“Parliament Last Night”, The Globe (15 June 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Local Constitutions”, The Globe [Toronto] (15 June 1864).
Parliament Last Night.
(BY TELEGRAPH FORM OUR OWN REPORTERS.)
QUEBEC, June 14.
The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock.
On motion of Sir E.P. TACHE, the Bill to amend the Municipal and Road Act of Upper Canada, was read a third time and passed.
A message was received from His Excellency, informing the House that leave of absence had been granted to the Hon. James Morris for the present session.
The adjourned debate on the Temperance Bill being resumed, the Bill, on motion of Hon. Mr. ROSS, was referred back to Committee of the Whole,
Several amendments having been made the Committee rose and reported the Bill as amended.
After a long debate, the report of the Committee was concurred and the Bill was ordered for a third reading to morrow.
QUEBEC, June 14.
The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock.
Mr. BROWN presented the report of the Select Committee appointed to enquire into and report on the important subjects embraced in the despatch to the Colonial Minister, addressed to him on the 2nd February, 1859, by Hon. Messrs. Cartier, Rose and Galt. They begged leave to report that the Committee have held eight meetings, and have endeavoured to find some solution for existing difficulties likely to receive the assent of both sections of the Province. A strong feeling was found to exist among the members of the Committee in favour of changes in the direction of a Federative system, applied either to Canada alone, or to the whole British North American Provinces; and such progress has been made as to warrant the Committee in recommending that the subject be again referred to a Committee at the next session of Parliament.
The following note was appended to the report:—
The Committee differed as to the adoption of this report, and the yeas and nays being called or were taken down as follows:—
YEAS.—Messrs. Cartier, Galt, McDougall, Cameron, Holton, Turcotte, McGee, Chapais, Brown, Mowat, McKellar, and Street.
NAYS—Messrs. J.A. Macdonald, J.S. Macdonald, and Scoble.
Mr. BROWN suggested that the report should be printed with the votes and proceedings.—Agreed to.
Mr. DUNKIN said if he had been present, he would have voted with the nays.
Mr. DICKSON, who had been present at the Committee meeting all the morning, and would have voted yea on the above division, was compelled to leave the committee room to attend an election committee just before the vote was taken.
The following Bills were read a third time and passed:—
To incorporate the Mississaga River Improvement Company—Mr. Morris.
To enable the Art Association of Montreal to establish an Art Union—Mr. Dunkin.
To amend the Act of incorporation of the Canadian Literary Institute of Woodstock—Mr. Mackenzie (North Oxford).
To remove doubts under the will of the late John Gray, in his lifetime of St. Catherines, near Montreal—Mr. Rose.
To amend Act 1, William IV., cap. 56, and to incorporate the Trustees of the American Presbyterian Society of Montreal—Mr. Abbott.
To amend the Act incorporate the Canadian Marine Insurance Co.—Mr. Abbott.
To amend the Act incorporating the Merchants’ Bank—Mr. Abbott.
To grant certain powers to the Canada West Farmers’ Mutual Stock Insurance Company—Mr. Rymal.
To authorize the Incumbent and Church Wardens of St. James’ Church, in the village of Carleton Place, to lease certain minerals in and upon certain lands to the said Church belonging—Mr. Morris.
To incorporate the Fergus, Elora, and Guelph Railway Company.—Mr. Stirton.
To amend the Act of incorporation of the Iberville Academy.—Mr. Dufresne (Iberville.)
To erect the parish of St. Brigitte and certain other localities into local municipalities.—Mr. [text illegible]
To incorporate the town of Napanee.—Mr. Cartwright,
An Act for the relief of the Western Canada Permanent Building Society.—Mr. White.
To change the limits of certain municipalities in the county of Arthabaska.—Mr. J.B.E. Dorion.
To enable the proprietors of islands Du Moine and Des Barques to makes regulations for better [text illegible].—Mr. Dufresne (Montcalm.)
To facilitate the administration of the estate of the late Robt. Shaw Malter, and Eliza Mitchell, his wife.—Mr. Morris.
To extend the charter of the Upper and Lower Canada Bridge Company.—Mr. Poupore.
To divide the municipality of the township of Lochaber into two separate municipalities.—Mr. Wright (Ottawa.)
To amend the Acts incorporating the St. Lawrence Mining Company.—Mr. Morris.
To incorporate the Congregational College of British North America.—Mr. Dunkin.
To empower the municipality of the village of Caledonia to issue new debentures in lieu of those outstanding.—Mr. Thompson.
To amend the Act to consolidate the debt of the town of Bowmanville.—Mr. Munro.
Respecting the Waterloo and Saugeen Railway Company—Mr. Cowan.
Mr. GALT moved that the Speaker leave the chair for the House to go into Committee of Supply.
