentiments and express such desires are not exactly the men to taunt us with disloyalty. Mr. McCully also on a subsequent festive occasion talks of furnishing the maritime element for a new nation.
But if we are chargeable with disloyalty because of our allies, what of the allies of the […]
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[…] hon. delegates? The hon. member for South Colchester in a. letter to his fellow-countrymen, claimed to have allies in the United States—allies reflecting his opinions. and among them he named the New York Albion. What does that paper say a few weeks after when speaking of the formation of a nation independent of Great Britain.
“We favor and even warmly advocate Confederation with a view to the ultimate realization of these cherished anticipations.”
And in another number the same paper says—
“The colonists. unaccustomed to national responsibilities. have been slow to move in the direction so plainly suggested, namely that of a separate national existence entirely independent of the mother country. But, finally aroused to the absolute necessity of action in this direction, A scheme with this end in view has been proposed and very generally accepted. Led by the stronger member of the Provincial Family, the Confederation of all the Provinces. we are happy to say, is now very near an actual realization.”
Another of their allies (the London Standard) referring to the means tried to carry out the scheme. declares that it endangers the relations of the Mother Country—and quotes Mr. Oliphant as authority to say that no genuine effort was made by the Government to secure a renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty, without which Confederation could not have been secured, and adds the attempt to dragoon the Provinces into Confederation is dangerous to the relations of the Colonies with the Mother Country. I may add this gentleman is not alone in the opinion that no genuine effort was made to secure the renewal of the treaty,—Mr. Brown withdrew from the Canadian Government, dissenting from his colleagues mainly on account of the inefficiency of the policy pursued to effect the end in view.
I feel that I have already occupied more time than belongs to me, but let me say before I resume my seat, that the events of the last few months-within the last few weeks—should operate, as a powerful influence on the members of the House and on the people of the country. We have been told time and again that the British Government were anxious to have the scheme carried out, and were making its adoption one of the conditions on which our defence should be continued; but although a large number of statesmen may be desirous, from mistaken views of the question, to have this union formed, yet there is justice and manliness enough in them to induce them to say on all occasions that they will not coerce us into it. They are telling us and have told us, that they are omitting Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island from the measure, because nothing can deceive them into the belief that the people of those Provinces are favorable to union. The Provincial Secretary said that Lord Carnarvon asked whom he was to accept as authorities on this question, it not the men who conducted the Government; and he (Prov. Secy.) having claimed that a majority of the people were in favor of union, goes to the Colonial Office and states it for a fact, The Colonial Secretary decides that he must accept the statement as authoritative, and having obtained a majority in the Legislature, the measure received the support of the Imperial Government; but these who support it in the British Parliament [sic] say, all through their speeches, that if the people are unwilling, it should not be forced upon them. The men who know what the feelings of this country are, and who know that there is no desire on the art of the British Government to coerce us, should now, with this opportunity given, pay deference and respect to the wishes of the people. The Prov. Sec. tells us that the man would be an idiot who would dissolve Parliament as long as he could command a majority. If that doctrine were carried out, it would be found one of the most tyrannical and monstrous that could be uttered: men have lost their heads for putting in practice doctrines less obnoxious. Does he mean that so long as a man can by any means, however corrupt, command a majority in Parliament, he may do what he pleases with the people and their property? No such doctrine can be maintained: there must be some limit, and the men whom the people have sent here to transact their business, and to go back to them with an account of their stewardship, should consider that this question affects the people and their posterity, and they should not assume the unnecessary responsibility of passing-it without their instructions, lest, when the evils of this union are realized, they live to be perpetually reproached for their action—live to be told that, members of Parliament though they were, they had no more right to force this measure upon their countrymen than they will have to enter Heaven with so great a crime against the manhood of Nova Scotia unrepented of.
Speech of Mr. Archibald.
Mr. Archibald said:—I confess to some embarrassment in addressing the House at this moment. My. hon. friend has delivered to us a most impassioned harangue. Not content with giving us his views in the most emphatic manner—not content with announcing that no good will come in this world to those of Confederate faith—he goes on further, and in his closing sentences shuts us out from any hopes of happiness: in the world to come. (Laughter.) Is it any wonder that I should feel a little embarrassed in rising to speak after being thus formally excluded from everlasting bliss. (Renewed laughter.)
One thing at all events I shall not aim at. I shall not attempt to soar to the heights my hon. friend has reached. I feel that these, lofty flights are beyond me—that my province is the more prosaic one of common sense—and I shall assume that after the House has recovered its self-possession, it will be disposed to listen to something that, if it does not appeal to their imaginations—at all events does to their intelligence and their judgment.
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I regret that it was not my good fortune to be present at the earlier part of the discussion. I have not had the opportunity of hearing the learned mover of the amendment put his case before the House—neither have I had the satisfaction of hearing the answer given to it by the Provincial Secretary. All that I can gather as to the line of argument pursued by these gentlemen is what I can infer from the tenor of the speeches of my hon. friend, and one or two of those gentlemen who have preceded him—and therefore in what I have to say, I may be repeating what has already been said to the House, in which case I trust they will forgive me, as I may be misapprehending the views propounded by gentlemen on the other side—and if I do I shall be glad to be put right, as I proceed.
Now, sir, as I understand the question before the House, the resolution affirms the doctrine that all great questions ought to be first deliberately reviewed by a Legislature and then submitted to the polls before the Legislature is in a position to deal with them. This is the doctrine which the learned mover calls on the House to sanction by a deliberate vote.
Now, sir, this question has been before the public since 1864. It is a question touching a fundamental doctrine of the British Constitution. How are we to ascertain what is, or what is not constitutional? Is it not by examining practice and precedents of that august assembly on which our own is modelled? Is it not by consulting those writers on constitutional history who expound and develop the principles of which these precedents and practices are the illustrations? In the adjoining library are the records of the House of Commons since the earliest history of the empire. They are open to every gentleman who wishes to inform himself, and doubtless have been resorted to for the purpose. There will be found every incident in the long history of legislation in the mother country. Can the learned mover of this resolution point out, in that vast treasury of constitutional usages, a single precedent for the doctrine he undertakes to preach? Or does he ask us to believe that, in these latter days, a new light has dawned on him, and that it is our duty to accept the fresh revelation?
I think I may safely conclude from the speech of my hon. friend who has just sat down, that the mover of this resolution has been able to quote no authority for his views. When find my hon. friend deserting the records and the books—when I find he cannot quote even a text writer in his favour—when I find him driven to say that he has no other authority for his doctrine than the expression of the faces of the people in his neighborhood—I ask myself if he thinks so poorly of the intelligence of this house as to suppose they will accept such an authority or a constitutional doctrine. My hon. friend’s reasoning would be in place in a farce.
Mr. S. Campbell—It is a tragedy.
Mr. Archibald—Then it is a very comical kind of tragedy. Let my hon. friend address our reason or our judgement—let him quote authority or precedent. Let him give the opinions of lawyers, of historians, of philosophers, or of statesmen, and I listen to him with deference. But when he talks of measuring the length and the breadth of the faces of his neighbours, and asks us to accept that as an argument, can he wonder that I consider such reasoning as bordering on farce. But my hon. friend has good grounds for not resorting to authority or precedent; they are all the other way. The idea of a legislature having no power to decide except upon questions that have been sent to the polls for the opinion of the people is entirely un-English. A doctrine to that extent as never been propounded even in the republican institutions of our neighbours, but so far as there is any foundation at all for such a doctrine, it is republican and American as opposed to British and constitutional principles. Do I wish the house to take my unsupported assertion on this subject? No.
Let me turn to one or two British authorities on this subject. Hallam devoted a large portion of his life to the study of constitutional questions. He is accepted as an authority of great weight on these subjects. The learned member for Guysborough will admit that his authority is entitled to great deference. What does he say? In speaking of the Septennial Act passed in 1717, Hallam says:—
“Nothing can be more extravagant than what is sometimes confidently pretended by the ignorant, that the Legislature exceeded its rights by this enactment, or, if that cannot be legally advanced, that it at least violated the trust of the people and broke in upon the ancient constitution.”
Now, what was the character of that act? A Parliament had been elected in 1715, under a law which gave it a duration of three years. Under that law it would have expired in 1718; yet in the year before its expiration a bill was brought in and became law which extended it to 1722, giving it a duration more than double that for which it had been elected. Surely, if ever there was an act which illustrates the power of Parliament, this was one. They were elected for a term, and before that term was completed, without any appeal to the people, […]
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[…] they step in and double, and more than double, the term for which they had been elected; and that act, so passed, has continued ever since and is the law of the land at this moment in England. I could quote Blackstone and Coke, and other legal writers, coinciding in these views with Mr. Hallam; but let me ask your attention to the declarations of British statesmen on this subject. Surely, if any two men could be found in the long line of British public men who more than others could be considered practical statesmen, these men are Mr. Pitt and Sir Robert Peel—the men who guided the destinies of England in times of great peril, and whose reputations are a source of pride to the country to which they belonged. During Mr. Pitt’s administration, some gentlemen in opposition propounded the doctrine which is embodied in the resolution now before the House. Mr. Pitt took issue upon the doctrine in these emphatic words:—
“This point, sir, is of so much importance that I think I ought not to suffer the opportunity to pass without illustrating more fully what I mean. lf this principle of the incompetency of Parliament to the decision of the measure be admitted, or if it be contended that Parliament has no legitimate authority to discuss and decide upon it, you will be driven to the necessity of recognizing a principle the most dangerous that can ever be adopted in any civilized state—I mean the principle that Parliament cannot adopt any measure new in its nature and of great importance without appealing to the constituent and delegating authority for direction. If that doctrine be true, look to what an extent it will carry you. If such an argument could be set up and maintained, you acted without legislative authority when you created the representation of the Principality of Wales or of either of the Counties Palatine of England. Every law that Parliament ever made without that appeal—either as to its own frame and constitution, as to the qualification of the electors or the elected, as to the great and fundamental point of the succession to the Crown – was a breach of treaty and an act or usurpation.”
“What must be said by those who have at any time been friends to any plan of Parliamentary Reform, and particularly such as have been most recently brought forward either in Great Britain or Ireland. Whatever may have been thought of the propriety of the measure, I never heard any doubt of the competency of Parliament to consider and discuss it. Yet I defy any man to maintain the principle of those plans without contending that, as a member of Parliament, he possesses a right to concur in disfranchising those who sent him to Parliament, and to select others by whom he was not elected in their stead. I am sure that no sufficient distinction in point of principle can be successfully maintained for a single moment, nor should I deem it necessary to dwell on this point in the manner that I do, were I not convinced that it is connected in part with all these false and dangerous notions on the subject of government which have lately becomes to prevalent in the world.”
In 1846 Sir Robert Peel was called upon to deal with the question of the Corn Law, in a Parliament which had been elected in 1841. The subject of this law had been before the people at the elections, and, as far as the returns indicated, the people had sustained the law. Yet Sir Robert Peel had no hesitation, in the very teeth of this verdict, of introducing a bill which he felt was required by the circumstances of the country, and when taunted with the position he had assumed, he adopted and approved the doctrine of his predecessor in words equally emphatic:—
“That, I think would have been a dangerous precedent’ for a minister to admit that the existing Legislature was incompetent to the entertainment of any question. That is a precedent which I would not establish. Whatever may have been the circumstances that may have taken place at an election, I never would sanction the view that any House of Commons is incompetent to entertain a measure that is necessary to the well-being of the community. If you were to admit that doctrine, you would shake the foundation on which many of the best laws are placed.”
When, therefore, I find the philosopher in his closet, and the statesman in the cabinet, combined to reject the doctrine propounded in this Resolution, as unsuited to the genius of the British constitution—when I find the opposite doctrine proclaimed and acted on—when I find a parliament elected for three years extending its life to seven—when I find a parliament excluding from one of its branches at one time the entire body of bishops—when I find even the succession to the throne changed from one dynasty to another—and all these acts of sovereignty performed without any pretences that Parliament had no right to do them without first appealing to the polls, I ask myself on what grounds the mover of this resolution can expect this house to declare as a fundamental doctrine of the constitution, one entirely alien to its genius and character—no man knows better than himself that it is so.
Now, sir, while I entirely contest the doctrine of my hon. friend as to the necessity of appealing to the people, I do not pretend to say that the responsibility which devolves upon a member of this House is not one which should be exercised with great discretion.
Mr. Campbell:—Hear, hear.
Mr. Archibald.—I am glad to find this sentiment meet with the approval of the hon. member. But when he cheers my declaration that the question is one of discretion he gives up his whole case. He admits, as the member for Halifax admitted, that the house had the full power and right, and that the only question for consideration is this: Is the measure submitted to the house of such a character as to challenge approval? Is the change proposed to be made, demanded by the circumstances in which we are placed? Is it a measure which will contribute, to the real welfare of the people? On this ground I am prepared to meet him, and on this ground the battle should be fought.
Before adverting to some of the arguments of the member for East Halifax, I must notice one or two observations of my hon. friend from Londonderry.
The hon. gentleman has referred to a speech of mine made in Canada, and has quoted an observation in it in reference to the change of relations which Confederation would make, with a view to create the impression that I contemplated a change in our connection with the Mother Country. But surely my hon. friend could hardly wish me to suppose he could misunderstand the purport of these observations. The change to which I referred was in our relations to each other. The relations of the Confederated Provinces to the […]
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[…] Mother Country will be the same, ay more intimate and secure, than those which the separate Provinces now hold to her.
I don’t know that I fully comprehend the purport of my hon friend’s quotation from the Standard, but I understood it to be a censure upon the British Government for allowing the Reciprocity Treaty to drop, with a view to create a feeling in favour of Confederation, and that no effort was made on their part or on the part of Canada to renew it. I am surprised at such a statement being quoted in this house, where the facts are so well known. The treaty was not dropped by Great Britain; it was terminated by the positive act of the United States; and so far from Canada not having exerted herself to obtain a renewal of it, her public men went further with that object than the people of this country could defend. They were willing to enter into arrangements not secured by treaty, but dependent upon reciprocal legislation; and I consider it as fortunate, and I believe the people of this country consider it fortunate, that we escaped a position which was one of degrading subservience to the caprices of American legislators. I apprehend that if there was a mistake at all in these negociations, it was on the part of the British Government and on the part of the Canadians to exhibit an anxiety for the renewal of the treaty so great that the authorities of the Union were led to believe we could not exist without it, and, that to keep us without it would dragoon us into a closer connection with themselves. We have lived and we have prospered without it, and having shewn the United States that their trade, however important it may be, is not indispensable to us, we have laid the foundation for a renewal of the treaty upon equitable and fair terms.
My hon. friend seems to have a great horror of a future national existence. I should like to ask him what he looks forward to in the future. Does he imagine that for all time to come these Provinces, which in 20 years hence will count 8 millions of people, and which within the life-time of many now born, will comprise a population larger than that of the British Isles; does he suppose that this enormous population is for all time to come to be governed from Downing street? Eighty years ago a country with a population less than we now possess, irritated at what it considered oppressive exactions on the part of the Mother Country, asserted and achieved its independence. That country has added to its population in a century more than England has since the Norman conquest. Does my hon friend imagine that by any possibility these States could have continued to this moment dependencies upon the country, from which they sprung. No sir; there is an infancy and a youth and a maturity in nations as there is in men, and while I yield to no man in my desire to retain the connection which we have with the Parent State, while I trust and hope that the day may be far distant when the ties that unite us may be severed, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that in the future—however distant that future may be—we shall have to assume the responsibilities of a separate national existence. When that. time shall come, it is the interest of Great Britain as it is our interest, that we should enter up and youth. on this change of position with institutions adapted to the new attitude we shall have to assume. That we should be able to continue as the friend and ally of England, the existence which we began as her dependency. And that we should illustrate in the affectionate attachment we shall bear to the parent state, the result of the liberal and generous treatment which she has dealt out to us in our infancy
I have asserted that I do not consider it constitutionally necessary to send this question to the polls. I do not mean to assert that it would not be exceedingly desirable to know the opinion of the people on the subject. But I can see no certain way of ascertaining that opinion. If this were the only subject upon which the people were asked to express their views, their verdict might be considered as an answer: but if there were an election to-morrow, and if the present Government should be overthrown by the result, who is to analyze this result—who is to define what portion of the vote is against Confederation—what portion against the school system—how much of the result may be due to personal or political unpopularity. entirely independent of this question.
But I am at a loss to understand the arguments of the hon. member for East Halifax. He asks in one breath for an appeal to the people, and in another sneers at it as useless. In Nova Scotia there is no appeal—the act of the Legislature is with him the act of a tyrannical majority. In New Brunswick there is an appeal—and the verdict passed at the polls with him the result of corruption. Thirty-three men are returned in favor of Confederation to eight against it. If any verdict could be considered to express the unmistakable convictions of the people this would be it, and yet the hon. gentleman treats it with contempt! He says he will not. stay to inquire how this result was effected. This is not a hasty expression in the heat of debate. The hon. member has put his hand to this slander of the people of New Brunswick in a solemn document subscribed by him in London, addressed to the Earl of Carnarvon. In referring to the first decision in New Brunswick adverse to Confederation he says:—
“On the methods by which that decision was reversed it is painful for a lover of freedom to dwell; but Your Lordship is aware that in Jeffreys time many a jury were induced to reverse their decision when threatened and brow-beaten by the court.”
What does this mysterious allusion mean? Has the hon. gentleman any distinct idea in his own mind what he does mean? One thing is very certain—it is impossible to please him. We have to choose between the tyranny of a majority and the tyranny of a Jeffreys. If we carry the Confederation in the Legislature, no language is to strong to express his disapproval; if we carry it by an appeal to people, my honorable friend has such a holy horror of the result, that he will not stay to inquire how it was brought about. My honorable friend from Halifax has a great dread of corruption. A gentleman of high position in Canada—a man who stands perhaps second to none on this continent for personal character and integrity—a gentleman who had been for many long years the friend and political ally of the hon. member, undertook a year ago to compliment him upon his talents, and to suggest the propriety […]
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[…] of his applying them on a broader field, and forthwith the hon. member comes down here and informs the house that an attack had been made on his virgin purity, but that he had manfully resisted the assailant. Now he tells us, establish this and you will have played in the Confederation, by the Government of the United States, the same game that they have been playing in Mexico. Now, sir. does it not occur to him that, if the United States have a game of this kind to play, they could not take a hand at any time more effectively than at this moment? It is their game to keep us isolated and apart—to foment jealousies between the different colonies—to separate them by hostile tariffs-to induce the public men of one colony to slander and abuse those of another—to suggest the advantages of American connection, and to foretell to the people of this country that in ten years they will have a President-and be under the Stars and Stripes. I say that if the American Government have money to spend for the purpose to which the hon. Member refers, and have the sagacity for which he gives them credit, is it too much to suppose that at they may take a deep interest in what is going on at this moment? The hon member undertakes to say that Confederation will weaken us. Is that the doctrine proclaimed by his allies in the United States? Mr. Banks has lately taken a great interest in our affairs; he has introduced into Congress a bill to provide for our admission into the United States. The advantages which this bill offers us are spoken of in very favorable terms by the representatives in England of the Anti-Confederates. Mr. Banks has studied the question from his own point of view. Let us see what he thinks of Confederation. In speaking to a resolution recently introduced by him into Congress, he said:—
“A Bill had recently come before the House of Lords in England contemplating the establishment of an empire in the British North American Provinces, which might hereafter surpass in power that of England herself, or might equal that of the United States. or, as has been wall said by its mover, might be second only to that of Russia. The Legislature of Maine. more interested in the movement than any other State, had through its Committee on Federal relations, made a report adverse to that project which report he would ask to have read to the House. The stage into which that bill had passed in the House of Lords was the most important of any of the stages through which bills pass as all its fundamental principles were in consideration. He did not doubt that the people of this country would look with intense solicitude upon the progress of this great movement in the British Provinces, which contemplated the establishment of an empire, formed on monarchial principles. so framed as to control public opinion. and which could not fait to have in the future a material if not a controlling influence and power over the affairs of the American Continent.”
