Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Union of the Colonies (17 April 1865)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 2nd Sess, 1865 at 246-273.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1865.
MONDAY, April 17.
UNION OF THE COLONIES.
Speech of Mr. Le Vesconte.
Mr. Le Vesconte said:—As there appears to be an indisposition on the part of hon. gentleman […]
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[…] to continue the debate, although not very well prepared at the present moment to address the house, rather than that time should be wasted, I shall take advantage of the present opportunity to offer the few remarks 1 intend to make upon the subject now under discussion.
In the first place I shall refer to the observations made by the hon. Pro. Sec. on Thursday last upon a subject analagous to that now before the house. He challenged the accuracy of the statement I then made that seven-eighths of the people of this country were opposed to the Confederation scheme, and asserted that so far from that being the case, at least that number were in favor of it. Now, sir, if he believes that to be the case—pledged as he is by his action at the Quebec Conference to carry out the scheme—why does he content himself by laying on the table of the house a resolution which asks the house to go back to the policy of last year—in favor of a union of the Maritime provinces—and declares that the larger union is impracticable?
Voting, as I did, last year for a resolution similar to that now before the house I should be prepared to maintain it now, were it not for the observations of the hon. Pro. Sec.—reiterated by the leader of the opposition—that he regarded this as a stepping stone for the larger union of the British North American Provinces. Believing, as I do, that the effect of a union with Canada would be to deprive us of our present locus standi and to make us a mere dependency of that Province, I feel compelled, holding these views, to vote against the resolution, and I do so, as I have said, principally on account of the remarks made by the two hon. gentlemen I have referred to. Now, sir, I think the house will agree with me that the speeches Which we have listened to from, the hon. Pro. Sec. and the hon. leader of the opposition have had very little connection with the resolution under discussion. Scarcely a word has fallen from their lips upon the question of a union of the Maritime Provinces.
As regards that union I may say that I am not opposed to it, provided that it can be effected upon terms favorable to the province; but I am most decidedly opposed to it as a means of accomplishing the larger union. We have been told that the views of Mr. Howe, Mr. Johnston, and Mr. Young were all in favor of union. Even supposing that this was the case, I do not see why their opinions should be binding upon us. They have passed away into a different arena —whilst here they reflected the opinions of their constituents—we are here now in their places, not to carry out their views, but to represent the feelings and the interests of the whole people of Nova Scotia. Before alluding to the financial aspect of this question there are one or two matters to which I shall briefly refer—one is in connection with the loss of privileges which will be entailed upon the people of this country by the adoption of the scheme of union.
The right of being taxed, only through the action of their representatives has always been considered one of the dearest privileges a free people can possess, and it is one that comes home to every man’s mind. At present not a single penny of taxes can be imposed upon the country except with the consent of the representatives of the people; but what will be the result after we are annexed to Canada? What chance would 300,000 peeple have against three millions—or what stand could the representatives of Nova Scotia make against the overpowering influence of the government of Canada? We would be in the position that we would have to submit, no matter how iniquitous the tax, or else be taunted as rebels. Now we have the glorious privilege of electing our own representatives and arranging our own tariff, and I am happy to say that so far we have done so in a manner that has redounded to the credit of the province and has doubled the resources of the country in the last few years. But what would be the consequence if this attempt to barter away out rights and privileges were carried out?
Instead of as now—enacting our own laws, subject to the exercise of the royal prerogative—we would, by our own act, surrender to the supreme government at Ottawa the right of passing any laws, no matter how obnoxious they might be to our people, and we would be compelled to submit, or else be branded as rebels. Under the present system, if an act was passed which was not suited to the wants of the people, it could be repealed at the next session— but adopt this union, and we surrender to the Ottawa government all control over our legislature, and leave ourselves entirely at their mercy.
Mr. Speaker, I regret very much that no abler man than myself should be found to raise his voice against this attempt to barter away our dearest rights and privileges,—sorry am I that Nova Scotia’s most gifted sons should be found to have entered into this unholy compact to destroy our political existence; but, sir, humble as I am, I should consider myself recreant to my principles, and unworthy of the confidence of those who sent me here, if I failed to denounce, feebly it may be, but to the best of my ability, this scheme, which I consider so detrimental to the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.
Sir, we all remember the old story of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage, and how he afterwards regretted it with an exceeding bitter cry—but there was this to be said in excuse for his conduct, that he sold it when he was hungry, and at all events he received some return,—whereas the Province of Nova Scotia was not hungry, and the only return she would receive for the surrender of her rights would be a mess of bitter herbs, to be eaten in sorrow and digested in tears. We have been told that we would not be left without a Parliament—that the representatives of the people would be in the same position as when such men as Archibald, and Uniacke, and Haliburton adorned these halls by their presence. But it does not require much argument to prove that such will not be the case.
They were the representatives of a Province having its own laws—its own tariff— the control of its own resources—while we will represent a dependency of Canada, with powers about as great as the Grand Jury and Sessions of a county. I do hope, if this scheme is carried out, for the credit of old times, and old associations, that the title of the representatives will be changed, and that instead of the time-honored name of M. P. P., they will substitute that of M. C. P., or Member of the Council of Puppets. I do not intend, Mr. Speaker, to go very largely into the financial question, so ably treated by the member for East Halifax (Mr. Annand), but I find that although in the main we agree, yet starting as we did from […]
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[…] different premises, we naturally arrive at different conclusions. This difference has arisen principally I think from the member for Halifax basing his calculations upon the whole amount of this year’s expenditure, without taking into consideration the balance in the Receiver General’s hands at the end of the year. Now, Sir, I assume the civil list is to be paid by the General Government; and I am in doubt as to one item—the pensions for the Judges. I should like to ask the Prov. Secretary whether, by the Constitution, that is to be borne by the General or Local Government. I assumed in my calculation that they would be paid by the General Government.
Hon. Prov. Sec., after referring to the Constitution, said that by clause 60 that service was to be paid by the General Government.
Mr. Le Vesconte.—I presumed so.
|Then the General Government under this scheme will have to pay Civil List, after deducting amounts to be paid by the Local Governments||$41,325|
|Rations to Troops||100|
|Light House Service||38,890|
|New Light Houses and Fog Houses||10,000|
|Total for services paid by Gen’l Gov’t||772,205|
|In exchange for which we would give up Revenue Customs and Excise||$920,000|
|Canada, New Brunswick, &c.||4,500|
|Post Office Revenue||50,000|
|Board of Revenue||1,427|
|Amount given up||$1,182,927|
|Received in return||1,036,753|
|Direct loss to Nova Scotia||$146, 174|
Now, Sir, here are the figures; and I defy the hon. Fin Sec. to take the papers and show any thing more favorable to the Province. But, separate and apart altogether from this financial view of the subject, there are other considerations which should have some effect upon our action in this matter. It is well known that our public works are progressing, and that our revenue is increasing year by year; but it must be remembered that under this scheme, no matter how prosperous we might become, no matter how largely our resources might increase, it would not be for the benefit of Nova Scotia, but the General Government at Ottawa. It is true that we might become a large manufacturing country, and the great seaport of all the Colonies; yet, still all the benefit we would derive from the general prosperity would be the 80 cents per head which the Constitution gives us. When I look at the position of affairs as between Canada and the United States—when I consider that the Reciprocity Treaty is about to expire, and that the Canadians, feeling themselves agrieved, will seek to retaliate upon the United States, while at the same time they will put money in their own pockets, I am driven to the conviction that they will accomplish their objects at the expense of the Maritime Provinces—that they will impose a duty upon flour, which we now import from the United States—a duty of at least a dollar a barrel,— and that we will have no other option than to submit. That will be the time when the effects of this Union will be brought home to us in a practical shape, and when it is too late, the people of this Province will begin to realize the force of the objections we now raise against it.
I maintain if we go into this union with Canada, we will be treated, as all small provinces ever have been treated—which have been annexed to large countries. Our interests will be respected just so far as it is to the advantage of the larger province to do so. I need not assure the house, Mr. Speaker, that I have no interest to serve in this matter. I have no other object than to advance the welfare of the Province of Nova Scotia; but I must candidly say that if this union is effected I believe that the people of Canada will use the people of these lower provinces for the purpose of passing off on them their surplus agricultural products, which we will be compelled to receive at a higher rate than we can now import them from the United State. We have been pointed, sir, to Cape Breton as an instance of the benefit of union, and have been told that under it she has received more than her rights. Sire, I deny it; and I have only to refer to the universal feeling of execration, which even now, after a lapse of twenty years, exists over the whole Island for the act which deprived them of their rights and privileges to prove the truth of my statement. That same feeling, I believe, before many years will be widespread throughout Nova Scotia, for the men who have endeavored to wrench from them their dearest rights without giving them a single iota in return.
Sir, I feel deeply on this subject, and, as I said before, I regret that Nova Scotia’s most gifted sons could not have found a better subject to coalesce upon then in this attempt to barter away our rights and liberties. But, sir, it has been said that we are too insignificant in our present position—that we ought to become a great country. Well, sir, I for one am content to remain under that great and glorious flag that waves over us to-day—and poor and insignificant as we Nova Scotians may be, we have the consolation of knowing that we have always been loyal and true to that flag, which is more than can be said of that great country to which some gentlemen are so anxious to be united. It has also been urged that the United States is prepared to gobble us up, if we remain dis-united from Canada.
Now, sir, I cannot see in what better position for defence we will be in by the Union. Will we be able to number a man more, or to shoulder an additional musket? I think not. But now, under the ægis of Old England, we are secure. She has promised to defend us, so long as we manifest a disposition to defend ourselves. When we […]
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[…] come to look at our militia estimates for this year, I think it will be found that we have done more for our defence than Canada, in proportion to our resources and population, and therefore when I say that we are more loyal I prove it by the law on the statute book, and by the liberal provision contained in the estimates.
The Pro. Sec. told us that this union will give us a character and nationality we do not now possess—that we have now no locus standi and have no weight amongsth the nations of the world. I ask how is it going to improve our position in that respect to annex us to Canada? Is it going to add to our importance of position to deprive us of our Lieutenant Governor, and our character as a province, and reduce us to the condition of a mere dependency of a larger province? If it does, I certainly am at a loss to understand it. It is not a very difficult matter to account for the anxiety of Canada for this union. Everybody knows the troubled state of affairs that have existed in that country for years, and it is natural that they should turn to us, not from any regard to our interests, but as a panacea for their own ills.
They saw a country with a low tariff, able to uphold all her institutions and her public works—able to devote $80,000 for her defence, and have a surplus besides—and, like Napoleon’s giant and the dwarf, they are prepared to squeeze us, affectionately it may be, but it is the giant’s nature to squeeze hard. The hon. Pro. Sec. told us as an irresistible argument in favour of his views—that that great organ, the Times, had declared in favour of the scheme, and therefore we must submit. In fact, as Nebuchadneezer told the Babylonians of old—we must bow down and worship the graven image he has sat up. Now I will, with the permission of the house, read a few extracts from the letter of the correspondent of that paper, who came here during the visit of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales—and who was so well up in the geography of the country, that on his way to Halifax he found himself at Toronto. Hear what he says about Windsor:
“So on I got to Windsor, a village of shanties and some 1,200 people, where a well meaning, but mistaken, individual has built an hotel large enough to accommodate all the inhabitants. The latter, however, as might have been anticipated, prefer living in their huts; so this hotel has never been opened to this day. * * *
This sir, is the way in which the accredited correspondent of this great paper maligns the people of this Province, on an occasion when, I am proud to say, they did themselves honor in the reception they give their Prince.
Then again, in speaking of the daughters of Acadia, who are renowned the world over for their beauty, their intelligence, and their virtue—this is the way he dares to speak of them: “Halifax, at first, does not impress one favorably; for the entrance from the station includes, as usual, all the worst thoroughfares and meanest houses, where the sun burnt natives loll out of their windows all day, and where brightly dressed Indian squaws, with their great splaw feet, covered with thick mocassins, tramp along with little papooses tied hand and foot to a flat piece of board, and looking like some curious preparation of an infant being dried in the sun.”
And yet this is the paper that the Provincial Secretary thinks should influence the judgment of the people of this country in the consideration of this great question. Now, sir, I shall not detain this house with any further remarks. All I can say is, if the people of this country are willing to surrender their rights and liberties, let them do so. I have done my duty in warning them against it. I may not live long enough to see them reaping the bitter fruits of their own folly; but I shall have the proud satisfaction of knowing that my children can point to my tomb, and say—There lies one who has the manliness to raise his voice in the halls of parliament against this unholy alliance.
Speech of Mr. McLelan.
Mr. McLelan spoke as follows:
Mr. Speaker,—We have been charged with making this a party question. But surely the position which members on both sides occupy in reference to it is sufficient to show we are not amenable to such a charge. For myself I am about to address the house in opposition to the views propounded by my political party leader; and let me say that no act of my little political life has given me half the pain I feel in being compelled to take a position in opposition to that hon. gentleman. There are other considerations which might well cause me to hesitate: not only is the question the most momentous ever discussed here, but there is the further consideration that it has been matured by thirty-three gentlemen who claim, and perhaps not undeservedly, to be among the ablest in British America. But if I might be disposed to hesitate from these considerations, I remember that I am here to act upon my own conscientious convictions of what is right and wrong—of what may be or may not be for the good of my country—and not upon other men’s capabilities of forming a correct judgement. For apart from considerations of a political nature which may and do too often influence men, there are occasions when the most enlarged and comprehensive minds overlook the useful and the practical in the contemplation of the ideal. So had it been, I believe on the present occasion. Men have given up to an idea, or a sentiment that which they should never have yielded, except to sound argument and strong conclusive fact. I believe that the idea or sentiment of union has had very much to do with influencing men’s minds upon this subject.
When the Provincial Secretary, in addressing the house on the history of this question, referred to the most unanimous applause with which the subject of union had been greeted when mentioned on platform or festive occasions, I thought at the time that very much of that applause was given to the sentiment or idea of union which has always a charm for men’s minds and not so much to the practical workings of a union of these provinces. There are perhaps few words in the English language that have such an influence over men’s minds as that little word “Union.” We have seen in the neighboring republic how powerful an influence this “union sentiment” exercises over the people. Many years ago when the question of the admission of Texas into the Union was under consideration, Daniel Webster, than whom America has not known a mightier intellect, warned the Senate against the extension of territory Southward.
That warning voice was unheeded. The union sentiment prevailed, […]
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[…] and that union took place. With the greatness and prosperity of the country there grew up an interest in the South, which finding its own centre within itself, and growing antagonistic to the North, at length culminated in a demand for a separation. We are all familiar with the history of events from that time to this—that the difficulty resulted in a war which has been unparalled in its magnitude and in its severity —a war which has furrowed with the graves of the slain the face of that country as thickly as the furrows in a farmer’s field. Looking at the influence which this sentiment has exercised over men’s minds at all times, I must conclude that it has also operated largely in the provinces, and that men have been carried away by that sentiment, and have sought a union irrespective of provincial rights and the consequences that may flow from it. They have forgotten the union that already exists between these provinces—that we are united by the same loyal sentiments—that we are, as the hon. member for Richmond says, citizens of the same Empire—subjects of the same Queen.
The same flag that floats over Buckingham Palace floats over our Citadel, and protects the inhabitants of these provinces as well as those of London. Under that protection we enjoy every blessing and privilege that is known in civilized and enlightened society; and I asked myself when the Provincial Secretary, the other night, was speaking of the progress and prosperity of this province, and telling us how much we had to be grateful for, why we could not withal cultivate the virtue of contentment. But they tell us that there are circumstances outside of our own borders that prevent the continuance of these things. In the first place, we have been told that there is a disposition on the part of England to cast us adrift. It is hardly necessary to spend much time on part of the subject, because opinions lately propounded in the British parliament show that there is a determination on the part of Great Britain to preserve her colonies so long as they remain loyal to the crown of England.
