Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Union of the Colonies (5 April 1866)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 23rd Parl, 3rd Sess, 1866 at 195-206.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1866.
THURSDAY, April 5.
UNION OF THE COLONIES.
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Mr. Annand said:—I felt, Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member for Inverness, Mr. McDonnell, addressed the House, that the time had come when I should define my position on the question of a Union of the Colonies, and I shall now invite the attention of the House to that position. I have always been in favor of a union of the Maritime Provinces, and my views upon that subject entirely accord with views expressed by members on both sides. I need not now recur to the Convention held at Prince Edward Island, or to what took place elsewhere when the Convention was dissolved. These are matters of history, and I will merely allude to the objections which I entertain to any union of the Colonies. I have always thought that the people of Canada were dissimilar to us in origin and pursuits, and that the fact of this Province being separated from communication with the world, excepting through hostile territory, rendered it politically impossible that a union in the present state of affairs could take place. I have also entertained, and have here expressed the opinion. that all the benefits of which we have heard can be obtained without union. Let me briefly refer to three of these,-in the first place, I maintain that all matters of material advantage relating to trade can be obtained without a. political union.
What is there to hinder us to-day from arranging a treaty of free trade in the manufactures of the different Provinces? I may be told that Canada will not entertain the proposition now;—perhaps, having the objects she has at present ‘in view, might refuse, but in 1862 she was pressing […]
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[…] upon us such a mutual exchange. She felt then, and her leading manufacturers feel now, that they are the manufacturing people of British America. We are lower in the scale than New Brunswick, and it is therefore to the advantage of Canada. to have free trade between the Provinces. As regards the currencies, I take it for granted that these could be arranged by the various Financial Secretaries in a week—I said in an afternoon last year. It is not necessary then for these purposes to have a. political union. It is said again that we must have such a union before we can obtain the Intercolonial Railway, enabling us to have free and rapid communication with each other—I deny it, and I point to the action of Canada in 1862, when she agreed with our delegates for its construction. Why it was not built it is not necessary to say, and I will not say, because I do not desire to create irritation between the governments of these colonies.
That railway, thus bringing us into connection with Canada, however valuable it may be in time of war, as affording a passage for troops, I never regarded as of much importance in relation to trade, because while communication is open with Portland, there will be little or no traffic across the Intercolonial line. Though we may attach considerable importance to that line, yet I maintain it is not necessary to our existence. We live by the sea, and have free access to other countries, —but it involves the existence of Canada. She would have no access to the United States in time of war, and that railway would afford the only means of communication which she would have with the mother country. I therefore hold as I held in 1862 that however valuable the intercolonial railway may be to New Brunswick and Nova. Scotia, it involves the existence of Canada. I say that no political union is necessary, unless Canadian statesmen, using it as a lever, say you shall have no railway unless you unite with us. Holding these opinions, I ask why is this union pressed?
Two years ago our country was undisturbed and our people were quiet; now this Province is a scene of agitation from Cape Sable to Cape North. These difficulties did not arise with us, our people were contented and happy until Canada, embarrassed in her own condition pressed the proposals for union upon us, and I can point to speeches of Canadian statesmen which show that this was the cause of the agitation.
There is another branch of the subject to which I will now refer,—the question of defence. It is said that if all the questions of trade, of postage, of the currency, and of the railway, could be arranged, the great question of defence yet remains. There would have been some force in the argument a year ago, but what has transpired since then? We have seen these two Provinces threatened by a. lawless set of men, who contemplated an attack upon us; and what was their programme of operations? If these Colonies were to be attacked at all, they were to be simultaneously attacked ,-then away goes the argument about Union as a means of Defence. Does it require a political union to arm the people of these Provinces? No, Sir, it is quite sufficient to shew them a common danger and they rally with one will in the common defence as is being practically illustrated at this hour.
Take another view of the question. I will assume that a union of the Colonies is desired, if not by us, by the mother country, and in speaking of the mother country I may say that all suggestions coming from that quarter I regard with the greatest respect, one reason tor this is that we owe her much—we have contributed but little to our own support and defence, and that government throws its protection over us whenever it is required; therefore I say I yield great defence to the opinion of the Imperial Government but the question after all comes back to our own country and leak who are the best judges of the institutions, under which they should live?
The Home Government have given us institutions of which we are proud, and which we work out practically,—they have never shown a disposition to deprive us of these. It is not necessary that I should repeat my objections to the Quebec scheme, but I will say, whether owing to a break-down of the opposition to union, or owing to the opinions of the British Government, if a union should become desirable, and I should give up my own views, believing as I now do that such a union is undesirable, which is the best way to bring that union about? Assuming it to be desirable, and that it will not lead to independence of the mother country as I believe it will; assuming that the relations between the Provinces should be changed, I believe and hold that the railway should precede the union Suppose, for instance, that difficulty arose from a Fenian raid, or for any other cause, and that a declaration of war being made, communication between the United States and Canada was severed—suppose union consummated, and parliament convened to meet at Ottawa, how would we get there now?
We should have to travel through the wilderness of New Brunswick, and I therefore maintain that the railway should precede the union. Suppose again that on a sudden outbreak of hostilities it became necessary to suspend the Habeas Corpus act, how would Parliament be assembled? The Government might assume the responsibility, but that responsibility is seldom assumed by any Government, and we saw a few weeks ago that Sir George Grey introduced a bill into the Imperial Parliament in reference to that subject.
Then I maintain we should have free trade before the union,—we ought to know more of each other—at present the men of Canada West know more of the people of the United States than of us—that state of things should be reversed before going into the union, we should become familiar with each other and have large business intercourse, I believe that by a union with Canada the Maritime Provinces must suffer largely in treasure, in power, and in influence,—I think I may safely say that not one other of these Provinces will have this scheme, it has been refused in Prince Edward Island and in Newfoundland, and they will have nothing to do with it now in New Brunswick, and need I say that at present nine—tenths of the people of Nova Scotia would reject it? Under these circumstances, and yielding deference to the views of the Imperial Government, and assuming a union to […]
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[…] be desirable I ask what is the best mode of bringing the union about ?
