Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Union of the Colonies (10 April 1866)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 3rd Sess, 1866 at 211-224.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1866.
TUESDAY APRIL 10.
UNION OF THE COLONIES.
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SPEECH OF HON. PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
House met at 3 o’clock.
Dr. Tupper then rose and said:—The house will recollect that, a few days ago, the hon. member for Richmond put a question to the Government, in relation to a very important subject, and on that occasion I stated that the situation in which we stood in respect to the Union of the Colonies would preclude me from giving him an immediate reply, until I had an opportunity of placing myself in communication with my colleagues in the Government, and with the other gentlemen who had assisted in maturing the Quebec scheme. I stated, however, to the hon. member and to the house, that in view of the great importance of the subject,—of the events which were daily transpiring in connection with the question—I would take the earliest opportunity of giving, in my place, the policy which the government and the friends of the Quebec scheme of Confederation in this Legislature are prepared to take in relation to the matter.
In order to redeem the pledge and bring the attention of this Legislative Assembly to the consideration of the gravest and most important question that has ever been submitted to it—after due deliberation with my colleagues, and consultation with the gentlemen who were associated with us at the Quebec Conference—I rise for the purpose of giving to the house and country the fullest information as to the policy which we are prepared to assume in relation to the subject. I regret deeply that in approaching a […]
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[…] question of such gravity—which demands that the members of the house should rise to to the great emergency, and look with a single eye to the interests of the country; only to that course that is calculated to promote the advancement of our common country, and perpetuate the great privileges which, as British subjects, we enjoy; I regret, I say, Sir, in approaching a question of such deep importance, that the conduct of a portion of the press in this Province, controlled by a gentleman within this Legislature, occupying a high and responsible position, should make it my duty at the outset to notice, not the arguments-for that time has passed—but unfounded calumnies and misrepresentation.
The time has passed when the opponents of a union of British North America can meet the friends of that great question on the platform, in the press, or on the floor of Parliament, and discuss it as becomes public men and statesmen, upon the principles and leading features of the scheme proposed. Instead of that, the opponents of union have resorted to appeals to the passions,—to such an amount of personal vituperation as never before I believe in the history of this country, was dragged into the consideration of a great public question upon any occasion. I should fail in what 1 owe to myself and to the great question with which I am at this moment undertaking to deal, and in what I owe to this deliberative assembly, if I did not in my place in Parliament, notice at the very outset the position that the opponents of this question have assumed, and the strange liberties they have taken with this Legislature.
I would be justified on the present occasion, in dealing with this matter in a very different form,—any member of this Legislature would only be discharging his duty if he dealt with it in a different spirit,—and in asking the Legislature if the inherent privileges which the members of this assembly enjoy are to be trampled under foot in our very presence, and by those holding high and responsible positions within these very walls, and, at the same time, acting in the capacity of editor, publisher, and proprietor of a newspaper in this city. Is he to be allowed to assail the character and integrity of members of this house with impunity? not simply to hold up this Legislative Assembly as devoid of intelligence, as one of the most despicable bodies of men that have ever been permitted to deal with the public affairs of a free country ; but to go further, and charge in the most direct terms members with being influenced by motives most base and corrupt?
I hold in my hand the Morning Chronicle of April 6, last, in which a correspondent, over the signature of “Brutus” —a well known gentleman, closely identified with the publisher and editor of this paper,—who has ventured to speak of members of this house,—of his own political associates in this Legislature as well as of those who are opposed to him,— in terms not only of opprobrium and reproach, but which are alike dishonorable and insulting to every member of this deliberative assembly. He says:—
“As it is well known, a few designing politicians, doing the work of conspirators, traitorously contemplate the destruction of our constitution, and the transfer of our revenues to a set of men who are far away. and who care nothing for us or for the preservation of those interests which are as dear to us are the crimson tides that circulate through our veins.”
I ask the house what must be the position of public men in this country who are called upon to deal with a question so vital to our interests as a union of British North America, when they are obliged to descend to such language as that? I need not remind the house when the Government was called upon to deal with the question, they invited the aid and co-operation of the leaders of the political party opposed to them; and that these gentlemen, thus called upon to share the responsibility in connection with a matter of such vital import, have acted from the first in entire unison with those who had asked their assistance. I do not mean to say that the members of the Government and the gentlemen opposed to them, who were delegates to the Quebec Conference, always saw eye to eye, I do not mean to say that we were not obliged on many occasions to arrive at a common result by a compromise of our individual opinions; but in the measure as a whole, that was presented to the world, we were all heartily and thoroughly united.
Then, I ask, what is the position of the organ of the party of which the hon. and learned member for Colchester, (Mr. Archibald,) is the leader, when, in dealing with this question, they denounce that gentleman in the presence of this Assembly, as a conspirator, traitorously endeavoring to strike down the rights and liberties of his country.— A cause which requires an advocacy like that must indeed be in want of arguments on which to found acclaim to the support of the people. Again I read:—
“Yesterday, however, on the floors of the Assembly Room, bygone promises were unscrupulously repudiated, confidence betrayed, and barefaced treachery exhibited. I sat in the gallery, and witnessed the perpetration of this act of political turpitude, and heard the whisper circulated from ear to ear—”The traitor has been bought.” The scene reminded me of what transpired in the Parliament House in Dublin, at the commencement of the present century, when the seductive influence of British gold corrupted a Parliament, and professed patriotism was bought and sold like bank stock, or any other marketable commodity. I asked myself whether the temptations of either proffered official aggrandisement and emoluments, or the rejection of a candidate’s claim to membership of a social club, was a sufficient pretext for party treachery, for the glaring tergiversation of oft repeated and publicly avowed opinions,—and what is more, for the betrayal of a country’s dearest interests, and the diabolical destruction of its constitution.”
When the opponents of Union have been obliged to take a course like that, they have given the best evidence that their cause is an untenable one, which cannot be sustained by public men. Here we find the best leading minds of the part with which the hon. member is associated, denounced by their own press, as men who have been recreant to the best interests of the country. Again, in the editorial of the Morning Chronicle of April 9, we read:—
“But whatever the people of this country believed, at the period referred to, there is too much reason to apprehend that their hopes and expectations will never be realized. A majority of the members of the Assembly, it is said, has been secured, corrupted by influences frightful to contemplate, to vote our free Parliament out of existence, and with it the rights and privileges we so dearly prize.”
Here is a charge made in the most emphatic […]
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[…] language that it is possible to make it—that a majority of the members of the House have been basely bribed and corrupted by means that it is frightful to contemplate. What is the position of a man who thus degrades the Legislature, who holds up to the public execration the representatives of the people as men that are to be bought and sold. Farther on I read:—
“But might, we are told, makes right, and in this spirit the Provincial Secretary and his aiders and abettors in the house, propose to lay their sacrilegious hands upon the constitution of our country. Let them beware ere they attempt the unholy deed. The people of Nova Scotia are proverbially loyal, but they will have need of it all if their feelings are thus violently outraged and their rights basely betrayed. Nova Scotians will not pass under the yoke of Canada without a struggle. A resolution to confederate us may receive the assent of a majority of the House of Assembly. but the end is not yet. Our countrymen, if true to themselves, will triumph in the end.”
You have then this same paper using this inflammatory and seditious language with the object of exciting the loyal people to this province to rise against the action of the Legislature of their country. That is the position to which an hon. member has been drawn, in his inability to find arguments to sustain his cause. Again, in the Morning Chronicle of April 10th, we find:—
“In the course of the Confederate Debate in the Canadian Assembly, last winter, the Hon. George Brown referred to the large sum that was given for the purchase of the State of Louisiana, and suggested that the expenditure of as large, or even a larger sum, in the purchase of the Maritime Provinces, would be profitable Canadian investment. Mr. Brown’s hint, we have reason to believe, has not been lost sight of by the Confederates. Canadian gold, it is said, is here, and in sufficient abundance to overcome the scruples of certain representatives of the people. The count has a sharp eye on the House just now, and will duly appreciate the sudden conversion of members, should any unhappily he found willing to accept the base bribe.”
