“Parliament Last Night. The Crisis Terminated!” The Globe (23 June 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “Parliament Last Night. The Crisis Terminated!”, The Globe [Toronto] (23 June 1864).
Parliament Last Night
THE CRISIS TERMINATED!
The Result of the Negotiations
The Record of the Discussions between the Government and Mr. Brown
Debate Upon the Explanations
Quebec, June 22
The Speaker took the chair at 8 o’clock, none of the Ministers being at that hour in their places.
Hon. Mr. Brown said that the Ministerial explanations would be made here very shortly, and that Ministers would be in their seats for that purpose at 4 o’clock. He asked that the Speaker do leave the chair till that hour.
Hon. Mr. Holton thought it was desirable that the explanations which would be given, and the discussions which would follow, should not separated by the 6 o’clock adjournment, and he considered, therefore it would be better to adjourn to half-past 7 (Cries of no! no!)
Hon. Mr. Cameron supported Mr. Holton view.
After a short discussion, Mr. Brown’s request was agreed to, and the speaker left the chair till 4 o’clock.
The Speaker resumed the chair at 4 o’clock.
Attorney-General Macdonald moved that during the remainder of the session on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays, there be two sittings, from 8 to 6 o’clock, and form 7 – till adjournment; and on every Government day three sittings, form 11 to 1 o’clock form 8 to 6 o’clock, and form 7,80 till adjournment – Carried
Attorney General Macdonald the said that on behalf of himself and his colleagues he desired to lay before the House a full statement of the negotiations which, as the House was well aware, had been going on every since the defeat of the Government on Tuesday week. To avoid misconception or mistake, a record of the proceedings, day by day, had been carefully prepared. This he proceeded to read as follows: –
“Immediately after the defeat of the Government, on Tuesday night, the 14th, and on the following morning, Mr. Brown spoke to several supporters of the Administration, strongly urging that the present crisis should be utilized in settling for ever the constitutional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada, and assuring them that he was prepared to co-operate with the existing or any other Administration that would deal with this question promptly and firmly, with a view to a final settlement. Messrs. Morris and Pope asked and obtained leave to communicate these conversations to Mr. John A. Macdonald and Mr. Galt. On Thursday, at 8 p.m., just before the speaker took the chair, Mr. John A. Macdonald said to Mr. Brown, while standing in the centre of the Assembly-room, that he had been informed of what he (Mr. Brown) had had any objection to meet Mr. Galt [sic] the matter. He replied “certainly not” Mr. Morris accordingly arranged an interview with Mr. Brown; and on Friday, the 17th June, about 1 p.m. Messrs. Macdonald and Galt called on Mr. Brown at the St. Louis Hotel. Mr. Brown stated that nothing but the extreme urgency of the present crisis, and the hipe of settling the sectional troubles of the Province forever, could in his opinion justify their meeting together with a view to common political action. Messrs. Macdonald and Galt were equally impressed with this, and stated that on that footing alone the present meeting had been invited. Mr. Brown asked in what position these gentlemen came to him – whether as deputed by the Administration, or simply as leading members of the Ministerial party. They replied that they were charged by their colleagues formally to invite his aid in strengthening the Administration with a view to the settlement of the sectional difficulties of Upper and Lower Canada. Mr. Brown then stated that, on grounds purely personal it was quite impossible that he could be a member of any Administration at present; and that even had this been otherwise he would have considered it highly objectionable that parties who had been so long and so strongly opposed to each other, as he and some members of the Administration had been should enter the same Cabinet. He thought the public mind would be shocked by such an arrangement, but he felt very strongly that the present crisis presented an opportunity of dealing with this question that might never occur again. Both political parties had tried in turn to govern the country, but without success, and repeated elections only arrayed sectional majorities against each other more strongly than before. Another general election at this moment presented little hope of a much altered result; and he believed that both parties were much better prepared than they had ever been before to look the true cause of all the difficulty fairly in the face, and endeavour to settle the representation question on an equitable and permanent basis. Mr. Brown added that if the Administration were prepared to do this, and would pledge themselves, clearly and publicly, to bring in a measure next session that would be acceptable to Upper Canada, the basis to be now settled and announced to Parliament, he would heartily co-operate with them, and try to induce his friends – in which he hoped to be successful – to sustain them until they had an opportunity of presenting their measure next session, Mr. Macdonald replied that he considered it would be essential that Mr. Brown himself should become a member of a Cabinet with a view to giving a guarantee to the Opposition and to the country for the earnestness of the Government Mr. Brown rejoined that other members of the Opposition could equally with himself give that guarantee to their party and the country, by entering the Government in the event of a satisfactory basis being arrived at. He felt that his position had been such for many years as to place a greater bar in the way of his entering the Government than in that of any other member of the Opposition. Mr. Macdonald then said that he thought it would be necessary that Mr. Brown himself should in any case be identified with the negotiation that would necessarily have to take place, and that if he did not himself enter the Cabinet, he might undertake a mission to the Lower Provinces or to England, or both, in order to identify himself with the action of the Canadian Government in carrying out the measure agreed upon. It was then suggested by Mr. Brown, and agreed to, that all questions of a personal character and the necessary guarantees should be waived for the present, and the discussion conducted with the view of ascertaining if a satisfactory solution of the sectional difficulty could be agreed upon. Mr. Brown asked what the Government proposed as a remedy for the injustice complained of by Upper Canada as to a settlement of the sectional trouble. Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Galt replied, that their remedy was a federal union of all the British North American Provinces – local matters being committed to local bodies, and matters common to al the to a general legislature, constituted on the wall understood principles of a federal government. Mr. Brown rejoined, that this would not be acceptable to the people of Upper Canada as a remedy for existing evils that he believed the federation of all the Provinces ought to come, and would come about ere long, but it had not yet been thoroughly considered by the people, and that even were this otherwise, there were so many parties to be consulted, that its adoption was uncertain. Mr. Brown was then asked about his remedy, when he stated that the measure acceptable to Upper Canada would be Parliamentary Reform, based on population, without regard to a separating [sic] between Upper and Lower Canada. To this both Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Galt stated that it was impossible for them to accede, or for any government to carry such a measure, and that unless a basis could be found in the federation principle suggested by the report of Mr. Brown’s committee, it did not appears to them likely that anything could be settled. After much discussion on both sides, it was found that a compromise might probably be had in the adoption of the federal principle, either for all the British North American Provinces, as the larger question; enter Canada alone, with provision for the mission of the Maritime Provinces and the North-west territory when they should express the desire Mr. Brown [sic] that the Canadian Federation should be constituted first in order that such actions might be taken in regard to the position of Upper Canada as would satisfy that section of the country, that in the negotiations with the Lower Provinces the interests of Upper Canada would in no case be overlooked. Further conversation ensued, but as the hour of the meeting of the House had nearly arrived, and understanding was come to that the negotiations were such as to warrant the hope of an ultimate understanding, and it was agreed that the fact should be communicated to Parliament and an adjournment until Monday asked for. On Friday evening Mr. Galt saw Mr. Brown, and arranged or an interview next morning, at which Sir E. P. Tache and Mr. Cartier should be present. On Saturday, at 10 a.m., other engagements requiring a change in the hour appointed, Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Galt called on Mr. Brown, and after further discussion, a second appointment was made for 1 p.m., when the gentlemen named, with Mr. Cartier, met in the Provincial Secretary’s room, Sir. E P. Tache being out of town. The consideration for the steps most advisable for the final settlement of the sectional difficulties were then entered upon fully and a general accord seemed to exist that, as the views of Upper Canada could not be met under our present system, the remedy must be sought in the adoption for the Federal Principle, Mr. Brown then requested to have the views of the Administration, as expressed to him, committed to writing for the purpose of being submitted confidently to his friends. The following memorandum was then proposed, and having to be submitted to the Cabinet and to the Governor General, Mr. Brown enquired whether any objection existed to his seeing His Excellency whereupon he was informed that no objection whatever existed. Mr. Brown accordingly waited on the governor General, and, on his return, the memorandum approved by Council and by the Governor General was handed to him, and another interview appointed for 6 p.m., Mr. Brown stating that he did not feel at liberty either to accept or reject the proposition without consulting with his friends: – “Confidential Memorandum – The Government are prepared to state that, immediately after the prorogation, they will address themselves in the most earnest manner to the negotiations for a confederation of all the British North American Provinces, and that waiting a successful issue to such negotiations, they are prepared to pledge themselves to legislation, during the next session of Parliament, for the purpose of remedying existing difficulties, by introducing the federal principle for Canada alone, coupled with such provisions as will permit the Maritime Provinces and the North-west territory to be hereafter incorporated into the Canadian system. That for the purpose of carrying on the negotiations and settling the details of the proposed legislation, a Royal Commission shall be issued, to be composed of three members of the Government and three members of the opposition, of whom Mr. Brown shall be one; and the Government pledge themselves to give all the influence of the Administration to secure to the said commission the means of advancing the great object in view. That, subject to the House permitting the Government to carry through the public business, no dissolution of Parliament shall take place, but the Administration will again meet the present House”. Shortly after 6 p.m. the same parties met at the same place, when Mr. Brown stated, that without communicating the contents of the confidential paper entrusted to him, he had seen a sufficient number of his friends to warrant hi in expressing his belief that the bulk of his friends would, as a compromise, accept a measure for the federal union of Canada, with provision for the future admission of the Maritime Provinces and North-west territory. To this it was replied that the Administration could not consent to waive the larger question. But, after considerable discussion, an amendment to the original proposal was agreed to in the following terms, subject to the approval on Monday, of the Cabinet and His Excellency: – Government are prepared to pledge themselves to bring in a measure next session, for the purpose of removing existing difficulty [text illegible]… Canada, coupled with such provision as will permit the Maritime Provinces and the North West territory to be incorporated into the same system of government. And the Government will seek by sending representatives to the Lower Provinces and to England, to secure the assent of those interest which are beyond the control of our own Legislature, to such a measure as will enable all British North America to be united under a general legislature, based upon the federal principle Mr. Brown then stated, that having arrived at a basis which he believed would be generally acceptable to the great mass of his political friends, he had to add, that as the proposition was so general