Can anybody misunderstand this? Mr. Banks has the sagacity to perceive that Confederation is to confirm and establish our position on this continent. He sees that the true policy of. the United States—as indicated by the report of the Maine Committee on Federal Relations—is to do just what the hon. member for Halifax is doing; and nobody will deplore the hon. gentleman’s failure more than those of his American allies who have the sagacity to see how much his success would promote the interests and the policy of the United States.
Is there any gentleman in this House that supposes Mr. Banks would assume this position—would protest against Confederation—would ask his government to interfere impertinently in matters with which they have nothing to do—if he believed, as the member for Halifax asks this House to believe, that in ten years Confederation will place us under the American flag. If Mr. Banks thought this, instead of protesting against Confederation, he would do all he could to encourage it—instead of aiding the hon. member in his efforts at isolation he would cheer on us who take the opposite view as his friends and allies.
But the hon member has called the attention of the house to the pecuniary disadvantages under which we shall enter the Union. He says that since 1863 the revenue of Nova Scotia has increased $351,822 a year, and still all we get back under the arrangements recently agreed to in London in addition to that which was secured for us by the Quebec scheme is $60,000 a year. The financial arguments addressed to to [sic] this house can hardly impose upon the members, and are probably not intended to have that effect.
I have not time this morning to verify the hon. gentleman’s figures as to the increase of the revenue of Nova Scotia. I will assume that he is correct. But if Nova Scotia has gone ahead, have the other Provinces stood still? In 1863 the revenue of Canada was $9 760,316 In 1866 it was $12,432 748. so that while our revenue has increased by $351 822, that of Canada has increased by $2 662,432
Even our weaker sister, New Brunswick, has increased in equal proportion. Her revenue in in 1863 was…………$0 899 991
While in 1866 it was……..1,212,021
Which shows an increase of…….$312,030
So that great as has been the increase of our Province, and we may well be proud of the evidence it affords of our country’s prosperity, the increase of Canada and New Brunswick has been quite equal to our own.
But not only do their revenues bear to ours a fair proportionate increase, but both Canada and New Brunswick. shew a larger comparative surplus, There remains to the credit of Nova Scotia, after meeting the expenditure of the year. a surplus of $60,000, while that of New Brunswick is $122.000, a quantity twice as much, and that of Canada, after paying the extraordinary disbursements connected with the Fenian invasion, is $710,000, or over ten times that of Nova Scotia.
But what becomes of our $351,000? Why, it goes into the same chest with the 2 1/2 millions of Canada—with the one third of a million of New Brunswick. It goes to make a common purse for common objects, and we have the same right to our fair share of that contribution, after it goes in as we should have had if it had never gone there.
Not only shall we have a right, but we shall be in a position to assert that right. Nothing […]
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[…] can be more inconsistent and contradictory than the arguments we meet with on this point. One set of men undertakes to tell us that we are victims to the political necessities of the Canadians. It is said that two great counties were separated by dissensions so incurable—by antagonisms so permanent, that finding it impossible any longer to carry on Responsible Government they came down and asked us to join them to get them out of their difficulty. Then another set of men say that the representatives of the Maritime Provinces are a mere handful. What can 34 representatives do in an assembly of 181? We are at the mercy of the Canadians who can do with us just what they think fit. These views can’t both be true, and yet they are urged by people in almost the same breath. The hon. member for Halifax adopts one of them when he tells us that we have been wheedled by the Canadians into this Union; he adopts the other when he tells us that we are surrendering our funds hopelessly to the Federal treasury.
Sir, there are strong grounds of difference between the people of the two Canadas. They differ in race, in language, in religion. Upper Canada is mainly Protestant—Lower Canada mainly Catholic. Upper Canada is Anglo-Saxon—Lower Canada chiefly French. You have therefore differences permanent in their nature, and such as to create the elements of opposing parties. In religion, in origin, and in laws we have interests and feelings in common with the people of the West, whilst our geographical position, our commercial pursuits, our industries, largely identify us with the people of East. We are therefore in a position in which we may legitimately choose between the two political parties that divide Canada—that one which we shall consider the best exponent of those principles which are for the interest of our own people and of the people of the whole Confederacy. Need we fear that in Confederation the party which shall be supported by the Maritime Provinces—which shall owe its power very largely to their adhesion—will be in a position to refuse to the Provinces whose aid is so essential to them any fair advantage which they are entitled to ask? No, sir, I have no fears on that point. If there is any portion of the Confederacy which may be in a position to ask more than its fair share from the public funds, that portion is not either of the Canadas,—and we may rest assured that the Maritime Provinces will receive, as they will be in a position to demand, the most ample justice. More than what is fair and right, it would be a reflection on our character to suppose we should ask. Less then that, it would be a reflection on our patriotism, if we did not obtain.
Now, sir, let us see if this is not the actual state of this question. At the present moment the people of the two sections are courting our allegiance. The grounds upon which the people of Upper Canada seek it are explained in the daily press. In the Quebec Chronicle of the 8th inst., in the leader of that paper it is said:—
“Beyond the Province and in the General Parliament our course is a clear one. First of all we must form alliances which will tend to strengthen and protect us in our local relations; and secondly, our interests, commercial as well as political, will lead us to co-operate with those whose interests are the same as our own. The Maritime Provinces have been to us a sort of terra incognita, as we have been to them the result in both instances of paralysis of enterprise which is a marvel to foreigners, and can only be explained by the narrowing influence of provincial isolation. We are glad to observe some faint symptoms of recovery from this abject condition, the glimmering of an idea that we have neighbors with whom it may be desirable to hold communication by the great highway which Providence has given us for nothing, as well as by that other highway which we are about to build at the expense of twenty million dollars. These neighbors, who will count for one third under the new political system, are our natural allies. All our interests are the same. Whatever act of general legislation benefits or injures them, will have a like effect on us. Our great staple interests are the same, namely lumbering, and maritime, and we have a common interest with them in promoting a system of government which shall maintain the authority of the general Legislature with respect to matters, which if left under local control, are apt to be managed in a way most detrimental to the commercial interests of the country. Our motives for forming such an alliance are of the most practical kind, as reflection may suggest, and as we shall more fully explain. They are motives which do not exclusively pertain to the English section. French and English are equally concerned, seeing it is commercial interests that are chiefly at stake.”
With these views actuating the people of the East—with an equal desire for our support influencing the people of the West, is there a man in this house or in this country, who does not believe that we shall exercise in the general Legislature a just and fair influence, or who does believe that any part of the Federation will be in a position to oppress or injure us.
But I understood the hon. member to say that all the advantage we gain from the London agreement over that made at Quebec is $60 000 a year. This is not the fact. By the original agreement a subsidy of 80 cents a head was to be granted to each Province of the Federation, but that subsidy was based on the population as it existed at the time of the census of 1861. Many persons have thought it was an injudicious arrangement to restrict the subsidy to the population of that year, and that it would have been better to allow it to increase until the population was ascertained at each decennial census. There are, however, good reasons why that should not be so, and whether these reasons are valid or not the arrangement as agreed upon was not unfavorable to this Province. The population of Canada West increases much more rapidly than our own. Suppose it to double in 20 years from 1861—that Province will then receive but 40 cents a head. The addition to our population in the same period may be 50 per cent, and in that case man for man we should receive a considerably larger amount than Canada. By the arrangement at London this is still further increased in our favor. The subsidy, as regards the Canadas, still remains based on the population of 1861, while as regards the Maritime Provinces it increases with their population until it reaches 400,000. As regards Nova Scotia our rate of increase during […]
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[…] the last decade was over 2 per cent. per annum This will give us in 1833; a population of 400,000. In other words, it entitles us to 80 cents ahead on the additional 70,000 increase of population.
|This amounts to||$56,000|
|We have a special grant of||60,000|
|We have also transferred to the Federal Government the support the Penitentiary, which costs us||16,000|
|And pensions to the extent of||2,000|
|The new arrangement therefore gives us||$134,000|
a year in addition to the amount we agreed for at Quebec.
This is a large sum annually added to the means placed at the disposal of the Local Legislature. This addition may well justify the support the gentlemen who may have thought the Quebec scheme defective in that particular. There was not one of your delegates who was not anxious to obtain for the Province the most favourable terms in his power; and it is but fair to the representatives of the larger Province to say that they met us in a spirit of generous consideration for the wants, and even to some extent, for the prejudices of this Province.
We are told that the change is not for the better. A different line of argument is adopted in Canada. Will the house listen to what Mr. Brown, the editor of the Globe, and late President of the Council, says on, the subject:—
“It appears that the delegates have agreed to increase the grants to all the Local Governments and that not on the just principle of population adopted at Quebec, but in a manner totally irrational and most unjust to Upper Canada. In addition to the eighty cents per head distributed as already shown, the delegates have agreed that the following annual agents shall be paid permanently from the Federal chest:—
|To Upper Canada||$80,000|
|To Lower Canada||70 000|
|To Nova Scotia||60 000|
|To New Brunswick||50,000|
Had this sum of $260,000 been distributed according to the population, as given by the census of 1861, it would give as follows:—
|Lower Canada||93 513|
“The whole grant for local purposes under the scheme as amended will now be as follows :—
|Lower Canada||959 253|
“These grants, at the estimated population of the several Provinces on the 1st or January, 1867, give the following rates of grant. per head:—
|Upper Canada||1,802,056||60 cts.|
|Lower Canada||1,288,880||74 “|
|Nova Scotia||8,781||88 “|
|New Brunswick||295,084||110 “|
“Nothing could be more scandalously unjust to Upper Canada than this.
The second departure from the Quebec Scheme is that, until Prince Edward Island comes into the Union, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick shall have between them the four seats in the Upper Chamber, that the Island was to have had. The distribution will now he as follows:—
|Nova Scotia and New Brunswick||663,884||24|
“There is nothing to palliate this change. Under the Quebec Scheme the injustice to Upper Canada was marked enough. but to add to it in this manner was totally indefensible. Why, the three Provinces of Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick united have but 150,689 people more than Upper Canada and yet they are to have 48 Legislative Councillors and Upper Canada but 24. Every Upper Canada Councillor will thus represent 75,083 people, while the average of all the rest will be but 40,782. The thing is utterly unfair.”
In a subsequent paper the editor returns to the charge. He says.
“Now mark the justice of this precious arrangement. The Quebec scheme gave precisely eighty cents per head to each Province, according to its population in 1861, and (leaving out in both cases the special ten-year subsiding to New Brunswick) here is what our wise-acres in London have changed the arrangement to:
To Upper Canada, 85 1/2 cents per head.
To Lower Canada, 88 1/4 cents per head.
To Nova Scotia, $1.19 cents per head!
To New Brunswick, $1.47 cents per head!!
“And let it not be forgotten that the Quebec scheme was framed in 1864, shortly after the census returns of 1861 had been printed, and the delegates took the census as the basis of the arrangement. But nearly three years have passed away since then, and the relative numbers of the several Provinces are greatly altered. According to the present estimated population of the several Provinces, the annual subsides are to be distributed by the Imperial Act in the following most unjust fashion:
|Upper Canada||1,802,056||66 cents|
|Lower Canada||1,288,880||74 cents|
|Nova Scotia||368,81||107 cents|
|New Brunswick||295,084||125 cents|
“The thing is so preposterously unjust that we are amazed how any one could have had the audacity to propose it, much less the folly to concede it.”
Now, sir, add to the $134,000 which we have have [sic] obtained by the new arrangement, $264,000 we had before, and we have the sum of $398,000, which, with the revenues of our mines and Crown lands, constitutes the fund at the disposal of the local Legislature. With this revenue we shall be able to provide in a creditable manner for every local want.
If anybody had undertaken to say a few years ago, when the revenue of the country was insufﬁcient to meet the ordinary demands upon it, at a time when we had only ninety miles of railway, and when to meet the emergency we were obliged to raise our advalorem duties 2 1/2 per cent, that we should be able by an additional 2 1/2 per cent. to secure the construction of a railroad to Pictou at a cost of over two millions of dollars; to extend the railway from Windsor to Annapolis; to secure the great international highway for which we have been struggling for the last twenty years; and that with all these secured to our people, we should be in a position to give a road grant equal to that which we gave when we went to our elections in 1863; to devote to education a sum nearly three times that which we granted to it in that year,—is there a member of this Legislature who would not […]
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[…] have felt happy if he could have been sure such prediction would be accomplished, who would not have felt that such a position is one he should be proud to occupy? And yet we are gravely told that with all these advantages secured to us, the country is ruined. If this be ruin, we might agree to be ruined every day of the week.
It is difficult to understand exactly what views the hon. member for Halifax holds as to the ” Organization of the Empire.” At one time he talks of it as if it was not his scheme—but in the next breath he tells us his idea is, that this Province should be treated as Kent or Surrey or any other English county, and be entitled to have the privileges and be subject to the burdens of the Empire.
Suppose it were, it would according to its population be entitled to about the same number of representatives in the Imperial Parliament which the anti-Confederates had in England at the recent session. I will assume that it could not furnish three abler or better men. Those three gentlemen have spent nine months in the single object of endeavouring to enlighten the members of Parliament on the subject of their mission. They deluged them with pamphlets and communications and had, we suppose, a very considerable number of personal interviews with leading statesmen. Yet what does the hon. member himself say was the result? Why that so little could these three gentlemen—with all their talents and assiduity—interest the Parliament of England in the object of their mission, that when the destinies of this country were to be disposed of in the House of Lords, he says that only nine peers could be found to listen to the proceedings—and in the House of Commons the most unaccountable ignorance of the whole question was exhibited. And yet it is to a Parliament exhibiting such carelessness and ignorance that the hon. member and his friend in London would be willing to entrust the dearest rights of the people of this country.
But there is one feature of the hon. member’s argument that would surprise me—if anything coming from him now could give me surprise. Be says we have not received a guarantee for a sufficient sum to build the Intercolonial Railway. Three millions of pounds, he says, is too small a sum, it will only land you in the wilderness with a road unfinished—and he gives as the foundation of his assertion his belief in a survey made by Mr. Fleming.
Will it be believed that not two months ago this same gentleman subscribed his name to a sole document submitted to Lord Carnarvon in which he makes a statement directly opposite? Then he supposed the delegates were asking for four millions of pounds on the basis of Mr. Fleming’s report. He forthwith stigmatizes the report by which he now professes to be guided as “a most imperfect Canadian survey,” and intimates that four million pounds is far too much.
There is something in this document so curious that I can’t refrain from calling the attention of the House to it:—
“The framers of the Quebec scheme expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go down to Parliament and ask for an advance of £4 000 000 for the construction of this road. Mr. Gladstone promised but £8 000,000.”
Mark this. The hon. member charges us that we have secured an advance of £8,000,000 only, and yet he himself hurries to point out to Lord Carnarvon that £3,000,000 was the limit of the Imperial pledge. He warns Lord Carnarvon not to go beyond that sum, and yet he has the assurance to come here and blame us for not getting more. But that is not all. Let me go on with this precious document:—
“The sum has been increased one-third on the faith of a most imperfect Canadian survey, with which Her Majesty’s Government, that is to give the money, or the Maritime Provinces which are to pay the interest, have had nothing whatever to do. Four millions of money would build 16 iron-clads, or would furnish a million of breech loaders, which distributed over the Empire, would greatly strengthen it in every part. Is it likely that Parliament will vote such a sum unless the case be clear. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may be reasonably expected to prove—
- That a large sum is actually required.
- That the security of a sinking fund, which Mr. Gladstone demanded, but which Canada refused in 1862, is to be given.
- That the interest is to be paid in fair proportions by the three provinces, and not by the Maritime provinces alone.
- That Canada is so secure from invasion that the money will not be lost even should she be ever so honestly disposed to repay it.
- That so large a sum may not, in the altered circumstances which we have to face, be very much better employed in the defence of the whole empire, than in giving facilities to a province which may be utterly unable to repay the money, or to protect the road when it is built.”
Sir. I have read the whole of this document that the House and the country may understand what these gentlemen who style themselves the “People’s Delegates” have been doing in England. Not content with warning the Chancellor of the Exchequer to confine himself within the limits of the original pledge, they do all they can to show that it is unsafe to go even that far. They urge that the money might be better spent elsewhere; and they do what they can to disparage and discredit the character and reputation of the country.
Well, Mr. Speaker, when we call to mind the addresses we have so often heard from one of these gentlemen on the floors of this House on the subject of the Intercolonial Railway—when we remember the fervid eloquence with which he described the value of such a road in open up the resources of the great country behind us and in constituting a means of defence—when we recollect the letters which in 1862 the same gentleman addressed to the Secretary for the Colonies, pointing out the enormous saving in time of war which would result from the construction of this great work—and then read the document to which the House has just listened, it is difficult to believe that both are the productions of the same hand. But bad as as all this is, it is almost worse to come here as the hon. member does, and after using every effort to prevent us getting any advance at all, charge on us as an offence that we have not secured something more. If we have got an advance, it has been in spite of all that […]
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[…] he and Mr. Howe could do to prevent it. If we have secured the Intercolonial Railroad, it is because all the efforts of these gentlemen to disparage and discredit us in the opinion of English statesmen have been powerless.
But, Sir, if little attention was paid to this question in the Imperial Parliament, it was not because that body was indifferent to the measure, but because there was no member of it who felt an interest in the success of these Colonies who was not persuaded that this measure would promote that success. Any opposition that was offered came from gentlemen who were never friends of the Colonies and who only speak of them as a burden and incumbrance to the parent country.
I am able to bear testimony—and I am glad to do so—to the patriotic and statesmanlike views of the noble Marquis who formerly presided over the government of this Province. If there was any gentleman in either branch of the Imperial Parliament who might be supposed inclined to yield a favorable ear to Mr. Howe’s suggestions, that person was the Marquis of Normanby. While he was governor of Nova Scotia, Mr. Howe was for years his Prime Minister, and enjoyed largely his confidence; but the noble lord, in an emergency in which his fellow Peers might be supposed to defer largely to his local information and experience rose superior to any personal ties between him and his former minister and friend, and warmly advocated this measure as one that was essential to our prosperity and safety.
I believe that is only by means of Confederation that we can prevent our Provinces from being absorbed in the American Union. I have more faith in the opinions of the ally of the hon. member for East Halifax than I have in his own. I believe that by the establishment of a large country on this continent, within which labor shall be free and untaxed, we shall present a field for industry which will contrast most favourably with that other field alongside of us in which labor is pressed down by enormous taxation. See how that contrast is already apparent in certain branches of business. In a report to Congress made by the Secretary to the Treasury, no longer ago than December last, he dwells upon the condition of the shipping interest of the United States. “Twenty years ago,” he says, “it was anticipated that ere this the United States would be the first naval power in the world.” Up to the time when the war interfered with their industry and taxes crippled their resources, this anticipation was being realized. In five years, however, that interest has enormously declined. The United States tonnage employed in their foreign trade in 1860 was 6 millions. In five years it fell to 3 millions; while during the same period the tonnage of foreign vessels employed in that trade has run up from 2,363,000 to 4,410,000 tons.