I ask the house if the most spiritless member is prepared to allow a foul stigma like that to rest upon his character? I feel that all the hon. member has been doing is bringing down discredit and dishonour upon himself and the cause he thus upholds. I may have occasion to draw the attention of this house to the question as to how far these imputations of base, corrupt and dishonourable motives influencing the members of this Legislature, have sprung from the belief in the mind of the hon. member that there are other gentlemen as open to such imputations as he himself may be. Now when a base and dishonourable motive is imputed to a man of fair character, the party who attempts to put such a stigma upon him has a right to sustain it by showing it at there is some reason for the belief that it might possibly apply to the person in question. I have already said that these imputations are not levelled against the gov’t party alone, but fall with the same weight upon gentlemen politically identified with the hon. member. It may be argued with reason that these imputations fall with far greater force upon the leader of the Opposition, with whom the hon. member has been long closely associated, and whose motives he may be supposed to know better than those with whom he has not been politically identified.
Let me call your attention to this charge of bribery. No one will deny the truth of the principle that it is only when you find a man lend himself to a dishonorable deed, that you have a foundation to impute a base motive. In what position are the promoters of the Quebec scheme? Were we in the position of having denounced a Union of British North America, and then, without anything to change their attitude, having suddenly assumed a position entirely antagonistic and at variance with that which we had previously taken? If it were so, then the hon. member might have something on which to base a suspicion. Before the question was mooted in this Legislature I was called to address a meeting in the city of St. John, in the neighbouring Province, and chose for my subject the Union of British North America.
From that day to this I have been found the consistent supporter of Union. When the late government brought down the question of Union I adhered to the principles on the platform and in the press, and gave them my cordial and enthusiastic support. So down to the present day I stand before the people of this country as a man who, in every position, has used every influence he possessed to promote and carry forward that on which he believed the prosperity and security of the country depended. Can the hon. member find any foundation there for the imputation of base and corrupt motives? Again, if the promoters of Union are influenced by motives that are dishonourable to themselves and the Legislature, in what position is Her Majesty the Queen? When he sees the Queen, session after session, at the close and opening of Parliament, coming down and urging in the most emphatic terms that the Royal lips can use, this question of Confederation upon the people of British North America, does he mean to say that she, too, is corrupted by base bribes?
Coming down to Her Majesty’s Ministers—to the men who stand before the world as exemplars of the most distinguished patriotism, the most profound statesmanship—are they too corrupted by base means when they declare that the advancement of British North America is to be secured by carrying through this great question of a Colonial Union? What does he think influences Lord Derby and the statesmen opposed to Her Majesty’s Ministers who, on every occasion, have stood forward and strengthened the hands of the government of England in carrying forward this great question of Colonial Union? What has influenced the press and people, as well as the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, when, with a unanimity which has never been exhibited on any other public question, they stand forward as the avowed supporters and advocates of this great measure? Is it at a crisis like this—when day by day these patriotic influences that are calculated to operate upon men’s minds do operate—that a member of this deliberative assembly should dare to dishonour this House by imputations of being influenced by base and unworthy motives?
Go to Canada and you find in that great country an overwhelming majority of both branches of the Legislature in favour of this great measure; and you find Her Majesty’s Representative therein using his legitimate influence to press it forward. Go to New Brunswick and you see Her Majesty’s Representative heartily […]
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[…] promoting the scheme though he was at the outset hostile to it; but when he has had an opportunity of examining it in all its details he gives it his support and confidence. If you look at the Legislature of that province you find that, although upon an appeal to the people by a combination between the opponents of Confederation and the opponents of the government, a large majority was returned to oppose the Quebec scheme, yet now day by day the condition of public affairs is operating to such an extent upon both branches that a few days since the following resolution was passed by the Legislative Council, by a majority of 14 to 5:—
Resolved, as in the opinion of this Committee,—That a Union of all the British North American Provinces, based on the resolutions adopted at the Conference of Delegates from the several Provinces, held at Quebec on the 10th of October, 1864, is an object highly to be desired—essential to their future prosperity and influence, and calculated, alike to strengthen and perpetuate the ties which bind them to the Mother Country;
“Resolved, as in the opinion of this Committee,— That the Legislative Council should concur in any measure which may be necessary to carry such a union into effect.”
I ask what is it that has corrupted the Legislative Council of New Brunswick so as to induce this overwhelming change in their minds. Is the hon. member prepared to charge them with base, dishonorable, and corrupt motives? Does he not know that sitting in that branch of the Legislature are men whose wealth and standing in the country are sufficient protection against the base insinuations with which he fills the disreputable journal which is under his control?
In the presence of this crisis in the history of British North America the Legislative Council, like Her Majesty’s Representative, stand forward and declare by an overwhelming majority that they are prepared to uphold the great scheme of Intercolonial union as the great means of advancing the best interests of the country. Look at the lower house, and you will find the leader of the Government—who has been bespattered for the past twelve months by this same press and held up as and incorruptible patriot,—declaring by the speech at the opening of the Legislature, and showing by his own admissions on the floor of Parliament, that his views have undergone a great change in relation to the question of a union of the colonies. Looking at the events that are transpiring in this province no one can doubt the result.
Then, I say, is it Canadian gold that is corrupting the Province and influencing it to assume an attitude so very different from what it assumed a year ago? Coming to our own Province what do I find? I am not going to speak of the Lieutenant Governor (Mr. Annand—hear, hear), but the Government knows that the “Hero of Kars,” in his capacity of Commander-in-Chief of British North America, used all the ability and talent at his command, by public speeches and written communications, in favor of a union of British North America. As one of the most distinguished soldiers of the empire he felt that the salvation and security of British North America depended upon the promised union being carried into effect. What has corrupted that high-minded soldier, statesmen and patriot? Is it Canadian gold?
If the features of the scheme are such as to bring to its advocacy a man so distinguished, why is it that this deliberative Assembly is told that Canadian gold is the only means of inducing men to combine in carrying it forward? In what position is the brave and distinguished Admiral on this Station? He stood forth at the very inception of this scheme, as he stands to-day,—he, one of the most distinguished heroes that ever graced the navy of England—lending his voice and cooperation to the great scheme of a Union of British North America, as the means by which we are to be elevated into a position of infinitely greater importance than we can now enjoy,—as the only means of preserving these provinces to the Crown of England. What is it that has corrupted him? Need I remind gentlemen that the same position is occupied by that universal favorite in this country—the gallant Major-General Doyle.
Does not the hon. member know that that distinguished gentleman as a soldier, as a servant of the Crown, as a man upon whom the responsibility of our protection depends, has used all the influence he can exercise by argument and persuasion in favour of a Union of these provinces. Thus we find all those illustrious men standing shoulder to shoulder in this great question. Then there is the distinguished prelate, His Grace the Archbishop, who has stood forward in this province, and by his voice and pen, urged upon the people the adoption of this scheme of Union as the great means by which the safety and prosperity of our country must be promoted. There is His Lordship the talented and astute Bishop of Nova Scotia.
His Lordship the Bishop of Arichat—the united clergy of all denominations—Episcopalian, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, men of all shades of political opinions standing in a solid phalanx, such as was never exhibited in this country before, in the face of the people of this province as the supporters of Confederation, and giving all the assistance of their talents and exertions as the only means by which our country may be elevated, and our connection with Great Britain preserved. Side by side you find all the able and distinguished judiciary of our country united in sustaining this Union of British North America. What has corrupted the entire religious Press—the “Presbyterian Witness,” the “Wesleyan,” the “Christian Messenger?
Here you see these journals reflecting the views of the clergy of various denominations combining to press forward this great scheme of Union; and yet you find the hon. member standing forward and declaring that men who only look to the welfare and security of their country are influenced by the base and contemptible motives which he has ventured to insinuate. I am hold to say that if up to the present hour there has been a single dollar of Canadian gold brought into the country in connection with this question I am ignorant of it; if there has been a statesman in the whole of Canada that would dare to approach a member of this Legislature or any one else in this country by means such as that, he has not insulted me by taking me into his confidence.
