Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Lieutenant Governor’s Speech and Response (9 February 1865)


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Date: 1865-02-09
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 2nd Sess, 1865 at 1-4.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1865.

THURSDAY, February 9.

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The House met at two o’clock, and were summoned by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor to the Legislative Council Chamber where he read the following

SPEECH:

Mr. President, and Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council :

Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:

1. It has been in good fortune, in other portions of the British Empire, to have been brought in contact, and to have enjoyed much intercourse, With Members of their Legislatures The recollections connected therewith, and the results of such mutual acquaintance, induce me to look forward with pleasure to the establishment here of similar agreeable relations between Her Majesty’s Representative in Nova Scotia and the Members of this Legislature.

2. I rejoice that our first meeting takes place at a moment so auspicious to the material prosperity of the Province, that I am enabled to congratulate you at once on the late bountiful harvest, and on the unprecedented increase of your revenue, as well as the remarkable development of your most important Exports and Imports.

3. This unusual degree of prosperity is the more fortunate, occurring, as it does, at the time when you are invited to consider one of the gravest questions—probably the gravest and most momentous question—ever submitted to the Legislature of this Province. You are thus enabled to bring to its consideration a greater amount of deliberate and calm reflection than if harassed by any disturbing pressure of less fortunate circumstances.

4. At the opening of last Session, the Officer then administering the Government alluded to the identity of the interests of the British North American Maritime Provinces, and laid before you a proposal for devising means of effecting their Union under one Government. The consideration which you then gave to the question led to a resolution requesting the Officer administering the Government to appoint Delegates, not exceeding five in number to confer on that subject with Delegates from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

5. It became my duty, on receiving permission from Her Majesty’s Government, to give effect to the Resolution. Therefore, with a view to a full and fair discussion, I endeavored to bestow a national character on the Delegation by requesting the aid of prominent representatives of the two great leading parties in the Province. I have directed the report presented to me by those gentlemen to be laid before you; you will thence learn their reasons for deferring the final consideration of the subject, which you had submitted to them, till another proposal, which had been made in the interim, had been first disposed of, namely, that of a general Union of British North America.

6. When invited by the Governor General to send Delegates to Quebec to discuss that wider question, I considered it my duty to obtain previously the consent of Her Majesty’s Government. I then appointed, on behalf of this Province, the same gentlemen who had represented her interests in the first Conference. The second Conference commenced its sittings at Quebec on the 10th October, and did not conclude them till the 29th of that month.

7. The result of their labors, proposing a Union of British North America, on certain conditions embodied in seventy-two Resolutions, has already been made public, and will now be officially communicated to you with all the correspondence connected therewith.

8. The highest authority on such a subject, the Colonial Minister of the Crown, has recorded his opinion of the labors of the Delegates. and has given them credit for the warmest sentiments of loyalty, as also for conducting their deliberations with a patient sagacity, which enabled them to arrive at common conclusions on the most involved and difficult questions.

9. I feel assured that, irrespective of any political difference of opinion, such encomiums from such a quarter, on British North American statesmen, must be deeply gratifying to that great body of Her Majesty’s subjects, who are proud to identify themselves with the welfare and reputation of these Provinces.

10. A copy of the Despatch of the Secretary of State, containing those opinions, and conveying the general approval by Her Majesty’s Government of the Quebec Resolutions as “the best framework of a measure to be passed “by the imperial Parliament,” for the purposes therein more fully adverted to, was received by me on the 22nd December, and by my orders was published the same day for general information. You have, therefore, been for many weeks in possession of the views of Her Majesty’s Government, and the country has for a still longer period enjoyed the opportunity for discussing the expediency of the project of Union.

11. It is not my province, and I have no mission to do more than afford you the freest scope for consideration of a proposal which seriously involves your own prospects, and in reference to which you should be competent to interpret the wishes and determine the true interests of the country. I feel assured, however, that whatever he the result of your deliberations. you will deprecate attempts to treat in a narrow spirit, or otherwise than with dispassionate care and prudence, a question so broad, that in reality it covers the ground of all parties and precludes it from becoming the measure of merely one Government or one party.