We naturally expected this declaration. We have seen that the expansion and maintenance of colonies has been the policy which England has pursued from time immemorial, and it is that which has given her her proudest title—”mistress and sovereign of the sea.” In the many long years of struggle with other powers to obtain that title, it was not so much the staunchness of her ships, or the bravery of her crews, as from the training to the seas which they had acquired in the wide commerce afforded by colonies. Before passing away from this part of the subject, I may add it is still more unlikely that England should have adopted this policy of abandoning her colonies at a time when her great rival France has adopted it, and in every part of the habitable globe, where she can obtain a foothold, is planting colonies that she too may have a widely extended commerce— that she may train from their youth a large number of her people to “go down upon the seas in ships, to do business upon the mighty waters,” and thus prepare them for that magnificent navy she is building.
Again, England requires, in large quantities, the products of the American continent, and it would be impolitic to allow a foreign power to control all those products. When Louis Napoleon took possession of Mexico, and made of her a virtual dependency of France, he said, “We have an interest indeed in the republic of the United States being prosperous and powerful; but not that she should take possession of the whole gulf of Mexico, thence to command the Antilles as well as South America, and to be the only dispenser of the products of the New World. If this be the policy of Napoleon—if he felt an anxiety that no foreign power should control the products of a continent, how much more is it the interest of England that a foreign power shall not have the entire command of products essential to her existence.
England has justly been called the “workshop of the world,” but in materials for manufacture, she procures from other countries the value of over one hundred millions of pounds sterling, while one third of her people receive the food upon which they live from abroad. Hence it s vastly more important to England than to France whose necessities in those particulars is not so great that no one power should control the grain and material for manufacture produced by the continent of America. Therefore I feel that circumstances do not warrant any man in saying that it is the intention of England to cast these colonies off. Earl Russell said a few years ago: “I firmly believe it is our duty, to maintain our great and valuable Colonial empire,” while Early Grey added: “I believe that much of the power and influence of this country depends upon having large Colonial possessions in different parts of the world;” and but a few days ago we saw the same expression of opinion as delivered by Lord Palmerston.
So I feel it was unwarranted for any gentleman to say that it was the intention or policy of England to cast their colonies adrift. But we are told that we are in danger of being wrested from Great Britain, that there are a number of circumstances existing in the United States which endanger the connection with the parent state. I cannot help admiring the zeal with which the hon. gentlemen who are advocating this Confederation have been blowing the War Trumpet. They tell us that the King of Terrors who has been holding high carnival in the valleys of the Shenandoah will soon come to a grand banquet in the valleys of Nova Scotia. When the Pro. Secy. drew a picture of this in addressing the house, I thought I saw his cheek pale, but at the time it occurred to me that possibly the direction in which the hon gentleman was looking had something to do with this. He was looking at Mr. Tilley from New Brunswick, who was sitting outside the benches, and perhaps there ran through his mind all that had grown out of the resolution moved by him last year. That through his action, and instrumentality the able Premier of New Brunswick had been hurled from his position, and that when the Pro. Secy’s cheek blanched it was because he felt that Banquo’s ghost was sitting at the feast.
Subsequently when the hon. delegate from South Colchester, in “blowing the war trumpet,” exhibited a tremor of voice unusual to him, I had to acknowledge that both these hon. gentlemen were really alarmed at the terrors they pictured. That the “great Wizards” who went “North” were terrified at the apparition they had conjured up to frighten honester folks. We read in fabled story of sculptor who wrought from a block of marble a statue of Jupiter armed; and when he had finished and looked upon the workmanship of his own […]
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[…] hands was overwhelmed with terror. So are these hon. gentlemen overcome by the workings of their own imaginations.
We are told by these gentlemen danger is really imminent, that it will come upon us suddenly; then, I ask, is it the course of wise men to undertake a change in our constitutional administration that will require years to perfect. Why the instincts of the lowest order of animal life tell us better. The insect, when it is about to undergo a transformation is perfected; and shall we enter upon the throes of this great constitutional transformation at an hour when we are told danger is coming upon us. Let us not put off the old harness until the time has come when we can safely put on the new and have it adjusted. Th illustration given by the late Abraham Lincoln, that it is no time to swap horses when you are crossing a stream, ought to be sufficient for these gentlemen. The hon. member for Colchester has spoken of the great change which has occurred in the character and position of the American people. He has told you that a very few years ago that people was engaged in their workshops and factories of the country, but now they have been drawn from all these, and have formed an army that had placed that nation among the first military powers of the world. But he neglected to tell us these men from their industrial pursuits than were perhaps ever before found combined.
They felt not only called to rescue their country, in whose greatness they felt a just pride, from being rent in fragments, but to wipe from their national escutcheon the foul stain of slavery. That great work they seem to have accomplished. When at our last meeting the tidings reached us that their President had fallen by the hand of a foul assassin, and when we sat in silence no man daring to trust his voice in expressing the sympathies—the sorrow that swelled our hearts—further than to give official form to our feelings, I asked myself what must be the effect of these tidings upon the people over whom Abraham Lincoln presided, when they so affect us.
Surely, sir, that people have now drank the last drop in their cup of bitterness, and whatever other effects may flow from this act, I believe the American people will, with the blood of Abraham Lincoln, seal a covenant with the Most High that the clank of the slave chain shall no more be heard in their land. That he who had this object deep in heart, and who, while ably presiding over them, led them on gradually step by step to proclaim freedom to the black man, will in his death so fix and stamp the national mind to that high purpose that when the hour of peace comes, as in the good Providence of God it seems nigh, there will, in the arrangement of terms, be no temporizing, no yielding o Southern interests and wishes on this question. Soon, therefore, will many in those armies be found going back to their industrial avocations, saddened no doubt by the great sacrifice they have witnessed, yet consoled by the glorious thought that they have aided in giving to the term liberty a meaning and a signification hitherto unknown upon their soil, that henceforth it embraces all classes, creeds and colors.
The hon. member will tell us that there are others in that army who will not so readily go to industrial employments; this is true but all those will find sufficient employment in re-organizing the Southern portion of the empire and in restoring it from the wreck and debris of this terrible civil strife. Consider also the spirit of the Southern people. The men have shown in the hardships they have endured— in the sacrifices they have made—and in their daring acts that a feeling of hostility to the North lies deep in their hearts. Nor have the Southern women been less remarkable for patient endurance, high courageous spirit and deep-seated hatred ; and can we for a moment suppose that the children born of such parents, nourished and trained by these women, will not inherit their feelings and so render it imperative on the Northern portion of the nation to keep for many years a strong hand upon the South.
The Provincial Secretary has told us that he has looked upon slavery as the great guarantee of our safety. I don’t so read American history. So far as I can judge, the men who have been most bitter in their hostility to England, and most desirous of finding causes of war with that country have been Southern statesmen. The circumstances dependent upon slavery have been such as to lead them to a breach of the peace. The fact that England, with a magnanimity that did her infinite honor, gave twenty millions to redeem her slaves—a fact that stood a perpetual censure as it were upon the South, no doubt was a cause of irritation upon their minds. Again, England kept up a large force upon the African coast to keep down that traffic which tended to give rise to this feeling of animosity. Again, north of them there was a frontier line over which when the slave passed into Canada he gained freedom.
This was, perhaps, the strongest inducement for the Southerners to make war upon these colonies for the purpose of wiping away this boundry line, and enabling them to follow wherever the slave might go, and return him to his chains. These were great causes of animosity to England, and now, since, under the blessing of God, this slavery has been blotted out, I believe peace is much more likely to be preserved between England and America. Had the Southerners succeeded in obtaining their independence, the likelihood of hostilities with England would have been much greater. The Northern people thwarted and smarting under the mortification occasioned by their inability to conquer the South, would have been more likely to turn their army—for which they would not have employment—upon these Provinces, than they will be now when they have succeeded in accomplishing the great object that they had on calling these armies into existence. The hon. delegate alluded to a number of circumstances—the passport system, the proposed armament upon the lakes, and the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty—as so many evidences of the feeling of the Northern people towards us. When he was reading his summary I wondered why he omitted to refer to a fact which was known here some weeks ago—that the notice in reference to the armament upon the lakes had been withdrawn, and arrangements made for a mere police force. Earl Russell, however, justifies the notice, he says:
“Coupled with this notice is a notice given with respect to the armament of the lakes. I think it must be admitted that recent occurrences on the lakes— namely, the seizure of vessels by the agents of the Confederacy and other acts of hostility—completely […]
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[…] justify the United States in giving notice of the termination of the convention. My lords, it was net to be expected that the United States should submit passively to such acts of violence without availing themselves of all the means of repression within their power.”
An act then which seems to strike horror into the mind of Colonial statesmen appears to British statesmen as merely a necessary means of self-protection. Mr. Cardwell, on the 23rd March, informing the British Parliament of the force to be employed on the lakes, says:
“Since I came into the House I have received from the noble lord the Governor-General of Canada (Lord Monck) a despatch which confirms the agreeable reports which had already reached us through the ordinary channels of intelligence. He informs me that he had received a telegraphic despatch from Mr. Burnley, at Washington, to this effect:—’The Secretary of State informs me that his government intends to withdraw the notice for the abrogation of the Treaty of 1817 (cheers), and the passport system will cease immediately.’ (Renewed cheers.)
Sir, I refer to that announcement with feelings of the greatest pleasure: and now I trust we may proceed to discuss the important practical question which is before us in no spirit of panic, but in that just spirit which becomes the consideration of what is due to the honour and interests of our country, and which has characterized the mode in which the proposal has been considered by the house. (Hear, hear.) Because you are on friendly terms with the American Government, because you hope that the friendly spirit which animates you is reciprocated by them, and because you are confident that two might nations of one blood, one origin and one language are united by ties which should forever forbid the possibility of bloodshed between them,—those considerations do not render it the less necessary that you should temperately consider the nature of your defences, and that you should be dependent for your safety only upon the power of your own country.”
Lord Palmerston also says:
“Many gentlemen have argued this question as if there was a general impression and belief that war with the United States was imminent, and that this proposal of ours was for the purpose of meeting a sudden danger which we apprehended to be hanging over us. Now, I think there is no danger of war with America. Nothing that has recently passed indicated any hostile disposition on the part of the United States towards us, and, therefore, I do not base this motion on the ground that we expect war to take place between this country and America.
The view taken by British statesmen must be felt to be perfectly correct by every dispassionate man—that it was necessary for the United States, in view of raids across the frontier, the capture of steamers, the robbing of banks, the burning of hotels, to take some precautionary measures for self-protection, which should not be considered indications of hosilities with Britain.
It has been argued that we are so small a territory, that we should endeavour to unite with some larger country, in order to enlarge our scope for action. I cannot understand why people who enjoy all the privileges, rights, and immunities of the British Empire, should desire to form any other connection in order that they may have greater room and scope. I cannot see how any connection that we can form with other territory can increase the relative conjunctions of Nova Scotia to the British Empire.
Turn to the American States, and contrast the size of Nova Scotia with some States there, and form which we have heard no talk of forming any Union with any other state, in order to increase their importance in the “Union.” There are the States of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, &c.—all very much smaller in area than Nova Scotia, and yet from these we hear of no Union being formed among them, in order that the citizens may have more area or room for development. Nova Scotia contains 20,436 square miles ; New Hampshire 9,280 ; Vermont 9,056 ; Connecticut 4,730 ; Massachusetts, that occupies so conspicuous a position in the American nation, 7,800. Yet Nova Scotia, that our statesmen look down upon with contempt, is larger than any two other States I have named ; and where we find the Americans perfectly satisfied with the proportions these States occupy in the American nation, we should, also, be content, that whilst we are Nova Scotians we are, at the same time, citizens of the British Empire, with all the room and scope which it afford for development.
Again it is contended we have not population sufficient to give us an importance. Whist those who advocate Confederation, have not shown that the scheme will of itself increase our population, they seem to forget that our Province is very much younger than those American States with whose condition they contrast ours. All we require is a little time, as our grow this more rapid now than theirs. I have examined the census returns of eighteen States from Maine Southward, and the average rate of increase for ten years is 16 7-10, while the increase of Nova Scotia in the same period was 19 9-10, so that if those gentlemen will have a little patience, our population will become sufficiently numerous.
It seems, however, the determination of the Prov. Secretary; that we shall not remain in our present happy and prosperous condition, that nothing short of a Union with some other province will satisfy him. When last year he introduced his resolution for a convention to consider the Union of the Maritime provinces, but little importance was attached to it, as it was not likely to lead to any practical result ; but when it became known that the convention had arranged a Union of the whole British North American Colonies, and when the terms of the proposed Union were made public, the province was convulsed from the centre to circumference ; men at once set about petitioning this Legislature, and but for the opinion which got abroad that the Delegates had abandoned the scheme, your table would have been covered with petitions. So strong was public opinion found to be against the Quebec arrangement, that the Pro. Secretary has not had the courage and the manliness to carry it out, although bound in all faith to the other Provinces to make the attempt. When I consider the position of our delegates, I am reminded of the fable of the fellows who sold a “bearskin” before they had killed the bear which so happily illustrates the case that I shall trouble the House with it.
Five fellows, needing funds and bold,
A bearskin to a furrier sold,
Of which the bear was living still,
But which they presently would kill—
At least they said they would.
And if their word was good. […]
- (p. 253)
[…] It was a king of bears—an Ursa Major
The fattest bear beneath the sun.
The skin the chaps would wager,
Was cheap at double cost;
‘Twould make one laugh at first—
And make two robes as well as one.
(In their accounts ’twas theirs
But in his own the bears.)
By bargain struck upon the skin
Three months at most must bring it in,
Forth went the five. More easy found than got,
The bear came growing at them on the trot,
Behold our dealers all confounded,
As if by thunderbolt astounded !
Their bargain vanished suddenly in air ;
For who could plead his interest with a bear?
Four of the friends sprung up a tree:
The other, cold as ice could be,
Fell on his face, feigned death,
And closely held his breath,—
He having somewhere—heard it said
The bear ne’er preys upon the dead.
Sir Bear, sad blockhead, was deceived—
The prostrate man a corpes believed ;
But, half suspecting some deceit,
He feels and snuffs from head to feet,
And in the nostrils blows.
The body’s surely dead. he thinks
I’ll leave it for it stinks ;
And off into the woods he goes.
The other dealers from their tree
Descending cantiously, to see
Their comrade lying in the dirt
Consoling, says it is a wonder
That, by the monster forced assunder,
Were—after all—more scared than hurt,
But, addeth they, what of the creatures skin?
He held his muzzle very near ;
What did he whisper in your ear ?
He gave this caution,—”Never dare
Again to sell the skin of bear
Its owner had not ceased to wear.
Now our dealers not finding Sir Bear disposed to quietly part with his skin have determined to get him into a trap. They seek by this resolution on the table for another convention to entrap Nova Scotia into the scheme as arranged at Quebec. My hon. friend from Richmond is correct in stating that they have not other object in view, and I shall ask the House to follow me while I consider the constitution prepared for us at that Quebec conference.
We are told by the Provincial Secretary of the government they proposed to constitute a Deferation of British North America. And it appears to me that in the very outset, in the second resolution of this report, they have given the evidence which shows that this Federal Union cannot be stable under the circumstances. They allude there to the “diversity of the interests of the several Provinces.”
The fact that the interests of the Provinces are so diversified that each has its own interest, and its centre of interest within itself—precluded the possibility of a Federal Union being formed to work harmoniously. Under present regulations our separate [sic] interests are not brought into antagonism—why then should we bring about a change which will make the interests of the several Provinces clash and destroy that harmony of feeling that is existing among these Colonies? The hon. member for South Colchester, read to you from Judge Story, that when Provinces unite they make mutual sacrifices and concessions in order to obtain some great purpose. One purpose for which they would make that sacrifice would be, that they might obtain mutual aid. In this case there would not be that influence at work in order to induce us to consent to a sacrifice of our interests—an attack upon one is under present regulation an attack upon all—besides we have now the protection of England—we have the command of her armies. She has told us that her honour demands that she should protect her Colonies. Therefore, while they are loyal, no necessity exists why we should make such sacrifices as is proposed. And if the necessity be not apparent the people will not submit to them.