Standing here as I do with the knowledge of that fact—of the dishonorable character of this insinuation, I feel I could afford to let it pass by with the contempt […]
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[…] that it deserves if it was not sent abroad into the remotest hamlets of this country for the purpose of creating strife and rebellion among the unsophisticated and less uninformed of our people. I ask the hon. member if it was under the influence of base bribes a great number of the citizens of Halifax, when the question had been fully discussed on the public platform by the ablest men on both sides that could be found, were induced to stand forward as the avowed supporters of Union?
I do not mean to say that on a question of such deep import, involving such weighty considerations, there are not high-minded men who differ from us, but I have never insinuated— never have been compelled to resort to such a despicable position as to say that they were influenced by other than patriotic motives. Then at Truro, in the heart of our agricultural counties, a large body of intelligent men, convinced by the arguments in support of Union, have stood forward as its firm friends. So at Windsor, Kentville, Bridgetown, Annapolis, Parrsboro, Amherst, Pugwash, and other parts of the country you see men who had, in year’s past, been diametrically opposed to each other on political matters, standing shoulder to shoulder and co-operating for the promotion of Colonial Union.
I regret to have to allude to a gentleman who is not in this building, and I shall deal with him with greater delicacy than if he were here; but my duty as a public man compels me to sink every consideration of false delicacy in dealing with this question, and place it before my fellow-countrymen free from all disguise. I believe that the time has come when man should speak to man plainly and unhesitatingly, and when men who have taken up the position that the opponents of Union have, should be exposed to the naked gaze of the people of the Province. Need I tell the House that in the same paper which sends broadcast over the face of this country these unfounded calumnies, we see Mr. Howe over his own signature assisting the hon. member by his pen.
Before I touch upon that part of the subject, let me first call attention to the fact that the hon. member, at the close of my observations on Thursday last, addressed a challenge to me to show that he was at all responsible for ever having committed himself in any shape whatever to the Union of B. N. America; and I am here now to accept that challenge and to prove from the journals of this Legislature that if there is a gentleman in this House exposed to suspicion—if we wanted an inconsistent course of conduct on which to base an imputation—it is to be found in the career of the hon. member himself, and of the gentleman whose mouth-piece he is in this Legislature. This hon. member who now says that he has yet to hear the first argument in favour of Union, declared that “so many were the advantages of Union” that the time had arrived when it was necessary to deal with the question.
Near the close of the session of 1861, the hon. Mr. Howe, then leader of the government of this Province, moved the following resolution, which passed unanimously:—
“Whereas the subject of Union of the North American Provinces, or of the Maritime Provinces, from time to time have been mooted and discussed in all the Colonies.
“And whereas, while many advantages may be secured by such a union, either of all these Provinces, or a portion of them, many and serious obstacles are presented. which can only be overcome by mutual consultation of the leading men of the Colonies, sud bv free communication with the Imperial Government.
“Therefore resolved, That His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor be respectfully requested to put himself in communication with His Grace the Colonial Secretarv and His Excellency the Governor General, and the North American Colonies, in order to ascertain the policy of Her Majesty’s Government, and the opinions of the other Colonies, with a view to the enlightened consideration of a question involving the highest interests, and upon which the public mind in all the Provinces ought to be set at rest.
The hon. member does not require to say “hear, hear,” to direct the attention of every intelligent gentleman in this house and country to his shameful inconsistency. At a time when these gentlemen held the responsible position of Ministers of the Crown, we find the government of which he was a member bringing down to the house a resolution affirming in the most emphatic language that ever tongue can express the “many advantages of Union;” and in the face of that declaration you now see the hon member standing up and endeavoring to repudiate his former sentiments so unequivocally expressed. The man who pledged his character as a statesman, as a man of integrity, to the statement that the great advantages accruing from a Union of British North America should be considered by all the Provinces, now ventures to come into the House and tell us that he has “yet to hear the first argument in favour of that Union.”
I ask you if a public man, after an exhibition like that, is in a position to ask that the slightest weight should be given to any declaration that he may make? He may throw his base insinuations into the face of this deliberative Assembly—he may degrade himself by attempting to degrade this Home, but it will avail nothing with every man who knows that the gentleman who brought here a great question of public policy, and pledged his public character to its support, now unblushingly declares that it was a farce, a delusion, and a deception, which he had been passing upon this deliberative Assembly. If I stood in such a position, I would forgive the hon. member if he attributed base and dishonorable motives as the reason why I had been influenced to adopt a course so untenable and so at variance with the public policy to which I stood pledged as a public man.
I am going now to deal with another gentleman, outside of these walls, who brought that resolution here and declared himself in the face of this country as the great exponent of Union. The action of the house upon the above resolution was followed up by Mr. Howe addressing, in his capacity of Provincial Secretary, a circular to the Governments of Canada, New Brunswick, and P. E. Island, asking them to agree to a Conference for the purpose of discussing this important question of a Union of British North America. We come now to 1863, when the Hon. D’Arcy McGee visited this city to advocate this Union, I need not remind he house that a gentleman whom the hon. member for East Halifax has had the good taste to designate an ” expatriated […]
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[…] rebel,” at this moment occupies a position as one of the most distinguished statesmen of British North America. I speak of the Hon. D’Arcy McGee, a gentleman who possesses the finest mind, the most wonderful eloquence, the most facile pen, and who has devoted all the powers of his mind, all the influence of his position, during the past ten years, to the work of uniting, consolidating, and strengthening the people and resources of British North America. Can the hon member designate in no other style the man whom her Majesty the Queen and her ministers have delighted to honour who, whatever the indiscretions of his Youth may have been, has devoted himself in British North America. to speak down and write down the antagonisms of race and of religion, and has contributed more than any other to unite the friends of British rule in these colonies.
What was the language of Mr. Howe when this eminent statesman came among us in 1863? He visited this city year after year, and exercised his talents, as he has always done in Canada, for the elevation of our common country. He came on an invitation to Halifax and delivered an address in Temperance Hall on the union of British North America, and what was the opinion of Mr. Howe, as expressed on that occasion, of the man who came to this House and pledged his public reputation to the declaration that so great was the advantages of union that the Legislature ought to move in the matter for the purpose of bringing it to a happy consummation. Mr. Howe rose and seconded a vote of thanks to Mr. McGee in these words, as reported at the time:—
“Mr. Howe went on to remark that it would be injustice to the lecturer to say more, further than he was with him in all he said He was for a Union of all the British North American Provinces, but he was for an intercolonial Railroad first. Then the road would bring about the Union. It would enable the Canadians to see our faces, to become familiar with us, and to see the number of 1000 ton-ships which we were building, which with our other wealth and resources, we are willing to throw into the one great stock. He thought a Union should not be delayed till we had drifted into difficulties. How short sighted were the English statesmen of old who lost them the thirteen states, when the difficulty could have been arranged in a month, the horrors of the Revolutionary war prevented. and all our race living at peace and harmony at present without the bickering and animosity which prevail in their midst. Talk of the fall of Quebec being a source of sorrow to the inhabitants of this Province. It would be more if the St. Lawrence were in the hands of our enemies, we should be compelled to beg permission to tear down the British flag. What he wished for Nova Scotia was that she may be the frontage of a mighty Colony; upon which it may be truly said the sun never set. No man can look upon Halifax and its environs, its harbour, its citadel and say it was made for this Province alone.”
“The United States has drifted into a civil war: and we may drift into a tight place from which it will be difficult to extricate ourselves. The States might assail us; but if we had a railway by which troops could he sent from Quebec or other military stations to the threatened point, we would be saved. Mr. Howe said, that he hoped when Mr. McGee returned to Canada he would be able to say, “I have been down among those people who live on fish and lobsters, and there I seen keen politicians bickering upon small topics. but when the great subject of national union was brought before them then all minor difference was disregarded, and I found them uniting and pushing and cheering me on in this labor of love.”