I reply, by abandoning the Quebec scheme in the first place. The action of our Government can be of no avail in this particular unless the Government of Canada express the same determination, because the gentlemen composing the delegation to Quebec are bound to carry that scheme it possible, and it will require the consent of all o them to abandon it. Supposing the scheme abandoned, there are three ways of approaching the question. One mode is to assemble the leading minds of the Provinces—and when I say the leading minds, I mean not merely the gentlemen representing the views of those who went to Quebec, but gentlemen who have taken a prominent part against the Quebec scheme, gentlemen opposing any union at all, with a view to the full consideration of the subject, just as that which any question requires. Public men from all the Provinces should then be assembled in such numbers that all cause of jealousy should be removed. Let me here say, to guard myself from misinterpretation, that any scheme of union, after being thus considered, must come back to the Parliaments and to the people for ratification. I care not how perfect or how advantageous the scheme may be unless the Parliaments and the people are consulted, it must fail to satisfy the country.
Another mode would be to assemble Delegates, composed of the same elements, at the Colonial Office, where, in presence of Her Majesty’s Ministers, the question could be discussed ; but even in that case it must come back to be settled by our people. but there is a third mode that recommends itself to me : there is great diversity between the interests of Canada and those of the Maritime Provinces while the latter have many interests in common, I would therefore convene delegates from the four Maritime Provinces and see if they can agree on a platform for a union with Canada. I maintain that if the delegates were to assemble at the Colonial office, acting in detached parties, they would be cut into fragments, they would have no pol[text missing]ic in common, and would be at the mercy of the Canadian influences by which they would be surrounded in London.
Any policy, therefore, recommending itself to the people, must be matured as I think by the representatives of the Maritime Provinces. Then would come up this question: -Should not these four Provinces go in as one asking for equal representation with either of the Canadas and claiming it as their right and throwing overboard the unsound principle of representation by population,—taking care also, that their revenues should be properly secured.—If the Maritime Provinces could thus be brought to agree upon a platform then let the debate be adjourned to the Colonial office, and our delegates being thus brought face to face with Canadian representatives, we might expect Her Majesty’s Government to force Canada to accept such terms as reason would recommend. Even then the scheme must come back to us to be ratified, and do you think that the people, having confidence in the Maritime Convention and in the Imperial Government, would reject fair and reasonable proposals? I do not recognize the necessity for a union, but I believe that in deference to the wishes of the British Government a scheme so arranged would be accepted. That was what I meant when I wrote the article referred to the other day; but I meant more—I meant that our relations with the parent country should be strengthened
What is there in the Quebec scheme to prevent a separation? I may be mistaken, but I thought I could see in England, during my recent visit there, a desire to get rid of these Colonies, and an impression that by Confederation England would be relieved of a portion of the expense which we cause at present. I was sorry to see in high quarters a desire that these Colonies should be got rid of ; and I apprehend seriously that Confederation, pure and simple, is only another name for independence. I wish to guard against that ; my desire is that British America should remain British America I wish to strengthen our relations with the parent state, and I believe that the only mode of accomplishing that is by having representation in the Imperial Parliament. With that connecting link we would always form a part of the Empire. What is it that makes California or Texas a part of the American Union? It is their representation in Congress and in the Senate. Take away that representation, and how long will they form a part of the Union ? They are each large enough and far enough away to set up for themselves.
The time may come when these Colonies will be required to come forward in defence of the mother country ; and if I were an Englishman I would never consent to any step approaching independence. I saw a calculation the other day which showed that the coal fields of Great Britain, upon which her enormous prosperity to so great an extent depends, will be exhausted in about 112 years, but at the present rate of consumption that period would probably be reduced to fifty years, and America being in possession of the coal mines of Nova Scotia, of her fisheries, and of her maritime facilities, would become immediately the first maritime power in the world. Looking to her manufacturing interests alone England should preserve the colonies, and f she would make them a part of the Empire, the great field of manufacture might be transferred from the old world to the new.
Looking at the matter as an Englishman, I would say, suppose Confederation takes place and the Province: become independent their connection with the mother country is gone, and what if annexation should follow ?— Suppose America were to ally herself with Russia. and she has strong proclivities in that direction, even the safety of the British islands. would be imperilled British statesmen should view the matter in the light of expediency, and instead of endeavoring to get rid of as on account of our expensiveness, they should draw us nearer to England, making us a part of the Empire, and giving us representation in her Parliament.
Any scheme wanting that element will. I believe, be defective, and any scheme which does not improve our relations with the Mother country will certainly eventuate in independence. Suppose that by the repeal of the reciprocity treaty Canada should […]
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[…] become impoverished and, as was said the other day, that she should come begging for annexation and that we were connected with her, what security would we have for our British connection, I repeat that I am opposed to any scheme of union that will not contain a provision for an improvement in the relations of the Empire.— Looking at it from an English point of view it will be seen that the Colonies having separated from the parent state the Empire will become, to use a common phrase, demoralized, and its extent will be confined to the limits of the British Islands. That is the view in which the question should be regarded by British Statesmen.
By such a scheme as that which I have proposed the onus of a. settlement would be thrown on those who really oppose it That is the mode in which I would approach the question of union,—I would be willing to advocate such a cause if the subject be pressed upon us, but I have yet to hear the first substantial argument in favour of Confederation. If the policy of union be pressed upon us by the Imperial Government let us labour to procure such a scheme as will be acceptable to the Colonies, — let it be a union of the hearts and wills of the people not one forced upon them.
We were elected for a different purpose,—the questions before the people at the time when we were elected were violations of law and order, questions relating to retrenchment, to the suffrage, the question of turning out of office one set of gentlemen who had held power for four years. The question of a change in their constitution was therefore not before them. It would be a rash thing on the part of this legislature to say that the men elected to carry out the “well understood wishes of the people ” should ratify a scheme of union against the repeated protests which have been made. if we are to be united let us approach the question in a right spirit, and not in the tone of temper which was indulged in the other day. Looking at the great future of these Provinces let us consider, not only what would be best for us, but what will be best for our children coming after us.
REPLY OF HON. PROVINCIAL SECRETARY.