in its terms, and the advantage of the measure depended so entirely on the details that might finally be adopted, it was the very general feeling of his friends that security must be given for the fairness of these details, and the good faith with which the whole movement should be prosecuted, by the introduction into the Cabinet of a fair representation of his political friends. Mr. Brown stated that he had not put this question directly to his friends, but that he perceived very clearly that this was the strong opinion of a large majority of them, and that his own personal opinion on this point, to which he still adhered, was participated in by only a small number. Messrs. Macdonald, Cartier, an Galt replied that they had, of course, understood in proposing that Mr. Brown should enter the Government that he would not come alone, but that the number of seats at his disposal has not been considered by their colleagues. Mr. Brown was requested to state his views on this point, and he replied that the Opposition were half the House, and ought to have an equal influence in the Government Messrs. Macdonald, Cartier, and Galt said this was impossible, but they would see their colleagues and state their views on Monday. On Monday, at half-past ten a.m., Messrs. Macdonald, Cartier, and Galt called on Mr. Brown, at the St. Louis Hotel, and stating that Sir. E. P. Tache had returned to town. Mr. Brown accompanied them to the Provincial Secretary’s room, when Mr. Brown having been asked to explain how he proposed to arrange equal representation in the Cabinet, replied that he desired t be understood as meaning four members for Upper Canada and two for Lower Canada, to be chosen by the Opposition. In reply Messrs. Cartier and Galt stated that as far as related to the constitution of the Cabinet for Lower Canada, they believed it already afforded ample guarantee for their sincerity; that a change in its personnel would be more likely to produce embarrassment than assistance, as the majority of the people of Lower Canada, both French Canadians and English, had implicit confidence in their leaders, which it would not be desirable to shake in any way; and that in approaching the important question of settling the sectional difficulties, it appeared to them essential that the party led by Sir E. P. Tache should have ample assurance that their interests would be protected, which it was feared would not be strengthened by the introduction into the Cabinet of the Lower Canada Opposition. Mr. Macdonald stated that as regarded Upper Canada, in his opinion the reduction to two of the number gentlemen in the Cabinet who now represented Upper Canada would involve the withdrawal of the confidence of those who now support them in the House Assembly, but that he would be prepared for the admission into the Cabinet of three gentlemen of the Opposition, on its being ascertained that they would bring with them a support equal to that now enjoyed by the Government from Upper Canada. Mr. Brown asked in what manner it was proposed the six Upper Canada Minister should be selected – was each party to have carte blanche in suggesting to the head of the Government the names to be chosen? To which Mr. Macdonald replied, that as a matter of course he would expect Mr. Brown to be himself a member of the Administration, as affording the best, if not the only guarantee, for the adhesion of his friends; and that Mr. Macdonald, on Mr. Brown giving his consent, would confer with him as to the selection of Upper Canada colleagues from both sides who should be the most acceptable to their respective friends, and most likely to work harmoniously for the great object which alone could justify the arrangement proposed. Mr. Brown then enquired what Mr. Macdonald proposed in regard to the Upper Canada leadership. Mr. Macdonald said that, as far as he was concerned, he could not with propriety, or without diminishing his usefulness, alter his position; but that he was, as he had been for some time, anxious to retire from the Government, and would be quite ready to facilitate arrangements by doing so. Of course he could not retire from the Government without Sir E. P. Tache’s consent. Mr. Brown then stated that without discussing the propriety or reasonableness of the proposition, he would consult his friends and give an early reply. On Tuesday, the respective parties being occupied during the forenoon in consulting their friends, a meeting was held at 2 p.m. at which there were present Sir E. P. Tache, Mr. Macdonald, Mr. Cartier, Mr. Galt, and Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown stated that his friends had held a meeting, and approved the course he had pursued and the basis arrived at and authorized him to continue negotiations. Messrs. Macdonald and Cartier also said that they had received satisfactory assurances from their friends. Mr. Brown then stated that it was not for him to consider what course he should pursue, entertaining, as he still did, the strongest repugnance to accepting office. A further meeting was appointed for half-past eight p.m. at which the details and his friends accepted office, were discussed at much length. Mr. Brown contended strongly that the Government should [sic] larger representation in the Cabinet than three members, to which it was replied that the Administration believed it was quite impossible to satisfy their own friends with a different arrangement. Mr. Brown then asked whether he could be sworn in as an Executive Councillor, without a Department or salary, in addition to the thre departmental offices to be filled by his friends. Mr. Macdonald replied that the principle of equality would in this case be destroyed, and he was satisfied it could not be done. Mr. Brown asked whether it was a sine que non that he should himself enter the Cabinet, to which it was replied that, to secure a successful issue to the attempt at the settlement of the sectional difficulties, it was considered that Mr. Brown’s acceptance of office was indispensable. A meeting was then appointed for the following day. On Wednesday, a little after on o’clock, the same parties met when Mr. Brown stated as his final decision that he would consent to the reconstruction of the Cabinet as proposed; but inasmuch as he did not wish to assume the responsibility of the Government business before the House, he proposed leaving till after the propagation the consideration of the acceptance of office by himself and the two gentlemen who might be selected to enter the Administration with him. Sir E. P. Tache and Mr. Macdonald thereon stated that after the prorogation they would be prepared to place the three seats in the Cabinet at the disposal of Mr. Brown.