Is it any wonder that this should be the case when on one side of the boundary line a ton of shipping costs $100, while it only costs $50 on the other. Cheap ships, cheaply manned and sailed, will continue to absorb more and more of the foreign trade of the United States. Within their own borders, where they enjoy the monopoly of the coasting trade, they may impose upon industry the burden of enormous freights, but where they come into competition with the foreigner, they must compete with cheap ships or quit the trade.
As it is with shipping, so it will be with other industries, and the new Confederation may look forward to a future in which the growth and increase of every industrial pursuit will bring into play the vast and varied resources which are scattered profusely over the country.
A brilliant prospect is before us, and when we shall have become a country with our sister colonies in the West, and have fairly entered on our new course, I believe there will be nothing at which some of those who now view the prospect with timidity or apprehension will be more amazed than at the recollection of the doubts and fears that they honestly entertained at this crisis of our history. The men who sit around these benches have a deep stake in the country. They represent not only the intelligence and public spirit—but they fairly represent the wealth and prosperity of the country. If in what they are now about to do they mistake the true interests of the country, they will themselves be the sufferers from the mistake. But there is a feeling dearer to a public man than any considerations of a material interest. It is the desire to enjoy the esteem and respect of those among whom his life is to be spent. If in the course we are now taking, we have misapprehended the true interests of the country, if it shall turn out that the Confederation we advocate shall be what its opponents declare it will, we shall pay the penalty of our rash act by a life long exclusion from the esteem and respect of our fellow countrymen [sic]. But, if it be otherwise—and if it shall turn out that we saw what was not only for the interests and prosperity, but what was absolutely necessary for the safety of the people, then we shall see that we have done right to fix our eyes steadily on what was for the permanent benefit of our common country, and to pursue it regardless of the temporary passions and prejudices which may beset us.
The house resumed at 7.20.
Hon. Prov. Secretary said that the public mind had been somewhat excited by a rumor that, by a despatch from the war authorities, the works upon our fortifications had been ordered to be discontinued. He had not given credit to the rumor, because on the last day of his stay in London he had, as one of a deputation, called on H. R. H. the Duke of Cambridge and the Minister of War, and those noblemen had evinced extreme satisfaction at the great exertions made by the people of the colonies, and the admirable spirit displayed by their Legislatures in connection with the subject of defence. The deputation had been assured that the Imperial war authorities would feel warranted in asking for an increase of the aid usually granted for colonial protection. On […]
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[…] hearing the rumor referred to he had put himself in communication [sic] with the Lieutenant Governor, and was now in a position to state that the despatch causing this surmise had only reference to one of the fortifications, in which some alterations were contemplated.
The adjourned debate was resumed.
Speech of Hon. Mr. Shannon.
Hon. Mr. Shannon said:—It is rather the turn of gentlemen opposite to take up the argument, but as no one appears ready to speak on that side I would like to say a few words on this question. I have been so much pleased during yesterday and to-day in listening to the statements made by gentlemen connected with the delegations, that I could have remained here for hours listening to their speeches, and have been satisfied if I heard nothing more. But I happen to be one of those to whom the epithet “dumb dogs” was applied last year. The debate on that occasion had continued to so late an hour of the evening, that I did not think it advisable to say anything, but I found shortly afterwards that the Morning Chronicle referred to me as one of those who had been expected to deliver my sentiments but had not done so. And Mr. Howe also, in his addresses in the country, referred to what he called the indecent haste with which the resolutions were carried, stating that some of those who had been expected to speak had not uttered a word. I thought that my sentiments on this subject had been too well known to require that I should say a word, and I do not feel that I can add anything of value to what has already been uttered; but I am willing to say a few words to show that I am still as strongly in favor of this great measure as ever. This is not the first time that I have spoken in favour of Union. As long ago as 1861 my vote was pledged to its support. Mr. Howe, the then Premier, in that year came down with a resolution which received the sanction of the house. On a subsequent occasion, 1863, when we were debating the question of the Intercolonial Railway, though my views differed somewhat from the then Government as to the mode in which the guarantee should be raised, thinking that our Province had been asked to pay too much, still I was in favor of the railroad, and when Mr. Howe detailed in such eloquent terms the prospects rising before us, and when the hon. member for Yarmouth was so carried away as to be willing to vote for the Picteu railway. I then made a few remarks referring to the Intercolonial line as uniting all the Provinces, and expressing the hope that it would give birth to that new nationality of which gentlemen opposite have shown themselves to be so afraid. I then referred to my experience in the old country where colonists were treated with indifference, and I said then as I feel now that if we had a larger field we would not be treated with such contempt on the other side of the Atlantic. Again, in 1864, when the Provincial Secretary moved the resolution in reference to the delegation to Prince Edward Island, I endeavored to express clearly my view on the question, expressing my regret that matters were not in progress for the larger Union. In 1865, when the matter was again before us, I delivered my sentiments as well as I was able and at length, so that I need not have been charged last year with want of deference to the house, or with want of expression in my opinions.
As I have already said, I feel as strongly upon this question as I ever did, and am determined to support the clause in the speech and to oppose the amendment. And now what are the arguments which have been advanced? First of all, it is said that the gentlemen who were sent on the delegation exceeded their authority. After the debates of last year in which the most frantic appeals were made to members not to support the resolution for the delegation, because the action of the House would bind the people and their posterity forever, and on the resolution being carried, after Mr. Howe had used the same language throughout the country. I supposed that it would be fully understood that the action of the House was final: and I was much surprised to hear gentlemen making use of such an argument on this occasion. Then the hon. member spoke of the tyrannical mode in which the measure had been carried out. and said he could find no precedent for it until he went back to the history of ancient Rome, and compared the act of that Legislature to which we must all how to the tyranny of Nero. I think that such a remark, made among subjects of Her Majesty, in reference to such a Parliament might have been spared; and I may here ask if it has not been shown that every pains were taken, on the part of those opposed to the measure, to make members of the British Parliament acquainted with the whole subject? We see that in the House of Lords the matter was carefully debated. It has been said that on the third reading, when some discussion had arisen, a number of Peers went away; but we all know what the third reading of a bill is; we all know that the principle is discussed on the second reading, and on the second reading of this bill the House was fuller than it had been for a long time before. And was there not one present who was well acquainted with Nova Scotia? If there was one who might have been expected to lend his assistance to Mr. Howe and the so called people’s delegates, it would have been our former Lieut-Governor, who was so much attached to his old Premier; but I do not think a better speech could have been given in favour of the bill than that which Lord Normanby uttered. He well knew how parties ran in this country; he understood the whole organization of society here, and knew that this measure was calculated to advance the best interests of the Province. What did that nobleman say to those gentlemen who professed to represent the people? He had some knowledge of petitions, and had come to the conclusion that they were principally the expression of the opinions of those gentlemen who got them up. I am somewhat acquainted with the petitions which came from my own constituency; I am aware that there are a number of mercantile men in the city opposed to Confederation. and they put their names to the petition as a matter of course; but […]
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[…] when those opposed to the measure went into the interior of the western part of the county, the number of signatures was small indeed. Although every effort was made, and men were hired to go down and obtain the names even of boys, whole sections refused to sign. Lord Normanby must have told Mr. Howe that it was no use to come before Parliament with such petitions, when a. great public measure was under consideration.
The main point upon which the amendment is being pressed is that an appeal should be made to the people. I need not trouble the House with many arguments upon the constitutional question, because that has been ably handled by gentlemen who preceded me, and because the member for East Halifax has. to a great extent, given up the point in admitting the precedents. Mr. Archibald showed that when the British Parliament found it necessary to change the arrangements connected with the succession to the Crown and to bring in a new dynasty—when those noble men who guarded the rights of the country, and were determined to get rid of the Stuart family, had induced Parliament to adopt their views; there was no appeal to the people, although the leading men in the movement knew that their action might be made a ground of impeachment There was a Union consummated in the history of England to which I may refer, although it is not; exactly a precedent. I refer to the union of Scotland with England. It was hardly to be expected in that case that the lesser nation would have concurred. We all know the spirit of Scotchmen—how the ancestors of the men of that day had, with their backs to the unconquerable highlands and their faces to the foe, repelled the English invader on every occasion—and the same spirit led them to oppose the union with England. They feared, as our opponents profess to do, that the smaller state would he swamped by the greater—but what was the result? From that day Scotland went on in the path of improvement, and Scotchmen could take their place with Englishmen in any part of the world. One gentleman some time ago styled the Scotch a race of paupers, but if they were. they found their way down to rich England, and wherever there was an outlet for intellect or industry Scotchmen were to be found availing themselves of the noble education which they had received and of the opportunities of advancement which appeared. From the date of the union there has. not been a ministry in England in which Scotland has been unrepresented. When the East Indies were opened to enterprise Scotchmen predominated there; and at the present day Scotland is one of the most prosperous parts of Great Britain. This is, to some extent, a parallel case with ours excepting that we will have far greater influence in the United Parliament and a higher position in every respect; and I feel that the result will be in our case still more satisfactory. If we look at what an appeal to the people really is, we will see that it is not in all cases satisfactory. There were two such appeals in New Bruns wick. and the one neutralised the other. Who could tell which exhibited the real feeling of the people? In ancient history there is an instance in which an individual appealed from his sovereign drunk to the same authority sober. When was New Brunswick sober? Was it when the Frenchmen were told that they were to be sent to Canada, and the most inflammatory appeals made? Or was it when the real enemy was gathering on the frontier. and the people saw it was necessary to be no longer isolated? Then came the strong English feeling and the strong desire to maintain British connection, and the result was that a majority was returned in favour of Union. I would hardly ask, in reference to the great leader of the Opposition to Union, when he was in his sober senses, but I would ask when he was exercising his best judgment? Was it when, on former occasions, he spoke so eloquently in favour of Union—when he said he wished to visit Canada every year; or was it when, a disappointed man, no longer Premier—disappointed even in going to Quebec, when others, to use a common phrase, had stolen his thunder, he. endeavored to arose hostility to all his former teachings? We have had read to us a state paper. called the case of the people, and setting forth the sentiments of Mr. Howe and his colleagues. Can it be possible that this patriot, who was once willing to pledge our revenues to any extent to build the Intercolonial Railway, after his ambition was disappointed, was unwilling that we should receive that boon? I was trained to consider Mr. Howe an able man, but not one whom it was safe to follow; and I cannot see how those who have been accustomed formerly almost to idolize him could now follow his teachings . As regards the prospects held out to us by Union, perhaps it is hardly right to bring them before this House on the present question, but the subject has been gone into and one of the delegates gave us a financial view of the matter.
The hon. member for East Halifax told us that it was impossible to remain as we are, and he expressed his preference to see Nova Scotia as a county of England, like Kent or Surrey. I would agree to a large extent with that if it were possible, but we know well what the reslt [sic] would be. We would be obliged to bear our share of the burdens falling upon us as portions of the Brittsh [sic] Empire, and neither the gentlemen com: posing this Legislature nor the community outside would be willing to enter into such a union. It would utterly pro trate all our energies to ‘,be placed under such a burden as that would cause, But the hon. gentleman went further, and said; that if we could not become an integral part of the Empire. rather than go to Canada, he would prefer Annexation to the “United States”. I should like the people to understand this sentiment as I cannot think that they have made up their minds to such an alternative. I think. they would prefer the advantages of Confederation to all the temptations held out by Mr. Banks It is common for the proprietors of newspapers in the United States on the eve of elections to […]
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[…] put at the head of their columns the motto and flag which represent their sentiments. I would advise the hon. gentleman to put at the head of his paper the motto; “The United States rather than Canada,” and to hoist the Stars and Stripes as his banner and let the people know what the true issue is: Canada or the United States I am for Canada. In connection with this subject I may say that the only thing which I regret is the name by which the United Provinces are to be designated. I would have preferred the name British America. I feel convinced that under Confederation we are to have such advantages that even gentlemen opposed to it will have to acknowledge as Scotchmen afterwards did in relation to the union with England, that it was the making of the country. I see no ground for the assertion that we are to lose our liberties,—our laws will be as well administered as ever,—the local legislatures will have sufficient funds to meet the local exigencies, and we will enjoy every privilege which we had before. I am convinced that in this respect our people will hardly know the difference.
One of my constituents said to me the other day, “What about this Confederation?” I said to him, “You live in the country; you will get up in the morning and attend to your work; the same money will be expended on the roads and bridges, your children will be educated, and you will never know the difference, except when you bring your wares to market you will get a double price for them.” Mr. Bourinot told us the other day what Confederation would do for Cape Breton—that the people of that island will have markets they never had before, and justice will be done to Cape Breton. I believe the statement, and further, next to the county of Halifax, I believe that the county of Pictou will receive the largest benefit What is the case in that county? I have been the instrument, to some small extent already in bringing Canadian capital into that county and I believe its towns will be the scenes of busy industry. New Glasgow may have its tall factory chimneys, and be the Birmingham of the future Confederation. And what about Halifax and the great railway? I have only to read Mr. Howe’s speeches for a description of what we are to have then. You may take any of the labouring men upon the streets of our city, and you will find that they understand the benefits that are to ensue,—men who came here with no capital but their industry, and who have acquired a competency among us—men whose children are being educated for any position to which they may aspire, and who are willing to exert themselves to increase the prosperity of the country. And as to our young men, what great advantages will not they receive? The hon. member for Londonderry said he wished that we should remain as we are. I think we cannot do so, neither politically nor socially. Does he not know that, notwithstanding our progress, there is a constant depletion of our population owing to our young men leaving us—that they are abandoning their country and going to the United States, and that we cannot retain them until Confederation is accomplished? I mentioned on a former occasion the number of Nova Scotians who had left us, probably never to return. I want to stop this, and to try to get some of our exiles back, and I think we can do it in no other way. Even those among us who have acquired fortunes and desire to keep their means to themselves will find that their securities will be far more valuable hereafter than now. Having made these remarks from a feeling that I should not allow the opportunity to pass in silence, I will now resume my seat.
Speech of Mr. Coffin.
Mr. Coffin said:—I did not intend to make any remarks upon this subject, but there are two or three matters upon which I wish to make a few observations; The hon. gentleman who just spoke referred to New Brunswick as having had two elections before the consummation of this measure; the only thing we are complaining of is that our government are passing upon it without giving the people an opportunity of considering it at the polls; for I contend that previous to the last election no mention of the question was made to the electors. When the delegates returned from Quebec the leading men of New Brunswick finding that they could not command a majority in the Legislature, dissolved the House and appealed to the people, when a large majority was returned against them. Subsequently a majority was returned in their favour, but the people of that Province have no reason to complain. In Nova Scotia the case was quite different,—the delegates, although the majority was against them, had not the manliness to go to the country. We only ask that the measure may be postponed till the proper time arrives for an election. If the measure were not then sustained it might at some future period be ratified by the people and could then be carried by their consent. As it is, you are depriving the people of their constitution without allowing them to speak for themselves;—you are saying to them, ‘ you are not fit to judge, we will take away your privileges and consign you to the care of other men without asking your opinion.” This makes the people go into the new government dissatisfied.
It has been stated here that Mr. Watkins told the House of Commons that the question had been before thc people, and had been preached at every hustings throughout Nova Scotia,—coming from such authority the statement was no doubt believed. I need scarcely ask whether the statement was true or not. But I must say I felt relieved at hearing it. I thought it a most arbitrary act on the part of the Imperial Parliament to pass the bill without giving us the privilege of being heard, but this piece of information throws new light on the proceeding. I know not whether this information was given by the […]
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[…] delegates or not—that is for them to say, and the responsibility rests on them. It has been said that the delegates obtained better terms for Nova Scotia at the recent Conference than were allowed, us before,—if such be the case the Opposition are entitled to the credit; if there had been no opposition we would have had the Quebec scheme. That scheme, however, allowed us certain privileges which we do not now possess. We were to have been allowed to raise a revenue by some other means than direct taxation, and that privilege has been taken from us. Last winter we had before us bill. which was to have put our mining, operations in such; a position that we would lose the power from that time of levying a tax on coal, but it was a hard bill to get through the House. its passage was not accomplished; but the delegates have effected the same purpose in the conference at the other side of the water. In this connection I could not help thinking of another bill pressed upon us last year by Mr. Archibald; the bill to .impose an income tax. The friends of this bill were likewise unsuccessful. but perhaps they mean to accomplish their purpose by leaving us without sufficient revenue to carry on the local departments. and by taking from us all other means of obtaining a supply for the treasury. As regards the allowance to be made to us by the general government it is true some advantage has been gained. But the day is not far distant when we may have a population of 400,000, and that population will go on increasing until bye-and-bye it will reach double that number, and yet we will receive no more money.
It may be said that in this respect Nova Scotia is served as the other Provinces are; but I think it would have been wise to have arranged a sliding scale, whereby the revenues could be raised in accordance with the increasing necessity. We will find the arrangement a poor one indeed when our people number 800,000 or 1,000,000 and have so paltry a sum out of which to meet the public wants. One of the delegates gave us this afternoon some observations upon the prosperity of Nova Scotia as regards her shipping, and the decrease of that of the United States. We know that from the beginning of the war the shipping of that country decreased not only from privateering, but by vessels being transferred to the British flag. I do not think that in the statistics that were given allowance was made for the shipping under the flags of foreign nations that will go back as soon as circumstances are favorable. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I think that the prosperity of the American marine is not so small as it would seem. It is true that we can build two ships in Nova Scotia for one in the United States, but one of their ships when built is worth, two of ours. Taking, everything into consideration, I think it is apparent that the Union will be consummated—that we are to try a new state of things; but as I have already said, I feel relieved at hearing that the British Parliament acted under false information, and I am convinced that if the truth had been known an opportunity would have been allowed us of saying whether we consented or not to unite our fortunes with those of the other Provinces.
Speech of Mr. Tobin.
Mr. Tobin said:—I have so often spoken on on [sic] this question that I feel it is quite unnecessary for me to address the House to-night at any great length. It will be remembered that when this subject was under discussion during the last session of the legislature I was so indisposed that on the last night when the division was taken I was scarcely able to utter a word. While that subject was under discussion. neither the leader of the government nor any supporter of the government knew which way I was going to vote. I have advocated, however this Union since I first entered public life. Indeed I have advocated it even before I had the honour of a seat in this House. I believe that I was mainly instrumental to the bringing forward of the resolution which was moved by Mr. Howe in. 1861. At public meetings in this city, in Windsor, in Kentville, in Truro I have addressed large audiences, and received from them the kindest attention. After a fair discussion of this question, I have invariably found. the people of this country in favour of Union. On every occasion when I came before the electors of the city of Halifax and of the Western division, I advocated a Union of the British American Provinces. ‘I have been sustained at three elections—at two by large majorities. and at the lost without opposition. So far as I am personally concerned I assume all the responsibility of my position, and I advocate this Union because I believe it is for the best interests of British America. I believe that the time has come when we must enter on a new state of political relations with each other. Look at this House, today are we not actually bursting our shell? Is there room for the hon. gentlemen who come here from the different counties? See how the desks are crowded into the lobby. Therefore, I say, we have outgrown our condition. and require expansion, We must do like the Massachusetts man: when the village becomes too large he emigrates to the West. We must look to the great West which opens and cultivate trade and intercourse with its people.