On that occasion, therefore, Mr. Howe stood forth to endorse everything that Mr. McGee had stated in reference to this great question of intercolonial Union. Did the man who stood then, as he does now, at Mr. Howe’s back, call the scheme of Union a snare and a delusion? No, he stood there to publish those sentiments of Mr Howe in his own paper, for the purpose of proving that that gentleman was a farseeing patriot, who recognized the position which British North America must occupy, and the measures that were necessary to her security. But that is not all. ln 1864, subsequent to my having carried a resolution in this House in favor of a Legislative union of the Maritime Colonies, a visit was made to this Province by a large deputation of Canadians, headed by Mr. McGee, upon the invitation of prominent merchants of this city, who came forward and contributed their means towards receiving their guests, and declaring a resolution that it was of the greatest commercial and political importance that there should be a closer union between Nova Scotia and Canada.
A splendid banquet was given on that occasion in the drill shed to our visitors, and Mr. Howe was present to declare that no change had taken place in his views since in Temperance Hall he stood forward and endorsed the opinions expressed by Mr. McGee. It will be remembered, that previous to this time the Government of Canada had re-organized on the basis of endeavoring to obtain a federal union of British North America; and Mr. McGee was present as the exponent of that policy. I spoke on that occasion, and expressed the slight with which I had witnessed the political coalition in Canada, and the hope it gave me that when Cartier and Brown were rowing in the same best to the tune of “Row Brothers, Row,” the result would be a Union of British North America.
It was known, at the same time, I may here say, for it had been announced in Parliament that Canada was about to send a deputation to the Maritime Convention to be held at Charlottetown, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the larger Union could not be carried out. I shall now quote from the remarks that were made by Mr. Howe on the occasion in question, as given by the Sun newspaper which is now engaged in aspersing the character of public men more consistent than themselves upon this question of Union. The Sun says:—
“Hon. Mr. Howe was received with most hearty cheers. His speech was short and appropriate. He was no stranger among them. His voice had been heard in almost every town in the Provinces of British America, and would again if occasion required it; and he was in hopes of yet seeing the dream of his boyhood realized —the Union of these Provinces in one great federation under the old flag of England, an event which he hoped was at no distant date. We are sorry that our space will not allow us to give this gentleman’s remarks at greater length.”
Now what next? The government invited Mr. Howe as the exponent of a large portion of the public sentiment of this country to go upon the Delegation. He told me, as I have stated in his presence, that if there was any great work in which his services were required he was ready to give us his assistance: and accordingly we invited him, and his reply is on the journals of this House. That invitation remember, was tendered after he was aware of the Canadian policy of extending the Union to all the Provinces—after he had endorsed that policy by saying he hoped Union would be secured. Deeply do I deplore that Mr. Howe was unable to attend on that occasion, for I believe that the difficulties and embarrassments that the friends of British American Union have had to encounter in dealing with this great question arose in a large measure from the fact that they were deprived at the Conference of Mr. Howe’s services.
I am only repeating that which we hear from the warmest riends he has in this Province, that if he had attended at the Convention there would not be a man who would be more enthusiastic in pressing forward this great scheme than himself. However, he addressed me a letter in which he expressed his deep regret that he could not attend, […]
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[…] and said he would be back by the middle of October prepared to assist us in carrying out any measure we agreed upon. Now you see the same man who thus bound himself to assist us in promoting anything that the government of the day and his own political friends might concur in, to-day in the “Morning Chronicle” denouncing these gentleman, his own tried political associates, as traitors, and holding them up to the execration of their countrymen all over the province. If there was a spark of gratitude in his heart he should know that the men he is denouncing as conspirators are those to whom he owed the position and all the advantages that he has enjoyed for the past ten years.
They are the men who sustained him in this house, who sent him to England and enabled him to secure the Imperial office which he lately held, and this is their reward! If I stood in the position that Mr. Howe stands in to-day on this great question of union, I would forgive the hon. member for denouncing me as a traitor and a conspirator, and feel hat he had reason to insinuate that I was influenced by the most base and unworthy motives. Having said this much, having read the hon member for East Halifax a lesson which he will probably never forget, I come now to the ques ion as it lies before the house. I ask whether we are in a position to deal with this question. It has be n denied that we are—it has been said that this is a change in the constitution of the country which must be ratified by the people at the polls, if it is to be constitutionally made.
What, I ask, gave Nova Scotia her constitution? From what source does it come ? Looking at the quarter from which it comes do you find anything to lead us to suppose that there is anything unconstitutional in a Parliament dealing with a question of this character. You find her Majesty’s ministers, the very sources from which our constitution was received, day by day urging, not that the Legislature shall be dissolved, and an appeal made to the people of this Province, but that the representatives of the people here assembled, in virtue of the constitutional power they possess, should deal with this question. You find the very highest authority in reference to constitutional matters, the British Government, committing itself unhesitatingly to the only statesmanlike position, that the Parliament of the country, the representatives of the people, had the power to deal with all such matters—that the people of a country are assumed to be present in the persons of those whom they have elected to represent them.
Is that constitutional doctrine or not? Is it sustained by British practice which is our great exemplar, or opposed even to American practice, or to constitutional usage in any part of the world where constitutional government exists. That the constitution of a country may not be changed by the Parliament? What do you see at this moment in England? When the present House of Commons was elected, the question of Reform was hardly mentioned at the Polls; the people had no opportunity of expressing their opinions on the subject; but now you see the Parliament thus elected, preparing to deal with its own constitution, by adding nearly 500,000 electors to its list of voters. Members of Parliament have declared that the change is so fundamental that it will hand over the governing power to a different class; but no one has rendered himself ridiculous by declaring the Parliament was not competent to deal with this question, and bring about this important change in the constitution of the country.
Is not Congress, at this moment, changing the Constitution of the United States in the most important respects? The time to ascertain whether a question is constitutional or not—to obtain a dispassionate opinion from the public mind in the country—is not when it is a subject of excitement and controversy. You must go back and study the pages of the history of our country to ascertain if you can find upon the record what are the real and deliberate utterances of public men on both sides of politics. I am prepared to go back and turn up the page of Nova Scotia’s history, and give to the house the statements of public men of all shades of politics, that will be clear and conclusive upon the subject.
The house will recollect that many years ago the Hon. Mr. Johnston, when sitting on the Opposition benches, proposed a resolution, providing for a Union of British North America. That resolution became the subject of calm and dispassionate discussion, as it should always obtain at the hands of the Legislature. Two of the ablest men who have ever figured in the affairs of the country were sitting on the Government side—I refer to Mr. Howe and Mr. Young. These gentlemen discussed the question in all its aspects, and it was never questioned whether the Parliament had the power of dealing with the constitution, but, as I shall prove to you, the utterances of the ablest statesmen on both sides went to show that the power of the Legislature to change the constitution of the Province was admitted in the clearest and most conclusive manner:—
“Mr. Johnston said on this occasion:—”I do this, sir, that at the outset it may be seen to be my desire that the Imperial and Colonial Governments should be drawn to consider this great question and to mould it after full deliberation into some form fit to be presented for the consideration of the several Legislatures and that I presume not at this stage of the enquiry to offer any specific scheme of my own.”
Mr. Johnston thus emphatically recorded his opinion as to the power of the Legislature to change the constitution.
It was on this occasion that Mr. Howe advocated Representation to the Imperial Parliament, which seems like an ignus fatuus to be dancing before the eyes of some hon. gentlemen still. Mr. Howe, however, in the course of his remarks, gave in his adhesion to some such plan as was devised at Quebec. He said:—
“By a Federal Union of the Colonies we should have something like the neighbouring Republic and if I saw nothing better I should say at once let us keep our local Legislatures and have a President and Central Congress for all the higher and external relations of the United Provinces. Under a Federal Union we should form a large and prosperous nation, lying between the other two branches of the British family, and our duty would evidently be to keep them both at peace.”