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12. I need only observe further, without in the least intending thereby to influence your ultimate determination, that it is obviously convenient, if not essential, for the Legislatures of all the Provinces concerned to observe uniformity in the mode of ascertaining their respective, decisions on a question common to all. I have, therefore, desired to be laid before you some correspondence between the Governor General and myself on that. point.

13. Scarcely less important or urgent is the question of internal defense. Much progress was made last year in the general enrolment of the Militia force of the colony, which numbered upwards of 56,000 men; of whom nearly 42,000 turned out for inspection and drill. When the heavy, direct tax, paid by those men and also by the Volunteers, both in time and labor, is considered, we must all feel that the country owes them a special debt of gratitude.

14. Nevertheless, though they have exhibited much military aptitude, no adequate means have yet been taken to render effective the excellent material of that large force. Without arms, accoutrements, uniforms, or any advantage except a few hours drill in each year, a succession of years similarly employed would teach them little more. A step in advance is necessary to fit them fort he most ordinary service in the field. This Province can no longer expect to contribute for its defense only a fortieth part of the annual disbursements of Her Majesty’s Commissariat chest at Halifax. Nor do I for a moment suppose you can either expect or wish the ample freedom which you enjoy here, to be always exempt from those honorable obligations which its preservation entails elsewhere.

15. I have therefore directed Estimates to be prepared for placing the Militia in a more efficient state, and feel confident that whatever may be the necessary cost, you will regard the defence of the Country not as a burthen, but a privilege and a sacred duty to be cheerfully performed.

Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:

16. The Public Accounts will also be submitted for your inspection, and the General Estimates be prepared with every attention to economy which the exigencies of the Public Service permit.

Mr. President, and Honorable Gentlemen by the Legislative Council:

Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly :

17. You will, I am satisfied, have heard with regret that. proceedings are in progress to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty[1], which has conferred such extensive benefits on the trade both of this Province and the neighboring States, whilst it has also essentially promoted the most friendly relations between the two countries. I have directed the correspondence on that subject to be laid before you,

18. Strongly impressed with the advantage of making the great natural resources of this Colony better understood in the principal commercial centres of Europe, I have promised a limited amount of aid to a committee of gentlemen who are now employed in securing a due representation of this Province at the International Exhibition to be held in Dublin during the present year. I anticipate your hearty cooperation in promoting such a national object, when the papers upon this subject shall have been brought under your consideration.

19. Some modification of the law passed last Session for the better encouragement of Education will be laid before on, and no doubt you will gladly endeavor to render more available and better adapted to the wants of the country, certain provisions of a measure which so materially concerns the education of the great body of the people. I count on that important subject receiving the most enlightened consideration at your hands.

20. In accordance with the Act passed last Session providing for the extension of the Railway to Pictou, that work was put under contract, and will be completed with all possible dispatch.

21. Proposals for the construction of Railways to the border of New Brunswick and to Annapolis, will also require your consideration.

22. The grant of last Session on account of Saint Peter’s Canal has been expended, and a full Report on that work will be laid before you at an early day.

23. I regret to be obliged to inform you that the crowded state of the Hospital for the Insane has made it impossible to provide adequate accommodation for the care of these who unfortunately need an asylum of that description. I trust the appeal thus made to the sympathy of the Legislature will lead to the extension of an Institution so indispensable.

24. You will be gratified to learn that. the traffic on the Provincial Railways continues to exhibit a marked and steady improvement over any previous year, and that the increasing sale of the Crown Lands, and extended working of the Coal and Gold Mines, all evidence a high degree of prosperity.

25. These fortunate circumstances, enhanced as they are by the continuance of peace, will no doubt facilitate your discharge of those public duties for which I have called you together, and must awaken in us all a grateful recognition of the indulgent bounty of that Providence which has bestowed so many blessings on this Province.