We are taunted with endeavoring to take away the privileges of the people, and transfer them to Canada. What is the fact? We give 19,000 square miles, and get in return 400,000 square miles; If we transfer our revenue to Canada, shall we not have a share in her revenue? All the revenues of the Provinces are to be put into a common treasury for the benefit of all. Each county of Nova Scotia now contributes to, and gets a share of the treasury of Nova. Scotia. In the same way each Province will contribute to, and obtain a share of the general treasury of the Confederacy. What is the first object to which. our common funds are contribute? It is the Intercolonial Railway, which is going to bring the whole of the great West immediately into connection with us—to distribute merchandize from one end of the Confederacy to the other. Let me turn your attention in another direction. Who are the men in this house who have voted to refer this question to the British Government?
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Let me just look across the floor, and whom do I see? An hon. gentleman representing the great agricultural county of Kings—representing in himself wealth, intelligence, and ability. Let me look at Annapolis, and I find two members of that fine agricultural county also in favor of union. When I cast my eye down the list, I see gentlemen representing the great coal as well as the fishing interests of this province, all of them arrayed in support of this great measure of progress. I find that only two counties, through their representatives, voted unanimously against the resolution of last winter. I confess that at one time, in order to put down agitation on this question, my judgment inclined me to go to the polls; but when I come to look at the position of things in this house, I feel I would be worse than the infallible juryman if 1 expected to bring over thirty gentlemen to my opinion.
I have listened attentively to the arguments offered to the house since the debate commenced, and especially to those advanced by my hon. friend the member for East Halifax, who was one of the “People’s Delegates,” in company with a gentleman whose talents I admire and for whom I entertain the highest respect. What view did that hon. member present of the constitutional aspect of this question? I think that the pleasant time he spent in Kew Garden and Bushy Park, or perhaps the omnibuses rolling down Piccadilly, must have driven all arguments out of his head. I think that my hon. friend might have availed himself of the opportunities within his reach in the great English metropolis, and searched out some precedents and authority for the course he wishes us to pursue. As respects my hon friend from Yarmouth, he is true to his text. He has always been opposed to railways and all measures of progress; in point of fact, he thinks Yarmouth the hub of the Province, and that we should always be tied to the old stage coach and move to the musical notes of the wooden axle. Now I think that the time has come to give up such antiquated notions; and I hope and trust the gentlemen who will be sent to represent the people at Ottawa—if that is the seat of government—will reflect the intelligence and ability of the country, and be in every way qualified to promote its best interests.
There was another question to which my hon. friend alluded, and that was the “Organization of the Empire” according to the programme issued by Mr. Howe. However highly I value that gentleman’s opinion-however much I may esteem him I cannot help believing that it is a scheme of an entirely impracticable character. Such is the opinion, indeed, of every public man and publicist everywhere who has given the subject the least consideration
If there is one section of this Province more likely than another to be benefited by this Confederation, it is the city of Halifax. This must be the emporium. whence will be distributed over the Confederacy all the merchandize brought is to our shores. Trade must be developed to an infinite degree, labour will be developed, in fact all classes and interests will receive a valuable impulse. Our port will be filled with shipping. and our wharves and warehouses groan with the merchandize that will be required for the Confederation. I never could understand how certain persons in Halifax have opposed the scheme of Union. Perhaps I may stand almost alone in the profession to which I belong. There are, a great many intelligent merchants I know opposed to it, but I cannot understand the reasons that influence them. No man is infallible, and some may not, take that broad and generous view of questions which men in a different position of life can and do take on subjects of this kind. There is another question to which I have often referred, and that is, the position of our young men. What is there to excite ambition among our young men in the existing condition or things? The avenues to employment are narrow and confined. I regret to say that I know of many young men belonging to the respective professions whose energies are paralyzed for want of sufficient employment, and of those objects of ambition which are open to them in other countries.
An allusion having been made to the franchise law, I must say that that was an act passed in this Legislature from which I strongly dissented. I have labored not so much perhaps in public as other ways to have this obnoxious measure repealed. I am still as anxious as ever to see it struck off the statute book; for I want the men who sent me here to pass upon my public acts during the past four years.
Since the house adjourned last year I have had an opportunity of visiting Canada. I was at Ottawa when the Legislature was opened and when the Fenian excitement prevailed. I was also at Malone and along the line; but nothing gave me greater pleasure during my visit than the manner in which the Ottawa Parliament was opened. I passed through Canada and looked-upon its fertile fields, its vast resources, and its great commerce—its hardy and thrifty population—its noble cities replete with energy and enterprize.
It is only requisite for any one to pass through Canada to see that it is a country with which we ought to be proud to form a close alliance. I passed into the United States and on my return I had the honor of meeting at Portland the Provincial Secretary and Mr. Archibald, and we had a very pleasant time as far as St. John, and then we went up to Fredericton, and whilst they were in communication With the members of the New Brunswick Government, I drove around the little capital of the sister Province. I was delighted to see so fine a country, such fine residences, and so highly an intelligent people. Previous to going to the United States, I had taken my passage in . the Cunard steamer for the 19th of July, but had no idea that I would have had the honor of travelling in company with the delegates to England. It appears, however, that when I got on board I found four or five gentlemen from Nova Scotia and my hon. friend from East Halifax as well. We had a very pleasant passage across the Atlantic. I we ashore at Cork and passed through the old land, and then I left for London, where I saw my hon friends at the Alexandra Hotel very comfortably situated, though it is true they appeared a little disappointed at the non arrival of their Canadian friends.
As regards the present question, I will take […]
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[…] the whole responsibility of voting against this resolution. I must confess that I have a very high respect for the hon. gentleman who moved this resolution, but we ought not to put ourselves in the position of the people of New Brunswick. Suppose we carried that resolution, what spectacle would the house present? Suppose the people, through mistaken notions, and by the influence of the press, undertook to turn out the majority of their present representatives that are in favor of union, and suppose that in the course of eleven months they reversed their verdict, and sent their old friends to the wall, what a spectacle we would present to the world! If we voted for the amendment we would only stultify ourselves—make an exhibition of ourselves, that I trust for the sake of our self-respect we will never be guilty of. After the very able speech delivered by the Provincial Secretary, in which he reviewed the whole subject from its inception up to the present time, and presented the constitutional aspect so clearly and forcibly, that no man can fail to understand it; after the able and elaborate address of the hon. member for South Colchester, (Mr. Archibald), who is so well qualified to speak on this matter, I feel that it is altogether superfluous for me to say much on this question. Indeed these speeches must have fully convinced the house of the unconstitutionality of the course proposed by the hon. member for Guysboro, and of the false position in which the majority would place this Legislature if they supported his amendment.
Speech of Mr. Annand.
Mr. Annand said—As no other gentleman seems inclined to continue the debate, and having been frequently referred to by hon. members opposite, in terms inviting reply, I feel that I would ill discharge my duty to my constituents and myself if I did not at once meet some of the arguments addressed to the house. And in so doing, allow me to refer to the last speaker first. The hon. member for West Halifax, Mr. Tobin, alluded to my sojourn in the mother country, and playfully suggested that my visits to Kew Gardens and Park, and dinners at the Star and Garter, had made me insensible to the force of the arguments in favor of the change in our institutions which he and his associates are so anxious to accomplish. And in the same spirit I reply that I had the pleasure, besides seeing my hon. friend at those celebrated localities of meeting nearly all the Delegates in those classic gardens of Cremorne, and of visiting the hon. member himself at “Half-moon street”—a very suggestive name, but I hope not an appropriate one in regard to the hallucinations with which he appears afflicted, as to the rights of the people of this country upon the question now under consideration. The hon. member seems to think that after seven months’ sojourn in the metropolis of the world, surrounded by elevating objects, and enjoying the society of the foremost people in the universe, I should have come back with larger views, and prepared to support this scheme of Confederation. Sir, I did not go to England to enlarge my views, in presence of which this Canadian scheme dwarfs into insignificance; I did not go there to learn the doctrines which 1 hold respecting the Organization of the Empire—to make the nation to which we all acknowledge a common allegiance fearless of aggression, and invulnerable in Britain’s vast domain. I had read up to that point years before, and although the proposition to make the Empire one and indivisible may be ridiculed here, the time may come, and I venture to predict will come, when justice will be done to the few, perhaps the very few, who preferred the organization to the dismemberment of the Empire. Sir, we now belong to the greatest nation of these modern times, and what more do we require? Union with Canada—an insignificant portion of a confederacy of four millions of people, unable to protect themselves from aggression and conquest? No; what we should aim at is the consolidation of the Empire—the elevation of the colonist to the same status as an Englishman; and by giving us a voice in the great assembly of the nation, make every Nova Scotian feel, and every Englishman feel, too, that we are not inferiors but equals, and equally entitled with themselves to the honors and distinctions of the Crown.
These were my feelings when I went to England, and they are my feelings now. I belong to the greatest Confederacy the world ever saw—to England, with her fifty Colonies in every part of the globe—to a nation with two hundred and fifty millions of people, and London for our capital. Gentlemen opposite talk of the expense, of the taxation for defence, that would result from representation in the Imperial Parliament. But have they ever thought of the enormous taxes we will have to pay when we are Confederated, when we will have to provide means to erect fortifications and support our own army and navy? It is right, sir, that we should pay such reasonable sum as we can afford for our defence. We must pay to somebody, and the question for us to consider is to whom that contribution should be made. We might pay to the United States, which is able to protect us, but this could only be done at the sacrifice of our allegiance, and is therefore out of the question. We pay to Canada, but it is evident that, with her long and exposed frontier she is unable to defend herself, and therefore is in no condition, even after the most lavish expenditure of money, to protect us. But I would pay to neither. I would pay to England—not pound for pound with the people of the British Islands, with their vast accumulations of property and concentration of wealth—but such sum as a comparatively poor country, with a sparse population, could afford to pay. With these views I visited the mother country; I cherish them still, and will continue to do so until they are crushed out by tyranny and oppression, in preference to those which are said to animate some gentlemen on these benches who favor Confederation as the readiest mode of annexing these Colonies to the United States.
Our merchants have been referred to—and who more competent to judge of the merits of such a measure? Who more acute and more likely to arrive at a sound judgment? These men, by patient industry, have built up fortunes in the community, and what position have they taken in reference to this question? On the seaboard line of Halifax, from the Dockyard to Moren’s wharf, not more than […]
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[…] half a dozen can be found to support the Confederation of the Provinces. The wealth, the stamina, the bone and sinew of the country are against this scheme of Union. One hon. gentleman amused me by asking what was there among us to satisfy the ambition of our young men. What more will there be when we are confederated? Gentlemen talk as if Canada was a foreign country, and as if, at present, we could not go there and embark in any branch of business whenever it may suit us to do so. Is it not notorious that the young men of Canada are crossing by hundreds and thousands to the United States, in much larger numbers than from the seaboard Provinces? Our Province is too small now for some people, but I would like to know the country under the sun where men, with steady industry and strict economy, can more readily acquire independence. My hon. friend from West Halifax was a young man himself when he first came here, and the country would appear to have been large enough for him to acquire, in a comparatively short time, a handsome fortune and a position which we all hope he may live long to enjoy. And if disposed, I could point to dozens of that gentleman’s fellow-countrymen, who at no distant period landed upon our shores, poor but industrious men, who have become wealthy, and who, with my hon. colleague, have no reason to complain that the country in which it was made was too small.
Reference has been made to the franchise law, and I am not sorry it was made. I was one of the Government that introduced the bill, and Mr. Archibald and the Provincial Secretary, now colleagues, were the two antagonists who fought out the question in this Assembly. The former gentleman was then Attorney General,—he was the father of the bill,:—he pressed its acceptance upon the Government, but I am willing to take my share of the responsibility attaching to a measure, which if bad the majority opposite have it in their power to repeal. If the franchise act is, as they say, distasteful, why not bring in a bill to repeal it? If such a bill were introduced I would allow the gentleman who originated the term “gutter men” and his new friend the Provincial Secretary to fight it out and would not oppose it. I am willing to try out this question upon the old franchise, and see if the majority of the men who returned this Assembly are or are not in favor of Confederation. The gentleman who preceded me took passage to England in the same steamer as that in which I went. I enjoyed his society during the voyage, but did he visit England as his position entitled him to. He is a prominent supporter of the Government, perhaps the most influential in their ranks. He is beside a merchant of standing in the community, and to the shame of the Government be it told that neither he nor any other merchant was appointed on the delegation. Five lawyers and a doctor were selected to change the constitution of the Province. No one identified with the commerce of the country, its fisheries or agriculture need apply—and the lawyers and the doctor had it all to themselves. My hon. friend has fully earned his position—and why, I ask, was he treated, as I know he was, first by the Government who ignored his claims when here, and then by the Delegates on the other side. We have heard of the festivities at Stowe and other places, but who ever heard of that gentleman being included in the invitations? And if not, why not? I think that those gentleman having secured his support, the least they could have done was to have paid him that attention to which his talents and position fully entitled him. It has been asked, what position will we be in if we carry this amendment? We will be situated just in this way: that while the result is trembling in the balance, before the bill is assented to by the Commons, we can telegraph across the Atlantic to say: ” The Parliament of Nova Scotia have declared the right of the people to speak on the subject.” When that message arrived all action would he stayed and the Imperial Government would await the deliberate opinion of the people of this country. We will then have done justice to the men who sent us here—who did not give us authority to change the constitution, but to make laws under the constitution which we now enjoy. The hon. gentleman who spoke first this evening (Mr. Shannon) alluded to the union of Scotland and England as a case analogous to ours;—but let me point out one or two distinctions. England and Scotland had been at war for centuries, and they formed parts of the same island. Scotland gave England a King, she was without colonies, and by the offer to share the trade of the larger kingdom had every inducement to union with England. These were the arguments addressed to the Scottish mind, and we must all admit their force; but what has Canada to offer us? Does she offer us additional trade with colonies from which we were previously excluded? Have we ever been at war with her? Are we part of the same island? And instead of our giving her king will she not lord it over us? Is her geographical position like ours? Nature evidently formed the island, now England and Scotland to be under one government, but with a narrow strip of land connecting the Maritime Provinces with Canada, in many places not more than twenty-six to thirty miles wide, is it not evident that geography protests against the union of Provinces, whose railways and telegraphs in time of war could be severed in fifty places, and all communication intercepted. We are asked to be united to a country which is frozen up five months in the year, which has no trade to offer us of which we cannot avail ourselves now. More than that, Scotland went into the union with the advantage in a pecuniary point of view, and we go into Confederation with the money part of the arrangement all in favour of Canada—so that the cases instead of being parallel, are entirely opposite. We being a maritime and consuming people, will consume, man for man, $3 for every $1 consumed by Lower Canadians, and more than even the better class of Upper Canadians. In the face of these facts I think the hon. gentleman has not shown that the measure is desirable from a commercial point of view, nor yet in relation to defence. Reference was also made to the banner which I should hereafter display. I am not prepared to elevate any banner but the one we now have. I prefer to remain as I am until a change is forced upon me. I am opposed to […]
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[…] annexation to the United States as well as to union with Canada; but I think it may be easily shown that every argument that can be found in favour of the smaller Confederation would apply with greater force to the larger. Let me, while upon this branch of the subject, read an extract from the case of the Maritime Provinces, and I will not shrink from defending every line and word that that document contains:—
“The terms offered to the Maritime Provinces are far more liberal than those grudgingly yielded by the Canadians. Let us contrast them. By Gen. Banks’s bill Nova Scotia would at once secure free trade with thirty-four millions of people, whose markets are accessible at all seasons, instead of with three millions, who are frozen up for half the year, and in summer can only be got at by a long tedious river navigation. They would participate in the American fishing bounties so long as these last. They would secure protection abroad, which the Canadians cannot give them. Capital would flow in from Boston and New York to work their mines and employ their waterpower. Canada has none to spare. Turning from material to political interests, how would matters stand? Nova Scotia would enter the Union as a State clothed with the accustomed rights, and guarded by recognized securities. She would select her own governors, judges and senators, uncontrolled by any Federal authority. All these, by the Quebec scheme, are to be selected for her by the ruling parties at Ottawa; and, while she elected all her own state legislators and officers, the Supreme Court should protect her in case of collision or encroachment.” * * * * * * * *
“With all the temptations offered us at Washington, we ask simply to be let alone, or we ask to be folded to our mother’s bosom, and not cast out into the wilderness of untried experiments and political speculation. Nova Scotia says to England, as Ruth said to Naomi, “Where you go we will go; your people shall be our people. ” This love and affection spring from a thousand sources that we need not linger to describe, but which it would be a fatal mistake to suppose can ever be transferred. You cannot endorse our hearts or our allegiance over to the Canadians as you would a note of hand, or invest a village on the Ottawa with the historic interest and associations that cluster around London.”
These lines were penned in London,—I endorse every word of them here and continue to avow that every material advantage offered by Confederation with Canada is offered to us with much greater inducement by Confederation with the United States. But I am opposed to both. I have never sat down to calculate the advantages. which annexation would bring to us. I never had any desire to do so, but have deliberately shrunk from the task, because I am too much attached to British institutions. I prefer the British form of government and will not yield it up until I am compelled, but I cannot shut my eyes to the commercial advantages of closer connection with the United States while my sympathies are all with England.—Mr. Shannon said that he disliked the name Canada as applied to the new Dominion. In that particular he and I entirely agree, but it would not have done to have called it British America, for the time is coming, owing to the Confederation scheme, when we will not be British, when we will be nothing but Americans. The change of the names of the Provinces shews that we are to be made a Colony of Canada, and I should like to hear some gentleman rise and reply on that branch of the question. But the hon. gentleman has defended the scheme prepared inEngland as superior to the scheme laid before us by the delegates to Quebec. It will be remembered that the Quebec scheme left the Provinces concurrent jurisdiction in reference to the fisheries, but by the London arrangement the matter has been removed from the control of the local legislatures so that an agricultural country having no immediate interest in the fisheries and possessing a tonnage only equal to half that of Nova Scotia, is to control an interest deeply affecting the people of the four Maritime Provinces. The government of Canada, in the hope of conciliating the American government, last year compelled us to give up our fisheries for the paltry consideration of 50 cents per ton while a tax of $2 per barrel was imposed upon our mackerel. What security have we that they will not surrender our entire interests in this particular to the Americans? And who can doubt that the agricultural counties in the rear with their large representation in the Confederate Commons, will receive far more consideration than the seaside Provinces with their handful of members?
The hon. member for South Colchester, Mr. Archibald, with singular inconsistency, says in one breath we must be a new nation, and in the next that our relations with the Mother Country will not be changed by Confederation. I join issue with him upon both points. We want no new nationality. We are well enough as we are, and although I think it would have been wise to have legislatively united the Maritime Provinces in one Government under the Crown, I cannot concur with those who wish to make these Provinces independent of the Mother Country.