Here you will see you have not only the authority of the mover of this resolution, but of the Hon. Jos. Howe, who stated that if he did not see a means of accomplishing the object he wished, he would go in […]
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[…] favour of a Federal Union of these Provinces with a general Legislature to deal with the general interests, and Local Legislatures for the management of local affairs—in fact just such a scheme as we have proposed.
But the point with which I am now specially dealing is the constitutional question. I shall now give you Mr. Howe’s views on this subject. When he obtained the unanimous permission of the Legislature to deal with the question of the Union of the Colonies, he addressed a letter to all the Governments of British North America, calling their attention to the advisability of holding a Conference in connection with the question. He said:—
“You will perceive that the Colonial Governments are left free to invite all the leading men of all the Provinces concerned, to a discussion of the question of Union, either of all the Provinces, or the Maritime Provinces only: and Her Majesty’s Government, it would appear, are disposed to give due weight. and consideration to any resolutions to which the Colonial Legislatures may concur.
“It must be obvious that there can be no great progress m de towards an adjustment of this question unless the resolutions to be submitted to the Colonial Legislatures are in substance the same, and in order that uniformity in spirit, and, if possible, in language may be secured.
Here you have from Mr. Howe himself the mode proposed to give effect to the resolution which he in the commencement of his course, as first Minister of the Crown, brought forward for a Union of the Colonies. Not a word escaped from Mr. Young, Mr. Johnston, or any one else, that it was necessary to appeal to the people, in order to effect this important constitutional change:—
Mr. Young said: “It will be apparent, Mr. Chairman, from these views, that while I am favorable to an union of these colonies and keenly alive to the benefits that may be expected to flow from it, I am also of opinion that we are not prepared to pass any resolution that should bind us at the present moment Till we can at all events decide whether the union we desire shall be federal or legislative; it is wiser for us to say nothing. That cardinal point being once agreed on by the colonies, the details must be settled by a convention of the ablest and most experienced men. Their report would come back to the respective Legislatures for revision or confirmation; and in place of a precipitate movement, a movement might be consummated by general consent, after a deliberate and calm review and give to British America, under the old flag and surrounded and endeared by the old associations, a government formed on the most approved model. which republicans might envy and a free people could venerate and defend.”
So you have the three prominent men of the day committing themselves in the most unequivocal manner to the declaration that under the constitution of the country the mode of dealing with this question was a Convention of public men, and that the scheme should have effect given to it by the people’s representatives assembled in Parliament, when Lord Mulgrave, at Mr. Howe’s solicitation, addressed a letter to the Colonial Office His Grace the Duke of Newcastle gave his opinion on this point, as follows:—
I should see no objection to any consultation on the subject amongst the leading members of the Government concerned: but whatever the result of such consultation might be the most satisfactory mode of testing the opinion of the people of British North America would probably be by means of resolution or address proposed in the Legislature of each Province by its own Government”
To this may be added the following opinion of the present Colonial Minister. He says:—
“Her Majesty’s Government anticipate no serious difficulty in this part of the case, since the Resolutions will generally be found sufficiently explicit to guide those who will be entrusted with the preparation of the Bill. It appears to them therefore that you should now take immediate measures in concert with the Lieutenant Governors of the several Provinces, for submitting to the respective Legislatures this project of the Conference; and if as I hope, you are able to report that these Legislatures sanction and adopt the scheme, Her Majesty’s Government will render you all the assistance in their power to carry it into effect.”
So, at a time when the question was calmly debated, and when there was no excitement, you have these distinct utterances of all these able statesmen, both British and Colonial, that the Parliament of the country has power to change the constitution of the country, and that that is the proper mode of dealing with such a subject. Therefore I say that I am in a position to state that the Legislature is justified in taking such action upon the vital and important question, as in their deliberative opinion is calculated to promote the best interests of the Province and of British North America. It will thus be seen that the issue that has been raised by parties for purposes of their own—who wish to overthrow the existing administration and come into power themselves, is swept away like chaff before the wind neither constitutional principle nor precedent being found to support their views.
After having sustained my position by arguments like these—after having brought the opinions of all these eminent public men to prove the proper and constitutional mode of dealing with the subject—after having shown that in the whole history of Great Britain and of the United States no parallel can be found for the appeal to the people which has been proposed — I think the opponents of Union are not in a situation to challenge the right of this house in the exercise of its legitimate functions to pursue such a course as the interest of our common country demands. They cannot find one example of a question like this being referred to the people at the polls, either in Great Britain or the United States,—there is one, but it is not one which they are likely to adduce for adoption by a British Assembly. It is the occasion on which the people of France were driven at the point of the bayonet to the polls, to sustain a perfect despotism in the country, to part with every vestige of liberty that freemen value.
Having already stated in detail the arguments in favor of Union which weigh upon my own mind, I feel l would be trespassing upon the House if I were, on the present occasion, to go at any length into a question which has been so fully discussed. I feel that when I have drawn the attention of the House to the fact that, not only have gentlemen politically opposed to each other been brought to co operate on this question, but the greatest minds of the country who have ever taken a prominent share in public affairs are endorsing this action. It is unnecessary for me to weary the House with any lengthy observations. I am not surprised that Mr. Howe should have […]
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[…] brought forward this great question of Colonial Union. At a time when party conflict raged in this country as never before, in 1861, the opposition party in this House stated that they were prepared to sustain their opponents in a measure that was calculated to advance the Union of British North America. At that time the advocacy of that subject was popular to the last degree; nor was it till the last moment that men were found unpatriotic enough to ignore their own previous actions in order to antagonize a great national movement, in order to obtain an unfair advantage over the Government of the day. Although by the dissemination of inflammatory productions, by conjuring up the frightful bugbear of taxation, a large body of the people have been brought to look upon the Quebec scheme with disfavor I am proud to know that the best minds of this country give their hearty sanction and are prepared to sustain this movement to unite British North America by every means in their power. Is it strange that such should be the case? What future can Nova Scotia have apart from a Union of British North America.
Look at the comparatively insignificant position we occupy and tell me, surrounded as we are by hostile tariffs, with a mere handful of population, what future can we look forward to unless it is in connection with the consolidation of British North America under one government. Looking only at the commercial aspect of the question—at the expansion of our trade and our great facilities for manufactures, is it a matter for surprise that the most intelligent men in this country have combined, as they have never done on any other question? The geographical position we occupy, can be of little service, and the great resources we possess are all comparatively useless and can never obtain full development except, as Mr. Howe has said, by making this province the Atlantic frontage for a mighty British American country. Let us turn our attention to the question of an Intercolonial Railway. Great as may be its commercial advantages, though it may make Nova Scotia the wharf of British North America, everybody knows that it has been stated time after time by Mr. Howe as laying at the very foundation of the security and advancement of British America. He said he wanted the Intercolonial Railway because it would bring about Union. For twenty long years the ablest public men had combined all their talents and energies to bring about the construction of this great work but all their efforts have proved futile. The moment however the Intercolonial Union is consummated, the Inter- colonial Railway becomes an accomplished fact.
The delegates came back not only with the evidence that the general scheme gave that these Provinces would have all the legitimate influence that they were entitled to, but with the proof that the twenty millions of dollars required to build the Inter-colonial Railway were secured by Inter- colonial Union. But the great commercial advantages derived from Union have been so fully detailed on the platform and in the press in a manner that must carry conviction to every intelligent mind, that it is altogether superfluous for me to dwell on this part of the subject. No man can look at the position of our country without recognizing at once that, surrounded, as we are, by hostile tariffs, our great facilities for manufactures must lie dormant. If, therefore, we wish to develope enterprize, and make this country a great bee hive of industry, we must, without delay, carry out this scheme of Inter-colonial Union. The Reciprocity Treaty has been swept away, and no intelligent man, whether opposed to the Quebec scheme or not, can fail to see that the basis on which our previous prosperity rested has been affected to a large extent and that there should be found some counterbalancing means by which our common interests may be promoted. Important, however, as these matters are, there is another question to which I have hardly referred, which lies at the foundation of the whole argument. Whilst I am prepared to support this Union under the belief that our political and commercial prosperity is indissolubly bound up in the measure, I would say that I would accept it at some sacrifice for the purpose of adopting the only means by which I could hand down to my children the priceless boon of British connection. I must here again invite the attention of the House to the following observations of Mr Howe on this subject, and for which the hon. member is responsible, for he was a member of the Government who brought them here. In a state paper in the Journals of 1862 Mr. Howe declared:
“The United States thus have been suddenly transformed from peaceful communities, pursuing lawful commerce, to a military Republic.