Dr. Tupper said :—The hon. gentleman has raised a question of such deep importance and interest to the people of the Province that I feel it my duty, as a. member of the Legislature, to take immediate notice of the observations which has fallen from him. When an hon. gentleman undertakes, in the face of this Legislature, to lead the public sentiment of this country on a question of deep import to the whole Province, it becomes necessary that he should place himself in a position to receive the confidence and respect of the members of the House, and the people they represent. I think it there is a gentleman in this Legislature—I will go further and say if there is a gentleman in this country, who, by his own conduct, has forfeited all claim to the respect and confidence of this House in relation to a great question of public policy, it is the hon. member who has just sat down, and I shall feel it my duty to put briefly before this House and country the grounds up on which I assume the responsibility of making this assertion.
The hon. member has just stated to the House that he has yet to hear the first argument in favor of Union between these Provinces of British North America. I ask this House what are they to think of a gentleman claiming the position, not of a leader of a party, but even of an honest and straight-forward representative of this legislature, who will dare to utter such a sentiment as that, when they know that here recorded in the public journals of the country is the declaration of that hon. member, as a statesman, as a member of Parliament, as a member of the Executive Council, asking the House to confirm the declaration which he had made, that so great and so many were the advantages of a. union of British North America, that the time had arrived when it was necessary to clothe the Government of the country with power to deal with the question? (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Annand—No, no!
Dr. Tupper—The hon. member may deny what he likes. It is not a. question of affirmation or denial. The journals under my hand have only to be opened, and there upon the page stands the indelible record that no denial will wipe away, by which the hon. member committed himself to the policy of a Union of British North America.
Mr. Annand—Will the hon. gentleman turn to the journals?
Dr. Tupper—I shall turn to them for the hon. gentleman’s satisfaction as he seems to have a very short memory, and show him the resolution, and the action of the government in relation to it. He, as a member of the Cabinet, actually initiated the policy of a Union of British North America—he called not only the attention of the House to the subject, but asked the several governments of British North America to hold such a Convention as would ascertain the best mode of dealing with the question. What are we to think of a gentlemen who, having come forward as a member of the government and affirmed such a principle as that, and obtained the support of the House to that principle, now attempts to insult the intelligence of the people of this country by telling them, years afterwards, ” that he has yet to hear the first argument in favour of a Union of British North America.”— He has professed respect for the British Government—but he has trampled down the authority of the government under his feet. I ask him to read the despatches which have emanated from the Imperial Government, and, if they are entitled to such respect, do they not contain arguments enough in favour of a Union of British North America?
I have shown you in the outset that the hon. member has treated the Legislature as devoid of ordinary intelligence when he has under— taken to say that the action to which he invited the attention of this House on a former occasion was invited dishonestly by him. Are we or are we not to suppose that the views and sentiments which he placed before the Legislature then were entirely at variance with those he actually held? If the hon. member had told us that like a weathercock be shifted with every changing breeze—that he changed his views from hour to hour, then I could feel that though his views were unworthy of respect, […]
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[…] yet he had not attempted to insult the intelligence of the House. The hon. member has a policy for every day in the week—if he has not a public policy of his own he is the mouth-piece of every changing wind that blows.
The hon. member has referred to a question which is at this moment engaging the attention not only of the Legislature, but of the best minds not only in this Province, but in the whole Empire, and that is, the defence of the country. He felt, in view of the prominence this question has now assumed, that it was necessary that he should show to the House how he proposed to deal with it. He says we would he exposed to simultaneous attack, and therefore Union would be of no avail, inasmuch as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Canada would have each to defend themselves. The Government of which he was a member, the delegates and representatives of that Government, did not state that the Union of British North America would be of no avail for the security of Nova Scotia. Is he not bound by the public record of his views, given as a member of the Government, that the citadel of Halifax was insecure without an Intercolonial Railway, which would enable Canada at the hour of need to come to the rescue of this Province? Then the hon. member must show this House that he can hold these sentiments one day and change them the next, and at the same time ask the Confidence of any man that sits on these benches. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Annand: I referred to the Intercolonial Railway as a valuable measure of defence.
Dr. Tupper: I would ask the hon. member when he comes here with his story of simultaneous attack, whether 250,000 souls in New Brunswick and 350,000 in Nova Scotia are as secure from the possibility of invasion as four millions of people sustained by the mightiest Empire in the world? Is not his story of simultaneous attack then swept away? But I will turn that hon. gentleman to his own recorded declaration in another place. The Morning Chronicle, which has long been the property of the hon. member, was edited for years by a gentleman in the other branch of the Legislature, and it is well known that a change was suddenly made in the editorial management of that paper. It was wrested from the hands of the gentleman in question, and the sole responsibility of editorship was assumed by the hon. gentleman who has just sat down. The hon. member felt that the question of defence lay at the very threshold.
On the platform, in the press, and in the House he has proposed that the Legislatures of all British North America should pass laws by which they would supply the means to render defence practicable. He has proposed that laws should be passed under which the man on whom might rest the responsibility might draw the very last man from one Province for the defence of the other. Who is there that does not know that, having propounded that policy—giving the authority to draft our people to a power in another Province over whom we had no control—then, in the same paper, he held up, as a bugbear to frighten the people against Confederation, that they would under Confederation be dragged away from their homes for the defence of Canada. When I feel that the hon. member propounds statements that are so entirely antagonistic, I feel that it is right that I should expose him, and Show the House and country how worthless are any views he may offer. I ask him, too. whether, feeling the deep importance of this question of defence, he did not propose the following mode in the pages of his journal, a year ago last January :—
“We would provide for the defence of the Empire by a general tax, equally levied by an Imperial statute all over the Empire. This might be either a tax on property, on polls. or on imports, to take precedence of all other taxes, and to be paid into the Imperial treasury. About £28,000,000 are annually required for naval and military expenditure. A property tax, if that were preferred, would raise the whole amount. But if it was thought better to collect the £28,0.000 upon imports, the commerce of the Empire would yield the whole without any portion of it feeling the burthen.”