We all know how the American Colonies were lost to England, which probably never would have happened had the sage advice of such men as Adam Smith been taken, and a voice given to the old Colonies in the imposition of taxes and the making of laws. These States would now have been a part of the British Empire, and that Empire would now be invincible against the entire universe. What power would dare to assail the Empire if these, the now two greatest nations in the world, were one. Our true policy I contend, and our duty as British subjects are not to dissever the Empire, but to share the fortunes of England, to cling to, and, if need be, to defend her. I differ entirely from those who advocate the dismemberment of the Empire, and I believe this Confederation scheme to be the beginning of the decline and fall of that great country of which we are all so fond. How long will the West Indies be retained when we are gone? And will not the cry then come up for new nationalities and independence from the Australian Colonies and the Cape. New Zealand and the smaller Colonies will catch the infection, and when all is gone this now powerful and noble Empire will be reduced to two small islands. Against this fatal policy, the inevitable result as I believe of this Confederation scheme, I sincerely and solemnly protest. It is said that in twenty years our […]
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[…] population will be eight or ten millions, enough to maintain our independence as a nation, but we may be assured that by that time the population of the United States, recruited from the old world, most of whom prefer to go there, will more likely be sixty-eight or eighty million, making the discrepancy between that country and ours greater instead of less than now. I repeat what I said last night, that these Maritime Provinces must belong to either England or the United States,—we cannot belong to Canada, nor can we form a new nation. You may call the Confederation, that is to be, monarchical, with a Governor-General at its head, but it must become a Republic
Look at the clause of the bill which refers to the appointment of Senators: 72 of them are to be created in one batch for life,—and what more likely than a dead lock between them and the House of Commons? And if so how is it to be overcome? I never was in favour of the Upper House being elective, as far as regards Nova Scotia, while our institutions were monarchical; but under Confederation I should say, by all means let them go out in rotation, so that that branch may be influenced by public opinion. Is it not evident that when the embryo republic is fairly in operation, if the local Legislatures, pressed by their various constituencies, should for instance, propose that the Lieut. Governor, instead of being nominated by the Governor-General, should be elected by the people—and I can fancy that such a proposal might be made—at its first meeting here, the conflict that would in such a case ensue between the various legislative bodies would result in serious collision—perhaps smash the whole confederacy into pieces. Suppose a resolution were adopted declaring that the senators should be elected—and I may here say that such a change would be a misfortune to some persons who have stood for a day on the hustings and only secured a handful of votes—you will then be creating not a monarchy, but a republic—a poor imitation of that of Mexico, to be crumpled up whenever the American eagle chooses to grasp it in its talons.
Our relations with England will not, we are told, be changed by Confederation. Were that statement correct, half my objections would be removed. But what are the facts? At the present moment the humblest Nova Scotian, the poorest man in the land, if he has a grievance to redress, if he has received injustice at the hands of the local government, has the privilege of appeal and laying his complaint at the foot of the throne. That is the position now. But the moment the Confederation Bill becomes law, all communication between the people of Nova Scotia and the Home Government will be effectually cut off, and instead of appealing to his Queen at Windsor, he will have to go cap in hand to the Governor General at Ottawa. We are now a colony of Great Britain, but under Confederation we will be a dependency of Canada. And yet the learned member for Colchester says our position in relation to England will be the same! The hon. gentleman referred to a remark made by me last evening, respecting a tyrannical majority, and commented on the apparent inconsistency of an observation in reference to the mode in which Confederation was carried in the neighbouring Province. How was the measure carried there? Mr. Tilley, man like as he always is, appealed to the people and was defeated. I give him credit for the ingenuity by which he converted a minority into a majority, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that but for the unconstitutional action of the Governor, who browbeat the Council by whom he was surrounded, using the Queen’s name unfairly, taking advantage of Fenian threats, holding out the idea that Confederation was the only means of procuring the Intercolonial Railway, the expenditure on which would make everybody rich, and make New Brunswick a great country,—only for these influences, even Mr. Tilley’s clever strategy and perseverance would have failed. The history of that period has yet to be written, but I do not hesitate to say that if New Brunswick had not been operated upon in a way anything but creditable to the chief actors in that Province, I do not believe that the resolution of last session would have been adopted.
The hon. member for South Colchester remarked that if ever there was a period when the Americans had an opportunity of coming in and buying up the Provinces it was the present time, when we are on the eve of an election. I can fancy an easier mode than by going to the polls to corrupt the country. It might, perhaps, be easier to buy a majority of this House in favour of Confederation than to purchase a majority of the electors; and when the time comes, if it should ever come, for buying up not only this Province, but the entire Confederacy a very different system will be pursued from that which the hon. gentleman suggests—it is so much easier buying wholesale than by retail.
American diplomatists, with their ingenuity and with the large means of corruption in their hands, will say, “Come in and enjoy fellowship with us. You are only four millions of people, we are thirty-four millions. Come and have free trade with us; we are your natural customers; there are no markets like ours. Our taxation is enormous, but in ten years it will be reduced one half; and the increase of our population in twenty years will extinguish it altogether.” That is the way in which these Colonies may be dealt with when confederated; and this may be a good reason why the name Canada has been substituted for that of British America. Mr. Archibald referred to Governor Banks—our ally, as he is pleased to term him. Is Mr. Banks in favor of the organization of the Empire?
Mr. Archibald.—The hon. member is alone upon that question.
Mr. Annand.—Even if I was, I would not be discouraged. It is not the first time I was in a minority of one, and I had not to wait long before the friends who left me for the moment were forced to admit that I was right. I was in […]
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[…] a minority of one—I stood alone—at a celebrated meeting last winter at which that hon. gentleman was present, and if my advice had been taken, as it ought to have been, it would not have been in the power of the authorities on both sides of the water to say that the leaders of the Opposition, as well as the leaders of the Government were all in favor of Confederation.
The hon. member took exception to my calculations and referred to the Hon. George Brown as a great authority. I admit the authority. That gentleman is one of the ablest public men in Canada, and is rarely wrong on questions of finance, nor is he far wrong in the figures referred to although there is an error of $13,829, the total amount we are to receive being $380,000 instead of $393,829 as stated in the Globe, when our population reaches 400,000. But the hon. member for Colchester is, or was, a great authority on finance. The Provincial Secretary, his former opponent, but now his leader, dubbed him the “Figure Man” of the late Government—that gentleman is very dexterous in boxing figures, to borrow an expression from the other side, but, somehow or other, he is rarely right in his calculations. The Financial Secretary will remember the gloomy forebodings of the hon. member for South Colchester in 1865 and 1866,—that we were on the eve of a financial crisis—and his confident and reiterated predictions that there would be a large falling off in the revenue in both those years, notwithstanding which the revenue has largely increased in both of them and our financial position materially improved,—and I am glad of it.
We hear a good deal about able financiers, but in most cases the men who earn that name are those who can convert a deficit into a surplus—the Galts and men of that stamp—who boast of an increase of revenue over expenditure when the credit of the country is at its lowest ebb, and the Government is forced to borrow money at ruinous rates of interest. The hon. member for Colchester has favored us with a long array of figures from the Toronto Globe, in which it is attempted to be shown that the Maritime Provinces have received more than their share of money, and Canada far less, by the change in the financial arrangements. The calculation of the Globe is ingenious, and may have its effect in Canada, in incensing the people of that Province against the Government to which Mr. Brown is determinedly opposed, but it can hardly impose upon any one in this country. The papers on the table show that our Customs revenue alone increased $372,000 since 1863, the year selected as the basis of the amount to be paid for the support of the local Governments. That amount has been expended in enlarging our humane establishments, upon education, roads and bridges, ferries, &c. Where would the $372,000 have gone if we were that year confederated with Canada?—Where but into the Canadian treasury, and so with every increase of revenue in all time to come. I know it will be said that our surplus revenue will form a ” common fund.” True, the fund may be common, but the question for us to ask ourselves is: How much are we to get back when the money is in the Federal chest, for local purposes? It is vain to deceive ourselves on this point—the Confederation Bill settles the question.
Whatever may be our wants and necessities, every farthing required for local purposes over and above the 80 cents a head and the $60,000 a year, must be raised by direct taxation, and by direct taxation alone. My hon friend from Shelburne referred this evening to the coal mines, upon which we might, if severely pressed, have raised additional revenue, but even that privilege accorded by the Quebec scheme, of imposing an export duty, has been taken away from the local and handed over to the general government. We give Canada the power to tax one of our chief exports; and we are then asked to be thankful for a few cents additional per head. Let me give the member for South Colchester another calculation, one to which I challenge a reply. I am now addressing myself to the people of this country, who, if not familiar with the teachings of Hallam and Blackstone and other constitutional authorities, which have been quoted against their liberties, well understand transactions in money in which their pecuniary interests are involved.
Last year we gave in round numbers $800,000 for local purposes—mark, for strictly local purposes. Now let us see what we are to receive under Confederation:—
|And first, there is the 80 cents a head.||$264,686|
|Then there is the grant for expenses of the Local Government.||69,000|
|And lastly, there is to be a further allowance of 80 cents a head until our population reaches 400,000, which I throw in, although we are not likely to receive it until the decennial census takes place in 1871.||55,314|
|Add to this the local revenue for the mines, crown lands, &c., which I put down at||155,000|
|And we have a total revenue of||$535,000|
with which to pay $800,000, the sum appropriated for local objects last year, showing a deficiency of $265,000 the very first year, and before the high tariff of Canada, the stamp duties, the newspaper tax, and the other ingenious expedients for raising money are brought into operation. I have said that the total revenue from all sources will be $535,000. Let us see how far this would go towards the local expenses of the country. We last year granted—
|Board of Works, for services which will still be chargeable on our local revenue,||79,520|
|Roads and Bridges.||274,228|
Here, then, we have four items absorbing the entire revenue you will have under Confederation, leaving unprovided for the following services, which were last year estimated to cost—agriculture, $14,000; crown lands, $18,500; mines department, $17,595; packets and ferries within the province, $11,070; miscellaneous […]
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[…] $46,631; navigation securities, $80,000; making a total of $187,796, besides salaries, coroners inquests, public printing, &c. This enormous deficiency can only be made up in one way—in the way pointed out in the bill—in the way described by the hon member’s own authority—the Hon. George Brown himself—by direct taxation on the people of this country. In the face of these facts—and I challenge their investigation—an attempt is made to influence the house by quoting some paltry figures from an article in the Globe, which, after making a show of opposition to the financial arrangements, finishes off with a declaration that “with all these faults we like the scheme.”
The hon. member has spoken in contemptuous terms of our “foreign allies ” Sir, we have no allies but the people of this country, whose “upturned faces” he has ridiculed, and whose wishes he has the hardihood to despise. But it ill becomes that gentleman, so lately in very questionable company, to lecture us upon our allies. Who, when in London a few weeks ago, were his friends and confreres? In what respect is Mr. Cartier, the Attorney General for Canada East, who shouldered his musket and afterwards ran away, when Lower Canada was in rebellion in 1838 a better man than Mr. Banks? Then there is D’Arcy McGee, of cabbage garden notoriety; Galt, who headed an annexation movement in Montreal, when the Parliament buildings were burnt down and the Queen’s Representative was pelted through the streets. Another delegate is a born Yankee: the fourth is said to be looking to Washington; and the fifth, the chief scribe at the Quebec Conference, opposed the Union of the Provinces two or three years ago, because, in his then opinion, it would lead to separation from the mother-country. These are the allies, the sworn bosom friends of the hon member, who has dared to more than insinuate that my friend Mr. Howe and myself were in league with foreign allies and endeavouring to subvert British institutions. The hon. member has sneeringly said that my leader, Mr. Howe, and my follower, Mr. McDonald, spent months in London endeavouring to convince the British public. I reply to that gentleman, who was once a respected leader himself, but is now the humble follower of the Provincial Secretary, that we did largely influence the public mind and shake confidence in the Confederation scheme; and I had it from the lips of gentlemen in England, who did not share our opinions, that we had done much to educate the British public in respect to the position, resources and rights of these Maritime Provinces. We may not have succeeded in reaching the hearts of the Lords, for it was not to be expected that we would to any large extent operate upon the sympathies of a body so far removed from popular influences. We may not have succeeded in reaching the convictions of a majority of the Commons, but what opportunity had we? As every one knows, until Parliament meets, very few of the members are in town—they are scattered all over the country. We sent in our case to Earl Carnarvon, but when the bill was read a first time the correspondence was not on the table, and the Queen only had the bill submitted to her the day before it was introduced.
As I have said, on the third reading in the Lords, a large number of Peers withdrew, leaving only nine present, when one noble Lord had finished urging our case. Then it was sent to the Commons, and read a second time on the following day, contrary to the practice which has always prevailed there of giving at least a week between the first and second readings for the consideration of any important measure. So rapid was the action of the under Secretary for the Colonies, pressed on by those who are now pressing it on us, that the papers on which the members could alone form the judgment were not in their hands until the second morning, and one member stated that he had only time to read that clause of the bill, which refers to the Inter-colonial Railway before the division on the second reading was taken. This reminds me that the member for Colchester has turned my attention to the subject of the Intercolonial Railway. It is well known that a guarantee was obtained for that work in 1862 through the exertions of Messrs. Howe and Tilley, and but for the bad faith of the Canadians the railroad might have been finished to-day and working, as to whether working profitably or not, I will not undertake to say. He says I complained of the delegates getting only three millions instead of four, and further, that four millions were not asked for. If so then we were deceived by the press, by the Canadian News among others, for it was plainly stated that that was the sum and the impression was confirmed by the fact that Mr. Fleming had estimated that amount as necessary, and our own experience of the estimates and cost of railways gave us no reason to think it could not be built for less. We are blamed for remonstrating against the guarantee,—we were willing to remonstrate against anything and everything to save the interests which were entrusted to us. Would I sell the liberties of my country for a few miles of railroad, even if half the trade of the world were to come over it? Would I say to my constituents ” you have elected me, I respect you for your intelligence, but you are not competent to express an opinion on a matter that will sweep away your revenues and place unlimited powers of taxation in a body which you cannot control?” I was going to say that for all the roads in the world I would not consent to that, and we therefore thought it right to use every means to destroy the scheme, and as the road is said to be an essential part of it, and a necessity for Canada, we could take the chances for the future until she came to her senses, and there is no doubt that ere long she would have had to come to us and asked us to build our share. There was another reason, for our suggesting that a guarantee for the larger sum should not be given,—one of the most powerful influences at work in favor of Confederation is the organization known as the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, whose chairman, Watkins, made the statement in the House of Commons that the measure had […]
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[…] been discussed at every polling booth in Nova Scotia. It is the interest of that company to increase the value of their road from Quebec to Riviere du Loup, and more especially to secure the expenditure of the three millions, and get the entire line into their hands. We were apprehensive that the same system of jobbing which extracted ten millions of money from British capitalists some years ago would be repeated over again, and we thought it only right and proper to give a word of caution to the British people
There was another reason for my action also, and I mention it in the hearing of gentlemen who have known for years the opinions which I held in respect to this railway;—that was that the road, passing through a harsh and forbidding country, having grades too steep for a large and profitable traffic, would not bring to us the advantages that have been promised. There was no reason to believe that a large amount of traffic would be brought to the harbor of Halifax and if we had had any doubts upon that point, Mr. Fleming’s report, made after 10 or 12 routes had been explored, shows that the Intercolonial Railway might be tapped at Danville and the traffic diverted by the North American and European line which could carry more cheaply, because the snow does not fall so deeply on its track, while the grades were lighter, and the distance between Montreal and Halifax considerably less. When I read that report, and found further that at St. John and not at Halifax the trade was likely to centre, I must confess that my interest in the Intercolonial Railway was largely abated. I trust therefore that I have answered the hon. gentleman’s banter upon this point.
I was in England for several months and had an opportunity during that time of discussing the measure with able and intelligent men, and down to the hour I left, whenever I had a chance of stating the actual state of affairs in Nova Scotia, when I told them that at the only three elections held since the scheme was mooted the measure had been condemned, and when I claimed for our people the right to speak on it, I did not find one who did not say, “you are right and your people should have the privilege you claim for them.” That I believe would have been the feeling of the House of Commons but for the mis-representations of such men as Mr. Watkins who knows the Colonies well, and who is almost as familiar with the state of public opinion in the Provinces as with the Grand Trunk Railway Company, of which he is the Chairman and Managing Director.
I do not wonder, sir, when such men as Mr. Watkins and Sir John Pakington made the statements which came from their lips to a body of gentlemen utterly ignorant of the facts of the case, that the House was misled. But there is time enough yet to avert this great wrong if members would do their duty to-night, and claim for their constituencies the right they should possess. The tidings would be wafted across the Atlantic with lightning speed that the action of the gentlemen professing to represent Nova Scotia in the Delegation had been condemned, the measure would be postponed, and our country would be saved. (Cheers.)
Speech of Mr. Blanchard.
Mr. Blanchard said: The observations I have to make on this question will be compressed into a very small compass, and shall be chiefly confined to the point which has been brought before the house by the hon. member for Guysborough. I think the constitutional point connected with this amendment has been so thoroughly discussed by those who preceded me that I need not dwell on it at any length—in fact that I need not touch it all. I shall not refer to the remarks of the hon. member for East Halifax, except that when I heard the hon. member drop the unfortunate observation “that it was easier to buy a majority of the members of this house than a majority of the electors” it grated harshly upon my ears. I am glad that the hon. member subsequently withdrew so unwarrantable an insinuation. I think it came with an exceedingly ill grace from the hon. member to make any insinuation against any member of this house of which he claims to be the father. I think it proper to state in my place that I look upon this Legislature as much above corruption as any Legislature that I have ever heard of, and every hon. member composing it as much above corruption as the hon. gentleman himself; and it will not do for him to say to this house or any future one that it could be approached with bribes; or that there is any government who would dare to “buy” gentlemen with the object of effecting some purpose. Such a charge could not be supported for an instant in this house. Gentlemen in it, I am glad to say, have proved themselves above the influence of party. I remember when several gentlemen on this side of the house supported the Government on the question of Education against the opinions of a majority of their friends, and I am glad to be able to say that the people now endorse the action we then took.
Mr. Blanchard.—Let the hon. member for Shelburne with his ten thousand people say “no,” but I ask him to come to Inverness with its twenty thousand souls, and he will hear a very different story. They will tell him that we gave them a great boon when we gave them free schools—a system of Education above that enjoyed by the people of England, and which has obtained the encomiums of the publicists of that country. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for East Halifax seemed to be remarkably well acquainted with the means used by the American diplomatists, to purchase support in Legislatures. For my part I do not know anything about the matter, but I think that American diplomatists who should attempt to approach the Parliament at Ottawa, would be met in the same manner they would be in this Legislature.
When we are told that we ought to have an appeal to the people I contend this is an American doctrine. But even in the United States what is the practice? Conventions are elected and held for the purpose in view. But does the convention finally settle the question? No. It goes from that convention to the polls to be reaffirmed. by the people. The votes are given, and the whole are counted, and if there is a majority of “ayes,” the “ayes” carry it, and […]
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[…] if the majority is in the negative, the “nays” carry it. Can we have a plebiscite under such circumstances? I take Hants, Kings, Queens, Shelburne, and Victoria, the united population of which amounts to 65,000 having 16 representatives. Now, on the other hand, take Cumberland, Inverness, Annapolis, Lunenburg and Cape Breton, having unitedly a population of 97,500 and only 14 members. How, under such a system of representation, can we expect to get a fair verdict from the people? It takes two men in Inverness to be equal to one man in Shelburne. Pictou has 35,000 people, and four members – or the same number that Kings has with half the population. How, then, could any house returned after an election fairly and unmistakably represent the wish of the people? I recollect when there was a majority of two in favor of the Government in this House—this was in the first session of the house elected in 1859—and the Provincial Secretary proved to his own satisfaction that he had a majority of 15,000 in the Province. Suppose we should come back here with small majority on one side or the other, yet it might be that the counties having the least votes would carry the day. The party of Union might actually have the majority of people on their side, and yet be out-voted in this house under our system of representation. I say to the people of the country that I represent—I voted for the general principle of assessment for schools on the ground that it would be found in time a great boon to the country. I did so in the face of a strong popular feeling against the measure, and yet tomorrow I could go back to the people and take a two-thirds majority on that question. But even were it otherwise, I would have been quite satisfied with the knowledge that I had been defeated on a great general principle which must prove in time of great advantage to the country. On the present question I am influenced by the same feelings. A majority of the people may be opposed to the measure but I know nevertheless that the time is not far distant when they will warmly thank me for having supported it.