I come now to another branch of the subject— the nature of the representation. We have to have local governments, and a General Government over all. In that General Government, Nova Scotia is to have a representation of 19 out of 194. Now the Provincial Secretary tells us that this is as much as we have any right to expect according to our population, and he stated that if these terms were not just, we had only the delegates to blame. I contend, in view of the geographical position of Nova Scotia—800 miles may form the capital, and almost an island—that the principle of representation by population was not at all sufficient to do her justice. You don’t give to the city of Halifax a representation proportioned to the population because you feel that by the Parliament meeting here, influences can be brought to bear upon it that compensates for a less representation. As you recede from the place of the meeting of Parliament, representation should increase in order to give a balance of influence.— The city of London, with a population of nearly 3,000,000—one-tenth of the Empire—has only 16 representatives. If you adopted the principle in question, she ought to have one-tenth of the whole number in Parliament.
The reason why it is not carried out, is the Parliament meets there, and that the influence given the city thereby, is sufficient for her. On examination of a table prepared in 1859, I find that as you recede from the place of meeting of Parliament—the proportion of representatives of counties to the population increases. The Counties of Middlesex, Surrey and Kent (exclusive of London) with a population of 3,185,424 have 43 members ; one to every 74,074 of the population ; in the extreme North, Cumberland, Northumberland, and Durham, with a population of 890.059 have 29 members ; one to 30,691 of population. On the extreme South, Cromwell, Devon and Dorset, having a population of 1,106,863 returns 50 members ; one to 22,137 of population ; on the extreme west, Anglesea, Cameron and Denbigh have 237,780 population and 7 members.
And so should there be an increase here, because the great distance from Ottawa […]
- (p. 254)
[…] will prevent us from exercising any influence upon the Government there, other than is given us by our representation. The influences of the interests of a country like ours (almost an island) are necessarily confined within her lines, and when the legislation for our interests is placed in a parliament beyond our borders we should have an increase of numbers in representation to compensate for the entire want of local influences.
But the Provincial Secretary tells us that we have a large representation in the Legislative Council which fully compensates us for the want of representation in the Assembly. My. George Brown, arguing that question, said that the complaint had been made that they had given us too large a representation in the Upper House ; but he says “in the Lower House, Canada shall hold the purse strings.” You will further remember that all the Lower Provinces combined have only 24 members in the Legislative Council, whilst united Canada has 48. But whatever differences of opinion may have hitherto existed between Upper and Lower Canada, there is no doubt you will find them as one when their interests come in collision with those of the Lower Provinces. When a man and wife quarrel, and a third party steps in, they both unite against him. Upper and Lower Canada may have disputes at times too, but whenever the Lower Provinces come in, they will unite as one Province against us. The Provincial Secretary tells us that if our Representatives band together, they can exercise an influence which will make them sufficiently felt in the Canadian Parliament, and referred in illustration of his argument to the influence that the members of Cape Breton exercise here ; but he did not tell us that these form a much larger proportion to the whole number in this House than would the Representatives from Nova Scotia exhibit in a Parliament of 194 at Ottawa. But suppose they did band together to make their influence felt in that Parliament.
Now, I ask the hon. Prov. Sec’y. to consider the position in which he places this Province and her Representatives. I cannot conceive a more degraded, a more humiliating position that the Representatives of a spirited people compelled to forego their political opinions—their conscientious convictions on all public questions, in order to obtain for their people a consideration in the distribution of the funds. But even supposing our 19 Representatives could so far forget themselves as to turn political hucksters, and offer to sell themselves, body and soul, they will never obtain more than a few pickings from the public chest, which we shall do more than our share in filling. Under any circumstances, however, humiliating, we shall be powerless to enforce a just consideration of interests. There is a beautiful work of art, representing two hounds chained together by the neck—one is large and powerful, looking down with contempt and indifference upon his lesser companion, who is as beautiful in the formation of limb, apparently as swift to follow the game, and as keen of scent as the other, yet crouches, overawed and helpless.
Often as I have looked upon that work, I have felt an impulse rising within me to strike the chain from the little fellows neck, and let him free. And ever since this Confederation scheme has been published—every time I have looked upon a miniature copy of that work, I have thought of Confederation. I have seen in it Nova Scotia, bound and chained by the neck to Canada, and thinking of my country thus helpless, powerless, and prostrate at Ottawa, with a Representation of only nineteen in a Parliament of 194, the exclamation rises from my heart—”God help the little fellow.” Around me sit the men to whom the constituencies of Nova Scotia entrusted her Constitutional rights —her interests and welfare—to whom she, for four years, bared her neck—is there—can there be one among us who will help to fasten upon that neck, this chain, prepared by the delegates? No, let us rather keep sacred that trust—let us rather go back to the people, and learn of them at the polls their wished on this great question, lest in after years, they have just reason to execrate our memories—lest they pray Heaven to strike palsied every hand that touched to fasten a rivet of that chain.
I come now to the financial terms of this scheme of Union. The delegates have adopted at Quebec a scale, and arranged the debt of the Provinces pretty much as they did representation, upon a plan of population irrespective of the incomes which the Provinces possessed. It seems to me at the very outset, the hon. delegates laid down the wrong principle, instead of arranging the debt according to population ; they should have looked at the incomes—at the revenues, and funds, what each had in the treasury. If any gentleman should propose to form a partnership with another on Granville street, what is the first question that is asked? The amount of his income—not how many persons are to enter the partnership. Taking it upon this ground, little Nova Scotia, as represented by these gentlemen, has not received justice. Canada is allowed to come into the Confederation with a debt of $62,500,000, Nova Scotia with one of $8,000,000.
Now, in the year in which this arrangement was made, the income of Canada was $5,884,594— whilst that of Nova Scotia was $861,989—in both cases derived from Customes and Excise. According to that income of Canada, as compared with that of Nova Scotia, she should have only been entitled to come in with a debt of $54,000,000. But the hon. gentlemen should not have taken the present income only into consideration. They should have considered that under Confederation we shall be placed on the same tariff, and therefore they should have looked to the effect of this increase of tariff. It has been ascertained by close calculation, that under the Canadian tariff, Nova Scotia’s revenue would have been $1,330,514. Taking it upon this basis, if we were allowed only 8 millions, Canada should have only $35,452,507, or reversing it, if Canada is allowed $62,500,000, Nova Scotia should have been allowed $14,107,330. By adopting the principle of income, instead of population, it would have given us over six millions more than we are actually to receive under this agreement.
- (p. 255)
But we have not received justice in respect to the quality of the debt. Very nearly the whole of the debt of Nova Scotia has been created by the construction of the Railway, and we have been told time and again by those delegates, that as soon as we get our railway system completed, our road will be a paying property, and in reality be no debt at all. It is very different with the debt of Canada. In answer to a question put by the hon. member for Halifax, the hon. Prov. Secy. laid on the table a financial statement, containing the debt, income, &c., of Canada, issued by Mr. Galt. At the dinner given last autumn to the Canadian delegates, the hon. Prov. Secy. told us Mr. Galt had the power of making a deficit of a million appear a surplus of the amount. I must confess, looking at the paper before me, there is a great deal of truth in that remark.— In this balance-sheet we find the whole liabilities of Canada are put down at $176,223,066.65. This, however, is so balanced, even to the last five cents, that we are almost led to believe that Canada in reality does not owe a dollar. But on an examination, I find to make that balance they have put down at cost and accumulated interest all the public buildings, bridges, roads, harbors, lighthouses, canals, railroads, &c., of the country.
Now, if we were to put a valuation upon all our roads and bridges, our public buildings, Shubenacadie and St. Peter’s Canals, Arisaig Pier, Parsboro Snag, and similar property, we should far overbalance all our indebtedness, without touching the railroads. I have examined the financial returns of Canada, to see the actual net income of the property claimed in this balance-sheet, and I find the net income from over seventy millions of it is only $471,461, which represents a capital of less than eight millions, leaving about 62,000,000 dollars from which no available profits are derived. The principal sources from which any income is derived is from the Canals and Municipalities, We have the Railways put down for loans and interests unpaid at something like $30,000,000. It will be perhaps in the knowledge of the House that in 1857 the Grand Trunk Company came to the Canadian Parliament and said: We cannot proceed further, and we wish you to give up your claim on out lines—just as the Shubenacadie Canal people asked us to give up our lien on the undertaking.
The Legislature, instead of giving up the claim entirely, consented to give up the first lien and allow new shareholders to come in,— the province, then, to hold the third position. In consequence of this arrangement, no interest is paid, and the accumulation is now $9,642,000. Anybody who knows anything of the management of these great public companies will perceive, that after working expenses and the interest to the first two sets of bondholders are paid, the Government will never receive a cent of interest upon its loan. Again, there is the Municipal Loan Fund debt, amounting in principal and interest ot $12,890,837—very much of which has been fruitful of the greatest possible political corruption, and will never prove an available asset. Some of the municipalities have borrowed nearly $300 per head of the population or interest. The town of Port Hope, with a population of 4,160, borrowed $740,000, and had arrears of interest Dec. 31st, 1861, of $312,303. The town of Niagara, with 2,070 inhabitants, borrowed $280,000, and owed for interests $148,974. I hold in my hand a list of seven municipal cities, containing 40,600 inhabitants, who have received from this fund $5,594,400, and owed as arrears of interest Dec. 31st, 1861, $2,359,406—together nearly eight million dollars—the amount Nova Scotia is to be permitted to owe on going into Confederation.
It is therefore evident that very little can be counted upon from the municipalities. It is to be supposed, however, that there is in this balance sheet some property that is profitable. The whole amount of the liabilities are put down at $76,223,061. They claim funds immediately available to reduce this to $67,500,000, five millions more than Canada is to enter the Confederation with. This five millions the local government of Canada are to assume,— but with the debt are to have the property represented by it. Hon. George Brown, speaking of this arrangement, says very distinctly,— and there is a clause in the report of the delegates authorizing it—that the local governments of Upper and Lower Canada are to take this available property—as an offset to the debts that they are called upon to assume. Now it is not reasonable to assume that Upper and Lower Canada, whose public men are so astute, will take liabilities that have no income. They will select the best they can.
Mr. Archibald—They have no power to make the selection.
Mr. McLelan—I will read, in corroboration of my statement, the 58th clause of the constitution,—”All assets connected with such portions of the public debt of any Provinces as are assumed by the local governments, shall also belong to those governments respectively.” These local governments will not assume any debt unless there is an asset connected with it. I will also tell you what hon. George Brown of Canada says:—
“But Mr. Speaker, I am told that the arrangement as the debt is unfair—that we have thrown on the Federal exchequer the whole of the debts of the Maritime Provinces, and only a portion of the debt of Canada. There is not a participle of force in this objection. The whole debt of Canada is $67,500,000, but five millions of this is due to our own people, to meet which there are certain local funds. Now if we had thrown the whole $67,500,000 on the Federal treasury, we must also have handed over to it the local revenues which, so far as these five millions are concerned, would have been precisely the same thing. But as regards the public debt with which the Federal government would start, it would not have been the same thing. By restricting the debt of Canada to $62,500,000, we restricted the debt of the Maritime Provinces to the same proportion on $25 per head of their population; but had we thrown our whole debt of sixty-seven and a half millions on the Confederation, the proportion must have been increased, and the whole debt very greatly augmented.”
The hon. delegates cry “Hear, hear,” but I believe every gentleman present hears enough to convince him that the Canadians are to take five millions worth of available property with the debts they are to assume, leaving the balance, $62,500,000, comparatively worthless.
A good deal has been said about the tariff, and it has been claimed that under the arrangement […]
- (p. 256)
[…] that would have to be made, we would be called upon to pay a very much larger sum into the general revenue than we pay into out own treasury. There never appeared to me to be any question on this point. The very fact that Canada has to resort to a stamp act in order to raise funds, was sufficient proof to me that they had run to the full extent they could in the imposition of duties. If there be any one mode of raising taxes that is more obnoxious to the people then another, it is a stamp duty—a stamp tax on every note, bill, receipt, or paper. We are told that there will not be a very large increase of duty, because Canada admits many articles duty free. I have been to some trouble in turning to the returns of articles imported by Canada, and I find the result of the examination to be that the whole amount of imports for 1863 amounted to $45,964,000.
Now we are told $23,000,000, or or one-half, are free goods, and that since Canada has so many free goods, the consequence is, that running the tariff over the whole, she has a lower scale than Nova Scotia, In order to arrive at the incorrectness of this assertion, you must look at the nature of her importations, and see what those free goods are made up of. I find articles under the Reciprocity treaty $12,330,000. Of course these are free goods there as here, and would continue to be so under Confederation. Again, coin and bullion is put down, although in Nova Scotia it is never called an import; but whenever a Bank gets in a quality of money, in Canada, it is placed among the Imports; the amount given is $4,652,287. I find down for books $455, 941. Again, the vehicles and carriages of travellers crossing the lines to see their friends are down at $104,585. Again gravel and clay are among their imports; clothing and army and other stores for military and naval purposes, nearly a million more. Therefore you see that they put down among their imports articles which were never dreamed of here. The amount of these articles I have enumerated as free here, or which we do not call an import, is $22,516,223.
There being in all their free goods only half a million which would pay duty under our tariff. Add this to the amount of goods paying duty under their own, and the whole imports of dutiable goods will only amount to $23,448,- 270, being $9.35 per head of population, from which would be collected $2.40 by their tariff, making it over 25 per cent; whilst our imports, deducting free goods and articles re-exported, amounted to $5,360,106—being $16.20 to each inhabitant yielding $2. 53 per head in duty, equivalent to 15 3-5 per cent tariff. It has been asserted on some occasion that under Confederation we will not necessarily be called upon to come under this high Canadian tariff.
Now I claim that under the arrangements of this confederation the new expenses involved will necessitate an increase of tariff. We find in the report a number of new servies which involve new expenses. First, there is the interest on the Intercolonial railway $707,000 a year. Then we have the expenses of the civil government $540,000; the legislative charges $630,000. In 1863 Canda, with a less number of representatives than is proposed to be given in the general government, the expenses were $627,373. At the the same rate the expenses for the large government would be $850,000; but the delegates have put the amount down at $630,000. Then it is proposed to give on million for militia, which would be about $500,000 additional. The public works and buildings put down at $400,000. Then there is an additional sum given to Canada for local purposes. She retains her local revenues, $1,297,043, and receives a subsidy of $2,006,121, being a total of $3,303,164; while the average sum she has had in four years was $2,021,979—which gives her an increase of $1,281,185. In the same way there is an increase in local expenses to P. E. Island of $61,712, and to Newfoundland $124,000. Add to all these for interest on additional debt allowed Nova Scotia and New Brunswick $215,000 and you have a total of new charges upon the confederated colonies of $4,458,897.
From this may be deducted reduction in local services in Nova Scotia $297.000, and in New Brunswick $71,047—together $350,047—leaving the new expenditures $4,108,850. Now the Canadian tariff of 25 per cent average on all dutiable goods applied to the Maritime Provinces will realized a part of this sum. Nova Scotia, it has been ascertained by calculation, will pay additional $468,525; New Brunswick estimated to pay $200,000; Newfoundland and P. E. Island $300,000—in all $968,525, which will still leave, after we are all placed under the Canadian tariff, $3,140,335 to be provided by a further increase of taxation. Now suppose we only pay one-tenth of this, #3,140,335 it will make, added what we shall pay, under the present Canadian tariff, an addition to our present annual taxation of $782,560, for the benefit of the Ottawa Government.
Whilst those who have addressed the house more particularly on the local expenses, have shown that we shall have to raise by direct taxation a large sum to meet the wants of roads, bridges, education, and other services, I may here remark that Nova Scotia has now the largest sum of any of the Colonies for local purposes per head $1.96, but under the Quebec arrangement will have the least—$1.12¼.
|Present Local Expenditures.||Per head for local purposes.|
|Local Revenue.||Subsidy.||Total.||Per head.|
|N. Scotia||107,000||264,000||371,000||1.12 ¼|
|P E Island||32,000||153,728||185,728||2.29 ½|
Increase under Confederation for local services—
|To Canada||1,281,285||51 ½|
|To P.E. Island||61,715||76 ½|
|To Newfoundland||124,000||94 ½|
Decrease under confederation for local services
|From Nova Scotia.||$279,000||83 ¾|
|From New Brunswick||71,947||28|
It must be evident to all that whilst we import $16.20 per head of dutiable goods, and Canada only $9.35 per head, we shall under Confederation pay into the general revenues […]
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[…] Confederation pay into the general revenues nearly double the amount paid by the same population in Canada. We are larger importers, not only because out pursuits require it, but because we have the means of paying for more goods. Our delegates have attempted to dazzle us with the great wealth of Canada. True; there is a large aggregate of wealth, but divide it among the larger population and you find it falling far below our own little province. I have taken the five principal branches of industry to find the individual income, and the census returns for the year previous show our income to be nearly double their.
|Branches of Industry||Value in Canada; pop. 2,507,647.||Per head.||Value in N.S.; pop. 330,857||Per head.|
|Excess of income to each inhabitant of Nova Scotia||$10.31|
But it is not disparagement to Canada to be thus exceeded by Nova Scotia. consider the difference in our resources. I have spoken of the size of our Province—its area, but Nova Scotia should be measured for its cubic contents, and the measurers rod should also be run out three miles to sea—our fishing grounds are a part and parcel of Nova Scotia, as much as the field which the farmer cultivates—for all round the thousand miles of our sea coast we draw a perpetual harvest, provided by the waters of the world. For agriculture we have lands on both sides of the Bay of Fundy, unsurpassed—yielding produce of the highest class, whilst the districts represented by the hon. member for Kings furnish fruit fit for the palate of Royalty itself.
