Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings [Recent Delegation to England—Its Results] (23 February 1866)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 3rd Sess, 1866 at 5-9.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1866.
FRIDAY, Feb. 23.
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The Recent Delegation to England—Its Results
Hon. Provincial Secretary next laid On the table copies of correspondence relative to the recent delegation to England, composed of himself and the Attorney General. and in doing so, made remarks to this effect: I may say this subject was net referred to in the Speech with which the session was opened, because that delegation which took place during the recess, not having received the previous authorization of the Legislature, it wast thought more in unison with the feelings of gentlemen on both sides, if we deferred making any mention of the subject until the papers connected therewith were submitted for consideration. You are aware that the action of the Legislature during the last session called the attention of the government during the recess to a number of very important matters. The legislation of this house authorized us to enter into contracts for lines o.’ railway from Truro to the borders of New Brunswick and from Windsor to Annapolis, upon certain specified terms That legislation was communicated to certain parties in England and elsewhere whom the government knew were desirous of contracting for these public works. Some time after the prorogation of the House the government received a communication from the International Contract Company (with whom we had previous correspondence which was submitted last session) intimating that they were prepared to discuss the project of constructing tie proposed lines of railway with authorized parties. Inasmuch as the legislation of this House required the joint action of New Brunswick in order to connect our railway from Truro with that of the sister province, I proceeded I soon after the prorogation, by command of His Excellency to Fredericton where the Legislature was still in session. My object was to ascertain whether the Government of Ne v Brunswick was prepared to act in connection with our own in conformity with the legislation which had payed this House. I placed myself In communication with the members of that Government, and after mature deliberation we were entirely of opinion that this subject could only be satisfactorily dealt with by means of a delegation from the governments of the two provinces to England. At London they would be able to personally confer with the companies and capitalists who might be prepared to undertake this work. and especially with the company with whom we had previous correspondence. You are also aware that a Committee of this House have called the attention of the Government to the great importance of doing everything in
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their power to continue the ReciprocityTreaty on terms favorable to this Province. The attention of this government bad also been drawn by the Committee on Fisheries to the exaction of duties by the Newfoundland government from our fishermen on the Labrador coast. Money had also to be provided for the construction of the Pictou line of rail way on as favorable terms as possible. The government, too, had been authorized by this house to obtain the services of a thoroughly competent Inspector of Mines. Immigration was another subject which we felt was pressing upon our notice, and might be considerably promoted by the information we would be able to obtain in London on the subject. The result was that the Attorney General and myself were appointed delegates to proceed to England in connection with these very important questions. We proceeded to England and the result of our visit Is detailed in the papers which are now before you.
I may state, however, that we had the honour of an interview with the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies soon after our arrival. At that interview my colleague and myself stated the deep interest the people of Nova Scotia felt in the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty, and called the attention of Mr. Cardwell to the fact that, notwithstanding the representations made by this Government upon the right to be consulted ln relation to any treaty which would deal so largely with the territorial interests of this Province, we observed with surprise and regret that in the paper recently laid before Parliament, and which we had seen for the first time after our arrival in England, It was stated that Sir Frederick Bruce, the British Minister at Washington, had only been instructed to confer with the Government of Canada upon that subject.
Mr. Cardwell replied that the action taken by her Majesty’s Government, had been at the instance of a deputation from the Canadian Government, and that they would now be prepared to give the fullest consideration to any representations which we had to offer on the part of Nova Scotia. We urged the rights which all the Provinces interested had to be consulted in regard to a Reciprocity Treaty affecting the whole, and the increased weight which their joint and co-operative action would give to any proposals which might be submitted, and the greater security which would be afforded that any treaty concurred ln by representatives from the different governments of all the colonies would be accepted by the various Legislatures by which such treaty would require to be adopted. We also referred to the desirability of an early understanding between the governments of the different colonies as to the best means of meeting the altered circumstances in their trade, in case the Reciprocity Treaty were not renewed. At a subsequent interview Mr. Cardwell did us the honour to submit the draft of a despatch to his Excellency the Governor-General, authorizing bis Lordship to summon a Confederate Council upon commercial treaties, to be composed of representatives from the governments of Canada Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. In response to the action of that Confederate Council, subsequently held under the auspices of the Governor-General, arrangements were made to send deputations to the West India Islands and elsewhere for the purpose of opening up, if possible, new channels for trade, and meeting the emergency that might arise from the repeal of the Reciprocity Treaty.