We are told that this is an arbitrary exercise of power—that it is going to prevent us going into a better place after we die. May we venture to hope that the good we did in carrying the education measure will be accepted as a set-off to the wickedness we are about to commit?
There are some members in this house who will remember when Cape Breton was an independent province—when it had a government of its own and managed its own affairs. The British House of Commons did not ask the opinion of the people at Cape Breton, or even of Nova Scotia, on the subject, but by an act of a few lines annexed the island to Nova Scotia, with only two members. The union was effected, and for a long while you could find hardly a dozen men in the whole island who did not express themselves against the annexation. There was an old gentlemen who was Attorney General of Cape Breton previous to the Union, and he spent all his time and energies in endeavouring to bring about a separation, until he finally found himself all alone. When he died, a few years ago, he was the last man who could say that the union was an injury to the island. Cape Breton went in to the union with only two members, but in the course of time the number increased, and now she has nine representatives in a house of fifty-five. If Cape Breton gets justice it is because we are bound to have it—because there is not a government in this county that would dare to ignore the claims of that island for a single year. I would like to see the government that would do gross injustice to Cape Breton.
Hon Provincial Secretary— You would not like to see it.
Mr. Blanchard—I would like to see the Provincial Secretary try it three years ago – how soon my hon friend from Cape Breton and the other members would have thrown over the government.
Mr. Bourinot—And so I would.
Mr. Blanchard—And how gladly would I have assisted him. So it will be at Ottawa. No Government can dare resist the claims of this Province whilst our members are true to themselves and the interests they represent.
Predictions are the order of the day. We have the hon member from East Halifax in one breath say this country-that is to say the Confederacy-is to be a monarchy exceedingly like Mexico. Another prediction, in the next breath, from the same source, is what we are to have a President and be a republic. These two predictions do not agree with each other. Again he says that he will spend the remainder of his days in endeavouring to destroy this Confederation. I make no pretensions to being a prophet, or the son of a prophet, but I venture to predict that ere many years pass by he will be found very like old Gibbons, of Cape Breton, solitary and alone, and grey in harness, the only surviving exponent of antiunion principles. He will be found for the remainder of his days fretting and frowning against a union which has been carried in spite of all his efforts, and has proved to be the greatest blessing ever conferred upon this country.
Speech of Hon. Prov. Secretary.
Dr. Tupper then rose and said:—I undertook to show the House that every possible means had been taken to familiarize the country with the question under discussion, and to ascertain as far as possible the sentiments of the people, and in making that statement I was met by the rejoinder from the hon. member from East Halifax, that although I had discussed in general terms the principle of union in the adjoining Province, and in various places in this Province, I had not proposed such a plan of union as that devised at Quebec. If the hon. member would refer to the New Brunswicker newspaper, in which may address was fully reported and to the same address which was delivered by invitation in different portions of this Province, he would find that I propounded just such a scheme of union as was arranged at Quebec and in Westminster Palace Hotel. The hon. member then challenged me to produce one tittle of evidence that Mr. Howe had ever committed himself to the question of Confederation. I do not intend to wander over the two volumes containing the name of the hon. member for East Halifax on the title page, and on almost every […]
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[…] leaf of which the reader will find that Mr. Howe’s claim to position in this country has been largely rested upon the fact that at all times and on all occasions he advocated the great question of union; but I may trouble the House to read two passages, which, I am sure, will convince the intelligent people of this country that Mr. Howe has pledged himself to the Confederation of the Provinces. I shall refer to a public letter written by him as far back as 1849, when the British American League, of which Hon. George Moffat was Chairman, undertook to suggest important constitutional changes. Mr. Moffat was under the impression that it was a legitimate course of dealing with questions of great public import for public assemblages to he called together, and for the people at public meetings to express their sentiments; but what did the present champion of the people’s rights say—the man who has presented himself in London as the exponent of the public sentiment of this country because he has held some public meetings and got up a few petitions? He wrote a letter in 1849 to the President of the League, in which he dilated on the impropriety of any public man undertaking to deal with great public questions in any other place except in the legislature of his country, and when he was clothed with constitutional authority. Here is the letter written under his own hand in which he condemns such public assemblages as he has held in this Provinces.
“A Confederation of the Colonies may be the desire of your Convention. If so. the object is legitimate; but it must be pursued by legitimate means. Believe me, it can only be wisely attained by and through the Provincial Legislatures, not by self elected societies acting independently and in defiance of them. Suppose to-morrow propositions were submitted to the Lower Colonies for a Legislative Union or general Confederation. If made by the Government and Parliament of Canada, they would he treated with deference and respect. If made by a party in opposition, they would not be for a moment entertained.”
Here you find Mr. Howe telling the President of one of the most important conventions that ever assembled in Canada, that the course he was pursuing was improper—that he had no right to deal with such matters outside of Parliament. This is the same man Who has been perambulating the Province, and undertaking to say that in this free country, where we have been entrusted with British institutions by which the public sentiment can be legitimately expressed, what was the legitimate mode in 1849 should no longer be pursued in 1867. In the paragraph I have read you find the most unqualified contempt heaped upon the course which himself an the gentlemen associated with him have pursued. Having shown you his opinion. as to the mode in which this measure should be treated, let me now explain to you the origin of the phrase ” new nationality,” so often quoted in the discussion of this question. If we go, back to 1849, we actually find that the phrase originated with no less a person than Joseph Howe. In the same letter to the President of the British American League, he said:
“We desire free trade among all the Provinces, under one national flag, with one coin, one measure, one tariff, one post office. We feel that the courts, the press, the educational institutions of North America would be elevated by union; that intercommunication by railroads, telegraphs and steamboats would be promoted; and that if such a combination of interests were achieved wisely, and with proper guards, the foundations of a great nation in friendly connection with the mother country would be laid on an indestructible basis “
If in 1849 British America could aspire to a national flag are not these Provinces at the present day equally qualified to have a common flag? Sir, in this year of 1867 his successors have accomplished that, which with him was only an idea and a dream, and instead of receiving from himself and his friends that praise and encouragement to which we are entitled, we are attacked for having adopted those principles thus early propounded and thus strongly advocated through his entire life, as traitors to the constitution of our country, and as having forgotten what we owe to our own people. Let me turn again to his statement in 1854 when the question of union came before the Legislature on a resolution moved by Mr. Johnston, his public opponent, and when, with his incapacity to follow any one but himself, he pro pounded his views on the organization of the Empire; but did he say anything ln favour of a Confederation? Read his speech, and you will find him dealing with the question in terms of the most fervid eloquence He then propounded what he considered the best scheme viz., representation in the Imperial Parliament; but if he could not get that, then he would propose this:—
“By a Federal Union of the Colonies we should have something like the neighboring republic; and if I saw nothing better, I should say at once, let in keep our local Legislatures, and have a President and central Congress for all the higher and more external) relations of the united Provinces. * * * * Under a Federal Union we should form a large and prosperous nation, lying between the other two branches of the British family, and our duty would evidently be to keep them both at peace.”
Now I ask the hon. member opposite if with these documents published to the world under his own signature he is still ready to tell the people of Nova Scotia that Mr. Howe has never advocated a Federal Union of the Provinces.
But the hon. member for North Colchester (Mr McLelan) undertook to prove to this House the extraordinary proposition that, when Mr. Howe, as a public man, moved a resolution in this Legislature declaring that so great were the advantages of Union between this Province and Canada, that he asked for authority to hold a. conference on the subject, all he really desired was to get rid of the question altogether—that at the conference the matter was found entirely impracticable, and was accordingly set at rest as it was intended to be. I have heard a good […]
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[…] many extraordinary statements fall from the mouths of gentlemen, but when the hon member tells you that a public man would pursue such a deceitful course, then he has placed the person whom he professes to follow in a position so abject as to excite the pity and contempt of every respectable and intelligent man. But I have under my hand that which will give the refutation of the charge which the hon. member has brought against Mr. Howe. When Mr. Howe propounded this resolution he believed in it, and was sincere if ever a public man was in relation to any measure. After this conference was held in Canada what do we find? At Port Robinson, he addressed a large body of Canadians, and among other things said:
“He looked forward hopefully to the time when the great Provinces of Canada would be connected with the Provinces below, and when a man would feel that to be a British American was to be the citizen of a country which included all those fertile lands, all those inexhaustible fisheries, all this immense marine,—carrying to all seas the flag of Old England, if they would let us; if not, the flag of British America. “
Can the hon. member for North Colchester, when he hears such language as that, still assert that Mr. Howe was desirous of defeating Union? In that speech from which I have quoted we find him eloquently and forcibly urging the same view he had so often previously advocated with all the energy and talents he possessed.
The hon. member for Yarmouth made an observation yesterday which I forgot: to notice at the time. He said that no person in this country desired this union of the colonies except a few politicians who wanted office. I have given the House some evidence in dealing not only with this, but other public questions, that I have a higher ambition than of consulting my own individual interest or of holding office. So far from looking upon this question in this light, from the first hour I felt it my duty to deal with it I have reposed that trust and confidence in the people which I felt they deserved at my hands. I have put my hands to this work, not with the conviction that it was a question upon which a minister should peril any majority he might have by a reckless procedure—that he should make an unnecessary and unconstitutional appeal to the people. I have never said that the influences of party passions and prejudices, and the introduction of other questions which are inseparable from an appeal to the people, might not jeopardize this question if submitted hastily to the country; but at the same time I have felt that this question, discussed as it has been down to a recent period by all classes and parties, has taken a deep hold upon the public sentiment—that the public opinion of the country had always been in favor of this measure. Instead of seeking office for myself—instead of looking forward to an escape from the verdict of the people at the polls, there is nothing I shall await with greater pride than having accomplished this union by the aid of my own colleagues and the patriotic gentlemen who have regarded patriotism more highly than partizanship—there is nothing that will give me greater pleasure than to place myself, my public character, and my future career in the hands of the electors of Nova Scotia. I have no hesitation in saying that there is no position, however exalted, that would prevent me for a single instant, asking that verdict from the people which I have a right to demand at their hands. (Cheers)
The system of government for British America is the system that now prevails in this Province; it is the responsible system by which we can only retain office by the continuance of public confidence. When did I ever shrink from ascertaining the opinions of my fellow countrymen? I am unwilling to make a rash and irrational appeal to the people at the polls; but when I came back from Canada—having previously to the general election committed myself to this question of Confederation—having obtained the most cordial approval of the sentiments which I entertained—the first thing I did was to court public discussion. At the first moment at Charlottetown it was decided we should take up this question, a public meeting was held at which we proclaimed at once what our intentions were. I brought the Canada, New Brunswick and P E. Island delegates to this city, and instead of concealing our views from the world, at a table surrounded by the leading men of every profession in the community, we stated freely to the people of the Province and of British America the whole scheme which we proposed to carry out.—As far as could be judged, the sentiments of the leading merchants and others were unanimously in favour of the question when it was laid before them. When it was stated that there was a probability of accomplishing the union loud cheers rang through the hall.
But there was a little clause in the Quebec scheme that chanced the tone of certain gentlemen. It was considered necessary to place banking under the General Government. I had no doubt that it was of great importance to the business of the whole country that the question of banking should be placed as it is. The result, however, was that, with a few honorable exceptions, the bankers and capitalists ranged themselves against this scheme. The men who had been cheering this question to the very echo—who had invited the Canadian Parliament to come down and feted them with “exhaustive festivities,”—when they found that the tight grasp which a few capitalists have over the whole monetary affairs of this country was to be unclasped, then they came out in violent opposition to the measure. These men came and told me that I must back down—that I must fall back from my duty at the dictation of a few capitalists. A merchant of this city—one of those who thought that they might be obliged to compete with the capital and enterprize of Canada—met me in the street, and told me that if I attempted to address a public meeting in this city I would be hissed from the platform. Well, I replied, I have never shrank from meeting […]
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[…] the public; I have looked at no one man’s interests, but I have looked broadly at what I believe will elevate our common country; but if the public sentiment is such as you say it is, the sooner I know it the better. What was the result? These bankers and capitalists brought up their Goliaths, and we met them with the same readiness that I have ever met my public opponents. After several meetings with the ablest men they could bring on the platform what was the result? They say this has been a delegation of lawyers with a doctor to look after them, but when the ablest merchants had an opportunity of confronting these lawyers and doctors, they were silenced in the presence of the largest assemblages that ever met in a public hall in Halifax. Why, my hon. friend (Mr. Tobin) could not get any of these merchants to come on the hustings with himself, and give their time and attention to public affairs, when it was only little Nova Scotia that required their care; but the moment they thought their own interests were in jeopardy they were all up in arms. Then they came out with the politicians who have given all their time and talents to the advancement of the public interests, and after the most deliberate and ample discussion, the hon. member himself in the press admitted that Halifax was against him. The night the discussion was closed—the last night they could be induced to meet us—Temperance Hall rang with enthusiastic cheers in favour of Union. Then I went up into Hants, Kings, Cumberland, Annapolis, and Colchester, and in every place where this question was fully discussed, there was not one of these public meetings at which a single resolution hostile to union could be carried. Under these circumstances, then, am I chargeable with a desire to force this measure upon the people, without learning the public sentiment? I made a mistake last night, it appears, in respect to the number of names in the petitions presented to this House. I have asked the clerk to count them up, and I find, after all the excitement and agitation, and all the public lectures that have been given—after all the misrepresentation that has appeared on this subject, the whole number of names only amounts to 6,267. In a fortnight, on a previous occasion, when the public sentiment was agitated, spontaneously 26,000 electors sent down their petitions here, because they really felt opposed to a measure which the Government had in contemplation. I ask the people of Nova Scotia if, under such circumstances, I had not the right to believe that I was sustained by the public sentiment of the country.
In opposition to this measure may be found a few politicians, some political partizans, who are ready to abase their country and themselves for the support of a few capitalists who could not make me their tool; but I will go into every county and I shall find the best men there at my back, who have been the standard bearers of the Liberal party in Nova Scotia—the men who have given Mr. Howe in the past the more cordial support. But what more do I find? The clergy of this country, from the highest to the lowest—Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists—of all denominations, and I stake my public character upon the assertion, display the most remarkable unanimity upon this subject. Representing, as these gentlemen do, the education, refinement, and intelligence of a community—influencing, as they do largely, the people among whom they live—can I have any doubts as to the sentiments of the best informed of the people on this question?
The hon. member has complained of the manner in which the subject has been discussed in England. When, a year ago, I ventured to say to the House that the press, the public men, the statesmen, and the Parliament of England were favorable to this question, how were we met? With the sneers and inuendoes that have now been heaped upon the august Parliament of Great Britain? No; we were told that all that was necessary was to explain the whole question in England in order to set the matter right. When that was done, they would obtain all they wished for. Now this measure has been discussed in the Parliament and press, in a manner that few questions were ever discussed before. The ablest men that could be found to oppose the union have done all they could to make their views and opinions known. What is the reason that when this question came to be discussed in Parliament it was treated as it was? This bill was first introduced into the House of Lords because the Earl of Carnarvon wished to have the honour of introducing it. In a very full House, when he introduced the bill, he met with the most astonishing support. Noble lords in opposition rose in rapid succession to support the Government. Lord John Russell gave it his warm approval; and the last man I could be expected to influence, the Marquis of Normanby—a gentleman whom political conflict has made my opponent—in the discharge of his high duties as a peer of the realm, gave that question the most unequivocal and emphatic support; and having had a better opportunity than any man in the British Parliament of understanding the state of affairs in these Colonies, he told the House of Peers that he did not believe that the public sentiment of this country was opposed to the union. Lord Carnarvon explained that there had been no election here on this question—that the constitution did not require such an appeal; and the whole facts having been explained to the House with the greatest accuracy, there was not a single man to oppose the bill. The Times of the next morning placed in the hands of every member a clear statement of the position of this Province, and of everything in relation to this matter. When the Peers found that Lord Stratheden had lent himself to statements they could not sustain, they got up, one after the other, and left the House. Mr. Howe heard Mr. Watkins’ statement to which reference has been made, and he was in constant communication with Mr. Bright and if any incorrect statement was made, Mr. Howe is responsible for not having corrected it. Therefore I say, if the House of Commons was misled by a single remark—Mr. Watkins having misunderstood the time at which the Union discussion […]
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[…] took place—Mr. Howe and his friends are themselves to blame if they did not correct him.
Under the Quebec scheme the power to levy an export duty on coal was left in the hands of the Local Governments. We have changed that ourselves. The House well knows the policy that I propounded on the question of the coal mines last year. I regard them as the great source of Provincial wealth and prosperity—not for the royalty which goes into the treasury, but because of their intimate connection with the development of new branches of industry in this country—of the impulse they must give to manufactures in the Province. In fact, the possession of coal mines, together with other natural advantages, must, in the course of time, make Nova Scotia the great emporium for manufactures in British America. We felt that in taking it out of the power of any Legislature to double the amount of royalty, we were giving a guarantee to capitalists who might come in and invest their money in these coal mines, that the Legislature could not come down and say they must pay one or two shillings upon every ton of coal raised.
The hon. member has said that we sacrificed the fisheries. Would it have been desirable to have left the protection of the fisheries in the hands of the Local Government? But there is really no alteration made in this respect. In the Quebec scheme the power of legislation in reference to the deep sea fisheries was given to the General and Local Governments in common, but there was a clause which provided that regulations of the General Government should override those of the Local Government. Now the only difference is that the entire responsibility is thrown upon the General Government. When the House receives the public despatches on the question of the fisheries they will see that the course taken by the Government of this Province was rendered imperative by the action of the Imperial Government. It was a compromise suggested to the British Government by Canada. The Canadians were ready to license the fisheries, and standing as we do to-day we are at the mercy of Canada. If Canada falls we must fall. We have no status by ourselves; we have no standing in relation to the Empire apart from Canada. As respects this question, it is well known that the policy of Canada has always been supreme, although we have the largest interest in the fisheries. Now, however, the Canadians will be interested in them equally with ourselves, and we shall have such a. voice in the General Parliament as will enable us in all probability to largely influence that body, for we shall, as shown by the hon. member for South Colchester, hold the balance of power between the two rival sections of Canada.
The hon. member has taunted me with having made use of the Queen’s name, and he and his friends have stated in state paper which they sent to the Colonial Office that this measure had been carried by the abuse of our Sovereign’s name. The reference was clearly within the constitution and such as is made within the Parliament of England. From the lips of our Royal Sovereign I have heard the warmest approval of union. The Province I represented, had the great honor and distinction of my receiving Her Majesty’s command to wait upon her at Buckingham Palace, and upon that occasion Her Majesty congratulated me upon the success which had attended our efforts; and when I expressed the gratification with which her loyal subjects would learn the deep interest she had evinced in this measure, she replied: ” I take the deepest interest in it, for I believe it will make them great and prosperous.” (Cheers)
I am glad that on the present occasion the hon. member for Halifax has had the manliness—
Mr. Pryor—The hon. member for East Halifax?