“J. A. Macdonald”
“G. E. Cartier”
“A. T. Galt”
Atty. Gen. Cartier then read a French version of the above document.
Mr. Holton wished to know what was meant by the expression. “according to the well understood principles of Federal Government.” Was it meant that in a federal Legislature there should be representation according to numbers?
Mr. Cartier said the hon. gentlemen know quite well what was meant by the principles of “Federal Government” and so did his colleague Mr. Dorion, who had several times moved resolutions in favour of the federative system. The details had not been arranged, but he conceived that the principle of federation involved equality in one branch, and that both population and territory should be taken into account in the other branch.
Mr. Dorion thought that with reference to changes which were of the highest importance, and in a crisis like this, which was second to noes ice the Union of the Canadas, as to the recruits portended by it, everything which had been agreed upon should be fully stated. Was the House to understand that as in the United States, there was to be equality in one branch, and representation according to population in the other?
Atty. Gen. Macdonald – Yes. [Cheers]
Mr. Dorion said that according to the explanation of the Attorney General East, in one branch there would be equality of representation, and in the other representation proportionate to the population and territory.
Mr. Cartier said he had already stated his opinion of what was involved in the federal principle.
Mr. Dorion said he had not asked the opinon of the Attorney General East, but wished to know what had been decided by the Government. According to the Attorney General East’s explanations, Lower Canada, having a smaller population but a larger territory than Upper Canada, would have an equal representation.
Mr. Galt – No, no.
Atty. Gen. Macdonald said Mr. Dorion, surely, did not need to be informed of what the “well-understood principles of federal government” were. They were exemplified on this continent, and included – equality in the upper branch of the legislature and in the lower branch – representation based upon population. (Loud cheers). The Atty. Gen. East, however, had properly guarded himself, for he and the member for South Oxford, and himself (Atty. Gen. Macdonald) were all equally opposed to making the assertion of representation by population as equivalent to universal suffrage.
Mr. Brown – Hear, hear.
Atty. Gen. Macdonald continued to say that in the lower branch of the general Legislature there would be representation based on population with the necessary checks required by the interests of property, as provided under the present constitution of this House, where we had representation not according to population, but according to certain rights and territorial divisions.
Some other questions were put by Messrs. Dorion and Holton, as to whether a Federation of all the Provinces or of Canada alone would be prosecuted first. The division of powers between the General and Local legislatures, which elicited from Messrs. John A. Macdonald and Galt the information that the Government intended to be represented at the approaching convention at Charlotte Town, Prince Edward Island, with a view to promoting the federation of all the Provinces, but a measure for the federation of the Canadas would be positively submitted next session if the other objects could not be attained in the meantime ; that the precise division of the powers reserved for the common or sovereign Legislature, and those of the local or restricted Legislatures, had not yet been settled, and all such details would have to be most minutely and carefully considered before a measure would be submitted to the Legislature at its next session.
Mr. Dorion asked whether the Intercolonial Railway was a portion of the scheme.
Atty. Gen. Macdonald said the subject of the Intercolonial Railway was not once mentioned during the negotiations. The subject under discussion was not the construction of a railway, but the change of a constitution.