26. I now declare this Session opened.

Having returned to the Assembly Room, the Speaker read the Speech to the House.

Hon. Prov. Sec. laid on the table the election writs for the Counties of Annapolis and Pictou.

Mr. Ray and Hon. James McDonald were then presented and sworn in, in the presence of Hon. M. B. Almon, Hon. J. H. Anderson, and Hon. A. Keith, acting as Commissioners.

Dr. Hamilton laid on the table, pro forma, a bill for the better protection of the estates and rights of married women.

ANSWER TO THE ADDRESS.

Mr. Kaulback in moving the answer to the address, said : The very great pleasure it gives the in moving the answer to the speech, with which His Excellency opened this Session, is greatly enhanced by the opening remarks of His Excellency in which he informed us of the unprecedented increase of our Revenue as well as the remarkable development of our most important Exports and Imports.

It affords me great pleasure to congratulate the Government, and the Country on having a large Revenue, which tends so much to maintain the confidence and strengthen the ties between Government and Country.

We the Representatives of the people, must feel this state of things highly encouraging to us as well as the Government, and a happy relief from the perplexities which attend an empty chest.

This unusual degree of prosperity is the more fortunate because it occurs at a time, as His Excellency has been pleased to remark, when we are invited to consider the greatest question ever submitted to this Legislature, the Union of British North America.

This question has engaged the attention of the leading public men for more than half a century, not only in those Colonies, but in England ; and the subject years ago, and on several occasions was brought to the consideration of the Legislature by our leading public men of all parties. We are now invited by His Excellency to the serious consideration of this question embodied in seventy-two resolutions ; the framers of which have received the highest praise in England from the Colonial Minister of the Crown, for the ability displayed, and for the warm sentiments of loyalty and attachment felt for the mother country. We must all, I think, highly approve of […]

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[…] the manner in which His Excellency has brought this great matter before us. We have the freest scope given us for the consideration of this question, and it is to be earnestly hoped that His Excellency will realize the assurance Which he expresses. He feels “That we will “not treat in a narrow spirit a question so “broad, that in reality it covers the ground of “all parties and all interests so completely, as “to preclude it from being made the measure “of one Government or of one party.” The next subject which is referred to in the speech, is that of internal defence. It will be gratifying to the country to hear that His Excellency appreciates the prompt manner in which nearly fifty thousand of our people turned out for inspection and drill. We must all believe it is necessary we should aid in making them more efficient. Arms and accoutrements are necessary, and it is to be hoped will be amply supplied for the protection of our homes and country.

It is to be regretted that the neighbouring States have taken steps to abrogate the Reciprocity Treaty[2] which has conferred so many privileges, and been profitable alike to all. It is to be hoped that some means may be devised to prevent the annulling of the Treaty. Yet, should the Treaty terminate, it will behove the Government and ourselves to guard and protect well those most important branches of the products and resources of our country, which were so summarily disposed of by that Treaty regulation. Our Fisheries, in particular, which tend so much to the prosperity of our Province.

We must feel it a matter of no ordinary importance that the natural resources of this Province should be better understood abroad. No better and more economical way of effecting this at present appears to me than that brought to our notice in the speech of His Excellency, by being properly represented at the Intercolonial Exhibition to be held in Dublin this year. We all as Nova Scotians must feel some pride at the notice taken of your productions at the Great Exhibition in London. The co-operation expected from us towards advancing this great undertaking, will, no doubt, be cheerfully given.

Every member, no doubt, has been impressed with the conviction gained from the short operation of the school bill, that some modification is required to render it more available and better adapted to the wants and wishes of the people. All surely will give their best aid to a subject so important to the interests and well being of the great body of the people

Scarcely any appeal is necessary to our sympathy for those who unfortunately need the care of the Asylum. More room unfortunately is required for the safety and comfort of the patients.

