Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly (26 April 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 152-156.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1867.
FRIDAY, April 26.
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Mr. Churchill presented a petition from W H Blanchard and other residents of Windsor, asking that, as a heavy liability would be placed upon the county in providing the right of way for the Annapolis Railway, the taxation be spread over the whole county by an equal pound rate. He said that by the existing law the assessors wore directed to have reference to the proximity of the various properties to the Railway in levying the tax. Hants county had already paid for right of way $30,000, and of that sum the township of Windsor had paid $15,707. He urged the prayer of the petition strongly on the House, and asked leave to introduce a bill in accordance therewith.
Hon. Provincial Secretary remarked that if the representations contained in the petition were true, it might be important to enquire whether a tax should not be levied upon the rest of the Province to compensate the people of Windsor for the injury that the railway appeared to be doing to their property, for the petition stated that the value of their property had already been depreciated fifteen or twenty per cent. He feared it was too late to stop the railway, but it would seem that something should be done for the people of Windsor.
Mr. Parker thought that the petitioners could hardly be serious in asking that persons living sixty miles from the line of railway should pay an equal rate with those who had the road passing their doors. He understood that there was still a large sum due from the county, and the complaint formerly was that, as other counties were being benefitted, they should contribute to the expense. There could be no greater injustice than to make the rural districts pay equally with those more immediately benefitted.
Mr. Hill said that he had not been made aware of the petition, but was prepared to introduce a […]
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[…] bill to effect the same object. Windsor had already been heavily taxed, and was about to he taxed again for the right of way and station ground through the very heart of the town.
Mr. Tobin said that some consideration should be given to the matter before imposing upon the township the expense of providing for a second station ground. He thought that the accommodation was ample for the requirements of the company as well as for the Railway department. One gentleman in Windsor had built a house and prepared his grounds for a garden, and the company had taken part of his grounds and run the railway close to his house. He had looked forward with great anxiety for years to the time when our railways would be extended to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the one band, and the Bay of Fundy on the other, and believed that with this accomplished and with the prospects of the Intercolonial road the greatest results might be expected, but a good deal of consideration should be given to the position of the residents of Windsor.
Hon. Financial Secretary said that hardship and inconvenience were only to be expected where a road passed through a settlement like Windsor. In some instances it was impossible to avoid the destruction of valuable property. He had gone to Windsor during the survey and knew that the impression was that the proper line for the road would have been outside the village, but it was essential that the road should be a continuation of the present line and therefore the route bad to be as at present unless the station now used were abandoned, which was not to be thought of, because it would involve the waste of an enormous sum of money. The only way in which the expense of a new station house could be avoided would be to make the present terminus available for the Annapolis road. This question had engaged the attention of the Government and he was not in a position to give a definite answer respecting it, but the Government had every destre to prevent, as far as possible, the invasion of private rights. The eminent engineer who had bees engaged on the Annapolis line had declared that the accommodation afforded by the present terminus would he inadequate, unless the unoccupied portion of the ground were reclaimed, and this could only be done at a heavy expense.
Mr. Churchill said he had no idea that a second station ground would he required. Only about a quarter of the ground taken up originally was now in use and the expenditure of any more money was therefore unnecessary. He was aware that a good deal of pains had been taken in the location of the road, and he believed as far as that was concerned the people of Windsor were very well satisfied.
Mr. Killam said that this was only the commencement of the difficulties which had originated in the over-anxiety of the Government to have the road built. The policy of constructing the railways by companies was most unwise under the circumstances of the country. The mismanagement in connection with the Pictou Railway had also grown out of a desire to bring into operation too speedily a work of great magnitude, The Government, for the purpose of fortifying themselves in their position, had placed the country in this embarrassment.
