Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly (16 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 1-4.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1867.
SATURDAY, March 16.
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At 2 o’clock p. m. the Speaker took the chair of the house, and the gentleman Usher of the Black Rod shortly afterwards announced His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor’s command for the attendance of the house in the Council Chamber.
The members having attended in obedience to this command His Excellency opened the session with the following
Mr. President, and Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council:
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:
In meeting you at a most important epoch in the affairs of British North America, it affords me much pleasure to be able to congratulate you on the continued peace and prosperity of the Province during the past year.
While these colonies have been subjected to the threats of lawless men, our Province has been exempted from any attack, and although our local forces nobly responded to the call which was made upon them in the early part of the year to arm for the purposes of defence, happily no necessity occurred to require their services to repel an invader.
The exigencies of the Province of New Brunswick rendering it necessary for a time to withdraw a large portion of Her Majesty’s Troops from this Garrison for the protection of that Colony, it was with the utmost satisfaction that I was enabled to fill their places for Garrison duty by portions of the Halifax Volunteer and Militia Artillery and the Volunteer Battalion, and to mark how well that service was performed. The readiness and good discipline of the officers and men who were then employed, show how much has been effected by the efforts made during the last few years to place our local forces in a proper condition, and how much we can depend upon them in the hour of need.
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:
The Public Accounts will be submitted to you without delay, and will exhibit the finances of the country in a state of unprecedented prosperity. Large as was the revenue of the previous year, the accounts will shew the gratifying fact that it has been greatly exceeded by that of 1866. The Estimates for the present year will also be laid before you.
Mr. President, and Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council:
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly:
I have to express my regret that the Government of the United States have adhered to their policy of last year, obstructing that Trade which under the Reciprocity Treaty was so beneficial to their own country as well as to this Province. I have, however, to state that the abrogation of the Treaty has been much less prejudicial to us than was anticipated, and in some respects has been productive of good, by uniting more closely the interests and the Trade of this and the other North American Colonies.
In accordance with a Resolution of the Legislature passed last session, the Commission of the Paris Exhibition was organized, and by the labors of the gentlemen comprising this Board, a large number of valuable articles, exhibiting the varied resources of the Province, have been collected and sent forward to Paris; and it is confidently expected that the results of this exhibition will be of material advantage to the best interests of the Province.
Owing to financial difficulties in the Money Market of Great Britain last year, no progress was made in the construction of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway; but it affords me much pleasure to state that by a new contract made under the provisions of the law relating thereto, this important work has been now placed […]
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[…] in the hands of competent parties, with every prospect of satisfactory accomplishment. Great progress has been made in the construction of the Pictou Railroad, a portion of which has been already opened for the accommodation of the public, and it is fully anticipated that it will be completed at the time mentioned in the contract.
The papers and reports of the Joint Commission to Brazil and the West Indies will be laid before you, and it is hoped much good will result from the efforts thus made to extend the commerce of the British North American Colonies with those portions of the globe.
It is gratifying to me to advert to the great progress made in the important cause of Education under recent enactments.
I rejoice to be able to congratulate you upon the success which has attended the Delegation sent by me under your authority to confer with Her Majesty’s Government on the Union of the Colonies. The papers relating to this important subject will be immediately laid before you. In the firm conviction that the Union of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, upon the terms provided in the Bill submitted by Her Majesty’s Government to the Imperial Parliament, will largely increase the prosperity of all these Provinces, and contribute to the strength and stability of those British Institutions which it is their good fortune to enjoy, I commend to your consideration such changes and amendments in our existing laws as may be found necessary.
ANSWER TO THE SPEECH.
Mr. Bourinot said:—Mr. Speaker, I hold in my hand the reply to the speech of His Excellency, which has been entrusted to me and I must here express my regret that some one better qualified for the task of making this motion has not been selected. I desire to make a few observations on some of the points referred to in His Excellency’s address, and I shall do so in the order in which they appear. Before proceeding further, however, 1 cannot help observing, and in this particular many of those who hear me will coincide in my remark, that I was much pleased to observe the presence of His Excellency Vice Admiral Sir James Hope at the opening of the Legislature. It is an unusual circumstance for the Admiral in command on this station to be present, and I cannot help referring to it. In addition to this remark I must express my regret that Sir James Hope is about to leave our shores. He will leave behind him many pleasing reminiscences of the period of his command.
