Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly (30 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 91-95.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1867.
SATURDAY, March 30th.
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Mr. Annand asked that the bill which had been under consideration yesterday be not passed through Committee until Monday as Mr. McLelan had been called away by illness in his family.
Hon. Provincial Secretary replied that the bills could be Passed through Committee but would not be brought up for a third reading before Monday.
The bill relating to the representation was then taken up.
Mr. S. Campbell said he, wished to address himself simply to one point: the propriety of the house at such a time dealing with a vital part of the constitution. The government insisted on a severe construction of constitutional authority and sought to effect a most important change without the people having had an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it. He proposed, as an amendment, that the operation of the bill be deferred until after the ensuing election. At the concluding session of the previous parliament Ruch an addition bad been made to the franchise bill then brought forward, and he thought the Proposition in this case well worthy of consideration. He could without difficulty conceive a reason why the Metropolitan County of Halifax should be treated as it had been by the government. In the Imperial Act justice had not been done to the city, and he therefore was not opposed to giving the county an additional member, but he contended that the rural districts should be separately represented. He could not imagine, however, why Pictou should receive an extra member, population had been lost sight of in framing the bill and that therefore could not be the principle. If two members were considered sufficient for Cape Breton County, on what ground could an additional representation for Pictou be defended? He believed that the proposition for delay was one that no member could fairly take exception to.
Hon. Provincial Secretary was glad to find that in view of his responsible position the hon. member who had just spoken had risen superior to local and sectional feelings, as was testified by his ignoring the fact that the bill would give large additional privileges to his own constituents. When that member went on to advocate the claims of Halifax to exercise greater weight in the Legislature, he had given au additional evidence of the strictly provincial character which his views might hereafter be expected to assume. It had been shewn that the bill divided the Province into two halves—East and West—Halifax lying between, and the hon. member, representing the Eastern constituency, had expressed the fear that the Eastern half would have too much weight. He could understand the member for Yarmouth, Mr. Killam, who was entirely opposed to the change, but he could not understand why Mr. Campbell, having assented to the principle, should oppose the change at the only time when it could be made. It would puzzle that gentleman to shew any statesman in the world who ever said that the first session of a new Parliament, and not the last session of an old one, was the time for remodelling the representation—on the contrary, it had been held that a material change in that respect was equivalent to the declaration that the people were not properly represented, and that a dissolution must follow. That gentleman had supported a Government which introduced a bill to change the representation at the last session of an Assembly, because that was the only time when it could appropriately be done.
Mr. Annand said he was amused at the assertion that the last session was the time for such a change. Was it not a fact that the House was sitting under a franchise which did not then exist? He contended that when the new Legislature was elected it should not be obliged to stultify the action of the House in case it wished to review the policy of representation. Mr. Campbell had been taunted with rising superior to local prejudices—it was to be hoped he always would.—Should the voice of Nova Scotia be stifled because Guysboro’ would stand in a better position than heretofore? He contended that between East and West there should be no jealousy—the counties had one common interest. As to economy, his plan would be to abolish the Legislative Council, and keep the popular branch as efficient as possible. If Responsible Government was to be carried on at all there should be no diminution. The bill would throw the representation into a very extraordinary state: Halifax at last census, had 49,000 inhabitants, and was to have 3 members or one for every 16,000, Queen’s would have […]
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[…] a member for every 4682, Richmond for every 6303,—in some counties there would be a member for far less than 5000 people. The Prov Sec had said that he, Mr. Annand, had not subscribed to the doctrine of representation by population, and therefore should not complain on that point, but he had always considered population as an important element; the agriculture, the fisheries, the education and the manufactures should all be represented, and population also The bill, as was previously objected, would, he said, destroy in Halifax completely the principle of representation by population. The influence of East Halifax would be entirely extinguished,—it interests were distinct and separate, having manufacturing or mercantile engagements, and its votes would be swamped by the votes flowing in on them from the western division. In Ontario, in Lower Canada and in New Brunswick district representation was recognized, and the cities returned members,—why then should a distinction be made as to Halifax? The people outside should have their representatives and the citizens theirs. Mr. Annand concluded by moving in amendment to the first clause of the bill that the representation for Halifax county be four, two for the city and two for the population outside.