Hon. Provincial Secretary said that the hon. member was quite right in saying that this question was under discussion because the Government wore anxious and determined to provide for the construction of railways before the close of the existing legislature. But for their earnest desire to keep faith with the country and the house *e subject would not have required discussion. He would tell the hon. member however that the time had arrived when, owing to the obstructive policy which he, Mr. Killam, had pursued from the first day of his public life, his views had about the least weight of any member’s in the legislature. When the construction by Government was proposed by Mr. Howe, Mr. Killam having used every means to obstruct the railway policy brought forward and urged with all his energy the folly of government undertaking to construct railways, and having been defeated on that point the first thing he did was to put his name to a document which he sent to England to convince the capitalists that the money they invested in our debentures would never be repaid, but he had lived to see the day when the same man who thus vehemently denounced construction by the Government as ruinous to the country had declared that our lines of railway could h extended to Pictou, Annapolis, Canso, Yarmouth and New Brunswick. Under these circumstances could the hon. member claim any other position than that of the obstructor of progress of every description When Mr. Howe had brought forward a project for building the Intercolonial line the hon. member had stated that while he was convinced that the country could not grapple with that undertaking, he thought it would be safe to extend to Pictou, and he promised so to instruct his constituents, but what had placed him in opposition? It was because the Government whom he then supported, pledged as they were to carry the rad to Pictou, were true to their promises, and asked Parliameut to enable them to redeem their pledges to the country. The hon. member had made that an excuse for violating his own recorded pledge and going into the most determined hostility. The only pretence upon which this action was founded was that the revenues of the country would not permit the extension by the Government without stripping the other services of the country, and he had now declared that no extension by companions should he encouraged, and that our revenues were ample to build the road to all the termini before mentioned. With such words on record for every man to see and hear, he would ask if it was of the slightest consequence what the hon. member said! The onld [sic] credit which the member for Yarmouth could claim was that of boing the consistent obstructor of every improvement, and other mon who had received his opinions, seeing from the results that they were wrong, and that the policy of progress was the true one, had abandoned the hon. member, and left him almost alone. The hon. member had given to every principle he had enunciated, in the course of his public life, a more […]
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[…] emphatic contradiction than any one else could give.
What estimate had he formed of the House and of the people if he had no respect for the House when he had ventured at the close of his public career, and under the circumstances which had placed him in opposition, to say that it was unwise to give to a company the means of expending half a million of their own money to carry on the road because the work should be done by money borrowed on the credit of the Province? The policy of extending the railway to the Gulf of St. Lawrence was regarded by every intelligent man as sound and judicious, but what position would the country have been in if the member for Yarmouth had been allowed to prevent this being accomplished? On the other hand there were few men even in the remote eastern sections who did not believe that the extension to Annapolis was going largely to increase the prosperity of the Province. Local difficulties would of course occur, and he knew well that instead of a Government having anything to hope for from an energetic railway policy it was the reverse, and that the county clamoring most loudly for extension is the one that would first turn its back upon the Government That had been the experience of other administrations but that consideration had not prevented the present Government, and he trusted that it would prevent no future Government from going forward in a statesmanlike manner This was the answer he gave to the constant snarling and cavilling of the hons member, whose only cause of complaint was that the Government, instead of holding office merely for the benefit of its members, had shown a determination to advance the interests of the country.