The most important topic contained in the speech was that embodied in the last clause, but to that I will not refer at this stage of my remarks. First of all our attention has been called to the fact that we have great cause for gratitude and rejoicing on account of the prosperity which this country has enjoyed, especially in view of the devastations which war has inflicted upon some of the countries of Europe. In the second portion of the address a well deserved tribute is paid to the volunteer forces of the provinces. It will be well remembered that during last session we were much alarmed at the threatened invasion, and that the moment an appeal was made to the noble men composing the military force of the country, they responded with the utmost alacrity and hastened to fill up the positions vacated by the troops who were despatched to the frontier. This conduct was deserving of the highest praise, and I only wish I possessed the eloquence of the leader of the government, that I might use in connection with this subject such language as would be worthy of the occasion, and as the country would be pleased to hear. I would observe also that the same alacrity was evinced in every part of the province, showing that when an emergency arrives we shall find our 50,000 militia men ready to defend their country from the invaders. Not one of them I believe will shrink from the duty that may then be imposed upon him. It is gratifying to us to know that in two or three years our Militia Force has made such improvements in organization. It is true that much remains to he done, but we may rest assured that in a short time a state of thorough efficiency will be attained.
The next clause of the address refers to the public revenue, and in connection with that I am gratified to be able to say, and it will be agreeable to those who hear me to learn that the balance in the hands of the financial Secretary at the end of the last financial year, after paying all demands against the treasury, shews a large surplus. I must now refer to the abrogation of the reciprocity treaty and its effect upon our commercial prosperity. We all know that the country has felt that abrogation to a considerable extent, more especially in the high duties which have been imposed upon our principal exports. In relation to this subject I may say that I am of opinion that bye- and-bye the old system will be revived, and in this view I am supported by many persons of experience. Since the abrogation of the treaty this country has prospered to a degree that was not at all anticipated, and there is one circumstance in connection with it to which I would especially refer: namely, the mission to Brazil and the West Indies, the report on which is in our hands. That report contains valuable statistics shewing new channels into which our commerce can profitably be turned. In Upper Canada alone there is a consumption of 200,000 or 300,000 tons of coal. Why cannot that market be supplied by Pictou or Cape Breton?
Then there is the other topic of the Paris Exhibition Commission. I was glad to find that the commissioners had bestowed so much attention upon their duties, and believe that at the Exhibition we will appear to great advantage, taking a place second only to Canada among the B. American colonies. Our column of coal and our specimens of gold would alone make us prominent in any exhibition. There is one circumstance in connection with this topic which rather puzzles me. I am curious to know why the commissioners selected Louisburg as a place to be represented by a painting at the exhibition. Was it to remind the French that there they had sustained a defeat, or was it shew the present nakedness and desolation of the old city? The contrast is great between the present and past condition […]
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[…] of that place, and if Dr. Honeyman should point to the picture and say, “Louisburg once belonged to you,” the answer would be, “but it is not now what it was in old times, as can be seen by its ruinous and forsaken condition.” I have before now told the house, and Mr. Fleming’s report corroborates my statement, that Louisburg is the port nearest to Europe on this continent, and I trust the time will come when it will have the advantages of railway communication. Its harbour is accessible at all seasons ot the year, it was the old capital under the French rule, it was for a long time the rendezvous for the French West Indies, Louisiana and Quebec mercantile fleet, and I am convinced that it will at no very distant day be a city not even second to Halifax, if to any in British America. It is one of those places which under Confederation will receive a large measure of attention, and I may say here that; one of the reasons why I supported that measure was that under the Nova Scotia. Government Cape Breton never received ample justice;—under Confederation we will be treated as an important integral part of the nationality.