Mr. Tobin considered the bill so fair in all its points that he thought no objection could be fairly made to it, and said that this was the opinion of some gentlemen in opposition whom he had consulted. As to the amendment just moved, if the principle of representation by population was to be recognised, the representation of the entire Province should be remodelled. Supposing such a rule to prevail in England, how many members would London send with a population of nearly three mi!!ions. The bill, he said, proposed that every county should have two members in the local Parliament in addition to the one in the House of Commons: Pictou was excepted on account of its size and population; and Halifax was to have three local and two general representatives. However much he might desire an additional member for Halifax. he did not think it would be fair to ask an alteration of the entire principle of the bill. The opposition on the previous day had been so feeble that he had been led to expect that in committee the bill would pass without a division. He believed that the governmental and legislative expenses of the Province were entirely two large tor the country. The latter came to $50,000, out of all proportion to our revenue and population. He believed also that that was the proper time for the change to be made, and he would have been prepared to advocate such a measure even if Union had not taken place.
Hon. Attorney General said he was not unprepared for a more strenuous opposition than had been shown: the objections which had been raised answered each other effectually. One gentleman complained that the bill went too far; another that it did not go far enough; one said that the constitution should nut be interfered, with, and another said that the upper branch should be abolished. He would remind the House that they were not in the position of Upper Canada in dealing with this question, for that country was principally governed by municipal institutions, and no Legislative Council was in existence. He did not think it wise to depart from the policy hitherto pursued in that respect. It was unnecessary to discuss the principle of representation by population, for it was impracticable now to alter the lines of the counties as would be necessary. Nothing, then, remained but to adapt the lower branch in such a way that all the interests of the country—farming, fishing, mercantile, and mining—would be represented.
Every county, it should be remembered, had an equal interest in all those branches of industry, and this rendered a special representation of any particular class unnecessary No one had argued very strenuously that thirty-eight members were insufficient, but the great argument had been that the question should be left to the discretion of these coming after us. The delegates had not shown any fear in entrusting the constitution to the people, because they had provided that it should be in their hands for all time to come; but it was the duty of these gentlemen to put the scheme before the country as a whole. No right or privilege would be taken from the people. It was well known that to deal with the representation, when it was once permanently established, was a very difficult task, and if the measure were not carried now it might be fifteen or twenty years before the local legislators could be induced to vote away their own positions. The member for East Halifax, in arguing one moment on the assumption that the votes of his own district were to be swamped, and then on the assumption that West Halifax was to be affected by the Eastern section showed how unsubstantial his objections were. As to the amendment, he asked was it worse that a person resident in the city should vote at the same poll as a constituent of East Halifax, than that a person living outside the city limits should do so? It might be said that the interest of the city was purely commercial, but did not the fishing interest operate on both? In the same way the fishing interest of Cape Breton was the sae as that of Yarmouth, and so with the agricultural interests of Kings and other counties. The main object was to have all the interests of the Province represented, and that would be accomplished by giving three members to Halifax, three to Pictou, and two to each of the other counties. The main object of a change in the franchise and representation was to secure the best men, and this was the most effectual way of effecting it.
Hon. Mr. Shannon expressed his surprise at the opposition exhibited. He had expected that the bill would pass without opposition until he heard Mr. Killam’s remarks, and that gentleman had secured the co-operation of some of his friends by the magnetic influence which he seemed to exercise. If this change had not been proposed, the eloquence on the other side would have been of a far higher kind than that which had been heard. It was true that the measure was not perfect, but who ever heard of a perfect representation bill? The foundation of such a measure was always shifting, even where population […]
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[…] was taken as the guide. This fact was abundantly illustrated in English history. When Wilberforce represented Yorkshire it bad but two members, and it was long before it was divided into ridings, each one of which had the number of representatives. He believed the bill to be to fair that no reasonable objection could be made to it. It was curious that the members representing the city could not be left to take care of their own constituency; many of the remarks made concerning the feeling in the city of Halifax in reference to Confederation were “largely inaccurate.” By the amendment the votes of the Western district would be swamped by the votes of Eastern Halifax, He would not object to another representative being added to the city representation, but there was no prospect of such a proposal receiving the assent of the Legislature. Under the bill, every min East and West would have the same suffrage
Hon. Provincial Secretary said, in reference to his argument that the concluding Session of a Parliament was the proper time for a change in the representation, the answer of the member for East Halifax did not apply, because the change in the franchise was not at all a parallel case. When it had been proposed by Earl Russell’s administration to extend the franchise to half a million additional electors, the statesmen of England had declared that the change would not involve an appeal to the people; but one of the reasons why the representation was not dealt with at the same time was that a dissolution must follow if an extensive change in that direction were made. Coming closer home, however, the party of the hon. member had made it part of the constitution that a change in the franchise did not involve a dissolution.