Dr. Tupper—I do not wonder that my hon. friend should be anxious that there should be no misapprehension as to who is meant. The hon. member for East Halifax has to-night openly avowed his sentiments upon this question. I have always felt that hon. gentleman was serving the United States rather than his own country: I do not refer to any hasty expression that may have fallen from his lips; but I have been painfully impressed with the fact that from the moment he took his present position he would use every effort to transfer this Province from under the British Crown to the Stars and Stripes. We are told by him to-night that he is ready to sacrifice the best interests of his country in order to satisfy his yearning after connection with the United States—that he is prepared to choose, as between a union with Canada and a union with the American Republic, in favor of the latter. We have heard him characterizing the Parliament of Great Britain as ignorant and imbecile—heaping obloquy upon the grandest institutions that are the pride and glory of the world. He has declared that a preference for a closer union wit the Empire would be a weak and foolish prejudice. He has not left the people of this country in any doubt as to his sentiments; and the reason why I congratulate the House and country upon this fact is, that his position is now clearly defined, and he has disarmed himself. In a loyal country like this, when his sentiments are clearly revealed, he must be perfectly impotent to effect any harm whatever.
But is this the time when any man in British America can be ready to give up the […]
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[…] admirable institutions of Great Britain for those of the United States. Let me read to you the picture presented of the latter country by Mr. Howe himself:
“Railroads, canals, steamers and telegraphs then came in and assisted to bind the country together; but in eighty years, with all their aids and appliances, the game was played out; and the same causes which in every quarter of the old world, and in almost every age, have asserted themselves, came distinctly into view, marking the subjection even of the great Republic to the laws which the Creator, for some wise purpose, has established for the government of the universe. It is true that by the expenditure of a million of lives, and of nearly four hundred thousand millions of dollars, the country is still nominally held together; but when hearts are estranged and interests are adverse, when communities baptized in blood and tears, find in a great calamity ever recurring elements of discord and reproach, the time is rapidly drawing on when separation is inevitable, and when new combinations will grow out of the play of the passionate ambitions which the wit of men has hitherto been found harmless to control,”
That is the condition in which the United States is now, as drawn by the hon. gentleman’s leader and co-delegate; and yet this country which has sacrificed a million of lives in a recent struggle—which has incurred a debt greater than that of England—this country riven by discord and strife, in which the Parliament is arrayed against the President, is held up to our admiration as the one to which we ought to be united. These gentlemen having failed to fasten the tyrannical scheme proposed for the organization of the Empire upon us, turn round and say: Instead of allowing you to form part of a great and free community, with an amount of power and influence such as no other people ever possessed, we shall endeavour to drag you under the Stars and Stripes—into that country which Mr. Howe has described as so riven and distracted that neither life nor property is safe. May I not congratulate the House that the mask is at last removed, and that the hon member has shown himself in his true colours? He has presumed to hurl charges of corruption against the loyal and patriotic members of this house. Is it in his own heart that he finds the ground of these charges? Let me ask him if, having found him standing in the presence of the Parliament and daring to disparage the glorious British institutions under which we live, and if, in addition to this, we find him advocating a union with the United States, instead of a union of British America, might not the charge be made that the money of the United States had been used to influence him? He talk to me of corruption!—the man who has taken back every principle that he has ever propounded in this house—the man who goes to England and says to the Imperial Parliament, ” Be careful of your money—do not give a guarantee for a loan of three millions of pounds for the construction of a railway which is going to make Halifax a city of 100,000 souls—give us connection with the United States and Canadas”—who says, ” I am aware that I have claimed the confidence of the constituency of Halifax on the ground that I was an advocate of an Intercolonial Railway, but never mind that: I am determined to use every effort I can to prevent the consummation of that work!”
The hon. member tells us that the American Government are so anxious to obtain possession of us, that they may come in and buy up the Confederate Parliament. Is it or is it not an unjust suspicion to suppose that if the American Government are so corrupt that they would buy up the Confederate Parliament of British America, they have found means to buy up one or two individuals in the Legislature of Nova Scotia? Is it because we have always held one view on this question that we are to be taunted by gentlemen who have taken back the declarations of a lifetime with corruption? lf this Parliament could be so degraded as that men could be influenced by corrupt means to trifle with the best interests of this country, then I say he has given the best evidence in the world why the confederation should take place. If legislators, second to none that ever sat within these walls for probity, intelligence, education, and everything that constitutes able and valuable men, are of that character he would have us suppose they are, then he has given us the best evidence that Nova Scotia is unworthy of British institutions, and the sooner some other country governs us the better. But I feel I am insulting the intelligence of the country when I suppose for an instance that it would do aught than treat with contempt the unfounded insinuations of the hon. gentleman whose own openly avowed sentiments this evening have placed him in so unenviable a position. I feel that the question can be safely left to the patriotism and intelligence of this deliberative Assembly who have always approached it in a spirit that proves them worthy of the free institutions they enjoy, and that an intelligent and loyal population will cordially sustain them thus seeking to elevate and advance our common country. (Cheers).
Speech of Mr. Fraser.
Mr. James Fraser.—I feel it due to myself, as well as to the people I represent, that I should made a few remarks concerning the course which I intend to pursue upon this question. This subject was before us last year, and when the resolutions were before us relative to the appointment […]
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[…] of delegates to see if a better scheme than the Quebec scheme could be devised, I felt it my duty to oppose them, not because I was averse to the principle of union—for it is not merely since I occupied a seat here that I felt the conviction that we could not long occupy our present position—but because of these two reasons: first, I did not know what kind of a bargain the delegates might make when they went thousands of miles away, and I thought it wrong that we should not have the opportunity of saying whether we approved of their arrangements or not; and second, because I knew that a great many of the people were opposed to union. From causes that cannot very well be explained, the people are afraid of change. The first reason for my opposition has now been done away; and, as far as I am able to judge, I am disposed to think that the bargain which the delegates have made is a great deal better than the Quebec scheme, though even that I was not afraid of. I had intended last year to go further than I did; I intended not only to have opposed the resolution but to have supported the amendment, but before the discussion was over I discovered something I did not like—I discovered among some gentleman a strong desire for annexation to the United States. I was brought up in loyal principles, and taught to cherish British institutions, and while I wished to give our people time for consideration, I could not and never will consent to make a change from the English flag to a flag which I never wish to wave over my head or the heads of my children. And now, although continued opposition might be consistent, I consider the question has come to be in that state in which further opposition would not only be useless, but dangerous. We are all proud of the eloquence and abilities of Mr. Howe, and when he went to England I waited with great anxiety to see if he was going to give us something which we would consider better than the scheme of Confederation; but when I found him propounding a scheme which was long ago condemned by himself as impracticable, I began to think if he had nothing better to propound, there was nothing better to be expected than the scheme which had been before us. If the Quebec scheme would bring taxation to the value of one cent, Mr. Howe’s would bring taxation to hundreds of times that amount.
Another matter which operated strongly on my mind was the fact that our American neighbors opposed Confederation. Is that on account of their love for us? No, but because they do not want to see the British power grow up alongside of them. If then I have been sincerely and honestly opposed to the measure hitherto, after viewing these facts and finding that the British Parliament and people, and our honoured Sovereign herself have given their approval of it, I feel that I should be no longer so. I will not deny that among the people opposition still exists, but while no man attaches more value to the wishes of the people, or is more willing to defer to their wishes, I am constrained to take the responsibility of doing what I believe to be right whether I gain popularity by the act or not. I am convinced the day is not far distant when the people will acknowledge that I have done the best thing for them, and surely they cannot think that I would do more for them than for myself and children—I will take my chance under the new system, and I have as much at stake as many who are less willing. I regretted to hear an hon. gentleman state that if the measure passed he would still do all in his power to oppose it,—I cannot agree in that, and if the bill passes, as I believe it will, I will use my humble endeavors to make it a blessing to our people and to the great Empire to which we belong.
Remarks of Dr. Brown.
Dr. Brown said that he was sorry to hear the hon. Provincial Secretary bear so hard on Mr. Howe in his absence. He was not Mr. Howe’s apologist. He had not approved of many of that gentleman’s acts when at the head of public affairs, but he entirely concurred in the object of the mission in which he was now engaged on the part of the people of Nova Scotia. He thought that it would have been more manly and generous in the leader of the government if he had waited for an opportunity of conducting the discussions face to face. As to the question before the House, at that hour of the night he had but few words to say. He did not care whether the course pursued by the Government was constitutional or not—he would not enter into the legality of the case; the only question was, was it right, was it just, was it expedient to pass a measure so vitally affecting the rights of the people, as it were by stealth and without their consent? It could not be argued that an appeal to the people would be inconvenient, because an election must necessarily take place in a few weeks, or months at the furthest. He had heard much talk about loyalty. He thought that loyalty like charity began at home. He thought if the British people and Government passed this bill, compelling our people into a union highly distasteful to a large majority, they might be justly accused of disloyalty towards us. The best loyalty was to take care of ourselves, and if Great Britain was weary of the connection, we must only look elsewhere for friends and allies. It was clear that free trade with the United States was the greatest boon we could now enjoy. The trade with Canada could never be large, and we could encourage it as well without union as with it. But free trade with our republican neighbors would be our salvation, in a commercial sense. He hoped the Government would pause before they passed an act so arbitrary and so unjust to the people.
Speech of Mr. C. J. Campbell.
C.J. Campbell—I did not intend to say much on this question, but the hon member for Inverness has made an observation which I must contradict. He says that the people of Cape Breton are proud of their connection with Nova Scotia, and that the only man opposed to the union has passed away. I think I am as fully acquainted with the feelings of that people as he is, and I therefore feel justified in contradicting the impression which his remarks would leave. The case of Cape Breton is not at all parallel with the case now before us,—the union was effected without the consent of the people, and indeed without their knowledge.
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The island was at first only represented by two members out of all proportion to the representation of Nova Scotia. We afterwards petitioned for a repeal, and two out of the four members then representing Cape Breton voted against it. About twenty years ago a large petition was sent to England, and a legal gentleman employed on the subject in London, so that the statement made is inaccurate. Even now Cape Breton can scarcely get justice at the hands of Nova Scotia, and session after session we are sneered at by even leading politicians. I attribute the strong feeling of the people of Cape Breton on the subject of Confederation to the treatment they have received at the hands of Nova Scotia. We have not yet a fair share of representation. In the case of the present union, however, we enter on more favourable terms even than either of the Canadas, both as regards representation and the funds to be placed at our disposal.
Mr. Blackwood’s Speech.
Mr. Blackwood:—As I intend to support the amendment, I feel that I should like to say a few words before the vote is taken. I support it on the principle that however finely argued the case may be in reference to constitutional authority, there is a sense of right and wrong which tells us that this privilege belongs to the people, and if there be no precedent in favour of the course, we urge it is time we made one when the constitution is to be changed, and when the eyes of the world are on us. If ever there was a time when the feelings of the people should be consulted it is the present. The time of the house will shortly expire, and if an election were held the measure could be completed shortly afterwards. I do not consider that within this house is concentrated all the wisdom of the country. We have had Mr. Howe’s opinions quoted to us but I do not see that we should consider his views as the subject of discussion now, or the views of any man, but the position and interests and feelings of the people of Nova Scotia. I do not entertain an opinion favourable to the scheme for the organization of the Empire because I think its features could not be carried out with satisfaction to all the Colonies.
With reference to annexation, I may say that I never could feel otherwise than degraded by being subjected to the Stars and Stripes; but in making the charges of disloyalty which have been made, I think that justice has not been done to those expressing their opinions on this side of the house. They have not said, or sought to convey the impression, that they favour annexation, but that they are opposed to any union, and desire to progress as we have been progressing. The people of Nova Scotia have no idea of joining the United States unless they are driven to it; but if you stir up hostility by such legislation as will embitter their minds, and for that purpose take advantage of the position which the Government occupy, the British feeling will be driven out of their British hearts. I feel it due the people to speak out boldly, for if ever there was a time when their feelings should be consulted, it is the present. Let us not take the opinion of this or that individual, but the opinion of the entire country, and by that decision I am content to stand or fall.
Mr. Churchill’s Speech.
Mr. Churchill—In the discussion of a question of such vital importance it appears to me that it would have been wise to have allowed more time for consideration than has been given us. From the very moment this subject claimed my thoughts, the responsibilities connected with it have pressed upon my mind with a weight beyond anything that I can express. I have never given to any individual my opinion, and when asked what my opinion was about this great question of Confederation, I have replied that it was not one of so small moment that an opinion could be given hastily. I have not consulted my constituents on the subject, nor they me, but I have viewed the matter in its broadest aspect, and nothing has occurred to shake the opinion which l have formed, although in some respects I have been delighted with the speeches to which I have listened. It is not in the power of any living man to comprehend and grasp the entire subject,—the results lie in the future, and will reveal themselves only after years have rolled round. Therefore when my opinion has been asked I have felt disinclined to give it. Suppose gentlemen were about purchasing Canada. Would they use many words about it? Would they not rather ponder deeply and say but little, and measure the language they used rather than make lengthy speeches? Last session I intended to have been present and to have recorded my vote, but I was unavoidably detained—my mind was made up then as it is to—night. The question now before us is not whether we shall have this union or not—that was decided last winter by an unexpected and sweeping majority. The house then delegated a number of gentlemen to proceed to England, and to make a contract on our behalf, and we all know’ the result, and every man in Nova Scotia might have known what the result would be with England anxious, Canada anxious, and Nova Scotia willing, constitutionally willing.
It is not fair to ask the legislature to undo what it did last winter when it fixed the destiny of the Province and clothed those gentlemen with the authority of delegates. The petitions sent across the water could not be expected to have had any effect—on any public question of interest a cartload of them could be obtained without any result. One benefit that will accrue from Confederation is that the General Government will control the currency. I look upon the mode in which our Provincial currency has been managed as imprudent and selfish; a number of bankers, by combining, have controlled the currency completely. Instead of £140,000 in Province notes we should have had half a million years ago afloat, and the condition of our finances would have been far better. Another advantage is the construction of the Intercolonial Railroad, and the extension of our other roads, which I believe we could not have without the union. In view of these questions I have felt that if my last hour had come and my opinion were asked, I would say: do not be afraid to venture on the great realities that will break forth on a combined people. Isolated, there is no safety; combined there is wisdom and security. Mr. Howe has been much referred to. I was sorry when he left us, and I can well remember receiving […]
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[…] from his addresses the conviction that union must be the order of the day. What could induce me at my advanced stage of life, to advocate a measure if I did not believe it would be for the advantage of those who are to come after me? The proposal made to us is to submit the matter to the polls. Suppose you could do so would that be the proper way to try it? Does not every man acquainted with the condition of our Province know that at the polls party feelings would override everything? You never could ascertain the real opinions of the people by an election, and the great measure would be almost lost sight of.
I therefore feel no doubt upon that ground. I am now probably in the last year of my political life, and I would have been glad could I have escaped the responsibility now resting upon me; but that responsibility must rest upon some one, and I am here to discharge it. I believe there are hundreds and hundreds of able and deep-thinking men in this Province who are glad to get rid of this responsibity [sic], as I would be, if I could.
I was amused last evening to hear the remarks about annexation. I would ask hon. gentlemen what part of the States would we be annexed to—the North or the South? I always regretted that Halifax, as well as New Brunswick, gave its sympathy to the South—that mistaken people who are wasted like the ranks upon the other side of the House. If war had not occurred, the subject of annexation might have been broached, but after that I hoped never to hear of the proposition. I doubt that the United States would be anxious to have us; they will get our coals and fish, and give us what they please, as they always have done. I would like to have dwelt more largely on the subject, but time will not permit at this late hour of the night; and I would merely say, in conclusion, that I am willing, with my hon. friend from Pictou, who spoke a short time ago, to fall into the ranks of those who seek to unite the Provinces.
Speech of Mr. Hebb.
Mr. Hebb said:—I rise not to make a long speech, but to give a few views which I entertain upon this question. Last winter, as well as in this session, a great deal was said about loyalty and about the intelligence of the country, and it has been repeatedly said that all the intelligence and all the loyal feeling of this country were favorable to union. Now I believe that not one member of this house desires annexation to the United States; but supposing a faithful son asked his father for the portion of the inheritance which fell to his share, and the father said, “I will give you nothing,” would it not be expected that the son would leave him? Again, if a young man desired a wife, and after seeing many young women of the neighboring Provinces, should find one better suited to him in the States, is it not natural that he should follow his choice? But, as I have said, no member here desires annexation; and if such an impression has been derived from any remarks that have been made, it is no doubt from the haste of expression. There are men here who could talk from now until next September, because it is their business; but it is not to be expected that some of us should be so well trained in expression as those lawyers and doctors. The blood boils in my veins when I hear some of these gentlemen despising their constituents. There are good and loyal men in this country who will not come to the Legislature, and their opinions should he heard. It has been intimated that the people are not able to judge—that they are too ignorant; but I ask who has made the country but the people to whom this language is applied? Did the handful of members around me make the country? No, but the men who are catching the fish, who are taking the lumber from the forests and the stones from the soil. The laborers of the country should he heard, and I speak thus because I am one of them, and know how wrong it is for men of position and education to look down on the working classes. I should like to see our public men when they are passing through the Province, greeted everywhere with a pleasant countenance and receiving the ready grasp of the hand.
There is an old saying which forbids us to compare men and beasts together, but sometimes the comparison is necessary, and I wish to make one: I know that if you put on a horse a collar that chafes his neck and makes the blood trickle down his breast you will see his eyes become dim and his ears droop,—and what can you expect from human beings if you force on them a measure which they dislike. I am not so much opposed to union as to overriding the opinions of the people. They might at some future time express a desire for Confederation, but if you force it on them now, I can only say that I should not like to be one of those whose names are attached to the records of the country as favoring the measure. The arrangements between the Provinces reminds me of an anecdote which I heard some years ago: A cat and a monkey went to market to buy cheese, they did so, and on returning home, in order to make a division procured a pair of scales;—the monkey was careful to cut one piece larger than the other, and when it did not weigh evenly he got permission to taste, and so went on cutting and tasting until the cheese had nearly disappeared, and when the cat remonstrated she was threatened with a hiding.
That is pretty much the position of our affairs; we are the small Colonies, and if we complain, Canada will threaten to chastise us. It would seem that no one can speak upon this question without referring to Mr. Howe; but supposing that gentleman did at one time speak of union. It is too much the practice for men to stick to the principle they have avowed, whether right or wrong; and the man who acknowledges an error is entitled to credit. As is well known, I am not much of a speaker, and will not therefore long detain the house. I cannot understand how any set of gentlemen dare to impose such a measure upon the country, against the wishes of the people. If the people are favorable to it, why be afraid to come out among them and abide the consequences? For my part, I will stand by the people, and if I fall, I will fall by them.
Remarks of Hon. Financial Secretary.
Mr. James Macdonald said:—I would not address the House at this late hour were it not for some of the observations which fell from the hon. member for East Halifax […]
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[…] as to the financial aspect of the question, and which it is desirable that the country should fully understand. The House knows that the opponents of union have argued that the revenues of this country are to be dissipated by Canada—that the hardly earned revenues of the peeple are to go to enrich the Canadian treasury. I undertake to tell the hon. member, and I challenge him to contradict me, by reference to the figures open to every one, and which I shall adduce to the House, that so far from the revenues of this country going to enrich the Canadas, the fact is the very reverse. The hon. member has taken the figures furnished in the estimates for the past year laid on the table by the government. I will take the figures from the same source, and will undertake to show that instead of the revenues of Nova Scotia going to pay the debts of Canada, we shall have almost the entire revenue derived from this portion of the confederacy spent within the limits of this Province, in payment of the same services to which our revenue is now applied; for it must be remembered that although the management of these departments—the revenue and post office departments for instance—is transferred to the general government, the services must still be performed by men residing and spending their income in this country. We shall receive, then, first the contribution fixed by the act of union, to be paid by the general government in aid of our local expenditure, amounting to $324,000 in the first instance, and shall continue to receive in proportion to our population till we number 400,000. Let me see then, how the matter will stand, and I may say that I am entitled to no credit for the statement shewing this view of the matter, as I avail myself of the figures as arranged in a most satisfactory and lucid manner by a recent writer on the subject.