Looking downward, we have mines of gold and iron, whose wealth, as yet, is almost untouched but which is being graudally developed in coal. We are richer than the richest. Examine the geological map of Nova Scotia hanging in our library, and you see almost every part, not occupied by gold and iron, marked by coal measures. And who shall estimate the wealth of these mines, or the influence which Nova Scotia shall, through their possession, have upon the world. As bearing upon the value of our coal fields, let me read to the house an extract from an article by the Professor of Natural History, in the University of Glasgow:—
THE POWER REPRESENTED BY COAL.
“Interesting and impressive comparisons have been instituted between the mechanical force of a given weight of coal applied as fuel in the steam-engine and the dynamic energy of a man. The human labourer exerting his strength upon a tread-mill,—a very economical mode of using it,—can, it be stated, lift his own weight,—we will say 150 lb.,—through a height of 10,000 feet per day, the equivalent of which is 1 lb. raised 1,500,000 feet in the same time. Now, the mechanical virtue of fuel is best estimated by learning the number of pounds which a given quantity—let it be one bushel—will elevate to a given height, say one foot, against gravity. Applied in the steam-engine, this performance of the bushel measure of coal is called its duty. In some improved modern Cornish engines, this duty,—the bushel’s work,—is equivalent to the amazing result of raising 125,000,000 lb. one foot high, or 1 lb. 125,000,000 feet high.
Now, as there are 84 lb. of coal in one bushel, this divisor 84, gives 1 lb. as equal to 1,488,000, or nearly one million and a half of feet, which, as we have seen above, is just the result of a man’s toil for one day upon a tread-mill.— Thus, a pound of good coal is in reality worth a day’s wages. If, again, we estimate a lifetime of hard, muscular toil at twenty years, and portion three hundred working days to each year,—a full allowance,— we have for a man’s total dynamic effort, six thousand days. But 6000 lb. constitute only three tons, so that we have arrived at the almost amusing fact, the cheering truth, that every three tons of coal in the earth is the convertible equivalent of one man’s life-long muscular activity.
What a promise is here of the capacity of civilized inventive man to find an ample substitute for the life-wearing, brutalizing and mind-benumbing expenditure of nerve and animal power exacted now of the slaves of all complexions. What a pledge has the all- bountiful and good Creator here given us, that the common lot of mankind is not to be, as always in the past, a lot of physical labor, but in the long future, at least one of a far higher, happier mode of effort. When I behold a section or block from out of a coal seam, and reflect that each cubic yard is in weight somewhat more than a ton; and that a column of it a yard in base and only three yards tall has more work in it than a man, more mechanical energy than any force which willing effort, necessity, or the lash of the tyrant master, can exact from the human organization, I exult in the reverential thought of the superabundant provision bequeathed to our race against the curse of over-physical toil in this marvellous condensation of mechanical strength.
Looking at the tall column of the material, thirty-seven feet high, representing a coal-bed in Nova Scotia, displayed in the recent great exhibition on London, I said to myself, here is a black man, of the strength of some four of the stoutest dark-skinned men ever held in serfdom, and see what a willing service, what a painless bondage it can be made to undergo. This, our inanimate slave, can be compelled to work at any rate of gentleness or speed we choose. We can induce him to lengthen out his efforts for almost any term of years, or bid him convert himself into a herculean giant, concentrating the total force of four able-bodied men, spread over twenty years of life, and applying the whole of it in some titanic triumph against brute matter within a week or even a day.
Here it may be worth our while to turn from our giant man of all work, and take the census of those populations of this sort which rest sleeping beneath the ground, but are ever ready, under the magic summons of a little art, to muster at the surface in any strength and await our bidding. Every acre of a coal seam, only four feet in thickness, and yelding one yard depth of pure fuel, will produce, if fitly minded about 5000 tons—equivalent to the life-labor of more then 1600 strong men. Every square mile of such coal- bed contains about 3,000,000 tones of fuel. and represents one million of men labouring steadily through twenty years of their ripest vigour.”
Here is a view presented to us in which the mind becomes absolutely lost in the maze of figures required to represent the value of our great coal fields, and when we take in connection with them all our other resources we have a country to whose attainments in wealth and prosperity, there is no reasonable limit. It is not so in a country like Canada, largely agricultural, when its lands are settled and the farms established, the extent of its prosperity is nearly attained. It is not extent of territory that renders a country great or wealthy, it is not material size that gives to any object its value. The diamond that sparkles on beauty’s brown, though it may scarcely equal in size or rival in brilliancy the eye that beams beneath it, yet in the markets of the world it would purchase an Island or a Mountain of rock. And so is it with our little gem of a Province it may be less in territory than other countries, it may indeed be overshadowed by the gigantic and colossal proportions […]
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[…] portions of Sister Colonies, yet in all the real elements of wealth and prosperity they compare with little Nova Scotia, but as poorhouse giants; but notwithstanding it is so, the Provincial Secretary takes this Province—rich as the rarest jewel—peopled with industrious, enterprising and spirited men, and goes on a trading voyage to Canada and bargains it off acre for acre and man for man with the acres and habitants of Canada. He does more. He does worse—he comes back boasting what he has done and of his great statesmanship. Let me, sir, tell the House that story of a conceited coxcomb who, making love to a lady, in the pauses of a dance, placed his hand on his heart, and with considerable distortion of features, said—”if this is not love I feel, what is it?” “My dear sir,” said the lady, “it must be something that bites you.”
Now our Provincial Secretary in his trading voyage got badly bitten in his bargain, and mistakes the bite of the Canadians for statesmanship. Let me add that too on many occasions I think the hon. gentleman acts “just as the maggot bites,” and mistakes the feeling for the impulses and inspirations of statesmanship.
I have spoken of our prosperity—of the income from the various branches of industry— the extent of our fisheries, and the value of our mines; and it may be claimed that one of the advantages that will arise from this Union will be the development of these resources, by giving us extended trade and commerce. We have heard a great deal of the powers of parliament, of legislative enactments, but there is one thing that is almost beyond the control of such enactments—that is, the divergence of trade from its natural channels. We have had in fish, coal, and those articles which are our chief products, free trade with the other colonies, and what has been enlarged?
If you turn to the imports of Canada—to the free goods—you will see the result. Nova Scotia, which, from her natural position and resources, is especially prepared to supply upon very advantageous terms, gypsum, coal, fish, and stone,— to what extent would you suppose Nova Scotia supplies Canada with these? I find the total import of coal into Canada is estimated at $936,239, and of this amount Great Britain supplies $379,703, and the United States, to which we export largely, $548,846, leaving the total amount imported from the Province of Nova Scotia into Canada, where it goes as free as air, only $7,690. Again, take the article of gypsum. Even six times more of this article is imported from the United States than from the British American Colonies. Again, of fish, which we export so largely to the United States, Canada only received from the whole British North American Colonies to the value of $226,573, while she gets from the United States, $281,023. We export stone, in abundance, to the United States, but not a dollar’s worth to Canada. I have enumerated these articles to show that, having in them free trade among these colonies, we send but a small value of them to the colonies with which it is proposed to confederate us.
It had been urged that as this is a Maritime Colony, Confederation would open up a valuable field of commerce to our shipping. It is absurd to suppose that confederation would give us any advantages we do not now enjoy, or that our shipping interest can depend for employment upon a country whose waters are closed for five months of the year. Nearly the whole trade of Canada is supplied by the accidents of commerce; that is, when a vessel cannot get a charter she would like, and being perhaps in a coal port, she takes a cargo of coal to Canada, and returns with lumber to some other port where she finds more profitable employment. And it is by accidents arising like this, in various ports, the whole wants of the trade of Canada are supplied.
It is an entire fallacy to say that by opening the whole trade of these colonies, we should receive great advantages in Nova Scotia. Confederation, instead of extending the commerce and developing the natural products of this country, will rather cripple trade. I have already shown that Confederation must necessarily impose upon us a very heavy tariff and exceedingly large burthens. The consequences of that is, to increase the coast of living and producing the articles of export, and when you increase the coast of living and of wages, you are unable to compete with other countries in the sale of your coal and fish, and other articles which Nova Scotia is especially calculated to produce. It is claimed again that we shall get the Intercolonial Railway by Confederation.
The Provincial Secretary told us we got it on terms never dreamed of. I have looked on these terms and summarized them, just as the hon. member for South Colchester did the indications of war, and the conclusion I have come to is, that the Provincial Secretary was right in his expression. 1st. We surrender the entire control of the constitution of this country. 2nd. We endanger the harmony existing among us as fellow-colonists by bringing our diverse interests into conflict. 3rd. We reduce our local expenditures for roads and bridges to a large amount, or supply that deficiency by direct taxation. 4th. We subject ourselves to the annoyance and tax of the stamp act. 5th. We surrender to Canada the power to tax us to any extent that their extravagance may render necessary; and which I have shown you will be in the outset $782,560. 6th.
We must pay our proportion of all expenses entered into by the general government. I have shown you some of the new expenses which are incident on the first formation of this government; but it is not to be supposed that the engagements entered into by the general government will rest here. We have been told that one of the conditions upon which the Canadians agreed to build the intercolonial railway was that they should have western extension and enlargement of their canals. You will understand that the Canadians find that their canals are not answering their anticipation. The returns of 1864 show that there has been a large decrease in the earning of the Welland and St. Lawrence canals. In the Welland there is a decrease of 12 3/4 per cent., and in the St. Lawrence canals 33 per cent. In the report of the Commissioner of Public Work he says, to make them remunerative they must be enlarged to allow the passage of vessels 800 to 850 tons burthen; which will require an enormous expenditure, as they have now a depth of water of only about nine feet deep. Now, the enlargement of these canals, and the opening up […]
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[…] of the north-west, were the conditions in connection with the construction of the intercolonial railway. Mr. Brown in his speech gives the Canadians the strongest possible assurance of this, he says:
“But this question of immigration naturally brings me to the subject of the great Northwestern territories. [Hear, hear.] The resolutions before us recognize the immediate necessity of those vast territories being brought within the Confederation and opened up for settlement. But I am told that while the Inter- colonial Railroad has been made an absolute condition of the compact, the opening up of the Great West and enlargement of our canals have been left in doubt. Now, sir, nothing can be more unjust than this. Let me read the resolutions:—
“The General Government shall secure, without delay, the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from Riviere du Loup, through New Brunswick, to Truro in Nova Scotia.
“The Communications with the North-western Territory, and the improvements required for the development of the trade of the Great West with the seaboard, are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federal Provinces, and shall be prosecuted at the earliest possible period that the state of the finances will permit.”
The Confederation is, therefore, clearly committed to the carrying out of both these enterprises. . . . .
But honourable gentlemen lay stress upon the point that, while the one enterprise is to be undertaken at once, the other is not to be commenced until the state of the finance will permit. No doubt this is correct, and the reason for it is simply this—the money has already been found for the Intercolonial Railway.
They must be well aware that the late Government (the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration) agreed to build the Intercolonial Railway, and obtained from the Imperial Government a guarantee of the debentures for building it—so that money is ready at a very low rate of interest, whenever required. We know where to find money for one enterprise at a rate we are able to bear, and can thus go on with a work which must be gone on with if this union is to be consummated. but we don’t know this of the other great work—and we all felt that it would be exceedingly indiscreet—I, myself, as the special advocate of opening up the Great West and of the enlargement of our canals, felt that I could not put my name to a document which declared that all hazards, while our five per cent. debentures were quoted at 75 or 80 per cent. in the money markets—we would commence at once, without an hour’s delay, any great public work whatever. [Hear, hear.]
Honourable gentlemen opposite must not imagine that they have to do with a set of tricksters in the thirty-three gentlemen who composed that Conference. What we have said in our resolutions was deliberately adopted, in the honest sense of the words employed, and not for purposes of deception. Both works are to go on at the earliest possible moment our finances will permit, and honourable gentlemen will find the members of the Cabinet from Lower Canada, as well as from Upper Canada, actuated by the same hearty desire to have this whole scheme carried out in its fair meaning.
Stress may be laid on the term, “as soon as the finances will permit”; but we know the great anxiety on the part of Canada to have this expensive work accomplished, and that as soon as they have the power in their hands to carry out their wishes they will go on with the work.
It has been claimed, also, on behalf of this scheme, that it would add to the defence of these colonies. Perhaps there is no one assertion which the advocates of confederation have made that has gained them more supporters than this. There is something in it that captivates every man’s mine and carried him almost away despite himself. It finds a response in every heart that feels the attachments of home. And it was wrong, it was cruel, on the part of the advocates to thus make an appeal to one of the noblest sentiments that find a home in the breast of man—that sentiment which bids us rise to defend the country in which God has placed us—to protect the homes we have secured by His blessing, and guard the altars we have erected to His worship,—without having such facts as would sustain the hops excited by the assertions.
What is the Provincial Secretary’s argument? That Confederation will give us more men and money to affect this great object. That we shall have 4000,000, instead of 350,000 people to defend us. He does not, however, say that with an increase of men comes an increase of duty that they would have to perform. If it gave us the four millions entirely for the defence of this province then his asserion would be sustained, but when every man that goes into Confederation brings with him the particular spot which he feels most anxious to defend, in case of invasion, then Confederation does not give us more men or money. Besides it places the control of our defences under a power that is situated 800 miles away from us.
We are told by the hon/ member from South Colchester that the temptation to invade this Province is greater than to invade any other—its value is consequence of its position and resources being greater. Admitting this to be the case, is it not unwise to give the control of the natural defenses of this country—the men who are to defend their homes—to a power situated 800 miles away, and who will feel it more to their individual interest to call them away to protect Canada. It has been said that the fate of Canada is our own. That may be, but I regard the safety of Nova Scotia as more essential to the maintenance of our connection with the British Empire than is that of any other of the British Colonies.
I answer, Nova Scotia is the keystone to the whole—when she falls, the whole follow.— Great changes have taken place of late years in the character of the navies of the world. Steam has taken the place of wind as the motive power rendering the ships more effective but more dependent upon their base of supply. We have here the power—the coal—which must be regularly supplied to the British fleet from our mines, in case of hostilities on this side the Atlantic. And if this base of supply should fall into the hands of an enemy, then the whole nave of England would be powerless for the protection of these Colonies, and must leave them to their fate. How essential, then, is it that local influences in Canada shall not have the power to call away our natural protectors to defend less important territory.
The Prov. Sec. says we are as unprotected and helpless as the crawling worm.
I was amazed beyond measure, to hear such an expression fall from an hon. gentleman occupying a position which gives to his declarations an official character. Had I occupied his position, rather than have stood at the table of this House, declaring that a portion of the British Empire “are as unprotected as the crawling worm” I’d have crawled down under the table.
A crawling worm are we? Well, what does he make of us under Confederation? I waited in anxiety expecting to see the “worm” swell and […]
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[…] “develope its proportions,” and eventually become a terrible dragon that would “gobble up” the American Eagle, and still hunger for more.— But, alas ! he only made the worm longer. He only lengthened it out until it become a tape worm. He run it through circumlocution offices 800 miles away until it became a worm of that “red tape” species, which so nearly proved the destruction of the British army on the outbreak of the Crimean War. Our main protection lies in the power of Britain, but the evident tendency of this Ottawa arrangement is separation from England.