The franchise was at one time lowered to universal suffrage, and while the House was sitting under the old suffrage the departmental officers were elected under the now. Nor could any instance be produced in which any other course was considered necessary. The House did not approach the question as the Legislature of Canada did, because we had a number of councillors appointed by the Crown for the term of their lives; but even if it did, it would be unwise to do without the safeguard which a second branch always provided. It had been said that responsible government could not be carried on in a House of only 38 members; but he would turn attention to New Brunswick, which had a popular branch of only 41 members; again in Prince Edward Island, which had been so often referred to as having dealt so nobly with the question of Confederation, the House had a smaller number than would be left here after the change. He was surprised at the new-born zeal of the hon, member for East Halifax for the interests of the city, after that gentleman had gone out of the country and done all in his power to prevent the city from achieving that which every intelligent person regarded as her destiny, when she should become the terminus of the Intercolonial Railway. That hon. member admitted that he had gone to England using every argument that he could to prevent three or four millions of British capital from flowing into us, and to prevent us from having connection non only with Canada, but with 20,000 miles of railway in the United States. Could the hon. member expect, in a speech delivered to the committee, to wire out the recollection of au act which would sink deep into the mind of every intelligent citizen? He much mistook the intelligence of the citizens if he supposed that. few idle words would work such a transformation as to place him forward as the champion of the city. The hon. member had arrayed himself not only against the interests of the city, but of the Province as well, for he had traduced his country by representing to the Parliament of England that the railway debt would be repudiated. What was the deplorable state of the city, that such championship was required? Halifax county returned five gentlemen, and nine members were residents of the city. Was there any danger of the city not having sufficient influence in Parliament? The hon. member came to the rescue of Halifax by proposing such a division that the city would be denuded of any influence in the election of representatives. He denied that the interests of the city and county differed; it was plain that there was ten times the fishing interest among the Halifax merchants to what was outside. The hon. member had not been very considerate to his constituents in his action in reference to the Intercolonial Railway, for one of the first things that would probably be done would be to extend a branch from the junction to Dartmouth, thus giving the most remote sections of the eastern district a direct interest in promoting that great work. The interests of city and county were one, or they were diverse; if they were one, then there could be no disadvantage in having the electors cast their votes for all the members; if they were distinct, the result of dividing the representation must be that the members would neutralize each other. He believed that their interests were identical that which made the man who caught the fish prosper, made the man who dealt in mercantile interests prosper also
Mr. Annand said that when the Provincial Secretary had a very bad case he always rose on the wings of declamation away from the question. The Intercolonial Railway had nothing to do with the bill under consideration; he had previously explained his action on that subject, and he felt that the liberties of the people should be preserved if twenty railways had to be sacrificed. He felt inclined to coincide in the opinion of Mr. Fleming as to that Railway, and to take the view of a member of the House of Commons who said that the road would not pay for the grease of its engines. (Hon. Pro Sec: He got those opinions from the people’s delegates.) Mr. Annand said that he was not aware of the people’s delegates having seen the face of that gentleman previous to the expression of that opinion. Mr. Fleming’s report showed that the N. A. and European line could tap the road and divert the trade at Danville. (Hon. Pro Sec. Suppose that to be true, would the connection with thirty millions of people and the making Halifax the highway of communication between London and New York be nothing? It was true that a large flow of […]
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[…] passengers would be a great advantage to the country but while the picture was beautiful the realizations were improbable. The bill on the table proposed to give to Halifax a member for every 10,000, to Pictou a member for every 9000 and to Queen’s one for every 4,5000, and in the ace of these facts he felt it his duty to enter a protest against the measure. If the amendment were adopted there would be a representative for every 12,000 inhabitants and each district would be represented. According to the last census the city population was 25,000 and the county population outside the city limits 24,000, to the amendment would equalise the representation. Was there anything unreasonable in asking the mercantile community should be separated from the fishing and rural counties? It had been said that the electors of East Halifax would swamp those of West if a division were made, but were not their interests one? He denied that the city would be denuded of its influence by the change as had been alleged; on the contrary it would be placed in a most favorable position.