The estimated revenue for 1866 amounted to $1,631,500; from that amount must be deducted the sum of $155,000, being the amount included in the estimate as revenue derivable from the departments of mines, casual revenue, gold fields, and the Hospital of the Insane which remain under the management of the local government, and contribute to the local fund. That would leave the balance of the estimated revenue which will pass under the control of the general government at $1,476,500—from this must be deducted the contribution as above stated to be made to our local revenues $324,000, which will leave to be disbursed by this government $1,152,000. We have, therefore, for general and local revenue taking the estimate as selected by the hon. gentleman himself as a basis, the following sums
|General Government||Local Government|
|$1,152,000||Amt received from General Government $324,000|
|Local sources of revenue 155,000|
Now, sir, let us see how these sums are to be disbursed. I need not refer to the local revenue as that of course is distributed by the Local Government for the expenses of that Government and the maintenance of the important public services left within its jurisdiction. But where and how is the $1,152,000 transferred to the control of the General Government paid? Is it in Canada or to Canadian people? No, sir, but in Nova Scotia and to Nova Scotians. The hon. gentleman will admit, indeed it is the basis of his argument—that the services transferred to the General Government would be sustained as now. These services then are as follows:
The General Government would pay—
|The Lieut. Governor||$15,000|
|Debt, interest on||480,000|
|Judiciary expenses||1 400|
|Protection of fisheries||40 000|
|Support of Light-houses||50 000|
|Post Office||65 000|
|Revenue expenses||70 500|
|Proportion of Legislative expenses||30 000|
|Sable Island||5 000|
|Government buildings||10 000|
|Agriculture and Immigration||20,000|
leaving a balance of merely $50,000 as the only contribution by this Province towards the construction of the Intercolonial Road—a work which the hon. gentleman and the Government of which he was a member considered so essential to the interest of this country, that they were willing to mortgage a very large proportion of the revenues of the country forever to construct not our own fair proportion of the road, but 50 or 100 miles with New Brunswick.
But if we take the actual expenditure of this year in some of the servicys named, instead of the estimated amount, what do we find? We find, sir, that the amount paid greatly exceeds the estimate, and that in reality, instead of a balance of $50,000, there would be a deficiency on the side of the General […]
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[…] Government. Let us compare some of these. The militia service was estimated to cost $80,000; it cost in reality about $138,000, or $58,000 in excess of the estimate. The several services under the Board of Works, including St. Peter’s Canal, were estimated to cost $180,320: the expenditure of the year was $284,017, being an excess of $93,697. I need not compare the estimate and expenditure on the other items, but the House will see that on these two services alone there is over $151,000, or three times the sum which by the first calculation appeared to go into the general treasury without an equivalent. Nor is this all, for it must be remembered that the cost of the construction of the Intercolonial Railway must come out of the general revenue. It will be therefore seen that the Province actually receives more than she puts into the general fund, and sufficient besides to pay her proportion of the Intercolonial Railway debt. I challenge the hon. gentleman to refute a single statement 1 have made. If he is unable to do so, and he knows he is, what becomes of the whole fabric he has built upon his financial argument, on which he is now content to rest his opposition?
Speech of Mr. S. Campbell.
Mr. S. Campbell:—At this late hour, and after the fatigues of a long day, and in an atmosphere to say the least of it oppressive I proceed to perform the duty accorded to me by my friends and by the courtesy of the House to conclude this debate, and I feel upon the present occasion as I felt in my previous address, that my present office and responsibility place me in conflict with great odds. I feel that I have great antagonists both within and without these walls, but I am at the same time assured that I have the warm and hearty concurrence of the people to sustain me. I believe I have a righteous cause and I know that—
“Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though locked up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.”
Hence, sir, I feel emboldened in proceeding in my present task, and I shall take the liberty at starting to review some of the observations which have been made by gentlemen who have preceded me before I remark upon the main question which this amendment discloses. The first name I find on my notes is that of a gentleman who stands high in this country in point of rank and talent; I mean the Prov. Sec’y, and I may say I think it would have become that gentleman to have pursued a different course in reference to an absent rival. I am not the apologist or champion of Mr. Howe but I claim the honor of his personal friendship. I am an admirer of his because I believe him to be a valuable public man and a pure-souled patriot. I deprecate the course taken by the Prov. Sec’y., in reference to Mr. Howe because he is absent. There are those among us who have met him in conflict, and I wish heartily that he was here to repel the charges which have been made against his consistency and patriotism. We would not try the meanest criminal at the bar of justice in his absence; common decency would repudiate such a monstrous procedure, but here, in reference to that gentleman who is absent from his native land on a mission connected with its best interest, who Curtins like has cast himself into a wide and deep chasm for his country’s sake, it is thought not indecorous to put him on trial and to ask the country to condemn him.
Sir, this is entirely wrong. But not content with pouring the vials of his wrath upon Mr. Howe, the Prov. Sec’y., went on to refer to the capitalists of the city in terms which cannot be justified by their character or their conduct. And who, sir, are these capitalists? Are they not the men who have been at the back of the hon. gentleman in many a fierce political encounter, and who, on such occasions, have rendered him effectual service? He was therefore guilty of ingratitude of the blackest dye in endeavoring to make them the objects of odium and scandal before the country. The capitalists of this city, sir, have a deep stake in the interest of Nova Scotia; their lot is cast here for all time; and if the city or province prosper, their means must be correspondingly enlarged. To say that they are actuated by the sordid motives that were asserted, is a libel on them which I feel called on to throw back in the teeth of the man who made it. I am not bound to them by any considerations or connection, but as they have no one here willing, although bound, to answer in their name, l cannot but take notice and vindicate them from the gross calumny which we have heard.
Next we were told that the petitions presented here at the last Session numbered but a few thousands. I well recollect the circumstances under which those petitions were withdrawn from general signature. While they were being circulated for that purpose the country was told by members of this House, and their partizans elsewhere, that Confederation would not be brought here; that the Government dare not bring it here; and I think I might bring it to the […]
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[…] recollection of one of the delegates that he proclaimed the opinion that the subject would not be presented to us for many years. It was under these and other circumstances that the people ceased petitioning, and but for the representations I have referred to, the number would have reached that of those which were sent across the water.
The Provincial Secretary, in referring to the scheme, touched upon one important topic—the fisheries. My constituents, Sir, are deeply interested in that branch of industry—none more so, perhaps, except those of the county of Halifax, and what is the history of Confederation in that aspect? How damagingly has Canadian influence operated on those engaged in the fisheries of the country? Every one knows that they have been sold and sacrificed; and whether it be Canadian or Imperial agency that has been at work, I care not—the melancholy fact remains: our fisheries and our fishermen have been sold. This, Sir, is a foretaste of the fruits of Confederation—this is a specimen of the policy that will be pursued in reference to the many other interests of the Maritime Provinces when it suits the objects of the new ” Dominion.” There is no man, young or old, engaged in the prosecution of the fisheries, and dependent upon them for his support, but has this melancholy conviction forced upon his mind—that to be a British subject is to occupy a position inferior to that of an American. All that valuable property which the Legislature has been from year to year declaring to be the peculiar possession of the country has been transferred for a consideration too paltry and contemptible to mention. Every member here who has fishermen for his constituents must feel that this Canadian policy should induce him to pause a long time before giving his assent to this Union.
I now come to that part of the Provincial Secretary’s observations which relate to a gentleman who, though he is here, is debarred from answering for himself, inasmuch as he has exhausted the privileges which the rules accord to him. The so called annexation sentiments of the hon. member for East Halifax have been proclaimed by the Provincial Secretary. I understood my hon. friend to say this: ” I do not wish to be an American, I wish to be a British subject—I wish to remain a Nova Scotian, and to enjoy my birthright and my constitutional freedom as such; I do not wish to be a Canadian.” That is the whole extent of the ground on which this charge of annexation sentiments has been founded and sought to be fastened upon the hon. member. The next name on my list is the hon. member for Inverness, who referred to a topic that is very distasteful to me, because it refers to a state of mind and intention which it is derogatory to the honor of this House to suppose that any member of the House is moved by—that is, the matter of corruption. As I have said, the topic is derogatory to us, it is distasteful to me, and I will pass it by with only this remark—let the people be our judge. But the hon. member thought he had made a great point when he asked it we had the machinery for testing this question at the polls, taking into consideration the population of the various counties, and the number of members returned. But he forgot that that is the machinery by which this House is constituted, under any and all circumstances and in relation to every question, and therefore l consider that his analysis of the population and representation of the several constituencies was no proof in support of his position. Then the hon. member spoke of the union of Cape Breton with this Province; but he forgot to tell us, as he should have done, that at that time the island had no representative institutions; its affairs were managed by the Governor and Council, and its people were not represented at all. The people of the island were therefore elevated in the scale of constitutional freedom when their interests were placed under the protection of representatives duly elected by them. I now come to the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Shannon). He greatly mistook the reference which I made to the period and the doings of Nero. I meant and made no allusion at all to the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament, in connection with the merry-making in which the “speech” called us to join, but my remarks were aimed at the concocters of that speech. It was in connection with the proposed rejoicings that I made the reference to the tyrant who, in the midst of a calamity such as never afflicted this Province, saw such great reason for merriment. The hon. gentleman then went on to give us a glowing picture of the period when Confederation was consummated in this Province. He told his constituents through this House: ” You farmers, you fishermen, you artizans, all of you are to get a double price for all the wares and commodities you bring to market.” On what grounds has he made such an assertion? Has he offered us any grounds for it? Am I to suppose that this is all claptrap intended to influence a constituency on the approach of an election? I cannot […]
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[…] imagine any other reason for such a statement. Then, again, he told us that the laboring men of the city of Halifax understand this question well, and are going to be greatly benefited by Confederation. I ask, do not the merchants who give these men their living understand the question at least as well? Is it not the interest of the merchants to advance the general prosperity, and how is it that they are opposed to the scheme? Do men generally act in opposition to their interests? No; they are men of intelligence, and from north to south of this city they in a very large proportion reject the measure.
Then we were told that Confederation would keep all the young men in the country; if the hon. member’s expectations are realized the young men will be too numerous, and Nova Scotia will be too small a field for them. To this I answer the world is wide enough. There is the neighboring Republic, to which many of them have already repaired, and in which they have raised themselves to positions of eminence and wealth. I am reminded in this connection of one who has become one of the most eminent shipbuilders in the world. He went from one of our western counties.
Mr. Churchill.—He failed at last.
Mr. S. Campbell.—Perhaps so; but has he not benefitted the world in the meantime? It would seem from the speech of the. hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Tobin) that he, too, is impressed with the same notion that Nova Scotia is not large enough for our young men. The Dominion is to enlarge the field, but they can go to any part of the new Dominion now. I come now to the Financial Secretary, who has entitled himself to special notice at my hands, having extended to me a certain class of civilities rendering such recognition necessary. He termed me ” a mere colonial lawyer.” Let me ask what he is? Is he so puffed up by being placed in his present position, and by having been sent on an unnecessary and expensive delegation abroad, and having so little to do at home that he can afford to sneer at members of his own profession, and endeavour to derogate from their position by the contemptible epithet he has used? Sir, let him bear in mind that his position is but for a day. He also charged me with recklessness and audacity in my views and expressions. Sir, as a British subject, and a British freeman, I shall entertain any opinion that may commend itself to my judgment, and will express that opinion as freely as I please.
Annexation to the United States, says the hon member, is the object of gentlemen on his side. The hon. gentleman, in so saying ventured on a statement as untrue as it was bold. No man shall venture with impunity to hurl that charge at us, or convey without challenge the imputation of disloyalty. Disloyalty is no part of my nature—it has marked no act of my public career. I am willing to lay down my life—to shed the last drop of my blood, on behalf of the country in which my lot is cast, and with whose fortunes my best affections are entwined; but at the same time I know my rights, and shall take every constitutional means to vindicate them. And, sir, let me remind the hon. member that I am not paid for my loyalty—it is an inborn principle; it is not of that spurious kind which is fed upon and fattened by the sweets and solids of the public treasury.
Again, the hon. member says, “If the people feel any embarrassment in the consideration of the question, would it not be wise in them to take the opinion and to act upon the conclusion of those standing at the head of affairs on the other side of the water?” Sir, I do not admit that he has the right to call on a free people living under constitutional government to forego their own indubitable privilege and to commit the decision of any question, much less the present one, to any other than themselves. They are clothed from their very birth, with the privilege of deciding upon every question that can possibly arise; and though it has been not only insinuated but asserted that they are ignorant, I know well this fact, that in every county in the Province there are fifty-five men to be found quite as capable of giving a righteous decision on the present question as the fifty-five members who compose this house. I insist, therefore, that the people ought not to be content to leave this question to any arbitrament in which their voices are not heard.
Before passing from this portion of the hon. member’s remarks, let me present to the house my idea of some of the hon. gentleman’s reasons for raking up these phantom charges about annexation and disloyalty. The hon. member knew what was the inborn, ordinary and natural feeling of a great portion of the people of the county that he nominally represents. Scotchmen, he knew, were distinguished for their patriotism, and he thought it might be advantageous, in view of his own dubious position, to excite the hostile feelings of the men of that nationality by charging upon the opponents of Confederation the aims and sentiments to which I have referred. But, sir, to retort upon the hon. member, let me ask, not what have been his views or his sentiments, but what has been his conduct? He has done his utmost to denude his Scottish friends and constituents of the inconstitutional [sic] liberties. When I think of this, I feel bound to tell him, though it may not be a very comfortable piece of information for him to bear in his remembrance, that, Scotchmen everywhere are like the guarded emblem of their never-conquered land, and are ever ready to […]
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[…] meet the foe who wantonly would tread upon or rudely touch the foliage or the flower of their freedom. (Hear.) They will not be Scotchmen if, when he again ventures to approach them, he does not feel the thrust of their indignation piercing the very marrow of his political existence.
I now come, sir, to the gist of the amendment—the constitutional question, as it has been called; and let me ask if this is a subject in the consideration of which we are to be met with an objection, what I cannot but call a constitutional quibble? We have been repeatedly and vauntingly told that we have shown no precedent that would justify the House in adopting the amendment I have had the honor to propose. To this quibble, sir, I offer in reply the substantial precedent of common sense. It will be time enough when these expounders of constitutional law furnish me with a state of things similar to that existing in relation to this question—it will, I, say be time enough to produce the now impossible precedent. Sir, the question of Confederation is upon us—it is widely regarded as a new and unprecedented malady, endangering the entire body politic,—and how is it to be met? It must be dealt with out of the usual course,—no ordinary applications would be reasonable or wise; it urgently demands the freest treatment, and no treatment seems to me more prudent or consonant with wisdom than the one which I propose in the amendment. This branch of the Legislature must, according to the principles of its constitution, terminate its existence in the course of a very few weeks. Every member of this House will then be called on to meet his constituents face to face. What, I ask, even in reference to the position and prospects of the Administration itself, can possibly transpire between the present period and the period of that inevitable election to induce the Government to oppose the postponement of the question until then?
I must not be understood as wishing to take the final decision of the question out of the hands of the Legislature, but let the matter remain as it is, let the public business go on to completion, and after that is done let the people as is customary and constitutional record their votes, and let the result of that election be their decision of this question. If favorable let it finally incorporated into law when our successors come here. There is and there can be no other question pending in the country of greater importance than this, and I assert that the electors are intelligent enough to decide it on its own merits. With their verdict I shall be satisfied. This is no sudden impulse with me—this is no factious view. From the first moment that the question of union was mooted I have given expression to the same unchangeable sentiment—and in doing so I of course advocated a proceeding that would have the effect, if adopted, of abridging the term of my own parliamentary existence. Particularly do I consider it as dishonourable in the extreme to adopt any other course than the one I advocate inasmuch as gentlemen here in favor of this measure well know that they are acting in opposition to their own convictions of the existing feeling throughout the Province. In several counties public meetings have been held which have been attended, not by men of one party, but by men representing every political class; and no man can be ignorant of the sentiment which those general gatherings enunciated. The opinions and wishes of other counties have also in other modes been unmistakeably expressed. It is, therefore, tyrannical, wrong and unjust in the extreme, with that conviction on the minds of members, to refuse the people the ordinary right of passing on a measure that is to affect them and children forever. What is the end and object of government but the happiness and welfare of the people? Governments are not institutions created for the purpose of hampering a few officials, but to enlarge the interests and promote the prosperity of the country in entire subordination to the well understood wishes of the people. Is this measure, regarded in that aspect, in the least degree likely to secure that much desired end? Mr. Speaker, I have from the outset of this debate purposely abstained from going into the general question of Confederation, the resolution I have submitted affirms the one grand principle that the question should not be decided until the people are heard upon it at the polls.
I might have pointed out many incongruities and unsound and unjust provisions, and many others likely to produce dissentions in the dominion about to be erected, but I have preferred confining myself to the simple but sound principle of appealing first to the people of this country to ask them, the sovereign people as I will call them, whether they will have this Union—this Dominion—or not? I cannot close, however, and resume my seat without this single observation. The Government are about to pass, or expect ere long to see enacted this measure of Union. When passed and enacted will it be worth the paper on which it is printed if the minds and the hearts of the people do not endorse it. Is it merely a stretch of the imagination to fancy a majority returned in opposition to the principles of the bill,—may we not justly anticipate that contingency? And what then? Why of course that there will be an agitation wide and violent for the repeal of this union. In what temper and under what pledge will the representatives of the people come from the polls? by a large majority this house, or the house to succeed it, will be composed of the men opposed to Confederation. Do you suppose, sir, that the sense of wrong and injustice will so soon be effaced from their hearts and memories? No the same convictions that operate now will operate then with tenfold force, and lamentable will be the condition of disorder and confusion in which public matters will then be involved. It is surely more than wise to avoid this almost certain consummation. I ask the house to consider its position and its duty in that view. This argument I feel should operate favorably upon the vote to-night. I conclude, sir, with the hope, sincere and ardent, that the course taken on this occasion may not produce any such fatal result. At all events, if it should, I shall have the consolation that I have done my best to avert it by submitting the amendment I have the honor to propose.
At 2 1/2 o’clock the question was put to the House when there appeared
For the Amendment—Townsend, Hobb, Balcom, Ross, More, Killam, McLelan, Robertson, […]
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[…] Blackwood, King, S. Campbell, Coffin, Locke, Ray, Annand, Brown—16.
Against the Amendment—Heffernan, James Fraser, Shannon, Chas. Campbell, Bourinot, Hill, Whitman, D Fraser, Churchill, Allison, Pryor, Parker, McKay, Kaulback, Hill, Tobin, Hamilton, Jost, Donkin, Longley, J. Campbell, McKinnon, McFarlane, Financial Secretary, Tupper, Cowie, Robichau, Archibald, Blanchard, Colin Campbell, Smyth, Caldwell,—32.
The last clause of the answer to the address passed by the same vote.