” Is there a Novascotian that would not, pay his portion of this tax cheerfully, and turn out, with arms in his hands, to defend the Empire besides? Is there one who will not cheerfully pay pound for pound with the Canadians, or with his fellow subjects in any other part of the Queen’s dominions? Here is a scheme of National Defence, of which a statesman need not be ashamed, and our public men could not be much better employed than in pressing it on the notice of Her Majesty’s Government.”
The man who has made the bold proposition, that we should pay pound for pound with those who live in Manchester and London, whose representatives in Parliament control the expenditure of this money—this man who has proposed to levy this sum of money—that is, to place a burthen upon our shoulders by an Imperial Statute, for the benefit of the Imperial Treasury—has, at the same time, in order to embarrass this great question, urged upon the people that they must reject Confederation, because they will have to pay a few cents of additional taxation. Am I not right, standing as I do on the threshold of the greatest constitutional changes,—on the threshold of a question, the rightful decision upon which, I believe, is to decide our very existence as British subjects, to call your attention to these facts, and ask you whether the hon. member does not occupy the humiliating position of having propounded, from day to day, on every feature of this subject, views as antagonistic to each other as night is from day.
The hon. member asks how is Union to help our defence? I shall give him an authority which he may treat with contempt, but I doubt if there is any man in this Legislature beside himself that will endorse the statements that he has uttered to-day. The hon. member says he is prepared to yield the most respectful deference to the opinions of Her Majesty.— Where is his respect when he tramples down such a despatch as this and tells you that he, though the originator of this great question, has not, down to this hour, heard a single argument in favor of it. The Imperial Government said on the 24th day of June, 1865:—
” You will at the same time express the strong and deliberate opinion of Her Majesty’s Government that it is an object much to be desired that all the British North American Colonies should agree to unite in one Government […]
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[…] In the territorial extent of Canada, and in the maritime and commercial enterprise of the Lower Provinces, Her Majesty’s Government see the elements of power, which only require to be combined in order to secure for these Provinces, which shall possess them all, a place among the most considerable communities of the world. In the spirit of loyalty to the British Crown, of attachment to British connexon, and of love for British Institutions, by which all these Provinces are animated alike, Her Majesty’s Government recognize the bond by which all may be combined under one Government. Such an union seems to Her Majesty’s Government to recommend itself to the Province on many grounds of moral and material advantages —as giving a well-found prospect of improved administration and increased prosperity.
But there is one consideration which Her Majesty’s Government feel it more especially their duty to press upon the Legislature of Nova Scotia. Looking to the determination which this country has ever exhibited to regard the defence of the colonies as a matter of Imperial concern, the Colonies must recognize a right and even acknowledge an obligation incumbent on the Home Government to urge with earnestness and just authority the measures which they consider most expedient on the part of the Colonists with a view to their own defence.
Nor can it be doubtful that the Provinces of British North America are incapable, when separate and divided from each other, of making those just and efficient preparations for national’ defence which would be easily undertaken by a Province uniting in itself all the population and all the resources of the whole.”
I will admit, for the sake of argument, that Her Majesty’s Government—composed of the greatest military and political minds in the world—which have spent millions upon millions in our defence, are ignorant upon the subject. I will admit that the hon member’s opinion is worthy of more consideration than theirs; but there is not an intelligent man in Nova Scotia today that will not then admit that our successful defence rests on the Union of British North America. When Her Majesty’s Government have arrived at the conclusion that this most vulnerable point in the Empire is only to be placed in a. position that will enable England to unite successfully with us in the defence of these Colonies by this Union—that, our future security depends upon the acceptance or rejection of Union—that this is a question of Imperial concern, since the honor and integrity of the mother country are involved in the security of every portion of the Empire; when we are told all this by those who have the best right to advise us, I ask the hon. member whether he has to hear the first argument in favor of Union—whether her Majesty’s subjects on this side of the Atlantic should not be prepared to meet the views of the Parent State, and adopt such a policy as will enable her to co-operate successfully with us in measures to defend British North America.
The hon. member rose to correct me’ in relation to the Intercolonial Railway. He says that railway should precede the Union. What has been the past history of the Intercolonial Railway? The hon. member himself has laboured for twenty years to obtain the construction of that work. Other public men of all parties have exhausted every means, going so far as to place a burthen upon our shoulders beyond the capacity of the country to bear, for the purpose of securing the railway; but all to no purpose. Every scheme melted away like the “baseless fabric of a vision,” and there is not the vestige of a chance to get an Intercolonial Railway except by that means that secures Union. When the hon. member stated that the Railway which this Union will give us was essential to the security of Halifax, he only said what every man feels. Situated as we are in the presence of a gigantic power, the only security that this county can have is to be found in the fact that the invader does not trample down the rights and privileges of 330,000 people, but of four millions of freeman bound together by the closest political and commercial sympathy, and protected by the greatest nation in the world. There is not a thoughtful man in this country, whatever may be his opinion as to the advantages in industrial an commercial aspects, who will not feel that as regards our security, our immediate Union is not only desirable but absolutely necessary.
I use the term IMMEDIATE UNION with a full appreciation of its significance.— His Excellency has laid on the table the Despatches in relation to the Fisheries. Is there a member in this House who does not feel what is the meaning of the silence ot the British Government on the subject. The Imperial Government have been told that the territorial rights of British Americans are about to be invaded—that they have every reason to believe that the hour is approaching when our soil is to be desecrated by liberties being taken with it by foreigners. The fishermen of the United States are fitting out, and in the Senate of the county public men are coming forward and saying that the fishermen are determined to come upon our fishing grounds and asking the government to protect them by a fleet.
Who is there then, that does not feel the attitude which we occupy to-day, when having implored Her Majesty’s Government months ago, for the means of protecting our territory, at this hour we are unable to put before the House and country the statement that the are prepared to assume that responsibility? The Imperial Government are evidently waiting to see whether we are prepared to adopt the advice which she was bound in our interests to offer.— They have emplored us time and again to combine and put ourselves in a position in which they can efficiently defend us; and they are waiting to see whether we shall respect their advice before involving Britain in a war with a great power. The hon. member for Richmond called attention to the fact, that some 400,000 desperate men, united by the deepest hatred of British institutions, and assisted by the sympathy of a powerful people, stand in a position to do everything that they can to foster and create a collision between the United States and Great Britain, if they do not attempt an invasion themselves. It is no secret that that organization have taken measures to fill the fishing vessels with men who are determined to provoke collision between the two countries. In view of circumstances like these, is it not time for every loyal subject to lay aside all party and personal considerations and unite […]
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[…] for the purpose of preserving the rights and liberties which we now enjoy?