Mr. Killam said it was true that he had objected to government construction, and the Provincial Secretary had taken that view himself but notwithstanding his opposition that policy lad been adopted and therefore should be adhered to. As to the statement that he had abandoned the Government because they were determined to go on with the Pictou extension he asked if the whole house—did not know his reasons for going into opposition? His idea had been that the extension should not have beau undertaken in the first session, and it should be remembered that the Government held their positions because they pledged themselves to reduce the public expenditure. He, Mr. K, had helped them into power on that policy, and feeling under deep responsibility for the stand he had taken, he pressed on the Government to show to the country that they were disposed to carry out their pledges. They had refused to do so, and he gave that as one of the principal reasons for his opposition. What would have been thought of him as a public man if he had adopted any other course? He had advised the government to go on slowly and surely, but they went recklessly on, giving as an answer to his remonstrance that the people had amply supplied the treasury with money. Was there not as much need of retrenchment, though such was the case, when such large expenditures were being incurred in connection with the public works? These were his reasons for leaving the Government side, and he did not regret his action, for no man could say now that he held one policy before and another after his election. The asurance [sic] came from every quarter that his policy was sustained and approved by the country. No doubt after the policy of construction by Government had been adopted it should be pursued, but the work should be done cautiously. It did not require any financial skill to see that our revenues would at some time enable us to extend our railways to the points mentioned, and the credit for that fact was not due to the Government, but to the honest and hardworking people of the country, whose toil had put the money into the treasury—to the producers throughout the Province. He could claim, as a producer, to have done his share towards the general prosperity, and no man could charge him with selfish interest in his public conduct. The Provincial Secretary had said that that the object of the Government was not so much to hold office as to go on with the public improvements, but upon that point there was a difference of opinion, and the Government had put it out of the power of the Province to carry forward its works, and had given its revenues to hands with more weighty objects to undertake.
After Confederation had beau secured, the Government should certainly have made some better bargain in reference to our railways. If inconsistency was to be the subject of enquiry, it would not be hard to astonish the people at the course of the Government. The Provincial Secretary had enquired, a few days ago, what authority the people’s delegates had for going to England: was not the authority of the majority of the people a good one? The hon. gentleman had also ridiculed the idea of the petitions being sent; but after 1859, when he was disappointed at the elections, and after two gentlemen thought proper to change their views the Provincial Secretary went dancing down to the westward to get up petitions to displace them, and afterwards contended that the Governor should dissolve the House because these two gentlemen had chosen to change sides. Was the charge of misrepresenting their constituents, which was made at that time by the hon. gentleman, to be compared with the misrepresentation of the thirty-two gentlemen who gave their support to Confederation, while almost every man among thin admitted that their constituents were hostile to the measure? Two members could not change the fate of the country, and if the government of that day had beau defeated, the dissolution which would have followed would have given the people an opportunity of reviewing their action; but by this measure of Confederation the whole face of the constitution was changed and the revenues of the country given away.
The Provincial Secretary had thrown contempt on the resolutions passed at the large meetings held throughout the country last summer, but the resolutions which he had obtained some years ago in two constituencies were thought sufficient […]
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[…] to effect a dissolution of the House. Like other work done in this country, the signing of the petitions against Confederation was no doubt cheaply and roughly done but the signatures were quite as genuine as those obtained on the previous occasion. One of the members against whom the Provincial Secretary had raised that agitation retired from public life, and the other returned to his first love; but in this instance the men who had effected the change would not dare to face the country, for there could be no doubt as to what the result in a few months would be. There vas a “still small voice” being heard everywhere, and the Provincial Secretary would find that he would not be able to mould the opinions of the whole people as the potter does his clay, but that the electors would stand up and speak for themselves. This occasion had been referred to as the close of his public life; it might be the last occasion on which he would address the Legislature, and he would therefore say that if, in the course of his public conduct, he had misjudged or spoken harshly in any instance, it was a matter which he regretted.
It was evident that, whatever the talents of members of the Government might be, they had not the training to deal with the large financial questions which they had undertaken to manage, ai the mismanagement in the public works would show. The Pictou road shewed mismanagement on a large scale, while in the different departments the ordinary duties had not been attended to; public officers were allowed to withhold the public moneys until they became defaulters, and the whole efforts of the Government were to keep themselves in power. This had been denied, but the people knew the facts, and the actions of the administration would speak louder than their words. The country had for the last four years been rising and increasing in prosperity,—there was no reason to be dissatisfied with its progress, but its revenues had now been taken away leaving nothing which could be relied on hereafter for local improvements. If his advice had been taken, matters would not have come to that point, and the Government would have been in a position to which the people would be glad to restore them, when the time came for ascertaining in whom the confidence of the country was reposed.