Mr. Kaulback remarked that gentlemen of the opposition had been unable to agree among themselves. He regarded that measure as the only practicable one that could be proposed. If an increase were made to one county others would not be satisfied, and if the principle of population were to govern there would have to be a re-division of the counties. He believed that the general feeling was that the representation should be changed to suit the altered circumstances of the country, and the change proposed in the bill would, no doubt, accord with the expectations which prevailed. One important consideration which induced him to support the bill was that it would give to the counties possessing chiefly a fishing interest a larger proportion of representation and influence than they had hitherto enjoyed, and this must meet with general approval as an act of justice. He was in favor of the bill for another reason: he had always disapproved of the system which maintained little pocket boroughs and give to little settlements the right to return representatives. There was no reason why 2000 people in one district should have the right to elect a member when other parts of the country were treated in a different manner. Again, it was a well known fact that the larger the area and population over which the elections was run the less corruption would prevail. This measure he viewed as an important step towards the extension of the franchise. When the representation was extended the franchise should certainly come under consideration. The country had declared in an unmistakable manner that some change in that respect should be made and that an Act, which struck 20,000 electors, did not meet with the approval of the people. He knew numbers of worthy and intelligent men who would be deprived of a voice in the approaching election if the present Act were to remain in force. This matter had been forcibly urged upon him by his constituents and he felt it his duty to require that the subject should receive consideration—he would like to go back to be judged by the people who had returned him at the last election. He had recently received a letter from an officer in the volunteer force who said that one of the inducements which had been held out to the volunteers to sacrifice their time and means in the patriotic work in which they were engaged was that they had a stake in the country and a voice in the management of its affairs, and yet these young men had been disfranchised in hundreds. In view of these facts he could urge the Government to bring forward a bill to repeal the present franchise law. As to the representation of Halifax there had always been a telling that Halifax influence had predominated to too great an extent, that feeling, he believed, originated in prejudice, but the amendment could only be sustained on the principle that population should give the representation, and if that were recognized some counties would be cut down to one member while others would be too largely represented. A separation of East Halifax from the Western section, he thought, would lead to jealousies and dissensions, which would interfere with the rights of both.
Mr. Killam said as to the proper time for marking the change, it was hardly worth while to discuss that point, because the Provincial Secretary had the power to do almost anything. The government, it would appear, would stick at nothing, for they had carried Confederation when some of their supporters acknowledged in conversation that no one in ten of their constituents were favorable to it. The opposition of the people on that question was no doubt one of the reasons why they were to be now disfranchised to a great extent, and there was no reason to suppose that the government would join two counties together and give them the representation of one, if it were necessary for their object. To suit their purposes counties which had long been divided were to be amalgamated, as in Halifax. As to the plea of economy, it was well known what their policy had been in that respect—a more extravagant government never ruled the country. The subject of the railway had been mooted; the ends of a railway were not always in a position to reap the benefit of the line, and the support that Halifax could get from over 3000 miles of water would not be of much consequence. Holyhead was in a most advantageous situation, if the terminus of a line was of any great consequence, but it was a mere village like Dartmouth, and the passengers went right off in the fery-boat in so short a time that the people of the place could just have time to run out and see them take their departure. It was well known that sheaves of pamphlets and papers were being sent to the country on the subject of Confederation, to influence the votes at the approaching election, but the statements they contained, like the fanciful representation concerning the railway, would be found to be mere idle wind. The change which had been made would take from the Province its revenue, and restrict local improvements. He believed that the bill was framed on a wrong principle, but could not sustain Mr. Annand’s amendment because the counties must all share the same fate, and Halifax must suffer with the others.
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Hon. Attorney General in reference to Mr. Annand’s remarks concerning the small advantages to be derived from the railway, remarked that he had that day heard a prominent anti-Confederate say that since the Confederation bill had been promised as likely to pass, he had laid out £1000 on his property, and he would expend another £1000 if the guarantee bill were ratified.
Mr. Hatfield considered it the duty of every member to express his views on the measure before the House. He felt bound to oppose the bill as unfair and unjust. The change from district to county representation would take from the district of Argyle, which he represented, the privilege it had hitherto enjoyed, for Yarmouth had a population equal to two-thirds of the county, and the result would be that Yarmouth would return all the members. Nearly three-fifths of the inhabitants of Argyle were Catholics, and they thus would he deprived of a voice in the representation. Resistance, however, appeared useless, and the opposition must submit; but he could tell the Government that they would meet their reward. perhaps when they least expected it. He believed the bill to be wrong in toto, and that the representation which it would establish would be unfair.
The question was then taken, when Mr. Annand’s amendment was negatived. The clause passed.
Mr. Annand then moved that the operation of bill be deterred until next session.
Hon. Provincial Secretary asked if the hon. member meant to stultify himself by making such a proposition in view of his action when in power a few years ago?
Mr. Annand replied that he was following the tactics which had been pursued on that occasion by gentlemen opposite.
Mr. Archibald spoke briefly in favour of the bill and said that he must in consistency oppose the amendment.
This amendment was also negatived. The bill passed.