The hon. member says that the Delegates are bound to the Quebec scheme. I shall be prepared to answer at an early day the question put by the hon. member for Richmond , and I am only surprised that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Annand) should not have awaited that answer before addressing the house as he has to-day. I tell the hon. member that this was the obligation that rested upon every gentleman that was engaged in that Quebec Conference; it was by every constitutional and honorable means in his power to endeavor to bring about the great results that that scheme proposed to accomplish. I ask him what is the position of this question to-day? Has it not changed in its aspect since the House was called together at this present session? Last year an appeal was made to the people of New Brunswick, and an overwhelming majority was returned opposed to the Quebec scheme; but what has taken place since? No one can believe that so great a change has suddenly taken place as we know has actually occurred.
The fact is this: the question was referred to the people at the polls; but is there a man here who believes that the election was decided squarely and fairly on the question of Union? No, the Government had been in power for ten years; they had drawn upon themselves that unpopularity which all Governments must expect to encounter, conduct the public affairs as they may. The opponents of Confederation, combined with the great body of those who were determined at all hazards to have a change of government, and the result was that an immense majority was apparently returned against Union with Canada. What has occurred since? This Government, thus brought into power by the action of the people at the polls, have modified their opinions on Confederation through the force of circumstances, and influenced by the legitimate power and influence of the British Government, have come forward, and in the Speech at the opening of the session propounded a policy of Union of British North America. It is not a matter of doubt that whether a dissolution takes place or not, or whatever may be the result of the vote of no-confidence that has been moved, and on which a discussion is proceeding, New Brunswick is prepared with an unanimity that cannot fail to produce the deepest impression on the mind of every man to come forward and accept the policy of the British Government, and accomplish a union of British North America.
The hon. member took occasion to outline a scheme. He has entirely abandoned his policy of yesterday. In the journal which he has seized for the purpose of writing down Confederation, he has had as many policies on this as he has in relation to everything else, and it is only the other day that he took the attitude that he and the opponents of confederation would not propound any scheme whatever. Let me invite the attention of the House to the paragraph from his paper which was read by the hon. member for Inverness , and ask whether he (Mr. Annand)has yet to hear the first argument in; favour of’ a Union Of British North America. On the 24th January, 1866, he says:
“And what then? Are we indifferent to the future of British America? Have we arrived at the conclusion that nothing should be done? That we can remain forever in our present condition? On the contrary, while we claim that these Colonies, at all events the Maritime Provinces, never can be bettered by any change in their political situation, we feel that they cannot, in the very nature of things, always continue as they are. The may, it is true, go on for years, and enjoy the r present prosperity, but after all the time must come when they will be required to form new relations, whether with each other and the Mother Country will largely depend upon the exercise of great tact, wisdom, and forethought on the part both of British and Colonial statesmen.”
“But it is because we feel that we must, sooner or later, make our choice between the mother country and the United States, that we desire to see this question of Colonial Union, now that it is fresh in the minds of the people, set at rest; it is because we earnestly and fervently pray that our connexion with England, instead of being weakened, shall be strengthened, that we repeat the opinion uttered two months ago, that, with the sanction of the Crown, a new Convention shall be held for the purpose of considering the future of British America—what are to be the relations of these Provinces with each other, what their relations with the mother country, and what guaranties will be required to secure the unity of all.”
In the face of this declaration on made in January last—that the time had come when the people of this colony had to chose between connection with the United States of British North America or connection with Great Britain— he now undertakes to tell you that he has yet to hear the first argument in favor of Union.
I ask the hon. member whether leading minds of these Provinces have not assembled already to confer on this question of Union.
Dr. Tupper—Did not the Government act in good faith when they undertook to deal with the question, as one entirely apart from party politics? When they invited Mr. Howe, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Locke, Mr Archibald and Mr. McCully to combine with them? If there were gentlemen in either end of the Legislature that stood in more deep and strong antagonism to the present Government than others, they were the two gentlemen who co-operated with us on this great question. The hon. member may say we should have selected him. Why, he would not have reached Windsor before he would _change his’ opinion half a dozen times.— (Hear, hear.)
Why he would have signed his name to a declaration of his opinions, and repudiated it two months after. All that could be done in the interests of the people was done, and although the” Quebec scheme may not meet with general concurrence, yet I believe, that the interests of the Maritime Provinces were pressed to the last point to which they could be carried in an Intercolonial Conference, and the only means by which an improvement could be obtained would be by some measure that would bring an independent arbitrament to bear . The hon. member has expressed great respect for the Imperial Government, and yet he degrades Her Majesty’s Ministers by saying that men recognized as the most honorable and able in the civilized world—men of […]
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[…] the most thorough education, calm judgment, and inflexible integrity—would be mere children in the hands of the Canadian Delegates.
He has placed the statesmen of the Maritime Provinces in a position so contemptible that if he is to be believed it would be better that the people should throw themselves, upon the generosity and fairness of Her Majesty’s Government, than send Delegates who will be so insignificant in the presence of three or four, Canadians, and unable to obtain justice at the hands of the most excited. and disinterested tribunal in the world.
The hon. member says he is against Union Of what use will he then be in a Conference? His only object would then he to obstruct and defeat that which. is the desire of the overwhelming body the people to-day—to carry out the wishes of Her Majesty’s Government. The hon. member holds a Conference in British America, and then carries us across the water, and then sails back again. Having got the Conference to unite in a common plan— and it would take ninety-nine years to effect it if the honorable member had his own way—and having obtained the acquiescence of Her Majesty’s Government, he would bring it back for an appeal to the people. I do not intend to say much just now on this point.