Mr. Dorion, in reply to the member for South Oxford, said he did not conceive that a public man was at all bound by private or personal relations of friendship, and deterred from doing wat he regarded as his duty. But, notwithstanding that, he (Mr. Dorion) could not help thinking that the member for South Oxford was mistaken in the course he had taken, and that the results he anticipated would not follow from it. For what had that hon. member taken this course. A basis containing only an assertion of a bare principle, and in which no matter of detail was even considered. This was all the hon. member had obtained, and therefore it was, he (Mr. Dorion) believed, that it was a mistake. He would say, however, that he would offer no opposition to the scheme proposed being considered by the House, but he awash had been, and was now, a determined opponent of a federal union of the Provinces. The time might possibly come when it would be feasible, but he certainly did not think that that time was the present. He thought that such a federal union necessarily involved the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, at a cost of four or five million pounds. For what would the Union be worth, with communication between Canada and the Provinces interrupted for five or six months in the year. He had examined the question in all its bearings, and could not see what possible good could be effected now by a confederation of these Provinces. Then, with regard to representation by population in the popular branch of the Federal Legislature, the Premier of the Government, in the other House, had to day sad that that matter was not yet settled, while he (Mr. Dorion) had dragged from the Attorney General East the confession that representation in the lower house of the Legislature was to be based on population. And yet it was already represented in Lower Canada that the Government had made no concession; for La minerve no later than Saturday, said it was the member for South Oxford who had gone to the Government, and that they had received his support without conceding to his views. The events which had recently taken place had thoroughly exposed the hypocrisy of the Attorney General East. For had not that hon. gentleman, who had now joined with the member for South Oxford in the Government, over and over again brought it as a charge against the Liberal party in Lower Canada, that they acted with that hon. gentleman; and also, that they had declared, that something should be done to settle sectional difficulties? The position now occupied by the Atty. Gen. East could not but be regarded with some degree of satisfaction by the Liberal party of Lower Canada, for it showed the hollowness of that hon. gentleman’s former declarations and the insincerity of his whole previous career. (Hear, hear). The position he (Mr. Dorion) would occupy in relation to the changed state of affairs, which must necessarily tend to disrupt all political parties, would be this: – He would consider carefully and thoughtfully any measure which might be brought before the House either by the Government or any member, with the view of getting rid of the sectional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada. At the same time, he had made up his mind upon the question of confederation of the Provinces – that it was impracticable and not required by the country. To that proposition of the Government he could therefore give no assistance. Then, as to his relations with the Ministry as reconstructed, if the member for South Oxford remembered how bitterly he had denounced the Coalition of 1854, he would not think him (Mr. Dorion) imprudent when he said he would not change his seat on the floor of this House. He thought that as long as the leaders of the Administration comprised men who had, among other things, put their hands into the public chest without the authority of Parliament, and who only eight days since had ben convicted of one of the most atrocious offences any Government had ever committed, it would be necessary to have a strong opposition to watch them, even although they were associated with the member for South Oxford whose honesty and integrity no man was more ready than himself (Mr. Dorion) to admit.
Mr. Holton said that although the political relations between the member for South Oxford and himself must necessarily be changes by the step that hon. gentleman had taken, he trusted that those feelings of personal friendship which had so long existed between them would remain undisturbed. He (Mr. Holton) had long been of opinion that the Federal system would be desirable in the government of the British North American Provinces; but he did not believe the time had yet come to carry it into affect. He did not think the feeling of the people ripe for such a change nor could he see what connections there [sic] between the Government had been condemned the other day, and the grave but what he could not help consider speculative, changes in the constitution, which formed the subject of the recent negotiations. He did not wish to manifest any carping spirit nor to treat the mater from a purely partisan point of view – he did not intend to view the measure which might be submitted by the Government as a party question – but it was upon the practical acts of the Administration he would have t pass judgement as well as those who acted with him in Opposition. Upon these practical measures, he would act irrespective of those changes in the far off future which were now contemplated. They had to deal with matter which immediately interested the people of this country, and in doing so, he for one would set as heretofore he had felt it his duty to act; but with regard to the other question, he would deal with it irrespective of party feeling.
Mr. Galt believed that the remarks of the member for South Oxford when they went to the country, would prove his entire justification, and that the people would appreciate the grace crisis which had induced him to bury the recollections of the past. He (Mr. Galt), for one, could say that he had approached the negotiations which the Government had opened with the member for South Oxford, with the utmost sincerity and earnest desire to settle for ever the difficulties which had long embarrassed the country. They had all, he believed entered into them in the same spirit, and if the details of the measure to be submitted did not meet his approval – if they did not, from his point of view, amply protect all interests of both sections – the he would know what course to pursue, and he did not doubt that the member for South Oxford would pursue a similar course if they did not meet his approval from his point of view. He (Mr. Galt believed that the sectional differences could be settled if they set heartily to work to do it. He did not think they should lose sight of the larger object – the confederation of the provinces – which he believed was a most important object to be accomplished. If that, however, could not be immediately obtained, he was quite ready to act with the member for South Oxford, in order to remove sectional difficulties. In doing this, no doubt a sacrifice had been made on both sides. But in view of the great results likely to flow from it, he believed the country would thoroughly approve of what had been done. Why could not the majority, from both sections, come together from motives of patriotism, and endeavour to settle these questions? When that was done then, if they pleased, let them resume their former political positions, and struggle with each other, from party points of view, as they had before done; but in the meantime, let them strive together, harmoniously to settle the grave difficulties which exist, and in at tempting this he was confident they would be heartily supported by a large majority of the people.
Mr. Alex Mackenzie said that while he did not approve of coalitions in general, there were sometimes circumstances of grave difficultly which justified – indeed, demanded- that men of all parties should come together to endeavour to settle them.