Hon. Attorney General said that on a petition from Hants being presented, asking for a change in a certain law, the hon. member for Yarmouth had taken the opportunity to attack the railway policy of the Government, and to get away again from that subject to Confederation. He reminded him of a professional gentleman who, while waiting for a case to come on would repeatedly sleep in court and his anxiety about an absent witness prompted him to cry out repeatedly in his doze, “Crier, call John Rowe.” So the hon. member for Yarmouth seemed to go asleep, and on waking up to call “Confederation.”
The hon. member had promised himself that the people would back up his policy,—they must find out what it was; his policy seemed to change to suit every emergency. When he wished to obstruct the Intercolonial road, he pitted the Pictou road against it; and when the Annapolis extension was proposed, he argued that it should be built out of the Provincial funds. After preaching, the Inability of the Province to build the railways for years, he had “out-Heroded Herod” by going beyond any one else in his ideas of extension. The hon. member was as well known in the House as elsewhere, and how many men of any party could be got to support him? He lad been jigging from one side to the other until he hardly knew where to find to find himself,—and after saying that railway construction would be ruinous, he had proposed au outlay of thirteen million of dollars in their extension.
Getting away from this question, the hon. member bad referred to the petitions got up some years ago, but there was this difference between then and the Confederation petitions, that the former were presented to those to whom they were addressed, while the latter never saw the light of day. The hon. member had talked about a “small voice” that was being heard; he was inclined to think that with such a history of inconsistency, the voice that would be heard in support of the hon. gentleman would be very small indeed. When the hon. member excused himself for leaving his party by saying that the Government refused to redeem their pledges of retrenchment, did he forget that when retrenchment In the salaries of certain officers was proposed, he lad opposed the Government, repudiating his private utterances to the Government, and placing himself in a position to be contradicted by his own handwriting?
As regards the question of the Windsor terminus, it should be remembered that under the law the company were to be controlled by the Government, and it might safely be expected that ne more privileges were exacted than would be required. He had spent a day at Windsor investigating with respect to the terminus, and had no doubt that arrangements could be made for avoiding a single dollar’s unnecessary expense. Windsor having already paid £4000, and it being true that the benefits of the road would not result immediately to that township, some consideration should he bestowed upon the mode in which the tax should be levied, though he did not think that the difficulty would be fairly solved by imposing an equal pound rate on the county.
Mr. Killam said he would now meet the charge of having moved in Committee of Supply for retaining the salaries of certain officers, after urging retrenchment upon the Government. The Provincial Secretary’s original proposal had been to effect a saving of $79,000 by a reduction of the salaries of the principal officers of the Government; but in the proposal to which the Attorney General referred a saving of $400 was contemplated in the salaries, of the Collectors of Customs at Pictou and Yarmouth. Because he had objected to that reduction, he had been accused of going back from all he had previously advocated. It was small economy to attempt in that way to save $100, when the original scheme was for $79,000, and to make a charge of inconsistency out of his action was, to use a homely phrase, “small potatoes.”
Hon. Provincial Secretary said that when, in their first attempt at retrenchment, the Government […]
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[…] found the “Yarmonth School” walking across the floor to assist their opponents in defeating the project, it was a slap in the face that was not anticipated, but that might be passed over as a trivial matter in view of the fact that when, after years of arduous exertion, the Government obtained leave to retrench their own salaries, and save $30,000 per annum, the hon. member for Yarmouth showed the same deadly antagonism as on the question of the $400. The hon. member’s attitude on the question would show the sincerity of his expressions, and show whether he was in the position to taunt the Government with incapacity in the management of the public finances. In that respect, no Government ever stood in a position in which they could se fairly challenge the confidence of the country.
Mr. McLelan rose to speak to the question but as the usual hour for adjournment had arrived, the debate was adjourned.