I have most unswerving confidence in the patriotism and intelligence of the people of Nova Scotia and of British North America, but I tell the hon. member as much clamour as he has raised, there is not a man in this House that knows better than himself how impossible it is get a direct verdict on a question like this. The facts in connection with New Brunswick prove that they did not get a verdict on Confederation pure and simple. He knows right well that let any government, I care not what party, even the remarkable government of which he was a member, go to the country and instead of being able to obtain an issue on any measure, however loudly they may put it, they have to face the opposition of every man that wishes to displaces them. They have to meet many of their own former friends and supporters whose hostility they have provoked in some particular question.
Is there any one here who does not know that were this government to appeal to the people on the question of Confederation to-morrow so far from their getting an answer on that question they would have to meet first? a formidable combination for the purpose of placing the gentlemen opposite in power, and again, those who were supporters of the Administration—and thousands there are of able and influential supporters so situated—entirely at variance with. them: on the great question of, Assessment for educational purposes— Therefore I would defy you in that way to not get a verdict. But I am, not going into that question now. No gentleman who was here in the first session of the House (1864) would dare to say that it is unconstitutional the Parliament to change the constitution. They recorded a resolution by unanimous consent on the journals of this Legislature which authorized the charge of our Constitution without any reference to the people whatever I moved the resolution myself; it authorized the Lieutenant-Governor of this Province, in conjunction with the Governments of the other provinces, to appoint Delegates for the purpose of devising a scheme of Legislative Union for the Maritime Colonies.
There is not man who does not know that this proposition was for a more extreme change in the constitution of this country than the one now proposed. The Quebec scheme proposes to leave to Nova Scotia her own Government and Parliament as far as local questions are concerned, and to have a General Parliament with general powers in reference to matters common to all the Provinces; but the resolution of 1864 was to surrender the entire constitution of the country and take away the seat of Government in all probability from Nova Scotia and place it in New Brunswick, or wherever it might be agreed upon. It provided that scheme of Legislative Union should go into operation and become law—not when it had received the sanction of the people—but the consent of the Provincial Legislatures, and Her Majesty’s approval. With that resolution recorded on our journals is there a man who can presume to rise here and say that it is unconstitutional for the Parliament of the country to change the constitution without an appeal to the people.
Mr. McLelan—The hon. gentlemen knows that the votes was not taken on the proviso that the resolution should not be entered “unanimously” in the journals.
Dr Tupper—Every gentleman who did not record his name against the resolution is committed clearly to the proposition which it contains. The hon. member for Richmond (Mr. Miller) took exception to allowing the resolution to be entered “unanimously.” but it was on different ground He was not in favor of the proposed union—he preferred the larger one; but he did not take exception to the resolution as embodying an unconstitutional principle.
Mr. McLelan—l was opposed to the resolution, but l did not explain it at the time.
Dr. Tupper—Then the hon. member is rather late. What will his constituents think of a member who said nothing on unimportant constitutional question, and three years after comes forward and says he was opposed to it?
The hon member for East Halifax went on to say that when he was in England he saw there existed a great desire to get rid of these colonies. I was a so in England at the same time the hon. member I was there. He will admit that I had as many opportunities as he of meeting and ascertaining the opinions of the statesmen, and people of England from the present distinguished Premier down to the humblest person. I am proud to say, that if that hon. member came away with the belief that there was a general desire on the part of the government and the press; and leading men among the people that England should part with these colonies, he brought back with him an impression totally at variance with those that other gentlemen, either from this or the adjoining Province, received during their visit.
There is no question that there is a party in the House of Commons, familiarly known as the Cobden and Bright party, […]
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[…] sustained by such doctrinaires as Goldwin Smith’ who do not hesitate to say that their policy is to get rid of these Colonies. and I will tell you who strengthen their Lands—feeble as they were. shewn to be when they were struck down by the independent action of the Palmerston Ministry, who unhesitatingly declared that thei[text missing]s was not the policy of the British. government and people. It is the hon. gentleman himself who is now giving weight to that party. It is the press and people of this country who do not hesitate to say that they are prepared to treat with contempt and derision the parental advice of the Ministers of England, given for the benefit of the colonies themselves. The only danger is, if these gentlemen are powerful enough to obstruct the union of the Provinces, and leave it doubtful to the British Parliament whether we do do [sic] or do not desire to have connection with the Crown of the mother country.
The hon. member for Richmond called attention to the significant fact that the New York Herald stated that the object of the Fenian organization was to prevent a Union of British North America. You find that journal inspired by the utmost contempt of British institutions, holding the Fenian organization up to the support of the people of the United States and telling them that the opponents of Confederation deserve their confidence because their policy is a United States policy, and that is to weaken the connection between the Crown and the Colonies. Be this as it may, it is quite apparent that the difficulties that have been thrown in the way of the policy approved and urged upon us by the British government have led the press of the United States to suppose that the reason why these Colonies have refused to accept this policy is because they prefer Annexation to the American Republic to retaining the present connection with the mothercountry. I say therefore that the hon. member never misrepresented the public more grossly than when he declared that there is anything like a pervading desire in Great Britain to get rid of these Colonies Go to the Ministry, the Parliament, and the Press —every thing by which the. public sentiment can be gauged [sic]—and you will find that it is in favour of keeping up the connection and preventing the dignity of the Crown being. tarnished in. the slightest degree.
Where is the man in this House or country that will sustain the policy which he propounds in opposition to this proposed union. The question of representation in the Imperial Parliament was propounded on the floors of this House with an ability and an eloquence such as the hon. member himself knows he has not the slightest pretension to. He knows it was put forth in the most attractive manner that it was possible to put it, but it fell still-born upon the intelligent minds of this country, and never received the slightest favour in Nova Scotia or any other part of British North America. He knows it was only a few years ago that the same eloquent speeches were reprinted and put before the public of England, and down to the present hour not a man, with the slightest pretension to statesmanship, has been disposed to give it a word of encouragement.
I ask, then, in the presence of the grave emergency,—of the dangers that threaten British America—when everything we hold dear is imperilled, is this the time to revive a project which has never obtained any favour among the people of this country ? This same gentleman who considers that 19 of the ablest men that this Province can send to Ottawa would be powerless (though they would constitute a number greater than is found necessary to decide the fate of parties in England), would be satisfied with two votes is a Parliament of 650 members. Suppose we had such a representation, I ask you is it for that Nova Scotians would be prepared to place the enormous and oppressive taxation upon the shoulders that would be required to sustain the army and navy of England, and the expenses of any wars in which the mother country might be engaged?