Mr. Brown then rose, evidently labouring under the deepest emotion, which for a time almost choked his utterance. He said – Did I conceal from the House, that I feel in all its force the painful position I now occupy, I should be deceiving hon. members. For 10 years I have stood opposed to hon. gentlemen opposite in the most hostile manner it is possible to conceive of public men arrayed against each other in the political arena. I am well aware that in dealing with Ministerial Coalitions, I have used language and spoken in tones such as would forbid my standing in the position I occupy today, with any hope of justifying myself before the country, had the agreement you have just heard read been signed under the conditions usually attached to political alliances. I do not conceal from myself how directly exposed I am to the suspicion, that what I do this day I have done from personal motives from a desire to raise my position in this country (crises of “no, no” from all sides of the House) I am free to [sic], that had the circumstances in which we are now placed been one what less important less serious, less threatening than they are, I could not have approached hon. gentlemen opposite, even with a view to these negotiations. But I think the House will admit, that if a crisis has ever arisen in the political affairs of any country which would justify such a coalition as has taken place, such a crisis has arrived in the history of Canada. (Hear, hear). It is well known that for many years I for one have held that, in consequence of the sectional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada, it was absolutely impossible that the government of this country could be carried on with peace, harmony and usefulness. – that there was but one way of obtaining good government and legislation for this country, and that [text illegible] been proposed by gentlemen opposite, and to which I have acceded. For very many years I have always held the doctrine that, so far as I was concerned, I cared not what political alliances existed; I was prepared to meet any body of men – I cared not of what political party – and join them in a bold and vigorous attempt to settle this question. And how could I possibly do otherwise? Ever since 1851 year after year – I have seen men from my own section of the Province – men of ability, men of high character and enlarged views – coming down here as representatives, filled with the desire and hope of benefitting their country. But again and again, are long, have I seen these very men stripped of all their high aspirations, and compelled either to give up all hope of rising in the councils of their country, or to sacrifice their most cherished opinions at the demand of the Eastern section. And this, though not, probably, to the same extent with gentlemen from Lower Canada. We have two races, two languages, two systems of everything – sl that it has been almost impossible that, without sacrificing their principles, the public men of both sections could come together in the same Government. The difficulty has gone on increasing every year. The large counties in the West have continued to increase in population, until now Upper Canada has 400,000 souls unrepresented in the Legislature, and pays an enormous proportion of the taxation, and yet we have but an equality of representation with Lower Canada, But from the first day that I took my position in this House on this subject – and my hon. friend from Kamoursaka (Mr. Chapais) will bear witness to the fact – while I have always, claimed for my own setion a just share of representation, I still conceded that the feelings of Lower Canada must be consulted, and declared that I was prepared to go with gentlemen from Lower Canada into an honest and fair consideration of all the remedies that could be proposed, and endeavour to find a basis just and equal for both sections. (Hear, hear). That day which I have long expected has now arrived, and I think, had I not listened to the approaches made to me by gentlemen opposite, I would have shown that I was one of the vilest hypocrites that over entered public life Mr. Speaker, I have already said that it was not without great pain that I listened to the approaches made by gentlemen opposite. For many years I have been connected with a [sic] of gentlemen from Lower Canada when I have learned warmly to esteem, gentlemen who stood by me in time of great difficulty, and whose kindness and friendship I hope never to forget. It is most painful to [sic] aye, even to weaken the bonds that have bound me to those gentlemen ; but, Mr. Speaker, party alliances are one thing, and the interests of my country are another (Enthusiastic cheering.) For my hon. friend from Chateauguay (Mr. Holton), I have no terms to express the personal attachment which exists between us, and deeply would I regret were our warm friendship to be diminished from the occurrences of this day. Nothing but the direct proposition to apply a complete and permanent remedy to the sectional lines of the Province, so manfully proposed by the member for Montreal East (Mr. Cartier) and his colleagues, could have induced me to do that which they could feel was in the slightest degree at variance with the relations in which we have stood to each other. But I think my hon friends must feel that I have this justification, that for years past I have urged them to take up this question. I have entreated them to do so with an urgency they may have considered highly unreasonable; and I say unhesitatingly that even up to the last moment, had they given me the [sic] hope that they would go with me in this movement, firmly and steadily would I have continued to [sic] by their aided. But a few weeks ago I moved for a committee to consider the whole sectional question, and I certainly hoped that my hon friends would have gone with me; but when they not only refused to go with me into the consideration of the question, and when they refused to sign the report which was adopted by a large majority of the committee, and which hon. gentlemen opposite did sign, I felt I could not, with a sense of what was due to Upper Canada, refuse the offer of hon. gentlemen opposite to join them in an earnest effort for the settlement of this great question – (hear, hear) – and my hon. friends (Messrs. Dorion and Holton) will do me the justice to say that when the invitation to enter on the discussions that have resulted as we have seen this evening, was first addressed to me, I took the earliest opportunity of finding out whether even then I could hope to receive assistance form my hon. friends; and so soon the first discussion had taken place I west to them as old friends, to do them what I proposed to do, and asked their co-operation in the movement, but without success. I think, at tall events, they must feel that, in taking the course I have taken, I have done nothing to sever those bonds of personal friendship which had so long existed between us.