Our minds naturally follow the channels of authority up to the source, and when we have reached that source, out ideas centre about it, and it becomes the embodiment of our nationality.— We have hitherto looked to England, and have run up through the various channels to the Crown, and there our affections have centred ; but this Confederation comes in and proposes a new order of things. It proposes that we shall have local governments, and that the source of our authority shall be at Ottawa. And when our thoughts and affections are turned toward that,— provided the various and divers interests of the several provinces, will enable us to live in harmony,—the effect will be that our affections will cling round that government, and shall be withdrawn from the Crown of England. Suppose that five or six American states imagined that separately they were too small, and accordingly proposed to form a special Confederation under the General Government just as these gentlemen propose with us to form a Government at Ottawa.
Does not every man see that before ten years had expired, the feeling of the people would be around that smaller Confederation, and in antagonism to the larger. And so would it be in the event of Confederation, with the other B. A. Provinces.—Therefore, I believe, instead of diminishing it would only increase our danger, and render us an easy prey to an invader. Suppose we should become an independent nationality, we would then, indeed, be helpless as the crawling worms, and the American Eagle would soon make a “Diet of Worms” that would have a different interpretation in American history from the “Diet of Worms” in European history. Lord Palmerston, referring to the subject, says :—
“Sir, it is true that the only danger which a smaller colonial State runs from a more powerful and larger neighbour arises from quarrels that may exist between the mother country and the foreign State? I say that is a total fallacy Suppose these provinces separated from this country—suppose them erected into a monarchy, a republic, or any other form of Government. Are there not motives that might lead a stronger neighbour to pick a quarrel with that smaller State with a view to its annexation? (Hear, hear.) Is there nothing like territorial ambition pervading the policy of great military States? The example of the world should teach us that as far as the danger of invasion and annexation is concerned, that danger would be increased to Canada by a separation from Great Britain, and when she is deprived of the protection that the military power and resources of this country may afford. (Cheers.)
The question of defence, in my view, depends to a large extent, upon the spirit of those who are called upon to defend the country. If you elevate the country and its institutions, the people will be prepared to defend it with greater spirit, We have seen in history the effect of rendering a people dissatisfied with the country in which they lived. One of the great grievances of the people of Ireland, is that they have not had since the Union with England, control of their own affairs— that they have not sufficient representation in the British Parliament, to give them their due influence ; and see what an exodus there is of her people. The last census of the United States returns 1,611,304, of the citizens of the Union as born in Ireland, where the whole population is only five and three quarter millions, while the the [sic] same returns give only 431,692 persons born in England, where the population is twenty millions.
If then you desire to have the hearty co-operation of our people in the defence of this country, you should not deprive them of the control which they now exercise, over the constitution and institutions of their country. Neither must you make them feel that they are pressed down by taxes. If you impose upon them burthens beyond what they consider just—and over which they can exercise no control—then the spirit to defend their country vanishes. Lord Bacon, reminds us that the blessing given to Judah and Issachar are never found combined in the same individual, not in the same people. Judah was to have the spirit of the lion—to place his hand upon his enemy’s neck.
But Issachar was to bow himself to pay tribute —to become like “the Ass crouching between two burdens.” And no matter how spirited a people are ; whenever these burdens are placed upon them they will change. Did the hon. Pro. Sec., suppose when he made this Quebec bargain, that the men around these benches are the Representatives of the lineal descendants of Issachar. That we are such consummate asses, as to bow down and allow him to fix and saddle upon us forever the ass’s burthen. This people have shown that they have a spirit to defend their country and its interests. Little Nova Scotia has given several names to history, and we have erected a monument to the memory of some of those who have thus shown themselves worthy of a noble ancestry. Every time I pass that monument I feel my step grow firmer and prouder with the thought, that the spirit which influenced these men, still lives in the bosoms of the people of Nova Scotia. That it animates the stalwart militia men of this Province, “whose arms were moulded in their mothers wombs, to drive the invader from our soil ;” but take away from these the control of their representative institutions, and impose upon them such burthens as I believe you are going to place upon them by this Confederation, and you drive out that spirit, and they will become as useless for defence, as a battalion of dried mummies from the catacombs of Egypt.
The Provincial Secretary tells us that Confederation will give us influence and position. He asks where was Nova Scotia, when the Reciprocity Treaty was passed. Was not Nova Scotia present […]
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[…] in her Legislature at its ratification. But I ask where will Nova Scotia be, when the whole power is placed in the hands of Canadians, to barter away her interests whenever it may suit them. One of the conditions most prized by the American people in effecting that treaty, is the right to our fisheries. Now with Canada’s anxiety for the continuance of that treaty, what regard will she have for the particular interests of Nova Scotia when, as I have already shown you, we shall be powerless at Ottawa, so far as our representation is concerned, Again he asks where was New Brunswick, when a slice was cut off her, and given to Maine? I reply she was just in the position that Nova Scotia was, when a piece was taken from her territory and handed over to New Brunswick— in the hands of those who did not regard her interests. There is, however, this difference—the “slice” we lost went to a sister colony, which is some satisfaction, but not equal to what I have, no doubt the Pro. Secy. felt, in getting rid of a number of voters of the wrong political stripe.
The hon. gentleman who wants to know who is not humiliated, when he finds that Canada is only mentioned in the debates concerning these Provinces, in the British Parliament. I rather take it as a compliment, that Canada has alone been mentioned. The Government of England have had no cause of complaint against Nova Scotia, on the ground of unwillingness to make preparation for her defence, but she had a reason for dissatisfaction with Canada. We have also heard of the Grand Trunk Railway, and of the transactions connected with it, which have given Canada a reputation, I am glad to say, Nova Scotia does not possess. Notoriety is not necessarily fame. There may be a celebrity that does not carry with it any weight of respectability. The Siamese Twins became celebrated—but it was for their unnatural connexion ; and shall have a chance of becoming celebrated, as being in our geographical position, a string of Siamese Twins.
When the Union with New Brunswick was discussed here last session, I made a calculation of the proportionate size of the strips of land connecting us with New Brunswick to the Provinces, as compared with the proportion of the ligature connecting Chang and Eng. to their whole size, and found that our ligature is very mush proportionately less. In their case you have two men, perfect in all their formation, that their powers of free action and usefulness are destroyed. In this case each province is a perfect geographical formation of itself, having its own centre of interest, its own heart within itself. If it were possible to take the Siamese Twins, and reform them, and make of the two one powerful man, the one heart then, unfettered and free, he would be effective to discharge the duties of life. And just so if you could remould these Colonies by a Confederation and bring them into compact shape, so that there should be one common centre of interest—one heart from which the life blood sustaining the whole should flow to the extremities and return, then would the Union commend itself to my mind ; and I should wish it “God speed.”
This is an impossibility, and therefore we should be content as are brothers who are not “Siamese Twins” each having and exercising his individuality ; but all united by the bonds of family affection. Let us then be content to go on prospering as we have, and at the same time cultivating the ties of brotherhood with the other Colonies, and above all, let us not take a step that will tend to sever our connection with England. My strong desire is to see this connection continued, that through out lives we may glory in the grandeur and greatness of the British Empire, and leave behind us those who shall inherit the same feelings of loyal attachments to her Crown and Institutions, that the same sentiments may bind together the people of these colonies. Every heart beating in unison— even as one great heart—when waked by the strains of “Rule Rrittania [sic]” and “God Save the Queen.”
Speech of Mr. Shannon.
Hon. Mr. Shannon said—I do not intend to make any lengthened speech, but will merely avail myself of the portion of time left, before the adjournment of the house to give expression to a few practical ideas in reference to this great question, which have been passing through my mind. In the first place, I may remark that ever since the commencement of the American Union, or rather ever since the adoption of the present constitution, the leading minds connected with the Colonies have turned their attention to the subject of a Colonial Union. It was not to be wondered at that when they saw the great prosperity resulting from that Union under the American constitution, they should deem similar benefits might flow from the adoption of a similar course in British North America. Among the earliest who approached this subject was Chief Justice Sewell, who was one of the prominent men of Canada, and who wrote upon the question.
Again and again the subject was brought forward, but it was left to Lord Durham to give it greater prominence in his celebrated report. That nobleman come to this continent clothed with the highest powers, and on a mission of the greatest importance,—that of quieting, if possible, the disturbances of Canada. He saw the isolated condition of these Colonies, and contrasted them with the strength and power of the U. States, and he felt and expressed the necessity of a Union. I have often regretted that advantage had not been taken of that opportunity to have consolidated the whole of British America, not merely to unite Upper and Lower Canada. At that time the Colonies were in a different position from what they are now. Then we were subject to the fiat of the Colonial Secretary, and an act of Parliament could easily have been obtained at the time Lord Durham returned to England, and would have been received as law by all. His Lordship, however, was too much imbued with Republican ideas, and I am not sure that he would have arranged his plan upon the monarchial principles, which, I am happy to say, pervades the scheme which was adopted at Quebec.
From the time of Lord Durham down to the present, we have had in every colony, from time to time, statesmen who have brought the subject of union before the public, who have talked of and dreamed about it, who have desired it as one of the greatest boons, but who felt that such were the difficulties in the way no plan could be possibly agreed upon that would approach to a satisfactory adjustment. All thought it would sometime or other be accomplished, but none that the time for its discussion was at hand or that a solution of its difficulties was practicable. We hoped that a period would arrive when the leading minds of the different provinces might agree upon some feasible plan, but we hardly dared to expect that it would be in our time. And yet now, strange to say, when the difficulties have been removed, when the leaders of the different parties in all the different colonies have united upon common ground, and the time has come for us to obtain that which we have so long desired, there are found those among us who are unwilling to accept it!
That there would be doubts and hesitancies at first is what might be expected; but we did not think there would be a movement made to reject the whole scheme. The difficulty in such cases has always been with the minor states, and the hon. member for South Colchester detailed to us the other day some of the perplexities which occurred in the different States of the American Union before the constitution was finally accepted. Especially was it unpalatable to those who thought their position and influence would be sacrificed. And is not this the feeling which prevails with us at present? Are not small local jealousies at the bottom of most of the objections? The colony which is most hostile now is the small Island of Prince Edward. The State which most stoutly refused to accept the constitution then was little Rhode Island. But has Rhode Island ever had reason to regret her ultimate acceptance? No, she has had her rights preserved intact in the two branches of congress and has prospered together with her Sister States, and far more than she could have done, had she determinedly held out for isolation.
But what are the advantages which we expect to derive from Union? I will give a short summary of them as they lie in my mind. They have been so often brought before the public, both in the press and on the platform, and recently by speakers in this house, that I feel I shall but go over ground which has been already fully occupied. And yet at the risk of wearying the patience of the house I will again refer to a few of them.
Union we truly believe is strength. We believe in the old maxim as a truism.” We have not forgotten the old fable of our boyhood, and yet in these latter days the old adage has been called in question, and isolation is lauded as practically of more value. It some to me to require no argument to prove that whatever power or force there may be in isolated fragments is greatly extended when those fragments are consolidated into one. And that power when exerted in self-defence is far more effectual under the direction of one central authority, than when exerted by different and often conflicting influences. And this brings me to the next point. Union is defence.
A few years ago this question would not probably have been of so much importance as it is now, indeed it would hardly have been thought of. At the time of the visit of the Prince of Wales, and when he passed so triumphantly through these Provinces, and the United States, what was the position of the neigboring Republic? It was one busy hive of industry; and the great object of its citizens was to labor to increase their wealth. Its military power was trifling. What is its position now? It has become one of the greatest military nations in the world, and that too upon our frontier. While we remain more isolated settlements, this great nation is in a position to successfully attack us. If we can do anything, then, to protect ourselves, surely we ought to lose no time in doing so.
If Union is one of the best means towards warding off an adversary, as we maintain it is, then let us adopt it. Now, I am far from being an alarmist. I believe the American Government has had the most friendly feelings towards these Colonies. The late President, to whose untimely end we referred recently with such deep sympathy, was, I am convinced, sincerely desirous of preserving peace between England and America, and the Governments of the different Provinces have always had the most amicable relations with that of the United Sates during all the perplexities of the terrible civil war now existing. But I am not insensible to the fact that democratic governments are frequently obliged to give up their own convictions and bow to the will of the people; and therefore I look with deep interest to the sentiments expressed by the journals and leading minds among our neighbors, and I cannot disguise from myself that there has been far from a friendly feeling manifested towards England in quarters where it was least expected. I do not refer so much to the New York Herald, and papers of that stamp, as to the expressed opinions of men of standing and intelligence. The other dayI lighted upon a letter of Professor Parson’s, Professor of Law at the Harvard University, published a month or two since, that surprised me not a little, and serves to show the views entertained by some men, at least, in high position, in New England. From it I cull the following extract. He says:
“I have not the slightest hesitation in expressing my Opinion that the conduct of England, relative to the Trent, was insolence carried to the last extreme; was a great insult to this country as well a great Wrong: and stained the name of England, in history, with disgrace. The thought is now in men’s minds, that when our turn comes, we will imitate her example. That we will, so far as the different circumstances permit, use her own words and her own methods, and with an equal peremptoriness and a similar threat of immediate war and a refusal of clay or negotiation, force her into immediate choice between compliance or war. And if we would follow her example, we must do just this; neither more or less. Most earnestly do I deprecate any such thought, any such act.— But in my opinion the only way in which it can be prevented is to press upon our people the truth. For the lover of peace to forget the conduct of England or to defend it, is equally impossible. But our nee le may see that her conduct was not only so wrong id but so discreditable, that they may determine to avoi what they would be ashamed to imitate.”
I have found this letter in “Littell’s Living Age,” of February last, but I was glad to perceive that the editor of that periodical did not concur in all its views, and hope that there may to a large number of the population agreeing with him, and that the danger anticipated may never come. Still, with the publication and circulation of such views, it is but right that we should remember that they bear upon the question of defence in these colonies. We know the old adage, that in peace […]
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[…] we should prepare for war, and I believe that one of the best preparations is that of uniting ourselves to meet any contingency.
But it has been said, will union give us one soldier more? It may not; but it will place out military resources under one head, and the force of the whole union could be concentrated and moved with a celerity and in bodies which could not take place if we remain isolated. It has been said that our men, in case of war, will be required in Canada to defend its exposed frontier. It seems to me, however, that the reverse would be the case, and I agree with the member for South Colchester, that in the contingency of war, the maritime colonies would most probably be the first point of attack. This was the case in the time of the old French war; it was not until Louisburg had fallen that the campaign against Canada had commenced, and this would most probably be the case again. I may refer, in connection with this subject, to the unanimous resolution of this house to place the entire militia of the province at the disposal of the province of New Brunswick at the period when the frontier of the latter was threatened by the State of Maine. Had there been an union of the colonies it would not have been necessary to await the action of the legislature, the central power would at once have detailed to the threatened point whatever number of men was required for defence.
Again, Union in my mind means a closer connection with England. We see this from the tone of the public journals, from the speeches in Parliament, and more particularly from the important despatch of Mr. Cardwell which has been so widely circulated. We could not please the British Government or people between, we could not more readily induce them to assist us, as they promise to do, by the whole resources of the mother country, than by adopting the scheme of the union. But it has been asserted that we need not trouble ourselves about Canada for the power of England will always protect us in Nova Scotia. Well, suppose we admit this, would we be so pusillanimous as to act upon it? I hardly think any honorable gentleman or his constituents would recommend the adoption of such a course. It appears to me that for the weal or for woe these colonies are and must be bound together.
Again, Union will bring with it large commercial advantages, by breaking down hostile tariffs and introducing free trade and manufactures, Hitherto we have been crippled by a want of knowledge and communication. If there is one object more than another which Nova Scotians have been long desirous of obtaining it has been this great object. The last scheme in reference to it was one which compelled this Province to pay more than many of us thought it ought to bear, but, nevertheless, the house adopted it, so great were the advantages expected to be realized by it. Now we are offered this railway on terms more advantageous than we had any reason to anticipate, and yet those who have heretofore been so anxious to accomplish so great an object now refuse to accept it, and cast away a boon of priceless value,—a conduct which seems to me to border on infatuation. Another result of union will be to afford a field for the energy and industry of our young men.