Mr. DORION said that the last night on which the Committee of Supply sat, some curious revelations were made about a sum of $100,000, advanced by the Province in 1859, to redeem bonds of the city of Montreal, but in reality to the Grand Trunk Company. The particulars of this transaction had been brought to light by the Financial Commission, but hitherto, on account of the way in which it had been transferred from one account to another no fitting opportunity had occurred of bringing it before Parliament. It appeared, however from the discussion the other evening, that the Province is in serious danger of losing that sum, unless immediate steps be taken to recover it from whomsoever might be the responsible parties. The whole transaction was of a most extraordinary character. In 1859 certain bonds issued by the city fo Montreal for the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Company, and which, through in arrangement between that Company and the Grand Trunk, were payable by the Grand Trunk, were redeemed by the Province out of the Provincial chest. This was done by an Order in Council on the report of the then Finance Minister, which set forth that these bonds should be redeemed, and should be kept by the Receiver General until the advance was repaid, and on condition that the city of Montreal should further pay its indebtedness to the Municipal Loan Fund. Yet on the 18th of September following, although only the second of these conditions had been fulfilled, the bonds which the Government were bound to detain until the advance was repaid, were handed over by the Receiver General to the City Treasurer of Montreal. It should be remembered also that there was no Parliamentary authority whatever for the advance. On the 28th of December, 1859 the then Finance Minister, Mr. Galt, being in England, wrote to Mr. Reiffenstein, an officer of the department, saying that the Financial Agents of the Provinces had acquiesced in his desire to change them with this $100,000. Yet, subsequently, although the accounts of the financial agents were communicated every six months, no mention was made in these accounts of this sum. No action was taken by Mr. Galt to put the matter right while he remained in the Government up to May, 1862. In December of that year Mr. Galt’s successor, Mr. Howland, finding that the accounts of the Provincial agents did not agree with those in the Receiver-General’s office, called the attention of the financial agents to the fact, and they immediately sent an answer to his letter, stating that they knew nothing of the transaction and had no liability with respect to it. The facts having been inquired into by the Financial Commission, Mr. Galt in his evidence before them stated that his arrangement of the matter he thought was made with Mr. Baring, and that Mr. Blackwell was present. A copy of this evidence was sent by Mr. Holton to the Barings and Giuns. In their reply they stated that no member of either of their firms had any recollection of authorizing the payment in question, and they further stated that as Mr, Galt was very precise in conducting all business matters with them they had no doubt, had any such agreement been come to as was alleged, it would gave been reduced to writing. The question now was whether the Province should lose this money, or who was liable, and what steps should be taken to recover the money. He thought that the House would fail in its duty if it did not record in the strong possible terms its reprobation of such a transaction, by which the Province was in danger of losing $100,000, unless immediate steps were taken to recover it from whomsoever was responsible. If the financial agents were the parties responsible, the Finance Minister should show how the claim could be established against them, and should have instituted proceedings before this to bring them to account. If they could not be made liable then the Grand Trunk must be responsible, and the Finance Minister should show how it could be recovered from them.
He considered that this was one of the worst transactions ever brought light on the part of the Cartier-Macdonald Government, of which the present Finance Minister was a member. He moved as follows:—That the Speaker do not now leave the chair, but that it be resolved, that an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, representing that an advance of $100,000 was made from the public chest without the authority of Parliament, for the redemption of bonds for a life amount of the city of Montreal, which bonds were redeemable by the Grand Trunk Railroad Company; that by the terms of the Order in Council of the 1st June, 1859, the Receiver General was “authorized to redeem the said bonds on account of the city of Montreal, and to hold the same until the amount so advanced ($100,000), with interest at 6 per cent, be repaid to the Government by the city of Montreal, subject to the conation [sic] that said city do immediately levy the necessary rate to meet the indebtedness under the Municipal Loan Fund Act, and that the amount so advanced be repaid within three months;” that the city of Montreal having fulfilled the condition of paying its indebtedness under the Municipal Loan Fund Act, the bonds in question were delivered by the Receiver General to the city treasurer, on the 15th August, 1859, whereby all claim against the city of Montreal for said advance was relinquished; that under instructions of then Minister of Finance conveyed in a letter dated London, 28th Dec. 1859 addressed to Mr. Reiffenstein, of the Receiver General’s Department, the amount of the said advance was transferred to the debit of the financial agents of the Province in London, who deny that they ever consented to become liable therefor; that in view of the facts above recited, this House would be falling in its duty if it did not express its disapprobations or an unauthorized advance of a large amount of public money, and of the subsequent departure from the conditions of the Order in Council under which the advance was made.
Seconded by Mr. McDougall.