He (Mr. K[aulback].) thought he could do nothing better in moving the answer to the address, than to give them a comparative statement of the increase of the Revenue during the last year. They and the country were pleased that, at the last Session of this House, they had a very large Revenue to meet the requirements of our people ; and very large grants were given to the roads of the country, and other public works. The Government have met all the demands upon the Treasury for the year just ended, and leave a balance in Treasury to go for the benefit of the country or $225,150.

Increase of Revenue of 1864 over 1863 :

Comparative Statement.

Railway:Increase of passengers13,301
Increase in value$19,122
Exports$526,328
Imports$2,403,251
Excise, Customs, and Light Duty$145,778
Increase for Crown Lands$19,00
Gold, 6,020 oz.$106,000
Coal large increase
Balance in Treasury at the end of Financial year$225,150

I feel very gratified indeed, Mr. Speaker, to be able to give this statement of our prosperity to the House and the country ; showing, as I think it does, an unprecedented state of prosperity in every source of Provincial lncome. For all these and many other blessings, we should recognize the Giver of all good. I shall now read the following

ADDRESS.

May it please Your Excellency,-

We, the Representatives of the people of Nova Scotia, thank your Excellency for the Speech with which you have been pleased to open this Session.

We beg to congratulate your Excellency upon your assumption of the Government of this Province, and we have no doubt that the most agreeable relations will be established between your Excellency and the Members of the Legislature.

The bountiful harvest we have enjoyed, and the increase of the trade and revenues of the country, are, indeed, auspicious, placing us in the best possible position to deal with the great questions submitted for our deliberation.

The Report from the Delegates, appointed to confer upon the Union of the Maritime Provinces, and the Resolutions of the Conference held at Quebec, proposing a Union of the different Provinces of British North America, together with the correspondence upon that subject, will obtain at our hands the deliberate and attentive consideration demanded by a question of such magnitude and importance, and fraught with consequences so momentous’ to us and our posterity.

The question of Internal Defence will not fail to engage our serious attention, and we will be happy to afford your Excellency every aid in our power in placing that branch of the public service in a still more effective condition.

The Public Accounts, when laid before us, will receive our careful inspection, and we will be glad to find in the estimates the evidence of such economy as is consistent with the exigencies of the public service.

The abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty[3] would, in our opinion, operate most unfavorably upon the trade between this Province and the United States, and certainly would not improve the friendly relations which have been so largely promoted by its operation. We will be glad to receive the correspondence upon this subject.

The papers concerning the International Exhibition, to be held at Dublin will receive the attention due to the proper representation of the products of this Province.

We will not fail to devote our most earnest efforts to aid in maturing any improvements […]

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[…] which may be suggested in the Act for the better encouragement of Education—a subject so deeply interesting and important to the whole country.

It is gratifying to know that the—Extension of the Railway to Pictou has been placed under contract, and will be carried on with despatch.

We will give due consideration to any proposals for the construction of the Lines provided for in the resolution which passed both Branches of the Legislature last Session.

The Report upon St. Peter’s Canal will obtain our careful examination.

Fully impressed with the obvious necessity of making adequate provision for the unfortunate Insane, we will be prepared to discharge that duty in an efficient manner.

We are gratified to learn that all the various sources of Provincial Income evidence such a high degree of prosperity ; and for these mercies, together with the blessings of continued peace, we desire to return our grateful thanks to the Bountiful Giver of all good.

In viewing this address, Mr. Speaker, I feel assured that it will meet the support of every member in this House. I cannot see that it will, in the slightest manner, compromise my views or action on any question. We are committed to nothing but the provision for the extension of the Hospital, the Militia service and to the International Exhibition in Dublin.

On the great question of the Union, you will all admit, that less could not have been said, and more might have been unwise. It is the intention of the Government to leave the subject as open as possible, and to the free action of any member of Government and members generally.

Mr. Whitman seconded the answer. 

The Address was allowed to lie on the table. The House adjourned until three o’clock the next day.

[1] Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.

[2] Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.

[3] Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.

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