We placed the matter of the exaction of duties on our fishermen on the coast of Labrador in the strogest light possible, though i regret to say that tie correspondence which is here detailed did not result as we would wish. There is no indisposition on the part of the Imperial Government to give effect to the views of this Legislature, but the Secretary of State bas decided that the law under which the Government of Newfoundland bas levied these duties having received the aisent of Her Majesty, there is no power remaining in the hands of the Imperial Government enabling them to Interfere with the matter; and the only course that under the circumstances remain to us is to test the question in the Courts of Law in Newfoundland, and then if necessary by appeal to the Privy Council. I have little doubt that such a course would prove the illegal character of this exaction. We placed ourselves in communication with the International Contract Company in reference to the construction of the proposed line of railway. Having satisfied ourselves, by careful enquiry, of the ability of the Company to fulfil their engagements, we were extremely anxious to embrace the line to Annapolis, as well as that to New Brunswick, within the contract; but the obstacle interposed by the clause in our act providing for the construction of those ines, which authorizes the Governmentatany tine forever to assume the ownersbip of the line, was so great that we were defeated in that object, and but for the combination of interest between the International Contract Company and a company in course of organiz ition, with a large capital, for the purpose of opening the Spring Hill Coal Mines upon an extensive scale, we could not bave effected a contract even for the Trunk line. In the course of those negotiations we f ind it necessary, for the purpose of promto;iig the construction of the Rilway, and opeiiing the mines, to assure the Hon. Mr. Dickey and J. Levisey, Esq., who represented some ten mining rights of search at Spring Hill, that the Government would give to the holders of those areas the fullest privileges nonsistent with the law and regulations relating to mines I may bere mention that a contract was simultaneously entered into betwee i the representatives of the New Brunswidk Government and the same company, for the extension of the line from the border of New Brunswick to Moncton. As the whole question of the contract l fuilly detailed ln the papers before you, I shall merely draw your attention to the fact that there le one respect ln which we consented to depart from the legisîstion of last session, I am sure, however, that our action wilI meet with the hearty concurrence of both sides of the House. We relinquished the right on the part of the government to capitalize the subvention, unless by mutual consent, and this Proviace bas been relieved from th i obligation to take £80,000 stg. of stock, authorized by the act,-six per cent. Interest on that amount for twenty years being accepted as an equivalent
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therefor. The latter step we took after consultation with the Messrs. Baring, wlo thought would improve our condition in the money
I have already stated that. we were unable to make auy arrangements whilst in Erigland for the construction of the railway to Annapolis. The International Contract Companxy ohjected to touch the lino at all under existing. circumstances. They wished to meke a survey of the ground first before entering ‘on any contract for the work. We made, however, all the efforts we could to carry out the desire of the Legislature in respect to this railway, and were placed in communication with several parties on the subject. The papers that will ho immediately submitted to you will show that the matter was subsequently placed in a satisfactory position. Two gentlemen came out somewhat recently-Messrs. Harris and Smith, two eminent engineers of London-for the purpose of entering into negotiations for the construction of the railway to Annapolis., Having examined the lino they returned and informed us that they were prepared to enter into a contract on behalf of well known railway contractors in England for the construction of the’ railway. They required that the, bridge to be built across the Avon should be owned by themselves, and, thi8 we agreed to. The goverument mere, however, enabled to take a stop in connection with this concession that will meet with your approvai, and that was, that the company should net only’build a railway bridge, but one wbich would be the property of the Province and afford a highway to the people. The toll bridge acrose the Avon bas long been a source of great annoyance to tihe public, whilst it is not likely to lasat very long. When these gentlemen stated that they were prepared to enter into a.contract for the construction of the work, we , carefully.considered thoir proposition. The contract was entered into with Messrs. Smith and Harris, on behalf of George Knight & Co., railway contractors in London. Tbey were known to us as having successfully carried through severali most important railway works In Great Britain. The contract, however, made this provise: that unless George Knight.& Co. directly entered into arrangements to the satisfaction of the Governor and Council-showed that they had the disposition and means to carry out the work-by the first of February ensuing, the contract should be declared null and void. I may here observe that eue of the engineers in question, when they entered. inte the contract, showed authority from George Knight & Ce. to enter inte engagements for thi struction of works in this province. However, the House will he glad to learn that by the first day ofFebruary Messrs. Smith & Harris returning, bringing full powers of Attorney from George Knight & Co., accompanied by a letter of credit from some of the most eminent capitalists in Great Britain,–Sir John Dalrymple Hay, Bt., Mr. Chapham, Mr. O’Birney, &c.,- stating that they were prepared. on the passage of an .act incorporating the Annapolis aud Windsor Railway Company, to find the capital necessary td complete the work. Under that a9thority the contract has been entered Intel with George Knigbt & Co., throug h Messrs Smith & Harris, and an act will be 1ntroduced to incorporate the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company, under whiclr these eminent capitalists to whom I have reforred will he bound. The work la to.be commenced in May and finished in two years. The correspondence with Messrs. Baring wll. show the success which àttended our efforts to secure the funds required to constrnet the Railway to Pictou The agreement upon the, part of that eminent firm to furnish money as required, in advance of sales and at a rate which will be equivalent to the sale of bonds at par, must, In the present state of the money market, I concelve, ho highly satisfactory. OnlI two or three other subjects require mention at my bands. We were enabled to secire the services of a gentleman as Inspector of Mines, whom, after’ the most cAreful iniry, we believe to be well qualified for the performance of that important work. He’ possesses the strongest recommendations from Thomas E. Foster, Esq., who stands at the head of the mining department in England. After making all the investigation in our, power in regard to the subject of Immigration, we arrived at the conclusion that, to effect any considerable results It would be uecessary to have au agent or agents to act in London and other places for the Province, and that some means of cheap and direct transportation from emigrant’ports to this Province must ho provided. Finding an opportunity of obtaining some very superior stud horses and brood mares of the best thorough-bred stock, and some superior Leicester sheep, we assumed the responsibility of acting for the Provincial Board of Agriculture in that matter, and we are gratified to find that our selections have. met with their sanction, and are approved by many of the best judges of stock in the Pro4 vince, including the Central Board of Agricul? ture. The honorable gentlemen having concluded introdnced a bill ” to incorporate the Windsor and Annapolis Railway,” embodying the legis* lation of last winter. He stated it was the intention to pass It with as little delay as possible. The House then adjourned.