We have long wanted such openings for enterprize, and the absence of them has driven away a large portion of the youth of the country. The member for North Colchester spoke most glowingly of the resources and advantages of this Province. Why, I should ask him, have they not been able to induce the flower of our population to remain within our limits? I have heard it stated that there are no less than 30,000 Nova Scotians within or in the vicinity of the city of Boston. Upon what principles can we account for this? It is because we offer no adequate inducements for our young men to remain. The expatriate themselves in order to enjoy the larger field and better chances of success offered in the United States than here. I often look around in my own city and ask myself how many of those who were educated with me are still to be found within its limits. Many are beneath the green sod; but many are still living, but not here,—they are far away, in the neighboring States and elsewhere, pushing their fortunes, and forever lost to us.
I ask any person familiar with Halifax to look at the signs over the stores in any of the streets—in Granville street, for instance, and count how many of their occupants are natives of the City. The great majority of our business men are either from abroad or from the country. A short time since I was asked to look at the will of one of our staunch yeomen in the rural districts of this country. In it he had named his several children, and I was surprised to observe—and it is an excellent commentary upon the point—how few there were in Nova Scotia. One son was in California, one in Nevada, another in Kansas, and a fourth in Massachusetts. All the enterprising and energetic had carried their talents and industry to places where they could be better remunerated. We have devoted a portion of our public funds to the introduction of immigrants. I would rather, Mr. Speaker, bring back our Nova Scotia exiles than gather all the immigrants we could obtain from abroad, if we only had the inducements to offer them to remain.
Again, if we had union, we should possess more of a national position than we do at present. Let any Nova Scotian cross the Atlantic and he will soon learn the estimation in which he is held as a Provincial. I recollect an instance which occurred to myself when travelling the Continent, and how keenly I felt the different position a Colonist held from that of an American citizen. Notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. member for North Colchester, I am persuaded that our leading men, under the Union, will have their minds enlarged and take a higher position as statesmen than they can possibly do in the small and degrading discussion which occupy too much of the time of each Provincial Legislature. Before the American Revolution, there was not a single man in the old Colonies who at that time had acquired an European reputation but Franklin. Washington was only known as a Colonel of Militia, Adams was but a village attorney, and the same may be said of Jefferson, Madison, and other eminent men of the day. They occupied positions such as colonists occupy to-day. When, however, the war was over, and the United States assumed a national character, these men rose to their position, and took high rank in the estimation of the world. Though we do not wish independence, but consolidation, […]
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[…] in British America, I am convinced that the effects produced will not be less elevating in our case than in that of the neighboring Republic.
I will now refer shortly to some remarks upon the disadvantages which we are told will result from the project. First—it is said that our union means separation from England. I think I have already disposed of this, for I need only repeat that te whole public mind in the mother country is in favor of the plan, for the very reason that it will draw parent and children closer together, to be united by one common tie. The main objection, however, which has been brought forward, is one of a financial character. It is said we have made a bad bargain—in the language of the hon. member for Richmond (Mr. Le Vesconte) the Provincial Secretary has sold his country to Canada! Well, my answer is, the sale is not yet perfected for it has still to be ratified. But is it so bad a bargain? The objections are two- fold—political and financial.
They say we have not a fair representation in the United Parliament. I ask, what has been conceded to us in the Legislative Council? We shall have in that body, which I am happy to see is to be purely of a monarchical character, and whose function will be high and important, greater weight than we were really entitled to. But it is said that the real power of the Parliament will be in the House of Assembly, and that there we will not be adequately represented. We shall be represented upon the true principle, that is, according to our population, and I cannot see how such an arrangement can be objected to, or what could be considered more equitable. But the hon. member for North Colchester would introduce a curious idea in connection with this. He would increase the representation in proportion to the distance from the capital. I think my hon. friend from the county of Cape Breton would gladly accede to this, as it would largely increase the influence of his favourite island.— This idea was illustrated by a reference to the distribution of the members of Parliament in England, but the hon. member should have gone further; he should have told us what representation Scotland actually has, and what she would be entitled to on his principle. He would find his argument utterly fail him.
As regards the financial aspect of the bargain, the matter has been so fully discussed that I do not intend to enter into it further than to say that we have had numerous statements and calculations during the last few weeks, scarcely one of which agrees with another. The truth is, statements of figures are too often very delusive, and unless the premises are scrutinized and found correct the conclusions are worthless. All that may be said is that though we shall be required to give up the larger part of our general revenues we receive a yearly subvention sufficient with out local revenue to provide for our local wants.
As regards the question of increase of tariff we have had the same wide difference in computation. The hon. member for South Colchester puts it at such an insignificant figure as to make it a subject of astonishment that any person should dread its imposition. But even if we were to take the increase at the largest sum mentioned, that of a dollar per head, would not the great benefits to be derived warrant us in increasing our burdens even to that extent? But I am not afraid that there will be so great an increase, and am quite confident that increased prosperity will enable us to meet without difficulty whatever additional taxation may be required. To the city of Halifax union will be of inestimable advantage. Let any of our citizens visit the busy wharves of Boston, or sail into the port of New York by the East River and see the long lines of shipping extending for miles on either hand as he approaches the Hudson, and then return to Halifax, and how great is the contrast!
Now, if we have union and the intercolonial railway my expectation is that so great a contrast will soon be lessened. We need not expect to attain to the eminence of their commercial emporium, but we may hope that the traveller visiting us hereafter will find a harbor filled with shipping and busy with trade, and a city whose streets will be thronged with an active and prosperous population.
I am afraid I have been trespassing upon the patience of the house longer than I had intended, but I cannot conclude without making a few remarks upon the offensive display made by the hon. member for Richmond (Mr. Miller) the other evening in reference to myself. Now among the great advantages of the contemplated Union, I consider not the least to be, that the tone of public men and public sentiment will be far higher in consequence, and that the debates of the General Parliament will not be disgraced by such a wretched exhibition of personalities as we were treated with on the occasion I refer to. That hon. gentleman took occasion to pass upon my public conduct in reference to the Union, and to assert that I had acted the mean part of concealing my sentiments until I had ascertained the feeling of the majority of my constituents. Now, in answer to this unfounded statement, I have merely to appeal to the hon. member for East Halifax (Mr. Annand), who is present, and who knows that hardly had the Delegates returned before I had publicly exhibited my feelings on the subject, and that he good-naturedly challenged me with doing so in the public streets. My sentiments were never concealed from my constituents. As to the very gentlemanly charge of skulking beneath the galleries when I ought to have been on the platform, my answer is, that it is simply without foundation. I was present on the platform at the first meeting in Temperance Hall, but from all the others I was absent owing to the inclemency of the weather and the delicate state of my health. I hardly know that it was even necessary to refer to these things, but I have done so because I felt it due to this house to give this public contradiction to the statements made. I know that my constituents do not require it.
As regards the other personalities which have fallen from the hon. gentleman, I can treat them as idle wind, and do not feel it necessary to take any notice of them. The position of every gentleman who enters this House is soon assigned him by his brother members, who guage [sic] and test his qualifications before he has been with them many weeks. With whatever position they may assign me I am quite content, and sure I am I shall never envy that of one whose recent display has neither added credit nor dignity to this assembly.
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Speech of Mr. Bourinot.
Mr. Bourinot :— As no one appears desirous this afternoon of commencing the debate I shall endeavour as briefly as possible to state the opinions I entertain on the subject under consideration. No doubt the question has been pretty well exhausted. Many able speeches have already been made both in and out of the house, and the press has gone into the subject very fully; but I think it is the duty of every member in this Legislature to state his views. It is the opinions expressed in this house that will influence the people the most. In accordance with the resolution moved by the Provincial Secretary last winter, a delegation was appointed for the purpose of conferring with others from New Brunswick and P. E. Island with the object of uniting the Maritime Provinces. You are all aware of the history of the delegation at P. E. Island, and therefore it is unnecessary I should refer to it.
I cannot refrain, however, from alluding to the composition of the delegation itself.— First of all, four out of the five were members of the Bar—the fifth being the Provincial Secretary who, daresay, is a good a lawyer as the others. This fact, however, at the very outset produced distrust and no little dissatisfaction throughout the country. It was quite right and proper that the Provincial Secretary should be a member of that delegation—his position and great abilities will not be denied by any man in this country. The leader of the opposition was also one of the number, and it was but right that he should be, but what I complain of is, that the mercantile and other interests were not represented in this delegation. It is true that the Provincial Secretary has in speeches at Temperance Hall and elsewhere told you that several mercantile gentlemen connected with the Legislature were asked to be members of the delegation—Hon. J. H. Anderson, Mr. Tobin, and Mr. Locke, but that for reasons given they were unable to go. When the services of these gentlemen could not be obtained the selection fell upon the hon. Mr. McCully, and the remaining members of the delegation were the Attorney General, and hon. Mr. Dickey from Cumberland.
Now I must say it would have given far greater satisfaction if the government had looked around these benches and selected gentlemen who could well have formed a part of that delegation and represented the mercantile interests of this country. And ley me ask why was it that in making the selection they should have ignored the Island of Cape Breton altogether? Were there no men to be found there who were capable of taking part in that delegation? And I can point out many around these benches, and one hon. gentleman from the other branch of the Legislature who could as well represent the mercantile interest as those named. Look at little P. E. Island, no greater in extent, certainly not to be compared with Cape Breton in resources; it was represented by no less than seven members in Canada. Look again at the fact that no less than three gentlemen were taken from one country alone. That favored country of Cumberland sent the Provincial Secretary, Mr. Dickey, and Mr. McCully.
Therefore it will be seen that in the selection of the delegates the interests of the different sections of the province were altogether disregarded; and under the circumstances it is not strange that at the very initiation of this question dissatisfaction arose. I can assure you the feeling was very widely extended in the section I represent, for Cape Breton, as in many other cases, was entirely blotted out. And I was nearly forgetting to mention another fact in connection with the delegation at Charlottetown.— My hon. friend from Cumberland (Mr. McFarlane) happened also to be present at the time the delegation assembled—no doubt it was thought to be an act of wise foresight to have him at hand in case some accident should happen to the other delegates from Cumberland. You all know what took place at Charlottetown. Gentlemen from Canada joined the delegates from the Maritime Provinces and mysterious conferences ensued.
A great deal of what took place there has not yet come to light, but it will be known hereafter. When hereafter those private correspondence come to light—as occurs so often in history—we shall learn some facts which will give the world a better idea than they have now of the motives and reasons that influenced the delegates in coming to the conclusion they did. These gentlemen then left Charlottetown and came to Halifax, and when they had done so, I received a telegram inviting me to a banquet to be given the Canadian delegates. Just imagine a telegram inviting me to come to a dinner party given at a place 300 miles distant from were I resided. What took place at that famous dinner party? Any number of speeches were made. Union was descanted on at length and the Canadian delegates as well as the Provincial Government, no doubt, thought that the public mind was quite decided on the subject and satisfied with the expression of opinion on that occasion. Then they went on to Canada under the impression that the people of these provinces were quite ready to accept the results of their conferenced.
We all know what took place in Canada. The reception given to our delegates was very flattering—a perfect ovation—and I am proud to say that some of the gentlemen that represented this province did credit to themselves and Nova Scotia. Having finished the business of the delegation they returned to Nova Scotia where they soon learned the state of the public mind. The meetings at Temperance Hall gave them indications of the state of public opinion, even in a city which was likely to be benefit- ted, whatever might be the case with respect to the rest of the province. In this city which had so much at stake they had actually to listen to derisive cheers and hisses. Then a meeting was held at Windsor. In that town the Provincial Secretary endeavored to impress on the minds of the people, that no appeal on the constituencies was necessary. He went into the history of the scheme at length to show that it had been before the country for years, and that under such circumstances it was unnecessary that the people should be consulted in reference to the subject.
Now that the people should be told that they were to have nothing to do with deciding so important a question as changing the constitution of the country, but that the house could deal with it irrespective of the wishes of those they represented, was something most preposterous to propound in a country like this, enjoying the privileges of responsible government—where the people are the fountain of authority. The Prov. Sec’y […]
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[…] must have known that the house was elected under our existing constitution, and could not change it without consulting those that elected them. Yet the Provincial Secretary was quite ready to strike down all existing rights and privileges enjoyed by the people, in order that he might march on to Ottawa.
But far and wide the spirit of the people asserted itself. Little by little a feeling arose which spread over the length and breadth of this province, and showed the government that they must pause in their rash career. In my own county, at first, much indifference was felt on the question ; but as the discussion proceeded, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction at the scheme exhibited itself among all classes of the people. Before passing away, however, from the meeting at Windsor, let me say that the Prov. Secretary dwelt particularly on the report of Lord Durham, who ma be said to have been the first to have brought this question before these provinces. That report is valuable, in consequence of its own intrinsic merit and the ability of its author; but we must all be aware that the mass of the people have never known anything about its contents, and could not, therefore, be at all affected by it.
Now, turning to the scheme itself, we find that it provides for a federal union of these provinces. I have no hesitation in saying that if the conference had devised a legislative union, it would have been preferable. Every one knows what the local legislatures will be under this scheme—very insignificant bodies. Another portion of the scheme provides that the Lieut. Governors shall be selected by the Governor- General at Ottawa. What class of men shall we, then, have for our local governors? These very men who formed the convention. But how would they be looked upon? The position of Lieutenant-Governor would become a mockery in the estimation of the public. I can understand the principle that induced the British government to elevate Mr. Hincks to a colonial governorship and should like to see it extended to Mr. Howe who has far higher claims than the former to such a position; but any one must see that the people would never approve of any public man being made governor in his own colony. It has never yet been fully explained why we have been given local legislatures in this scheme. It might be satisfactory to the Lower Canadians, but it would never do for these other provinces. The municipal system that is in full operation in Canada West, or the very system of county sessions that exists here now, might have done the work assigned to the local legislatures. If the Lower Canadians would not agree to legislative union, an arrangement might have been made so as to give them the control of those matters in which they felt especial interest without interfering with the rest of the provinces.
I am glad, however, that some gentlemen who formed part of the Conference had some respect for that section of Canada which has been so trampled upon by the Western Canadians for years past. It is known to many that Upper Canada has long been endeavoring to deprive Lower Canada of many of those institutions and rights which they value—the very principle upon which the union was formed it has been attempted to destroy. Just in that way would the Upper Canadians in case of a Confederation, endeavour to override the interests and rights of these maritime provinces. As respects the question of taxation, it has been so ably handled by the hon. member of North Colchester that I shall not attempt to touch it, except to say it requires no lengthy calculations to see that if this union were consummated our taxes would be largely increased, if for no other object that the defences of Canada, more especially the fortifications that have to be erected, and the gunboats that must be put on the lakes.
The Canadians are now expected to defend the lakes by means of those iron clad monitors, and the expense of only a very few would be at least three or four millions of dollars. We have also heard that Hon. Mr. Geo. Brown, when he went back to his constituents at Toronto, from the Convention, told them in explicit terms that when this Confederation took place their canals would be enlarged, and that the North-West territory would be opened up. Millions of dollars would be expended for that purpose alone, and under these circumstances is there any man so blind as not to see the great burthens that will be necessary imposed upon us by Confederation. As respects the proportion of representation that Nova Scotia will have, let me say at once that no other principle would have been acceptable as a basis except population ; but when you look at the small number Nova Scotia will have in proportion to the Canadas, cannot you see she will be treated just as Cape Breton has been for years past. I admit in all sincerity that a greater desire new exists in this Legislature to do justice to Cape Breton, than was the case some time ago.
Whoever is familiar with the history of legislation in this province is aware that no member from Cape Breton could for years raise his voice on behalf of that island without being met with sneers, if indeed he was heard at all. At first I was inclined to rather favour the scheme of Union for this reason ; I felt it was better to be an appendage to Canada that to Nova Scotia, as we might then obtain more justice than we have received in the past from Nova Scotia. However, as I said before, I can see evidence of a disposition to pay more consideration to the section whose interests I have especially at heart. Gentlemen must know this, that the moment the Union takes place out grants for roads and brdiges must be diminished, (for the revenue at the disposal of the local government will be altogether insufficient for local wants,) or else you must resort to that most unpalatable that the commercial interests of this province would be benefitted by Union has been scattered to the wind by gentlemen who have preceded me. Look at our trade returns, and you see that we send Canada nothing of those great products such as fish and coal, for which there is a free market at present in that country. What do we get from them except a few barrels of flour?