“The British Provinces survey these phenomena without fear, but not without emotion: and they ask, as the first measure of indispensible precaution and obvious defence, that the Inter-colonial Railroad shall be completed without delay.
“Without the road the Provinces are dislocated, and almost incapable of defence, for a great portion of the year, except, at such a sacrifice of life and property, and at such a enormous cost to the mother country, as makes the small contribution which she is asked to give towards its construction sink into insignificance. With the railroad we can concentrate our forces on the menaced points of our frontier, guard the citadels and works which have been erected by Great Britain at vast expense, cover our cities from surprise, and hold our own till reinforcements can be sent across the sea; while, without the railway, if an attack were made in winter, the mother country could put no army worthy of the national honor, and adequate to the exigency, upon the Canadian frontier, without a positive waste of treasure, far greater than the principal of the sum, the interest of which she is asked, to contribute, or rather to risk.
“The British Government have built expensive citadels at Halifax, Quebec, and Kingston, and have stores of munitions and warlike material in them; but their feeble garrisons will be inadequate for their defence unless the Provincial forces can be concentrated in and around them. An enterprising enemy would carry them by coups de main before they could be reinforced from England, and, once taken the ports and roadstead which they have been erected to defend. would not be over-safe the […]
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[…] the naval armaments sent out too late for their relief. * * * * *
“Therefore, we desire to strengthen our frontier by the completion of a work indispensible to its defence. It is not too much to say that the construction of the Inter-colonial Railroad might save us the cost of a war; for the Americans are themselves sagacious enough to see that, with that work completed, surprise is impossible, and the results of a protracted war at least extremely doubtful. Without it, Canada and the Maritime Provinces may be cut asunder, and outflanked at any moment, without the possibility of their population leaning upon common points of support and aiding and strengthening each other.”
Here you have the deliberate utterances of Mr Howe and Mr. Annand, as members of the Government, and we accepted them in good faith as the language of sincerity. Yet the hon gentleman who brought that document here stands forth to-day saying that he will use all the influence he possesses to array the people against the only means by which we can get the railway upon which our common security thus depends.
I read with great satisfaction Mr Howe’s letter to day, because I felt that it would be a stain upon our country if an Imperial officer was secretly using the power of his position to thwart the progress of a great movement which the Imperial authorities had declared to be indispensable to the security of these Provinces. Therefore I was glad to find, when salary was no longer in the way, for it had ceased, even at this late hour he had thrown off the mask and avowed himself an enemy of a Union of British North America, declaring that all the principles he had proclaimed publicly on this question were a delusion and a deception, and that the position he was prepared to occupy was to trample down this Union, which he had done more to recommend to the British Government and the people of this Province than any other man and that for the insignificant and unworthy object of getting back into place and power in the Province of Nova Scotia (cheers in the galleries) I regret that I should thus be compelled to deal with an absent man but his mouth piece is in the House to defend him. With a large [text missing] of that letter I entirely concur and shall read it to you, as I think it most effectually proves the necessity of an immediate Union of these Provinces:—
“While in Washington Congress was in session, and I had the opportunity, never enjoyed before for so long a period, to study the practical working of Republican institutions, and to see and hear the leading men now mingling in the stirring scenes of American public life.
On my return home I waited upon the Lieutenant Governor and upon General Doyle. and gave them my impression as to the state of affairs across the border. During the fortnight which has elapsed since, I have given to any body who asked them, in the streets or in society, my opinions with equal freedom. To those who enquired about the Fenian organization, I have said that it was formidable and not to be despised. That it embraced every city and town and village where Irishmen dwell in the United States—that the proverbial generosity of a mercurial people, who gave liberally of their substance when their feelings were touched, placed large sums of money at its disposal; and that as great numbers of the Fenians have been under fire during the late civil war, they combined, within the order, a fair share of discipline and experience. I have said further that, as the American Government, in disbanding 800,000 men, had permitted each man to carry off his rifle and acoutrements on payment of six dollars, the country was full of arms, of the most approved construction, to be purchased for a song. That as for nine months past, the Government has been selling, at all the military and naval arsenals and depots, ships, cannon shot, clothing, waggons, ambulances, and every description of war material, at low prices, the Fenians could provide themselves with stores and transportation at a figure far below what they would have had to pay if the articles were purchased at first cost.
When asked if I thought the Fenians could muster any force that could conquer either or all these Provinces, I have invariably answered no. That, if the Fenians come alone, and if we are true to ourselves, we can repel them at every point of the frontier, or should they effect a lodgement speedily drive them out. But the real danger is that they may not come alone. Unhappily there prevails in the United States a wide spread felling of hostility to the Provinces arising out of the sympathy for the South manifested during the civil war. This feeling has been strong enough to induce Congress to throw over the Reciprocity Treaty, and to risk collisions upon the fishing grounds and an enormous amount of trade. And then, every man who has had a ship captured by the Shenandoah, Alabama, or other cruisers built in England, attributes his loss to the supineness or connivance of the British Government, and is a Fenian of the most irate description.
But will not American Government interfere? This question is often put to me, and I answer. I believe and hope they will. Mr. Gladstone evidently thinks and Sir Fred. Bruce is confident they will. But the danger lies here. At this moment the Cabinet at Washington is involved in complications of no ordinary kind. The great Republican party and the President have been at issue, upon the reconstruction policy, for ten weeks, and one Branch has just passed a Bill over the veto by a two-thirds majority. Both parties are appealing to the country for support. The Fenians are said to control a million of votes, and certainly make up a formidable portion of the Democratic party that supports the President. Those who cherish hard feeling against the Provinces and the British Government control a good many more. Out of these complications no human being, at this moment, can tell what may or may not arise.
In the meanwhile a flying squadron has been ordered to the North Atlantic, and a formidable iron Ram, with double turrets, is said to be coming with it. Let us hope and pray for the prevalence of peaceful feeling, but let us complete our coast defences and keep our powder dry. There is another source of danger. Eight hundred thousand young men, accustomed to war, to the excitement of raids and to the license of camp life, have been recently disbanded. Should the Fenians make a raid, perhaps, in […]
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[…] the first instance, none but Irishmen may come. But should these, when the frost is out of the ground, entrench themselves and hold any part of our territory for ten days, who can say how long all the fighting will be left to the Fenians,—and should others come, what wild excitement may not sweep over some of those great border States when a few dead bodies are sent home? Who can tell how many horses may not be saddled in the warlike West? Here are our chances of peace and our perils fairly stated, as I have stated them to those in authority, and to anybody who asked me during the past fortnight. Taking the calmest view of the whole field, I am free to admit that, while hoping for the best and counting on the good faith of the American Government, I cannot but feel that circumstances may arise very difficult to control, and that may test the manhood and resources of the Provinces before very many weeks.”
The House will remember that when the hon. member for Halifax wrested the paper of which he was the responsible editor from one of the Quebec Delegates for the purpose of writing down this question of an Inter-colonial Union there appeared in its columns a series of letters entitled “The Botheration Scheme;’ and it is now known that they were written by Mr. Howe-that has never been denied. What was the first position taken by Mr. Howe, the man who induced the House to declare that so many and so great were the manifold advantages of a Union of all these Provinces, that they should give the Government the power to deal with it? He come out as the avowed enemy of any union whatever, because it was going to destroy Responsible Government.