The railway question has received some attention; and as to the Annapolis Railway, I suppose our friends from the westward will speak eloquently on the subject. I am glad to find that the promises held out in relation to that work are being fulfilled, notwithstanding the fears which existed to the contrary. As regards the Pictou line. I had the pleasure of travelling over it from West River, and I must say that the section opened is an admirable one. I hope that the next time I come here I shall be able to travel over it from Pictou. When I had the honour of addressing the House formerly on this question, I mentioned that the benefits to be conferred by the line on the Cape Breton Counties would be by keeping up the communication by a line of steamers by Mabou or St. Peter’s Canal to Sydney. I am still of that opinion, and learn it is intended, when the railway is completed, to establish such a line
The next point referred to is the subject of Education. You are aware that I never gave a very hearty support to the present educational measure, but I am happy to inform the house that in the county which I represent the Act is working well, and I believe that in the lapse of time the system will be found to improve more and more. The greatest difficulty in connection with the system is the want of a good staff of educators. This want, however, will be supplied bye-and-bye. I have now come to the most important question of all, and it is one that has been for some time engrossing the attention of the house and of the country,—I allude to the question of Confederation. In the remonstrance which Mr. Howe and his friends recently addressed to the Colonial Secretary, they did me the honor to refer to a speech made by me in 1865, and brought a charge for inconsistency against me, for having in 1866 supported the resolution for Union. It is somewhat strange that such a charge should emanate from Mr. Howe, who has been so inconsistent on this great question. He is a gentleman from whose high abilities I will not detract, but he ought to know well that a politician is some times called upon to change his views in an age of progress like this. But if I was open to the charge of inconsistency it was in opposing Confederation in 1865, for in 1861, in course of an address to the house, I took occasion to make these observations:—
“And I may add that a Union of the Colonies should have formed the chief feature of the session. It has already become the great question of the day, and one which now occupies the thoughts of every statesman who looks forward to the future greatness of British North America, for by it alone can we claim rank among the favoured nations of the earth.” And again: “Linked with it is the often proposed great Intercolonial Railway, which I shall always advocate. By all these now neglected measures can we become prosperous. An imperisbable one that will never die, will the statesman gain who matures and renders them acceptable to these, provinces.”
These were the sentiments expressed by me six years ago, and therefore I say that if there was any inconsistency on my part it was in opposing Confederation at all. The reasons for my opposition to the Quebec scheme are known to many of my friends, and as I have stated them at large to the house, I need not refer to them again, excepting to say that I support the measure from conviction. My mind was not influenced by any freak of a moment, or by any desire for office. It is well known that I have never held office, and that I do not desire any either under the general or local government. In the opinion of some gentlemen every man does wrong who does not strictly conform to their views; but I can fully justify the course I have taken. When I came to the session last year there were many conflicting reasons operating in my mind and I was not fully determined as to whether I should support or oppose Union. In the first place I found on reading attentively that the opinions of the most intelligent men in England were favourable to Confederation; then I saw that the organs of the various religious denominations were likewise favorable, and that the proposition had received the support of the leading men of every political creed.—Everywhere evidence was to be found that the wish of the Imperial Government was to see Union consummated; then came the Fenian excitement, and the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty; and, at length, when our own territory was menaced, I felt that the moment had arrived when a true and patriotic lover of his country should decide. I then came to the resolution that I should support Confederation, in order that we might be prepared to meet the emergencies which were approaching. I gave the proposition my support, however, with the understanding that the Quebec scheme should undergo modification, and I am pleased to observe that there is a great improvement in the Bill, which is likely to become the law of the land. The Quebec Scheme gave us 10 members in the Senate, but the bill gives us 12, which will be a much larger representation in proportion to our population than Canada, has. With regard to the amount of revenue to be placed at the disposal of the local legislature, under the Quebec scheme we were to have had about $260,000 based on the census of 1861, but under the Bill the allowance will be increased until the population reaches 400,000. Altogether, including the special grant the local subsidy will be increased […]
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[…] about $120,000 more than the Quebec scheme would have given us for local purposes. There are other important modifications but to these I shall not refer at the present time. The bill which has been introduced into the Imperial Parliament has received the support of our late respected Governor, the Marquis of Normanby, of Earl Russell, of Mr. Watkin, and of the foremost men of the mother country, and who are its opponents? The principal opponents are Mr. Bright and Mr. Ayrton, whose opposition is founded on the expense that will be caused by colonial defence, and on the indiposition which they feel to support the guarantee for the Intercolonial Railway.