When on a former occasion I confronted the hon. member with the statement that the Reciprocity Treaty was about to be abrogated, the country will remember that he entertained no such fears. Well the hon. member has proved a false prophet, for the treaty has been abrogated. The hon. member now tells you that the United States do not want these Provinces. I do not require to labour that question. He tells you himself that the United States, if they could grasp this Province, would become the first Naval Power in the world—able to dictate terms to the world. Does he think that eludes the scrutiny of the keenest statesmen to be found in that Country—whose policy is to grasp where they can gain a foothold and extend their dominion.
Therefore I ask the hon. member if he has not himself shown you that there is sufficient inducement for the United States to obtain these Colonies; and I do— not require to take up your time with showing that the only means we have of resisting their encroachments is Union. Therefore let every friend of British institutions, every loyal subject, every man who is not willing to see our rights and privileges torn from us, combine in this great work of elevating these comparatively insignificant Provinces into a higher position in the eyes of America and of perpetuating those institutions which are essential to our happiness and prosperity.
I shall refer, before I close, to a few remarks which the hon. member has made in another place. He has taken a liberty with this house, and proclaimed to the people that there are traitors within its walls—that there are men who have treasonable designs upon the rights and liberties of the country._ He would hold up gentlemen to the execration of the people by one one inflammatory publication after the other. I am now going to make a statement which otherwise I would not feel called upon to make. The hon. member for Richmond, in the exercise of his privileges as an independent member of this house, put a question across the floor to the government in regard to one of the most important […]
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[…] subjec’s [sic] that was ever before the people. I answered as I best could in the position in which I was placed. I listened to the hon. member as he spoke, and although I was unable to agree with him in his opinions respecting one of my pet children, the Quebec scheme, I felt there was a cogency of argument, a reasonableness and solidity in the case as presented to the house, that could not but make a deep impression on the people of this country.
The hon member gave in detail every thought and feeling which he stated has weighed upon his own mind, and which had brought him to his conclusions I am not his judge; I know not what may animate him ; I am quite free to admit that a gentleman may profess one thing and may be influenced by considerations very different to those which he portrays to the house; I can easily suppose that possible after the exhibition we have had to day; but justice to the hon. member for Richmond compels me notwithstanding the strong antagonism that has existed between us, to say here solemnly and deliberately that if he was influenced by any consideration other than that he stated boldly to the House, it was without my knowledge If he was looking to place—to a position in any delegation that might take place hereafter, be has not intimated it to me.
I do not know of it; I am free to assert that he has never exchanged a single word with me to that effect, nor has he down to the present hour. I feel after the manner in which that hon. gentleman has been assailed, it is due to this House that I should make this statement. But from whom does th a charge of treason come? Who is the first man to suspect dishonesty in his fellow ? The man who is himself dishonest! Who is capable of giving the fullest rein to the basest suspicions? The man whose own heart tells him that he could be tempted ! Whoever there is in this House in a position to accuse any of his fellow men of being a traitor, it is not the hon. member for East Halifax. I tell him at this moment the public sentiment of this town. as well as of this House, is outraged by the traitorous declaration made by that hon. member in the open streets in the presence —
Mr. Stewart Campbell—Order, order.
Dr Tupper—Was it a violation of the orders of this House when the hon. member rose here to day and insinuated that the hon. member for Richmond had been bribed?
Mr. Annand—I never said on the floors of this House that an hon member had been the subject of a base bribe.
Dr. Tupper—Nobody could put any other interpretation on the statement he made. I say if there is an hon. member in this House who is not in a position to charge any man with disloyalty, it is the hon member. I tell him more; he is known to have reflected the opinions of other gentlemen—to be in close alliance with those who have occupied positions of public trust—who have recently returned from the United States; and the most intelligent minds in this country are deeply excited at the present moment by the fact that these persons have openly declared that it is impossible for Great Britain to defend us. They feel that if they can indoctrinate the public mind with the sentiment that the safety of these Provinces lies in transferring their allegiance to the United States, the loyalty of our people will be paralyzed by despair. Is it for these men, for a Press which reflects their opinions, to accuse any hon. member of being a traitor? Sir the loyal spirit of my countrymen will repel such base and unmanly fears, and united with each other find a safe position tor these Provinces under the aegis of the British Crown.
Mr. Annand—After the lengthy reply of the hon. Provincial Secretary, in which he exhibited a good deal of temper unprovoked on my past, it will be necessary for me to make a few remarks That hon. gentleman has referred to an organization in this city with traitorous intent.
Dr. Tupper—I said no such thing; I referred to traitorous language being used on the streets.
Mr. Annand—Gentlemen, he said, of high position were endeavoring to weaken the allegiance of this people to the mother country. I ask the hon. member in view of the dangers that he says threatens the country—in the presence of the existing emergency when men of all parties, in all parts of the country are arming to resist the common fee, if it is right for him to come forward to make these rash statements. The people have become so exasperated at the idea of their privileges being swept away, that they are almost ready to come into conflict with those who would deprive them of their rights. Is this, then, the time to excite the people, when you require moderation and calmness? The hon member says that the town has been excited by observations made on the street
In the first place, I did not believe that any hon. member, much less the hon. Provincial Secretary, could allow himself for a single moment to bring up street rumours to this house. But what are the facts? An old and esteemed friend of my own—who differs from me on this question—met me at the corner of the street, and a good deal excited uttered some very extravagant opinions—that the people should be coerced into Confederation; and I, in the spirit of out-Heroding Herod uttered expressions that may be construed into disloyalty, but which passed away with the moment they were uttered. I say the expression was a hasty one —it was drawn forth by equally hasty expressions; and I may add I regret that it was ever made.