Mr. Holton – Hear, hear
Mr. Brown – and I hope the day will yet come when they will look at these proceedings in a light to which I am sure their own good sense and high feeling of principle must lead them (hear, hear) – and if my hon. friends on this side of the House from Lower Canada would permit me the liberty of making a suggestion, I would respectfully ask them to look frankly and dispassionately at the position in which we stand. There is not one man in this House who can deny that a great crisis has arisen in the Province; that election has followed election; that one Ministerial crisis has followed another, without bringing any solution for the difficulties in carrying on the government of the country; and if I might address an appeal to my hon. friends, it would be to go with us to the grave consideration of this question and give us a generous forbearance. We have asked you to pledge yourselves to nothing. We have not asked you to endorse our measure; all we propose is to place the result of our labours before you at the earliest moment, and then leave you to judge whether it is a measure you can adopt or not. I pray my hon. friends to think of the deep importance of the issues at stake in this matter, and to consider whether it is not worthy of our most earnest efforts to try if we really can find no solution for the difficulties which have so long and so threateningly beset our country. When we look at the long record of able public men who have been sacrificed by the system under which we have been governed; when we look back on the discords and agitations of the last ten years, I do say that if we can by any means find a solution for our difficulties, every man with the slightest stake in the country will have cause to be grateful to those who accomplish it. (Cheers). Can they fancy it is to gain anything personal any of us have taken this coalition? Can it be in any shape an object of ambition, to sit down in the same Cabinet with gentlemen to whom you have been opposed for a life-time, or to stand in opposition to old friends with whom you have acted cordially for years? Nothing but a most stern sense of duty could have brought me into such a position. I have struggled to avoid entering the Cabinet. I wished to stand outside, and give hon. gentlemen opposite that loyal and hearty aid which I think every true Canadian is bound to give them, in bringing our sectional difficulties to a permanent settlement. In this I was overruled. I Have been forced to accept office against my wishes and to the serious injury of my personal interests; and I think I am in a position to say to every hon. member of this House – let us try to rise superior to the pitifulness of party politics in the interests of our country; let us unite to consider and settle this question as a great sectional [six] in a manner worthy of us as a people. (Enthusiastically cheers.) I ask hon. gentlemen not to criticize too narrowly [sic] early, but to give us the short time we demand for the preparation of our scheme, and when it is before the House then let them try it by its merits – if we are to be condemned let us be condemned. And to my hon. friends from Lower Canada, who may be told that Mr. Brown has gained an advantage – that Upper Canada may get too much – I entreat that they will listen to no such insinuations. There is not the slightest desire for undue advantage, and everything that is done shall be done openly and above board. I am sure I speak the sentiments of every one who is a party to the agreement, in saying that we have had no desire in becoming parties to it, to attain any object but a just settlement of our difficulties, and the elevation of our country out of its present distracted position. (Cheers). Mr. Speaker, I do not hesitate to confess my anxiety that the course I have taken shall be fully understood beyond the walls of this House. In the remarkable vicissitudes of the years I have been in public life, if there has been any one thing that has specially sustained and strengthened me in the many difficulties I have had to contend with, it has been the conviction that I could not go into one country of Upper Canada where I would no find very many of the intelligent and right-thinking freeholder ready to greet me with a hearty confidence and good will – ready to tank me with generous warmth, for what they are partial enough to deem my honest services to the country. I readily confess I am jealous of the confidence of these generous friends, and deeply indeed would I regret that the course I take today should be taken by them misinterpreted. Where the whole facts of the case are understood, I fear not the verdict of the country. Did I do so, I would be false [sic] the lessons of my own experience, for in the long course of twenty years of great political vicissitudes, I gave invariably fond that the sound common sense of the people of Upper Canada has never been mistaken where there was truth and sincerity. I believe that the country will clearly understand that the alliance which has been formed between the gentlemen opposite and myself, and the friends who will enter the Cabinet with me, is not a common political alliance for ordinary political purposes, but that it has been brought about by the extreme urgency of the dead-lock which has almost arisen in our affairs, and by the proposition made by the Attorney General East – in the most frank and manly manner inviting my co-operation in finding a solution for these difficulties. It is on that ground, and that alone, that I put my justification. If the question is asked, how is it that you go in with only three members of your party in the Cabinet? I say that, except for the assistance I would get from the ability and hearty co-operation of the two gentleman who will accompany me, I am so thoroughly satisfied of the sincerity with which [text illegible] this question; that I would have fearlessly gone in by myself to carry it (cheers). I may be told that I am of a credulous disposition. Well, Sir, I would rather have a credulous disposition – I would rather be deceived easily and often, than live constantly in a atmosphere of suspicion. (Cheers). But I am bound to say, if I posses to any extent the acuity of knowing when men are sincere and when insincere – when men mean to give effect in what they say and when they do not – that from the first moment these gentlemen approached this question I was perfectly convinced that no men could have acted with greater sincerity than these gentlemen were doing (hear, hear). Had I not been most thoroughly satisfied of this I should not have been found standing in the position I occupy today. And one thing I must say. It is little sacrifice to me to agree to this compromise. It is little for the Attorney-General West to accept this compromise. It is comparatively little even for the member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Galt) to accept this compromise. But it was a great thing, a most bold and manly thing, for Sir Etienne Tache, and for the member for Montreal East (Mr. Cartier), to take up this question in the straightforward way they have done – frankly admitting that a great evil existed which might be removed. These hon. gentlemen deserve the highest praise for the bold and patriotic stand they have taken – the way in which they placed at hazard their political position to remedy a great evil, – and for the course they have pursued throughout the whole of the negotiations (Hear, hear). I have no fear for hon. gentlemen opposite with regard to the discussion in settling the details. If I cannot get my own way, I shall know the reason why, and the whole argument shall in due time, be submitted to public criticism. When the Bill comes before the House, it shall be with a complete statement of the arguments for and against the several propositions. It may be said that the measure we propose is not in harmony with the views I have long advocated. I have already said that, in urging representation by population, I have never anticipated that that principle, pure and simple, would be carried; but have said that it should be accompanied by provisions for the protection of the local interest of the two sections and I apprehend the basis we have approached is, to all intents and purposes, the basis arrived at by the Toronto Convention of 1859, and by the Convention at Montreal in the same year, of which my hon. friends, the members for Hochelaga and Chateauguay, were prominent members.