I have the honor to represent the largest constituency in the province, with the exception of Halifax, (for Pictou, which follows Halifax in population, is divided), and I feel it gratifying to be able to say that I never presented a petition against Confederation, and that no public meetings against it have been held in the county. It is true I received a document signed by a few persons, whom I highly esteem, shortly after the division had taken place, asking that I should oppose the measure, and I will frankly say that even had I received it before the division my action would not have been different, for I feel that I represent the whole of Nova Scotia, and must regard the interests of all its people, rather than the wishes of the few individuals to whom I refer. In looking at the prospects of the Confederation which is to be, I feel that we have all the elements of greatness within us We have a territory larger then that of the United States, we have a supply of those minerals upon which the might and prosperity of England have so long rested, we have gold, we have our fisheries and our timber and the agricultural capabilities of Canada which is only second among grain producing countries of this continent, and is one of the granaries of the world. Then there is our mercantile marine, the third or fourth in the world, and I feel that the time will come when we will stand among the very first on the list. Some of the subjects to which I have referred are of such importance that I could not refrain from these observations and I will now conclude by moving the following reply to His Excellency’s address:—
REPLY TO ADDRESS:
May it please Your Excellency,—
- We thank Your Excellency for the speech with which you have been pleased to open the present session, and we are much gratified that your Excellency can again congratulate us upon the continued peace and prosperity of this Province.
- We are much pleased to learn that the manner in which the loyal population of this Colony responded to the call made upon them for the defence of our country, and the zeal and ability with which they discharged the duties required of them, were such as to earn the warm commendation of your Excellency.
- It affords us much pleasure to find that the revenue has increased, and we will give our best attention to the public accounts when laid before us.
- We are glad to know that the interruption of the trade of this Province, caused by the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, has been largely compensated by the increased impetus given to commercial intercourse with the other Provinces.
- We learn with much satisfaction that the difficulties in connection with the prosecution of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway have been overcome, and that the extension of the Railway to Pictou has been vigorously prosecuted.
- We trust the efforts made to represent the resources of Nova Scotia, at the International Exhibition about to be held at Paris will be productive of much good to the Province.
- We reciprocate the hope that the joint missions to Brazil and the West Indies will result in the extension of commerce between those places and British North America.
- It is very gratifying to know that great progress is been made in the Education of all classes of the people.
- We have learned with deep satisfaction that the efforts to effect a satisfactory Union of the British North American Colonies have been so successful, and entertain no doubt that the best interests of all these Provinces will be greatly enhanced, and that their connection with the Crown and the Parent State will be thereby permanently secured.
Mr. Churchill:—I rise to second the reply to the Address of the Lieutenant-Governor, and I do so with feelings of pleasure. I feel gratified at the fact that the Windsor and Annapolis Railway is under progress, and the Pictou line will be carried to early completion, for I feel that will wipe out the reproach so long resting upon us that we had two pieces of Railway beginning nowhere and ending nowhere. In these facts I especially rejoice.
Mr. Stewart Campbell:—I rise to ask that the usual courtesy be shown in reference to the reply to the Address, and to request that it be allowed to lie on the table until Monday. It may be convenient for the government to know, and it is but candid in me to inform them, that it is our intention to move an amendment to the Address in reference to the subject of Confederation. In that amendment we desire solemnly to affirm the right of the people of this country to be heard on a measure involving so largely their best interests.
Hon. Provincial Secretary:—I need hardly say that the usual course will be adopted and that the Address will be allowed to lie over for the consideration of gentlemen opposite. I am glad that the hon. member has frankly stated his intention to move an amendment, and I will await with the utmost confidence the decision of what I believe will be the overwhelming majority of the House upon this most momentous question.
The Address was laid on the table until Monday.
The house adjourned to Monday at 3 o’clock.