The hon gentleman referred to the inconsistency of my position. He charged me with being a weather cock. I am prepared to say that in the presence of this great question my own views, like those at many others,’ have considerably modified The views that l entertain today may be modified as these of the Provincial Secretary himself to-morrow, before any decision on his question is arrived at But I challenge him. in the presence of his House and country. to read from any resolution […]
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[…] passed in the House under a former Government, or from any despatch emanating from the late Government, of which I was a member, that commits me to Union with Canada I might refer to these papers, but I shall content myself at present with challenging. the hon. member to show that there was a member on either side of the House who was committed to any particular scheme of Union. Legislative or Federal, by the resolution to which he referred. What was the object of the resolution at that time? It proposed a delegation should be held with representativeas of the several provinces to consider the question with a view of its being set at rest. It was considered, but so little noticed was it by the delegates at Quebec that a record was not even kept of the proceedings relative thereto. It was set at rest—no one being bound by any resolution.
The hon. gentleman has carried us to New Brunswick and talked of the change of sentiment in that colony. I have to learn that the people of that province are in favour of Confederation—or that they are prepared to unite on any terms with Canada. I believe that they are not. My view of the position is this— that the Government being composed of antagonistic elements does not unite the confidence of the people; but as respects the Quebec scheme the people, I believe are as much opposed to it as ever before But let us pass from New Brunswick to our own Province, and what do we see. What have we had in this country since the question came up, We have had three elections! Has any one of them decided in favour of Confederation of the Quebec or any other scheme! 1 sees before me the hon member for Annapolis (Mr. Ray) who occupies the seat filled by the late leader of the Government, was he returned to go for the scheme?
Nay, was he not elected to oppose it! Again, there is my friend Mr. Hebb, from Lunenburg who in spite of the Provincial Secretary’s exertions, was returned by a two-third majority against Confederation. Again : in the county of Yarmouth’ the government could not get a man to run for them—the feeling there in almost unanimous against Confederation. Every constituency that has been opened since the Quebec scheme’ was propounded, has decided against it, and with the full knowledge that nine tenths of the electors of this Province are opposed to Union, we are invited to change the constitution of the country without an appeal to the people. I am unwilling to assume that we may be compelled by circumstances to accept some scheme of union, and my object in such an event is not so thwart any reasonable wishes that Her Majesty’s Government may have on the subject, but to point out the best mode of arriving at a result that will be less objectionable to the people of this Province than the Quebec scheme. But this is not the time; the question is not sufficiently understood, and the people are not prepared for its acceptance.
The hon. member has referred to the Intercolonial Railway. I have under my hand the speeches made by the Canadian ministers last year in discussing this question. Do we not all know that whilst Nova Scotia and New Brunswick desired the Intercolonial Railway. and were ready to fulfil their part of the obligation, the Canadians on two occasions shipwrecked the great scheme. These gentlemen would now give us an Intercolonial Railway, provided that they can couple it with Confederation? Does it follow that a union of the Provinces is necessary before the Railway can be built! We know it is not.
We know that the sense of the people is against all union with Canada. We all know the character of the public men that have been dominant in that country for very many years. We know that the money of the country has been corruptly squandered by hundreds of thousands—that, they have proved themselves unworthy of all confidence by their action in respect to the Intercolonial Railway. The hon. gentlemen talks about traitors, but let me turn your attention to the character of some of his Canadian friends, members of the government in that province. We find one of the leading spirits an expatriated rebel; another, the Attorney General, had been found in rebellion with arms in his hands; the Minister of Finance was at one time openly charged with Annexation. proclivities ; and another gentlemen is said to be looking towards Washington. And these are the loyal men who are to govern this country in the event of Confederation! With the representation this Province will have, with the tremendous influence that the Canadians will exercise—I would just as soon go into the British Parliament with only two Representatives. There the people of Nova Scotia might expect to obtain some justice, for their representatives would be speaking to a body of noble men, animated by a high sense of honor and justice; while at Ottawa you would be speaking to corrupt men, some of whose arms have. it is said, been plunged up to their elbows in the public chest.
‘The hon member said that both sides of this house were represented at the Quebec Convention.. I think. differently. The Liberal and Conservative sides were represented; but not the two great parties which on this great question divide the people of this country. My desire is, in the event of a new Convention. not to see this house represented as to its political proclivities, but in respect to the position of the question of Confederation in this province. Will the “able statesmen” of British North America say that this question is not now better understood than when they met at Quebec! Will they say that their ability is so great that they were able in the midst of exhaustive festivities, to have a perfect constitution for these Provinces? They might give themselves that credit, but the people of this country do not. This question should not be dealt with hastily.
There is no necessity why his scheme should be forced upon the people; if it is to come, let it come quietly; let the public mind be educated up to it; but if you do not wish to make this country […]
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[…] a second Ireland, to bring these Provinces into inextricable troubles, do not force Union upon them. I believe the people might be educated to accept a scheme of Union at it was just. I believe, influenced by a desire to meet the wishes of the British government, they are ready to make large sacrifices ; but to force the measure upon them without their consent would be a grave; and fatal mistake. It would be fatal to the success of that Union which gentle mon are so anxious to bring about. We know how the Irish Union was accomplished; but I trust no such influences will prevail in this country I can suppose a majority of this House prepared to accept a Union, but unless they have the people behind them, any measure they might pass would not be worth the paper on which it was written. You must carry with you the-sentiment of the people. Even if you are entirely wrong on the question you should defer to their prejudice and give them time to consider the subject calmly and deliberately, but not to force it upon them at all hazards.
Hon. Attorney General—I am curious to know why the hon. member has occupied so much time to-day. Why should he wish to define his position?
Mr. Annand—The hon. member for Inverness made especial reference to me the other day.
Hon. Attorney General—Why could not the hon gentleman wait until the question came up legitimately? Why all this anxiety on his part? If I know anything about the hon member his position was defined before or it remained undefined now. He did not utter a single new idea that 1 have not seen in his own paper time and again. I cannot understand his course unless he feels that his position is untenable; I will only say at present that it looks to me very much as if the hon. gentleman all along had this object in view only wait says he, until, three or four of us who have been opposing Union can be convinced by some means or other, then we are all right. That is the substance of the hon. member’s remarks. If two or three gentlemen could only be induced to assist the friends of Union, then there will be no difficulty about a reference to the people.