If it is necessary to have a uniform tariff and currency, there is nothing to prevent it being done without Confederation —that has been conclusively shown time and again since this question was discussed. Now let me say a few words in respect to the reception of the scheme in England. We are all familiar with Mr. Cardwell’s despatch—how heartily he approved of it. The Provincial Secretary told us that the English Government […]
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[…] were in favor of it, and that therefore we should adopt it—that, if we did not, England would withdraw her protection from us by degrees. But it must be remembered that Mr. Cardwell’s impression was derived from the same source that prepared this grand scheme at Quebec. I have no doubt that these gentlemen impressed upon the Colonial Secretary’s mind the moment the local legislatures met they would adopt the scheme.
No doubt the opinion in England was, that the gentlemen who acted as delegates at the convention represented the public opinion of these Maritime Provinces; but I repel that idea. They did not represent public sentiment on this question at all; the result, not only in New Brunswick, But in Nova Scotia and the other Provinces, has proved it. Now I wish to make a reference to some remarks that fell from the hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Archibald) at a meeting in Temperance Hall on his return from Quebec. Now if there is a gentleman whom I hold in personal esteem—whom I respect for his great abilities as a legislator, it is that hon. member; but I always understood that these delegates met in good faith—that they had assembled with the determination to disclose everything affecting these Provinces —everything concerning their great resources and prospects, but they did not do so, and I shall prove it. The hon. member for Colchester said in his speech:
“Look again at the great mineral advantages we possess. With a country filled with coal, our position on the continent is such that we must necessarily become the suppliers of the whole Atlantic coast. If in the period from 1859 to 1864 we have doubled out coal trade, and the revenue has risen from $20,000 to $40,000, will it not double itself again in a few years, and enable us to provide from that fund alone, all that we require for education, and for the management of our roads and bridges, and our other local concerns? This does not include the revenue from our gold fields, and that has yielded this year $15,000 above the coast of its collection. See if these advantages do not place us in a position superior to that of our neighbors. This statement of our mineral resources is one that I would not like to have made in Canada ; it is too much like ‘letting the cat out of the bag,’ for although we thus obtain no unfair advantage, yet the superiority is one that might have been looked on with suspicion. Not only does this open up a view of increasing enterprise and prosperity, but it shews us one way to the position we so much desire to fill of becoming the carriers of the world.”
What now do you think of a delegate, that went to meet other delegates in good faith, and yet tell you that he suppressed facts that they ought to have known? How becoming a position was that for a statesman to occupy? I must now refer to another speech on a recent occasion. Let me say at the outset that those who have read the debates of the Houses of Parliament are aware that there is a strong feeling in England in reference to these colonies. We have perhaps flattered ourselves with the idea that when the name of Nova Scotia was aspersed we had at least one man in the Commons to stand up for his native country; and how had that gentleman discharged his duty? We know that an attempt has been made in the press to explain away the remarks to which I am about to allude; but that explanation amounts to nothing. Judge Haliburton delivered his speech at least more than a week before the last steamer left, and we know that whenever a gentleman has been misrepresented or misunderstood in the Imperial Parliament, it is usual for him to make explanations which will appear in due course in the Times or other public journals. But he did nothing of the kind. These remarks, aspersing the loyalty of Nova Scotia, have gone abroad without any contradiction from his own hand. Hear what he says:
“The people of Canada were, moreover, perfectly loyal. and very much attached to this country; indeed, he did not think that in Canada a disloyal man of any sect, or creed, or color was to be found. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, he was sorry to say, did not deserve the same praise in that respect, and he hoped the Secretary for the Colonies would show that he was aware that such was the case.”
These are, indeed, worthy sentiments to fall from a former member of this Legislature—from one who is a pensioner of this Province. In another part of his speech he actually says that he had lived for 60 years in Canada—so ashamed was he of Nova Scotia—and other parts of the speech referred to are not more complimentary. The Provincial Secretary told you in his lengthy speech on Confederation, that he felt humiliated because Nova Scotia was not mentioned at all in the great debate in connection with these Provinces. Now, if you read the debate carefully, you will see that in the speeches of Mr. Disraeli and other eminent English statesmen, the British American Provinces are frequently mentioned, and the same kindly feeling is expressed for all. We are told that is we refuse to accept Confederation, England would withdraw her protection from us, but read the debates of the House of Commons, and you will see that this assertion is baseless. The honor of England, we are told, is concerned in the defence of these colonies. The Premier, Lord Palmerston, tells you:
“This is not a Canadian question, it is not a local question : it is an Imperial question. It is a question which affects that position and character, the honor, the interests, and the duties of this great country.”
With or without Confederation we shall never be left unprotected by the mother country, should the enemy at any time touch our shores. A great deal has been said about the feelings that exist in the neighboring Republic. I deny the truth of the statement that the Americans are desirous of pouncing upon these Provinces, and are only waiting a favorable opportunity of doing so. Their object is simply to cultivate a good understanding with these colonies. Already Americans are largely identified with us, and are interested, (more especially in my county, where they shall always receive a cordial welcome,) in preserving peaceful and commercial relations with us. Some reference has also been made in the course of this debate to the Times.
Now I am not one of those who underrate the Times—it is the great exponent of public opinion in England—it is a journal of immense talent and influence—second to none in that respect in the world; but it will be remembered, that there was present at the banquet given to the delegates in Quebec, a Mr. Sala, a gentleman of ability—well known to the literary world—a friend of a person who would like to be closely identified with our railway schemes. Mr. Sala, on that occasion, did not compliment the Times—he stated his reasons why that journal had acquired such an influence over the people, and said that after all its opinions were not of such […]
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[…] great value. For my own part, however, I do not underrate its influence; but it should be remembered that the Times got its inspiration from the same source as Mr. Cardwell—from the gentlemen who formed the Convention.— If the Times’ writers had been living amongst us, or had means of knowing the tendency of public opinion in these provinces, its articles would have been very different. The views of Mr. Howe, Mr. Johnston, and Mr. Young have been referred to in connection with this question. Mr. Howe held certain opinions respecting representation in the Imperial Parliament, and has expressed various views at various times on the Union of the Provinces. But may not circumstances have very much changed since such views were expressed?
I have myself expressed opinions favorable to a Union. I have wished that the time would come when we might form a great nation. If a humble individual like myself saw reason to change his views, might not Mr. Howe and others do the same? Are gentlemen bound to entertain the same views always irrespective of circumstances that may arise requiring a modification of change of these views. A great stress has been laid upon the nationality that these Provinces would acquire ; instead of being insignificant dependencies, they would form a nation that would be respected abroad. I believe that the formation of such a nation would lead to independence of England. Isolated as we are now, we could not form an independent state. Perhaps, however, some gentlemen have longings to see such a result obtained.
I have no desire to dwell further upon this subject, expect to say that I am quite unwilling to support the resolution on the table unless there is a guarantee given that no change will be effected without consulting the wishes of the people. The matter has now assumed a very different aspect to what it did when the resolution was introduced last session. We authorized these gentlemen to perform certain duties and they went beyond their authority, and their course has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction. Under such circumstances I cannot authorize any set of men to suggest any change that will touch our constitution without an appeal to the people. With the people of this country must rest the decision as to a union of the Maritime Provinces. I believe, in all sincerity, that we are prospering sufficiently, and I cannot see how any change in our constitution is going to improve our present condition. I had intended referring to some other points which have been brought up in this debate, especially to the remarks of the Provincial Secretary as to the influence that the Cape Breton members exercise in this house; but as I shall perhaps have an opportunity of doing so, I shall not enter upon this subject at length at present.
Let me say, however, that such an influence does not exist, and the Provincial Secretary knows it well. No section of this Province exercises less influences than Cape Breton in provincial matters. If there is a public office to be filled up, Cape Breton is entirely ignored, and many of its adopted sons’ claims, some of them very strong indeed, have been disregarded, whilst a few counties are especially favored. I have already referred to Cumberland in connection with the delegation. Perhaps the hon. Provincial Secretary can explain the especial claims of that county to consideration. Is all the ability and talent of the country in that county? Look again at the county of Annapolis; that county has given a judge to the bench—a gentleman who is an ornament to the position, all will admit. We have also taken a deputy secretary from that county, a Sol. General, a commissioner of railways, and I believe, sire, that you, the chief Commoner of Nova Scotia, are also a native of Annapolis,—besides the promise of a railway, and Bear River bridge grant. And yet despite all these favors heaped upon them, how ungrateful were the people last election. I think I can promise any government that would give us all these good things more support from the island of Cape Breton than this ungrateful county of Annapolis has given, for the Cape Bretonians are always grateful. However, I shall not dwell upon this question at present, for it is, perhaps, somewhat foreign to the real matter at issue.
In conclusion, let me say that I regret having occupied so much time in addressing the house, and I must apologize for not having acquitted myself as well as was due to the house; but I feel strongly upon this question, and must repeat what I have already said—that no question involving a change in our constitution should be dealt with by this house, without the wishes of the people being first consulted.
Speech of Mr. McFarlane.
Hon. Mr. McFarlane said:—At this late period of the session I feel that it is absurd to attempt to engage the attention of the house with any lengthy speech. Indeed, I do not think the subject we are now discussing is one which should have occupied so much time as it has already. It appears to me that on the present occasion we are attempting to jump before we get to the style. Gentlemen have spent some three or four days in delivering speeches which would be quite appropriate if we had the question of union before us for our final decision. This resolution says on the face of it that a union with Canada is at present impracticable, and simply proposes a delegation to confer with others from the other Provinces on a subject of a union of the Maritime Colonies. yet gentlemen have gone at great length into the subject of the union of all the provinces. Had that question come legitimately before the legislature, then it would have been our duty to have solemnly investigated the matter and given it our most mature consideration. But the untoward event that lately took place in New Brunswick prevented us dealing with the question of the larger union. All efforts to press forward any measure under such circumstancces would have been spent in vain.
I have no hesitation in saying that all my feelings are strongly in favor of union. I am not afraid to say that the general welfare of these provinces in the future is closely connected with their confederation. I do not believe that any connection with Canada would be otherwise than beneficial to us. Western Canada would feel that her interests were bound up with ours,—whatever benefitted us would be of advantage to her—and we would feel the same way. We would form all a part of one whole, and whatever affected one portion would affect the other. How is it with ourselves? Nova Scotia is divided into a number of counties. I know little of Yarmouth, but when the hon. member for the county comes […]
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[…] here and advocates some local matter, do I not feel that it is my duty to assist him if his request ought to be granted?
This legislature does not hesitate a moment in answering his appeal. So it would be in the case of confederation. Every man in the general parliament —whether from Canada or Nova Scotia—would feel an equal interests in the whole confederacy. I cannot see what possible interest that Canadians could have for crushing or injuring us? Is it not obvious that it would be for their interests much more that we should be a city of 100,000 instead of 30,000 people. It is for the interest of Canada to build up our great seaports on the Atlantic so that she may have an outlet to the ocean when the St. Lawrence is closed. Without these great outlets of trade of St. John and Halifax, Canada would be placed in a position of great difficulty in time of war with the great power on her frontier. My hon. friend from Cape Breton has alluded to my presence at Charlottetown, when the delegates were meeting there, but I do not imagine that fact had much influence over confederation. He told you at the outset that you were injuring the best interests of the country, by going into confederation ; but he went so far as to say at the close that whenever the people were prepared for union he was ready to obey their wishes. Under these circumstances I do not think we can put him down as a most determined opponent of confederation. I believe the time will come when the people of this country will be ready to acknowledge the necessity of confederation, and adopt it.
They will see the great benefits that they must derive from breaking down these vexatious custom houses that now stand on your frontier, so many obstacles to the growth of industry and wealth in these Provinces. Look at your different currencies. Go to P. E, Island and you find your money actually has increased in value. Go, again, to New Brunswick and you find it decreased. Thus by every means in our power we create hostility between these several provinces. Does any person pretend to assert for an instant that this is a state of things that should be allowed to prevail for a single moment more than we can help it? That these provinces belonging to the same crown, and influenced by the same spirit of loyalty to the British Empire should perpetuate all the incongruities that now exist? I awaited with fear and trembling the results of the Quebec Conference ; but, when I considered them carefully, I have no hesitation in saying that the best interests of Nova Scotia were carefully guarded. I was afraid that our most valuable resources—our mines and minerals— might be yielded up by Confederation, and I was proud to find that our delegates had wisely reserved to this country this valuable source of revenue.
I am convinced that these resources alone under Confederation would give us all the means necessary to carry on our local affairs. We have only to look at the results that have been obtained during the past four or five years to gain some idea of what we may expect in the future from the financial argument, I shall not say much, for it is superfluous to do so. It is a matter of little consequence whether we pay a few cents more a head, provided we get in return corresponding advantages. Or, is it to be supposed that our burthens will not be increased more largely than they are now in the natural order of things, whether we have Confederation or not? Suppose we have Confederation, are we all to stand still? I presume each of these colonies will continue to prosper as they have for the past ten or fifteen years— that the revenue of each will correspondingly increase. And how will the large revenue at the disposal of the General Government be expended? I presume in accordance with the wants of the whole Confederacy—not with respect to the interests of any particular colony. Whenever any great public works are required in any part they will be gone on with.
Mr. McDonnell: In the North-West territory, for instance.
Mr. McFarlane: I believe the time will come, although many of us will not live to see it, when that vast region will be the abode of millions of human beings. There you have a territory abounding in most valuable resources. and which could afford means of subsistence to more people than can be found on this Continent. A good deal has been said about the Canadas combining for the purpose of injuring the Maritime Provinces. Now any one acquainted with public affairs on this Continent must know that there must long be antagonism between the two sections into which Canada is divided. That antagonism proceeds from something more than mere diversity of interests—it is one that is the strongest of all, that of race. The population of Lower Canada is as loyal as any in British America—being decidedly monarchical in its tendency, and well satisfied with the advantages it receives from its connection with the British Empire.
That French population has to a large extent the same interests as we have, and we may be sure they would combine with the Maritime Provinces in preference to the Upper Canadians. I feel, however, that it is unnecessary for me to go into the subject of Union at length, for, as I said at the outset, it is not actually before us. I don’t believe the time has arrived for its full discussion in this House. Let me say, however, that the friends of Confederation have never had a wish to force it upon the people— strongly convinced as they are that it is connected with the best interests of the country. Entertaining these views, I feel that it is my duty to use all the means in my power to convince those who are within the scope of my influence. I believe in all sincerity that the time will soon come when the people will be found fully alive to the beneficial results that will accure from this scheme. Let its friends be patient, and use all the legitimate means at their command to make their views known to the people. Can any one believe that this Province should continue to remain in the isolated condition it has been for fifty years?
That we are now going on prosperously no one can doubt. Nova Scotia is certainly one of the most flourishing colonies of the British Empire, but Confederation will not endanger that prosperity. I believe, indeed, that confederation is necessary in order to preserve the enjoyment of that peace and prosperity we now have. I have no hesitation in saying that when the war is over in the States, I do not apprehend much danger to ourselves; I believe that the people will not be anxious for hostilities with a power like England, and that they will not be willing to add to the great burthens they have already created. But, at the same time, I believe they […]
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[…] will adopt every means in their power to extract all they can from these provinces,—by hostile tariffs and such means. Therefore I feel that it is essential for these provinces to make such arrangements as will make them independent, as far as possible, for the States, and give them a market where they will not be met by hostile restrictions.
Speech of Mr. Locke.
Mr. Locke said :—As this question appears to be entirely used up, I do not rise with the hope of throwing any new light upon it, either financially—politically or otherwise, but having presented a number of petitions from my constituents upon the subject, I feel that it is due to them, as well as to myself, that I should offer a few observations, in explanation of the course I intend to take.
