“Opinions of the Press and the Combination,” The Globe (28 September 1854)

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Date: 1854-09-28
By: The Globe
Citation: “Opinions of the Press and the Combination,” The Globe (28 September 1854).
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From the Elora Backwoodsman.

A correspondent asks us why we condemn the Macnab administration, when it promises to do all the terraform ministry has promised to do.—we will tell him.

Because Sir Allan has been often tried, and as often found wanting.

Because we are not believers in sudden conversions.

Because we inclined to judge a man’s sincerity in promising for the future by his past conduct.

Because we think it folly to warm a viper into existence.

Because we look upon apostasy as the crime, and treachery is advice to odious to be winked at.

Because true men are not so scarce that a cabinet must be formed without them.

Because we don’t like to place our person life in the hands of a convict.

Because we have no faith in Sir Allan’s profession of honest intentions.

Because we think the offices of the country quite as well filled when held by Reformers as by Tories.

Because we have been taught that you cannot touch pitch without being defiled.

Because we fear that a man who has sold his principles will sell us if he gets a chance.

Because we don’t regard the measures of the late government is perfect.

Because we are not anxious to see a Conservative Secularization, a Conservative Legislative Council, a Conservative Union of the whole B.N.A. Province, and another Conservative Family Compact.

If our correspondent is anxious for a dozen more reasons, he can have them next week. And ash perhaps his own common sense will supply them before then.

(From the Berlin Telegraph)

The reform press has spoken out upon the late ministerial changes, with an unanimity which was to have been expected from the transfer of the government into the hands of the conservatives, and therewith the adjustment, or as we believe the adjournment, of all those great questions, which have agitated the country for the last thirty years. In placing the Clergy Reserves, Elective Council, and other important measures in the hands of their deadliest opponents, just at the time when their satisfactory settlement was anticipated, the surrender to the enemy in the very moment of victory, when such immense issues were at stake, on terms of capitulation which they can with the present constitution of the Upper House so easily in plausibly evade—and for the fulfillment of which we have nothing but promises made at the moment to obtain possession of the Government, and to which the hitherto consistent conduct of their whole lives as a distinct denial, are calculated to excite the profoundest apprehensions in the minds of the people.

We are not of the number who believe in the sincerity of that conversion from the errors of a life time which receives the honors and emoluments of the highest office as a reward for the change of opinion. The conversion of St. Paul while in the midst of his persecution of the Christians was made not by a vision of the five loaves and two fishes, by which the multitude were fed. We already see intimations from the conservative present elsewhere, that their friends of church endowments and conservative principles have nothing to fear from the pretended change of policy adopted by Sir Allan McNab and his colleagues. The intimation is already given out, that although reform measures may be allowed to pass the House of Assembly, they may be defeated and rejected by the Legislative Council. These intimations are not made without authority, and unless the reformers of upper Canada come forth in their mind and give such an intimation of their opinion as cannot be either misunderstood or disobeyed, the hopes of the conservatives will certainly be fulfilled. As to the promise of the new administration to carry out reform measures, they are not worthy of a moment’s consideration—men do not gather figs from thorns nor grapes from thistles—no reliance can be placed upon the pledges of men who for the sake of office having a moment violated all the pledges of their lives. They made their promises in order to obtain place—and nothing but the continued apprehension of an immediate loss of place will keep them true.

(From the Examiner.)

The above protest, we regret, escaped insertion in our last number. It is just what might have been expected from the more independent section of the House. To place the leaders of a minority in power is enough to bring discredit to our constitutional system; and their sudden conversion to the principles of the majority—not from conviction of their truth and value, but in order to get a seat “on the Treasury Benches,” tends seriously to the “demoralization of public men.” The movement cannot, in our opinion, be justified upon any sound principle, constitutional or moral. The resignation of the Upper Canada section of the Ministry was not based upon any party question between Reformers and Conservatives, nor, in fact, upon any question justifying a disruption at all; but, on the contrary, appears to have been a prearranged scheme, formed by Mr. Hincks, to meet the wishes of Lord Elgin and his priesthood, and to avert an impending scrutiny into his own alleged official delinquencies, and probably his impeachment. We saw an outline given of the movement, in a Lower Canada paper, some weeks before the House met, and parties in Upper Canada appeared also to have been aware of it prior to the meeting of Parliament. It is evident, therefore, that the subject had been talked over, and the preliminaries arranged, before the members of the House reached Quebec. As Lord Elgin allowed the Lower Canadian section of the Reform Cabinet to retain their seats in his council, had he professed any just respect for the public opinion in Upper Canada, as recently expressed by the large majority The electors had returned to the Assembly, he would have sent for some other leading man among the reformers when Mr. Hincks and his colleagues resigned, in order that the majority should be represented in his Cabinet. Instead of this, however, he sent for the leader of the minority, and installed the rump of the Old Compact into the highest offices of state, from which public opinion had long since driven them. Mr. Hincks attempts to escape from the odium of having advised Lord Elgin to send for Sir Allan MacNab, but throws the whole blame on His Excellency; but we are convinced that The scheme was concocted between them, to answer, we presume, the double purpose of embarrassing the enemies of Endowments, and securing a safe retreat for the late Premier.