Mr. McGee – Yes; substantially the same.
Mr. Dorion – There was nothing then about a Federation of all the Provinces.
Mr. Brown – that may be true what we said at the Toronto Convention was this: – It was unnecessary to enter upon the consideration of all the Provinces, because that was too remote a question to be practically dealt with, although I believe if a vote had been taken on that scheme at the Toronto Convention, it would have been largely supported. My hon. friend Mr. Dorion has represented the matter as if the confederation of all the Provinces is the question the Government is pledged to. I say our position is this: – We are bound to find what would be all the bearings of a confederation of all the Provinces. For myself, I do not think that I am very ill informed as to the politics of this continent, and the social, political financial and commercial relations between the British North American Colonies, but I am free to confess that I am not so well informed as to all the bearings of the question of a union of all the British North American Provinces, that I could at once pronounce a final opinion of that question. We shall go with the convention which is to be held at Charlotte Town, a few weeks hence, and there present our views; and we will go to England and seek the co-operation of the Imperial Government. But as regards the direction which we intend our measures shall take, we must refer hon gentlemen to what is set forth in the document which has been read. One or two hon. members, when the Attorney General West was speaking accepted one of his remarks as implying that this was not to be a Government measure. In the course of the negotiations, the point was raised whether the measure to be introduced should [sic] made a government question – in which way would we get most fairly, sincerely, and justly the feeling of the Legislature? The Attorney General West will remember that we arrived at no final conclusion upon this point. Nothing about it was committed to writing. (Hear, hear). So far as I am concerned. I have gone into the Cabinet expressly for the settlement of this question; and by the settlement of this question, I and the other two gentlemen who go with me shall stand or fall. No man who enters the service of the Crown has a right to fix a limit to the period during which he shall render his services. I do not mean to commit a breach of that rule. But I do not hesitate to say that as our only justification for entering the Cabinet is, that we may thereby obtain a settlement [sic] no longer be advanced by my remaining in the Government. (Hear, hear). I am sure all of us must feel, that if ever there was a grave question submitted to the public men of any country – the question now under consideration is one of that character; and I think we may congratulate our country that we have among our public men on both aides a large number of hon. gentlemen who have shown themselves prepared to sacrifice party ties and personal feelings in order to meet on common grounds of patriotism – and, Sir, I think we may find additional cause for rejoicing at the position we now occupy when we look at the present situation of the great nation alongside of us, arising out of their great sectional difficulty – one of a still graver character than ours, because pecuniary interests were much more deeply concerned in it. If we look, however, at the several interests involved in our present movements – and social question after all affect the mind of a people much more deeply than those which are merely pecuniary – I think we will have much cause for thankfulness, if next session there is, presented to this House a solution for our great difficulties that will be acceptable to the country. (Hear, hear). I do frankly confess, Mr. Speaker, that if I never had any other parliamentary successes than that which I have achieved this day, in having brought about the formation of a Government more powerful than any Canadian Government that ever existed before, pledged to settle and to settle for ever the alarming sectional difficulties of my country, I would have desired no greater honour for my children to keep years hence in their remembrance, than that I had a hand, however humble, in the accomplishment of the work. The hon. gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud and prolonged cheers from all parts of the House, and when the sitting was immediately afterwards suspended for dinner recess, many members of both sections of the Province and from both sides of the House, crowded round him to offer their congratulations.
[Mr. Brown’s speech should precede that of Mr. Dorion, but appears out of its proper place [sic] to the order in which our despatch was received over the wires. At the time of going to press (half-past four o’clock), we had not received the remainder of our report]