You see the same thing stated in the communication of this morning. If to unite British America under one Government and into one Legislature, is to destroy Responsible Government, where was Responsible Government when the policy to which he had invited the attention of the House adopted? Again, any Union with Canada was denounced because there were a million of Frenchmen in Canada. Were there any Frenchmen in Canada when that resolution offered by Mr. Howe passed this House? Had there no rebellion in Canada when he persuaded the House to agree to that policy of Union? Having denounced all Union—having trampled under his feet all the principles of his previous life, what more? The next “Botheration” article treated us to an eulogium upon Republican institutions such as was hardly ever seen in a British paper. Mr Howe’s language went to prove that the sooner the worthless bauble of North American institutions is swept away and replaced by the priceless gift of Republican institutions the better for us.
I can forgive American statesmen holding such language those who owe their fealty to the institutions of that great Republic; but I am not prepared to hear this language from the same man who on the platform in England, when a delegate from this Province to the Imperial government, denounced the Republican institutions of the United States and held them up to the scorn and contempt of every British subject. When his own country is to be consolidated, when a great scheme necessary to the security of British America is proposed does he still hold the opinions which he uttered when in England as the result of 20 years study of American institutions? Does he show himself a man of public principle? No! He shows that he can change his opinions at pleasure, and propound whatever views will best suit his interests, and that he is influenced by considerations that ought not to influence any public man, and may thus be induced to sustain one set of principles to-day, and asserts others dramatrically opposed to these to-morrow.
I believe what the hon gentleman says in what I have read of his letter is true. It is consistent with all the information that the government possesses. The information coming to us from hour to hour shows the existence and widespread ramifications of the Fenian organization. What ought to be the conduct of a patriot and a statesman in the face of a danger like that. I believe Mr. Howe has not colored the matter too strongly that these parties are going to make an onslaught upon some portion of these provinces; and the men who will be responsible for all its terrors will be the men who are resisting Inter-colonial Union and indoctrinating our people with sentiments that may shake their allegiance to the Crown. It is only last night the Lieut-Governor received a despatch that two hundred Fenians had arrived at Portland; and there is deep apprehension that St John or Yarmouth may be the first object of attack. In the presence of a common danger like that, the duty of a patriot and statesman would be to sink all differences and combine for the purpose of protecting the rights and liberties of British North America. Let the agis of British protection be withdrawn and what can Nova Scotia do in the face of such danger as Mr. Howe depicts? Simply nothing.
The hon. member for Halifax told us that the United States of America are looking to British North America, feeling that if they only possessed these Provinces they would become the first Naval Power in the world and able to dictate their terms of all nations. That statement carries conviction with it to the mind of every man. I will now ask the House if I were corrupted by American gold, enamoured of American institutions, believing that the best thing that I could do would be to transfer this country to the United States of America what are the most effective measures that I could take? Would it not be to keep the Provinces disunited and repel the protection of the mothercountry, and then button-hole every man whom I could influence, and undermine his confidence in our institutions by whispering into his ear the insidious statement that Great Britain could not protect us? That the power of the United States was too gigantic-that Great Britain herself would fail to protect even the city of Halifax against such ships as were now possessed by the American Government? And when I had indoctrinated the minds of my countrymen with that idea, I would tell them that the best plan is to reject the policy of the Imperial Government.
We all know that the feeling of loyalty to one’s […]
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[…] country, the pride in its institutions, lies to the fact that their institutions are able to afford protection to life and property. Therefore the moment you have carried conviction to the minds of the people that Great Britain is unable to protect us, and that they stand in the presence of so gigantic a power that it has only to will to take them, then you undermine their loyalty. Now we have Mr. Howe in that attitude; since his return, in the streets, and in the clubs, and in the presence of the highest authorities of the land, you find him constantly holding forth the doctrine that Great Britain is impotent to defend this Province that though British America might unite, yet with even Great Britain at her back, all she could do would not prevent her being swept away when the American Government wished it. If I stood in a position like that, the hon. mem. for Halifax might be justified in making us an object of suspicion and throwing out his taunts and innuendos about base bribes having influenced public men.
Here you see the man who stood but yesterday on the very watch tower of the question of intercolonial Union—having indoctrinated the people with the sentiment of Union—having held up Republican institutions to scorn and derision; now standing forth and throwing his whole power into the scale of Opposition to Intercolonial Union magnifying the power of the United States extravagantly. What more? You have at the same time that this most insidious poison is being instilled into the ear of every one in the community, the leading opponents of Union unhesitatingly avowing preference for Annexation to the United States. (Cheers)
I ask you to put these facts together and I will not require to adduce the treasonable utterances of Mr. Annand on the streets which have been taken back and apologized for on the floors of the House. I say then, under such circumstances, I cannot come to any other conclusion than that the time has come when every man whether public or private, who wishes to save the county and preserve the connection with the mother country, should speak out boldly and manfully, irrespective of any personal consideration. Holding the sentiments I do – believing that the crisis has come when we must decide whether we shall be annexed to the United States or remain connected with the Parent state. I would be the blackest traitor that ever disgraced a country if I did not by every means in my power urge upon this Legislature to prove equal to the emergency and take that course which, in a few months will secure that consolidation of British North America and the connection with the Crown of Great Britain which I believe, which I know it is the sincere wish of the people to secure, and which can alone place these Provinces in a position that will at once give them dignity of position and ensure their safety.
Having therefore, given the subject the most careful consideration, having submitted the proposition of the hon member for Richmond to the Government and to the gentlemen who are opposed to us politically, but who are associated with us on this question, we have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to the House and to the country to meet in all frankness the proposal that has been made. We feel that difficulties have arisen in connection with the Quebec scheme which require such an arrangement as been proposed, in order to remove the objections that exist. I can only say, in reference to this matter, that Canada has accepted the basis of the Quebec scheme by a large majority, and that any alteration in the terms obtained from the Imperial Government must be even more favorable to the Maritime Provinces. I believe that the scheme provided ample security for the interests of Nova Scotia, but at the same time there are none of us who have been associated with it who would not be too glad to obtain any concession that may be still more favorable to the Maritime Provinces.
The Imperial Government and Parliament will have an opportunity of largely improving that scheme, and giving us an amount of consideration that otherwise we might not obtain. It must be remembered that let Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick pass any scheme they please, that does not unite British North America. The only means by which we can be united is by an act of the Imperial Parliament. The Government can only say what bill they will submit to the Imperial Parliament; they cannot tell what will come out of that Parliament. This resolution, therefore, provides all the guarantees that can be had for a plan of Union being adopted by the Imperial Parliament, advised, during the passage of the act, by able and intelligent representatives of all parties, while it is under consideration.
TUESDAY APRIL 10.
UNION OF THE COLONIES.
SPEECH OF MR. ARCHIBALD.
Mr. Archibald said:—After the very long and elaborate address to which we have listened, it would not be good taste on my part to detain the House long, but I feel that occupying the position which I have occupied on this subject, I could not sit silent on the introduction of such a resolution as that before the House. I regret greatly that in the discussion of this subject, it has been thought necessary by the Provincial Secretary to address the House in the impassioned tone and style of the speech to which we have just listened. I do not affect to be surprised at the course he has taken. Perhaps I could hardly have expected him, under the circumstances, to take a different course; still I feel that if there ever was a question in which passion should be silent, which should be considered with calmness and deliberation, it is this.
The question before us is the greatest that could be submitted to this country or this legislature, and requires that we should look at it soberly and thoughtfully, in the light of the events which are transpiring around us. The Pro. Sec. has referred to the action of Her Majesty’s government on the question of Reform, as affording evidence that it is competent for us to deal with the question without necessarily referring it to the people. He has alluded to the fact that the effect of the proposition now before the Imperial Parliament is to make an enormous transfer of power from the class that now enjoys it to a different class, and he has said that the right of Parliament to do so […]
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[…] has not been questioned there. The case in England is a strong case, but the precedent in our own Legislature is a stronger one. There the legislation proposed is in the line of extending the power of the people. How was it here? The members of the last Parliament came here elected by the people under an almost universal franchise. Yet without any appeal to the people we cut off one-fourth of the entire constituency of the country.