To ward off the universal indignation of the Liberals, and to avert the instant breaking up of the combination, the principal measures promised by the late Ministry are promised by the new Administration. Should this secure for them public confidence? We think not. Constitutional principle—political morality—should drive them at once from power. The giving of Messrs. Ross and Spence is a kind of political hostage to Reformers, at the dictation of Mr. Hincks, forms only a fitting climax to the trick;—the former is Mr. Hincks’s personal friend, a railway protege; the latter a tool, ready to his hand—a man whose extraordinary vanity and love of place and destination seems to have overbalanced his judgment, and shown him to be unfit even to hold an independent position in Parliament. Mr. Hincks was aware, we suppose, that no Reformer of character and experience would condescend to occupy the ignoble position assigned to Messrs. Ross and Spence. The former having a seat in the Upper House, does not require to appeal to the people, but Mr. Spence, in common with his other colleagues—the rotten remnant of the Old Compact—appears to be the bar of the Electors, to be judged as to his fitness to fill a place in the Legislature and Government. Let us have his unbiased opinion of Sir Allan an Mr. Cayley, with whom he has allied himself, contrary to all principle and propriety. In the Warder, of the 22nd August, he says, referring to the then approaching Session;—

“The Tories will be in compact array to oust liberals and regain power. Of course, we are aware that a few conservative members are prepared to vote for secularization when that measure is introduced, but where would the influence of such men ne, if their party returned to power, with such men in the government’s Sir Allan MacNab, the honorable J.H. Cameron, W.B. Robinson, and W. Cayley? Just NOWHERE.”

And yet Mr. Spence, who had never before been in Parliament, within three weeks after writing that opinion, accepts of a seat in a Cabinet with the same Sir Alan, and all his “fossilism”!—with the same W. Cayley!—and appears before the constituency of Wentworth to justify such an abandonment of all principle—such a departure from all propriety!

Mr. Spence intimates through the Warder that “all’s right” in North Wentworth—that has reformed friends are numerous and united. The intelligence and independence of that constituency should be represented by a man of vigorous principle and independence. Having personally respect for Mr. Spence’s talents and views on great questions, we deeply regret his allowing himself to be so easily and so early ensnared. His position we cannot justify. It is insulting to all the tride Reformers in the House—the men who, for half a life-time, and in seasons of difficulty in loss, have fought the battles for popular rights in Parliament—that he should be elevated to one of the highest offices of state so soon as he had set his foot on the floor, and exposed his wares for sale. It is made worse by the fact that his presence in the Council with Mr. Ross is promulgated as a guarantee to Reformers in and out of Parliament that are great measures are safe! The pitiable relation in which he found himself, as sponsor with Christie and Tiffany to the former combinations, might have taught him wisdom in the present [illegible]. We should never [illegible] it possible that Reformers would endure the insult of having John Ross and Robert Spence help up Mr. Hincks as sponsors for the political integrity of Sir Allan MacNab, William Cayley, &c., whom he had chiselled into power to keep out Reformers.

It is somewhat ominous that the coalition meets with the support of the ultra-High church press, and that Mr. Spence, in quoting from it, seems to rely on their support. The Hamilton inserts a special appeal on his behalf, to the electors of Wentworth, and the opinion of the Old Countryman, a paper edited by a recently imported hireling of the State Church—an English parson—a rabid enemy of secularization— he quotes twice in the Warder of the 21st.

Public liberty and legislative morality would, we believe, be greatly subserved by the rejection of every one of the coalitionists at the hustings. The great questions are safe, not with them, but in the strength of the liberal majority in the Assembly.

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