It will be in the recollection of the House, that at the last sessions, a resolution was passed, authorizing a conference to be held between Delegates from this Province, and New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, on the subject of a Union of the Maritime Provinces. In accordance with that resolution, the Delegates proceeded to Charlottetown, and after deliberating for a day— in an incredibly short space of time, they came to the conclusion, that a Union of the Lower Provinces was impracticable, and they admitted into the conference a number of gentleman from Canada, who speedily indoctrinated them with their views upon the question of the larger Union of all the Provinces. The result was that our Delegates returned to Halifax, and immediately proceeded to Quebec. Now sir before going any further, I should like to ask these gentlemen upon what principle they received these Canadian Delegates at all. They were only authorized to confer upon the subject of a Union of the Lower Provinces, and yet by some means or other, they appear to have lost sight of that altogether, and to have been led entirely by the opinions of the gentlemen from Canada.
Now sir, I do not intend to reflect upon the conduct of the Delegates. I have too much respect for the honor and integrity of the public men of this Country to impute to them interested motives, and I have no doubt that in taking the course they did, they acted in a way which they believed was for the best interests of the Province; we must suppose, taking a charitable view of the case, they erred in judgment. I do not question their constitutional right to proceed to Quebec, and take part in the Conference which was there held—because the members of a Government possess the power to deal as they think best, with the interests of the country they are called upon to govern, but when men possess power it is not always advisable to exercise it arbitrarily, and therefore as a matter of policy, and in view of the expressed feeling of this House, I think it would have been better for the Government to have obtained the sanction of the House, before they entered upon the consideration of the larger question of the Confederation of these North American Provinces. They did not however think proper to do so, and we must therefore deal with the question as we find it.
The very first article of the Report of the Quebec Conference, recites as the groundwork, upon which a Union should take place, that it is advisable “provided it can be effected on principles just to the several provinces. Those concluding words contain the gist of the whole matter. I contend that the terms as arranged at the Conference are not “just to the several provinces”— more especially as regards Nova Scotia. I hold that in adopting the principle of representation by population, they have ignored other important interests of this Province, which are entitled to consideration.
There are other matters to be considered besides mere blood and bones. There is the mining interest which contributes so largely to our provincial prosperity, there is the shipping interest, which as has been stated in this debate, is equal to one eighteenth of that possessed by the British Empire, and represents a capital of eight millions of dollars. Is that not an interest worth protecting and worthy of representation? Canada has nothing to compare with that. It is true that she has a large inland trade by means of her canals, but we cannot participate in the advantages to be derived from them. Then again there is a most important branch of industry, the fisheries, and in connection with that there is one part of the report which I cannot understand, and which I should like the hon. Prov. Sec. to explain. I perceive that by a clause of the constitution, the general government are to have control over the sea coast and inland fisheries, while by another clause the same power is given to the local government. The same thing occurs in reference to Agriculture and Emigration. Both Governments according to the terms agreed upon by the Delegates, are to have control over these subjects, and yet that can scarcely be possible. I can only say that if the control of these important matters has been surrendered to the general Government, that our Delegates have shown but little regard for the best interests of the country.
By this principle of representation by population, a very unfair advantage is given to Canada. Everybody knows that Emigration to that country is increasing every year, and as the representation is by this scheme to be adjusted every ten years upon the basis of population, it follows that she will possess an unfair advantage over the Maritime Provinces, which do not offer the same inducements to Emigrants that she does. I believe that at the close of the first period of ten years, Upper Canada will have increased her population ten per cent, while our increase will not amount to more than five. It will be seen therefore that in this respect, the terms agreed upon are not just or equitable to the several Provinces, and it appears as if the Delegates from this Province had entirely lost sight of what is manifestly an undue advantage conceded to Canada.
Then again on turning to the Report of the Delegates, I find that the general Government, is to have the control of trade and commerce, the imposition of excise and custom duties, and the control of railroads and canals. This latter clause is of the utmost importance to us. It is well known that the Canadians are anxious to extend […]
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[…] their territory west, and to open up communication with the great country lying in that direction. And in order to do this, they will make use of the means placed under their control from this and the other provinces confederated with them. For it must be remembered that even if our Revenue doubles under Confederation, it will be of no use to us, it will be all swallowed up by Canada, whose superior voice in the Parliament will always control the action of the Lower Provinces.
The hon. Prov. Sec. the other night in urging his views in favour of this scheme stated, that it had received the sanction of the Bishops, and the Clergy of the different denomination. Even so, I hold that is no argument to control the members of this House. They can entertain any opinions they please upon this or any other subject, and however much I may respect them in matters peculiarly within their province, I do not admit that in matters of finance and political economy, they should exercise much influence over the deliberations of the people’s representatives.
Again he advanced as an additional argument, that all the leading men of the Province had been in favor of Union. Now it is true that at different times various prominent politicians have in their places in Parliament and elsewhere made grand speeches in favor of Union, but it was well understood at the time, that nothing was to come of it, they just wished to make a grand show, and had no idea of its being followed by any practical results, so that even if grand speeched have been made upon the advantages of Union in the abstract, that has nothing to do with the merits of the scheme promulgated by the Quebec Delegates.
The hon. Prov. Sec. also stated that the most respectable portion of the Press are in favor of the measure. Now sir, I have made a list of those pro and con—not including the Religious press— and here they are. In the city we have:
For—Unionist, Colonist, Reporter, and Express.
Against—Chronicle, Nova Scotian, Acadian Recorder, Sun Citizen, and Bull Frog.
Hon. Prov. Secy—No. You must strike off the last. It has recanted.
Mr. Locke—We’ll even so. Then in the country we have:
Against—Yarmouth Herald, Tribune, Free Press, Liverpool Transcript, Eastern Chronicle, C. B. News, and Antigonish Casket, and the Pictou Standard which may be in favor. It has been said that there is no intention on the part of the Canadian delegates, now going home to use their influence with the British Cabinet to force this measure upon the Province. I will read to the House what Mr. Cartier said in the subject, when addressing the audience at the Temperance Hall:—
“They knew that in Nova Scotia there was a strong feeling in favor of the scheme of Confederation. * * * * * He rejoiced to know that the heart of Nova Scotia as well the heart of the Canadas was warm for Confederation. The friends of the cause had no reason for despondency, it would take but little time to warm the heart of New Brunswick, after the people of that province had understood and weighed the important bearings of the question. The Canadian delegates were the first to present at the Conference at Charlottetown, to the Maritime Provinces, the larger view of the greater Confederation ; and he did not hesitate to declare that the basis of union agreed upon at Quebec was the most just and equitable Union that under the circumstances could be devised—ensuring alike the safety and prosperity of all the Confederate provinces ; and such success had attended the deliberations of the Quebec convention as was unprecedented In all human affairs, we must expect checks and disappointments—it could not always be smooth water—there must be shortcomings, and New Brunswick had merely delayed its consummation— it must ultimately be carried out.
On hearing the fate of the measure in New Brunswick, they in Canada deemed it advisable to bring to a conclusion the business of the Legislature, and send a delegation to England to press confederation upon the Imperial parliament, the defence question and in connection therewith the Intercolonial Railway. It had become a question of Imperial policy and his co-delegates and himself were going to England to urge the question of defence not for Canada alone, but to all the British North American Provinces.
On this question of defence all the Provinces must be united, and in order to defend ourselves properly we must be united under one government. The treasure and resources of the Provinces separately cannot be usefully and properly applied for defence, except united under one government, and then all the strength of the Confederates Provinces can be brought to bear upon the point when the attack takes place. It is beyond doubt that the Imperial Government consider the Federation of all the Provinces absolutely necessary. The resources of one Province alone would be too small to resist attack, but when all are united very great assistance can be given, and when that has taken place there can be no difficulty. The delegates are going to England to urge the construction of the great Intercolonial Railway, as the construction of that work was absolutely necessary for the defence of British North America. * * * * * This public demonstration was an authentic and unmistakeable exhibition of strong confederate feeling in the commercial city of the province of Nova Scotia, and the people of England would come to the conclusion that the citizens of Halifax are favorable to the cause of confederation.”
Mr. Galt also used this language:—”He could not refrain from expressing his emotions on the occasion of so magnificent a reception—not from personal considerations alone, but because it was the unanimous expression of approval of a policy that has an echo in the breast of the people of Nova Scotia as well as that of Canada. Fully sensible of the check which it has received in New Brunswick, he did not believe that it was permanent,—the great body of the people had not time to weigh well the question ; and he could not bring his mind to the belief that the New Brunswickers […]
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[…] were less alive to the necessities of union, or less desirous of perpetrating connection with the mother country, than either Nova Scotia or Canada. It was impossible to shut our eyes to the events occurring in the neighboring States, and it is undeniable that unless we are united under the terms as agreed upon at Quebec, another union will be formed that will be found to be of an entirely different character, and under a different flag than that which we now recognize, and it becomes a question whether we prefer the good old flag we are now under to that of the United States. Firmly united under the bonds of the proposed Confederation, and backed by the support, influence and means of Great Britain, we can fear none; but alone, and undivided, we may fall victims at any moment. Apart from the great commercial advantages of the proposed Confederation, we rank still more highly—that which we believe is of still greater importance— that by delaying the Union we may risk and imperil the connection between these Provinces and the Mother Country. They have been told that Nova Scotia was opposed to Confederation, but this meeting and magnificent demonstration had given the lie to that assertion, and he hoped the time would not be remote when he would have the honor and privilege of addressing them not only as Nova Scotians, but as a united Confederation of British North America.”
I think that after this that there can be very little doubt in the minds of any body, that these gentlemen go home with the intention of forcing upon the British Government the necessity for the Union, being at once accomplished,— whether the Lower Provinces are willing or not. I cannot allow a remark of the hon. Prov. Secy., made the other day in reference to the people of Yarmouth, to pass unnoticed. He said they were favorably disposed towards American Institutions, and in fact insinuated that, with some other counties, they were disloyal in their sentiments.
Hon Prov. Secy.—denied that he ever made. such an assertion.
Mr. Locke—I so understood it, and I believe the hon. gentleman endeavored afterwards to explain. Now, sir, I maintain that there is not a more loyal people on the face of the globe than the people of Nova Scotia.
Shelburne was founded by Loyalists—and they could be outdone by none in their devotion to the British flag. The man who insinuated anything there about their loyalty would find it a pretty hard place to stand in—and I believe the very purity of their loyalty would deter them from entering into this Scheme, judging from the previous history of Canada.
Now, Mr. Speaker, a word as to the resolution on the table of the House. I will just read the preamble, and ask in what position would any man be placed who voted for it? He thereby admits that he is in favor of a Union of all the Provinces – and the only reason why he does not do so now, is because “it is at present impracticable.”
I do not say that the Prov. Secy. in wording that resolution had any design to entrap gentlemen into committing themselves upon this question, but I consider it to be the duty of every man opposed to Confederation to vote against it.
That is the course I intend to take, and I would say to the Government, as Henry Clay said to John Randolph, “go home to your Constituents, who sent you here, and see whether they approve of the course you have taken.”
It was useless attempting to make the Canadian Delegates of the British people believe that the question of Confederation was received with any favor in this country.
It was virtually dead. Like the Church at Ephesus, it had a name to live for, and was yet dead. Let the resolution, then, remain a dead letter upon the table of the House, and let nothing more be said about it until the time shall arrive when the people of this country declare themselves in favor of a scheme which goes to alter the Constitution, under which they are now prospering and living contentedly.
Remarks of Mr. Killam.
Mr. Killam said—I shall not delay the house long with my expression of opinion on the subject under consideration. It has been given as an argument in favour of Confederation, that leading men in this Legislature have been in favour of it, and have spoken often in respect to it. Now I have been a member of this house for many years, and have heard. what remarks have been made, but I am not aware that any large number of members, or of the people, thought much about the subject. The Legislature took no interest in the question, and the people felt the same way. No one believed that anything practical would grow out of the discussion -the whole thing was a mere pleasant theory in which some gentlemen liked to indulge when they had nothing else to talk about.
A great deal of alarm exists all through the Province on this subject of Confederation. It appeared to be the opinion of every man you met that no good could come of it, and this feeling appeared to be the spontaneous feeling of the people, without any effort having been made by those who are called political leaders to excite it. As regards the resolution on the table, I will say that I can scarcely imagine how any person could be found within those walls to favor a Union of the Lower Provinces. There can be no advantage to us in mixing up our local interests with those of the other Maritime Provinces. I have yet to hear any argument in favour of this smaller Union. Then where is the necessity for any further delegation on the subject, if no practical result is to follow.
There has been a great deal said about the advantages a union with Canada would confer upon us, but I think that the effect would be to restrict and hamper our commercial operations. Nova Scotia wants the whole world for a market—she wants free communications with the great producing country, the United States, which furnishes us with luxuries and necessaries which we have not got. We want our carrying trade, upon which we so largely depend, to be unrestricted in its extent. All this is necessary to our prosperity; but adopt this confederation scheme, and we will hedge ourselves in as if it were, and shut ourselves out from the markets that are now open to us. We were in […]
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[…] fact going to adopt the Japanese policy, who, for a thousand years, lived within themselves until civilization compelled them to open up their markets to the world. That is a policy I do not think is suited to Nova Scotia; and that is the reason I am so much against it.
If there is anything worth protecting in Nova Scotia, surely it is our shipping, and foreign commerce, and yet we would render this useless by going into Confederation. The very name of Nova Scotia is worth keeping— a country that owns one-eighth of the shipping of the British Empire is surely worthy of a name amongst the nations of the world. The shipping of Nova Scotia is to be found in every part of the world, and their sails whiten the seas in every portion of the globe. That important interest represents in value no less than eight millions of dollars, and yet we are called to adopt a policy detrimental to so valuable a branch of our provincial prosperity. The only true policy for a commercial country, is free and unrestricted trade. That is the policy of Great Britain.
The more trade is unfettered, the more it will expand; and yet we are about to adopt a restrictive policy, and to shut ourselves out from the markets of the world. Canada, from her inland position, can never become a large manufacturing country—and she is a great agricultural country—she can supply us with all the whiskey we want, but we can do without that; and if we want it, the best way is to get it at the cheapest rate. She can supply us with most of the eatables we want, and some of the wearing apparel, and can give employment to our labor; but the best way, in a new country, is to employ it within our own Province. There is no doubt that the lumber trade of Canada gives employment to our shipping, but they get no better price for it than anywhere else. They can go anywhere and get good prices; and as I said before, the carrying trade of Nova Scotia extends over the world. I cannot see why Novascotians are not satisfied with the progress they are making—our manufacturing interest is advancing as rapidly as can be expected in a new country without any protection at all.
Our public works—if the government manage them prudently and carefully, and do not enter upon them too rashly—will contribute to the general prosperity. In fact, every branch of industry is in a sound condition. Then why alter this state of things, and rush blindly into a union with Canada? The hon. Prov. Secretary, in his speech, complained of an article in the Morning Chronicle on the subject of the defence of this country. I cannot say that the scheme there propounded met my views, and I am not desirous that any English acts of parliament should be passed to interfere with our rights and liberties. What did the delegates propose to do? If their wishes had been carried out, they intended to go to England to tie up the people of these North American colonies, by an English act of parliament, for all time to come, and to compel them to submit to the scheme.
Hon. Prov. Sec.—No such thing was ever proposed.
Mr. Killam—It is very strange if I am mistaken. Was it not proposed that the leading men should go to England?
Hon. Prov. Sec.—It was proposed that the scheme propounded by the delegates should be first submitted to the local legislatures and an address be passed asking the British parliament to confirm the action that had been taken.
Mr. Killam—If it is not one of the articles of agreement it was generally understood that such was to be the case. It has been urged that the great Intercolonial Railway is going to make us a great country, that Halifax is going to be the entrepôt of the whole continent. Now, sir, when I saw the grass growing on the Grand Trunk of Canada, and reflected that for six months of the year there is no business doing upon it, I confess that I was not very sanguine as to the necessity of this work as a commercial undertaking. Nor would it be of any advantage in time of war—running as it would within ten or twelve miles of the United States territory, it would be easy for them to destroy it, and they might take Upper Canada before we could hear of it except by way of the United States. It was useless then to talk about that being of any advantage to us either commercially or politically. If Canada wants it, let her have it—in the meantime let us go on ‘with our own public works. If the government can show a feasible plan to connect with the New Brunswick border, and the state of finances will admit of it, I shall not oppose it; although I should prefer that the Pictou road should be built first, as I think that will sufficiently tax our energies and resources for some time to come.
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