Now whether it was right or not, is not the point. The question now is the power a Legislature possessed with reference to any change in the constitution. The moment the power is conceded in that case, it is conceded in this. If we can abridge the authority and power of those who elect us, we can deal in the same way with ourselves and with the power of the Legislature. I am free to admit that it is a power which should be exercised only in cases of emergency, and where prompt action is demanded. We have been told, and I am astonished to hear the statement, that we are proceeding to strike down the principles of responsibility which have given free government to the people of this country.—
Now, what is stamped on the very forefront of the Quebec scheme? That the General Government shall be conducted on the principles of responsibility to the entire people, just as our own now is at this moment, so that the principles of the Federal Government are precisely those which we possess in this country.— Our Legislature is left to be moulded as we choose; our local administration, unless we wish otherwise. will be the same as at present, so that every principle of responsibility to the people is retained as it is now. In the local administration the responsibility lies to this people,—in the general administration, to the people of the entire group. The old altars remain—the worshippers have still the same faith; but in the metropolitan cathedral, or to borrow a figure from the Presbyterian church, in the National Assembly, will be those who have the care of all the churches. Therefore, while we leave intact the government of the country, all we do is to have these matters, which are of common and general concern, transferred to the General Legislature. We are told that the time for changing institutions is the time of peace and prosperity, that the only time for union is when we can calmly and deliberately consider all the arguments and objections. Such a doctrine falsifies the entire current of history.
When was ever a union effected between dependent communities with jealousies and rivalries which independence begets, except under the presence of the most cogent necessities? What gave birth to the union over our border? Was the proposition submitted to the different States in time of peace? Not so. The union, such as it was at first, was cemented only under the pressure of a war, with the mother country. If the people of the States had waited for union till that pressure had ceased to exist, they would have been destroyed piecemeal, and would have had no union at all. From 1774 till the time of peace the government had been carried on under a Congress which arose at the promptings of necessity, and assumed a centralized power, but when peace came the centralization ended, the States pulled apart, prejudice and passion denuded them, and it was not until ruin stared them in the face that they were again forced to unite with closer bands and in a more solid union.
The same has been the case with the other unions of the world. The merest tyro in history knows that the United Provinces of the Old World combined only under the iron heel of Spanish despotism. It was the hostile legions of Alva that created a union which peace and prosperity would never have produced. All the other unions of independent States, that have had any permanence, are those which have been cemented under the pressure of urgent necessities. The Prov. Sec. has referred to a letter which has recently appeared, and which will have great influence. I will not undertake to say that I consider the picture of our dangers from Fenian invasion rather overdrawn, but this I do say that if I were addressing this house, and desired to make the strongest appeal on behalf of Union, I would have rested it on the very premises which that letter contains. I should have drawn conclusions from it the very opposite of these of the very able and eloquent author. There are certain considerations connected with the dangers so powerfully descanted on in that letter, which should press upon us with great force.
Our position is this: We stand alongside a country which has suddenly developed itself into the greatest military power in the world. It contains large numbers of armed and trained men, at this moment hordes of them are threatening an inroad upon our territory. We have opposed to us not merely the irradicable hatred of British power which distinguishes the descendants of Ireland who have emigrated to the United States, and who compose the Fenian element, but we have that hatred sympathised in by the great body of the American people, and no man can tell at what moment our soil may be invaded.
Let us, then, look at England, and see how she stands. England fought for seven years to subjugate the rebellious States, and yet with only three millions to fight with, she was obliged to retire unsuccessful. Now thirty millions of people occupy the place of the three. They have been baptized in the blood of civil war, and acquired the skill and the daring which experience alone can give. Then look at the responsibilities which England has now thrown upon her. The entire Colonial Empire at the Revolution consisted of the American and West India Islands. For five years after the peace of 1783 Australia, a continent larger than the United States and now divided into six separate governments with the dimensions and revenues of principalities, remained undiscovered; New Zealand was unknown. The 140 millions of India were governed by native princes, with the exception of a few thousands who owned the sway of a commercial company; Canada East was in the power of the French, Western Canada was a wilderness.
Now the myriads of India are direct subjects of the British crown, and on her Majesty’s government devolve the responsibility of ruling this enormous population, itself fourfold greater than that of the United States. They have the care and protection of the vast continent of Australia; they have still to defend the Islands of the West and of the East Indies. So long as she retains her ascendancy at sea she can protect […]
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[…] these; but contemplating the whole Empire, including over thirty colonies, scattered over all parts of the world, consisting of every people and tongue, and situate in every climate, is it possible to conceive of a power but that of Great Britain that could have so long discharged such immense responsibilities as the possession of this Empire throws upon her, and that too almost within the life time of a man, necessarily involves.
See how different from ours is the position of all these Colonies. Australia is at the antipodes, and is defended by its distance from a foe. India is separated from the only power that is likely to interfere with British rule by impassable mountains and trackless deserts, the islands of the Pacific and Australasia are protected by distance and their remote position; but here, all along the two thousand miles of conterminous boundary between us and America, we have in our immediate presence the military power which makes British America the weakest spot in the Empire. No British statesman can fail to see that of all the points at which the Imperial power can be assailed, this presents the elements which make a war most to be dreaded. Do we wonder, then, that despatch after despatch has been sent by the home authorities, requiring us to put ourselves in such a position that England, if called upon to defend us, can do so successfully. Is it any wonder that we find the Colonial Secretary, time after time, almost imploring us, if we have any desire to retain our allegiance to the Crown, to put ourselves in such an attitude that the Crown can protect us?
I feel that if there were no commercial advantages to be derived from striking down antagonistic barriers; if our material interests even were not promoted by Union, we could not gracefully resist the expression of such desire on the part of those to whom we are indebted for protection, and of whom we are even new imploring aid. For they say, “we are ready to place the whole resources of the Empire at your back, we will defend you as long as you desire to remain with us; but we claim it a right which our position gives us to offer you advice as to the attitude you shall assume, and in which, we think, you can best be defended.” Even admitting that there were no commercial advantages in the proposed Union, admitting even that we did not agree that the British government were right in the belief that Union would aid our defence, is there a man in the country who could look a British statesman in the face and say “we will accept your protection, but we decline your advice?”
This argument alone, the deference which is due from our position as the protected and defended, to those who protect and defend, I feel to be irresistible. I have never hesitated in this assembly from the first hour when the proposition for Colonial Union was mooted, from giving it my support. Since it assumed a definite shape and I became a party to the Quebec scheme I have felt my conviction of the soundness of the principles upon which that scheme was based, strengthened by reason and reflection. I claim no right to dictate to others their course of action. The gentlemen with whom I have been associated, have a right, if they choose, to change their views, but I do not feel at liberty to do so while I retain my present conviction. I have put my hand to public documents which bind me in honor to the same course to which my convictions lead. As I have said my opinion of the Quebec scheme is entirely unchanged. I believe that it guards our interests as far as we had a right to expect them to be guarded in an Intercolonial arrangement; but if larger concessions can be obtained, there is no member of this House or of the Quebec Convention, belonging to the lower Provinces, who would not willingly accept them.
The resolution now before us leaves the question open only to a change in our favor—Canada is bound by her Legislature to go at all events as far as the Quebec scheme. The Lower Provinces alone are dissatisfied, and if any alterations are made, they must be in the line of concessions to them. If we can secure guarantees and privileges not embodied in that scheme, it will be in entire accord with the feelings of this House and those members of it that attended the Convention, and as the proposition now before us will secure us at least the benefit of that scheme, and possibly some others, I do not hesitate to give it my support, and have much pleasure in seconding the resolution.
Hon. Pro. Secretary, in reply to a remark from Mr Annand, said that the passage of the resolution would enable a scheme of union to be given effect to by the Imperial Parliament but that one of the conditions would be that the existing Legislatures would not be interfered with, and would continue to sit for the term of their election.
Hon. Mr. Shannon introduced a bill to enable the City of Halifax to erect a slaughter house.