Mr. GALT said that from the way in which that motion was brought it might be judged that the intention was anything but friendly, and it was in a like spirit that he should brea[k?] it. The member for Hochelaga had spoken as if the discrepancy in the accounts of the financial agents and those of the Province was first discovered by Mr. Howland in September 1862. That was not correct, as he (Mr Galt) stated in his evidence before the Financial Commission. Information of it reached him a few days before leaving office. On learning it he requested the Auditor General, Mr. Langton, to draw his successor’s attention to it as a matter requiring his immediate attention. It was a matter of great regret to him that any misunderstanding should have arisen with reference to what took place in London between himself and the financial agents, but he wished the House to remark that though he gave his evidence in reference to the matter, he had no wish thereby to attack anybody. If the motion was carried how would it affect the Government? Did they suppose that an attack [text illegible] one member of the Government must affect them all? If he (Mr Galt) was the objectionable individual in the Ministry, let them take the manly ground of declaring that his presence in the Government made it objectionable to the House and to the country.
Mr. HOLTON denied that this motion was a mere personal attack on Mr. Galt. It did seek, however, to affirm a condemnation by this House, of a ministerial act of Mr. Galt when formerly in office. With reference to Mr. Galt’s complaint that he had been deprived of corroborative evidence of his statement by the dillitoriness [?] of his successors, he asked, was it possible that the question of the liability of parties to the Province for $100,000, could for years have been left dependent on the life or death of one single individual? Was it possible that a transaction of so great importance should have rested on that one individual’s verbal testimony? The very charge which Mr. Galt, to defend himself, made against his successors. Implied looseness and want of precision with respect to this large transaction, which afforded ample justification for this motion. With respect to Mr. Galt’s complaint that the act of a former Government should have been brought up in order to attack this Government, he (Mr. Holton) held that this Government was in every respect merely a resuscitation of the old Cartier-Macdonald Coalition. What would this Government be if deprived of the three gentlemen on the front bench, Messrs. John A. Macdonald, Cartier, and Galt? And this was the first time since the facts were fairly ascertained that the matter could be brought before Parliament. The transactions did not appear in the Public Accounts of 1859, 1860, or 1861. It never appeared in its true character till the acts were brought out by the Financial Commission. Mr. Holton then proceeded to review the transaction in all its details, and to urge that it was one which for the public interest deserved to be stamped with the reprobation of Parliament.
Mr. HOWLAND entered into explanations to show that the charge brought against him by Mr. Galt, of not having acted with sufficient promptness in the matter after assuming office was unfounded. He went into a detail of facts and dates to show that as soon as the matter came under his notice he prosecuted an enquiry with the utmost diligence. Such a charge came with ill grace from Mr. Galt, who, from 1859 to May, 1862, when he left office, was not aware of the discrepancy between the books of the Province and those of the financial agents, with reference to so large an item as $100,000 (Hear, hear) It was an unfair charge [text illegible] for Mr. Galt to assail his successors for not having collected the money, when he left no evidence against the parties who said were liable to pay it. As for the other parties the city of Montreal, for whim the payment was made, was able to repay, but had been released by gentlemen opposite from its obligations. The only other party liable was the Grand Trunk, and he did not think the late Government could be much blamed for not obtaining money from that source.On the contrary, he thought Mr. Galt was much to blame for having put us in that position, that for this $100,00 we had only the Grand Trunk to look to.
Mr. CARTIER (in French) spoke in support of the $100,000 transaction.
Mr. A.A. Dorion replied in French.
Mr. Denis (also in French) spoke against the motion.
Mr. Dunkin stated the reasons why he should vote for the motion, although on personal grounds he would have preferred that the motion had not been brought. This question had once before been brought before the House, with a view of censuring the Ministry of the day. At that time the facts were only partially known, and being a supporter of the gentlemen then in power, he gave them the benefit of the doubt, and voted against the motion. When the facts came to be more fully developed, he found reason to regret that vote. He went on to point out the objectionable features of the transaction. In the first place, the advance was made without the authority of Parliament, and in such case the Government was bound to take the earliest opportunity to submit the circumstances to Parliament, and stand or fall by its decision. Then the whole facts showed very lax administration of the Finance Department, that for so long a period the Finance Minister should have allowed a liability of the Province for $100,000 to remain without a scrap of paper to bind the parties, while the accounts of those parties showered that they did not admit the debt; and during all that time should have kept Parliament and the country wholly in the dark about it. When unmistakeable facts like these were brought under the notice of Parliament, he could not refuse to say that such an advance of money and such a keeping back of the facts were not in accordance with our system of Responsible Government.
Mr. BUCHANAN said that there was a great mistake in the arguments about this matter. The assertion that there had been an outlay of $100,000 was not true. (Laughter.) There was merely $100,000 taken from one account and $100,000 put to another account. (Oh! oh!) The Government redeemed the bonds of the city of Montreal, but then, in return, Montreal paid its indebtedness to the Municipal Loan Fund, which was not done in any other case.
Mr. MCGEE spoke at considerable length in opposition to Mr. Dorion’s motion, devoting a large position of his speech to arguing that the motion was hostile to Montreal, and that the accusers of Montreal were the rejected of Montreal. He could not see that there was any ground for condemnation in the transaction. He thought it unmanly that an attack should be made on one member of the Government for a matter which took place five years ago during the existence of another Government; but though the attack applied especially to one member all the members of the Government would feel bound to stand by him, and throughout this controversy would make their cause his own, and whatever the decision of this House might be, he had no doubt the verdict of the intelligent public opinion of the country would be that this was a frivolous and vexatious motion.
Mr. CAMERON, seconded by Mr, Street, after a few preparatory remarks, moved an amendment to the amendment, that a resolution, the intention of which is to object to the regularity of an official act of a single member of a Ministry not now existing, and after two successive Ministries have been entrusted with the management of the affairs of the country, without considering it necessary to offer any resolution to the House on the subject, can serve no good purpose, but can only serve to obstruct the management of the public business.
Mr. BROWN objected that an amendment to an amendment for going into Committee of Supply could not be received.
The SPEAKER sustained the objection, and Mr. Cameron’s amendment was accordingly thrown aside.
Mr. Rose spoke in opposition to Mr. Dorion’s motion.
Mr. RANKIN supported it, and embraced the opportunity of giving his opinion on the incongruous character of the present Government. He referred to the bitter attacks made by Messrs. Cartier and John A. Macdonald on Mr. McGee, and what he had said of them. If half what they said of each other was true, not ont one of them was fit to be in decent society. He commented also on the singularity of Mr. Foley being found serving under his present leaders whom he had spent all his previous political life in denouncing. In voting for the motion, however, he must not be held as joining in any attempt to cast imputation on the honour, integrity or personal worth of the Finance Minister.
Mr. STREET said he regarded this as a direct vote of want of confidence and as such should vote against it. If the Government were not sustained, their only course would be to ask His Excellency for leave to appeal to the country. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. CARTWRIGHT opposed the motion, and said that he felt no repugnance to recording his vote against it.
Mr. GALT again addressed the House briefly in vindication of his position, declaring warmly that although the object of the motion was to drive him from public life, it would not have that effect. Referring to some remarks by Messrs. Cartwright and Street, he stated in corroboration if what they had said that although this attack was specifically directed against himself, his colleagues would stand by him through it, whatever might be the result.
Mr. THOMAS FERGUSON opposed the motion, and said that if its result was to cause an appeal to the country, he was willing that the country should judge between the two parties in the House which of them ought to prevail. He went on to charge the Opposition with pursuing a factious course.
Mr. SCATCHERD supported the motion, and pointed out that Mr. Galt had not pretended to say that the money was not lost, and had offered no real excuse. Nor was any excuse offered for him. The only plea set up had been, that it was wrong to make it a frown of personal attack upon him.
The House then divided on Mr. Dorion’s motion. Carried—Yeas 60; to Nays 58.
YEAS—Ault, Bell (Lanark), Biggar, Bourassa, Bowman, Brown, Burwell, Caron, Chambers, Coupal, Cowan, Dickson, A.A. Dorion, Eric Dorion, Alex Dufresne, Dunkin, Dunsford, Fortier, Gagnon, Geoffrion, Holton, Houde, Howland, Huot, Labreche-Viger, Laframboise, Lajoie, D.A. Macdonald, John Macdonald, J.S. Macdonald, Alex. Mackenzie, Hope Mackenzie, McConkey, McDougall, McFarlane, McKellar, Mowat, Munro, Notman, O’Halloran, Paquet, Parker, Perrault, Pauliot, Rankin, Remillard, Walter Ross, Rymal, Scatcherd, Scoble, A. M. Smith, J S Smith, Somerville, Stirton, Thibaudeau, Thompson, T.C. Wallbridge, Wells, Waite, Amos Wright—60.
NAYS—Alleyn, Archambault, Beaubien, Bell (Russell), Bellerose, Blanchet, Bown, Brousseau, Buchanan, Cameron, Carling, Cartier, Cartwright, Chapais, Cockburn, Conger, Cornellier, Daoust, DeBoucherville, Denis, Duckett, Joseph Dufresne, Evanturel, Thomas Ferguson, William Ferguson, Galt, Gaudet, Harwood, Higginson, Irvine, Jackson, Ford Jones, Francis Jones, Knight, Langevin, Le Boutillier, J.A. Macdonald, McGee, Morris, Pinsonneault, Rose, J.J. Ross, J.S. Ross, Shanly, Simpson, Street, Sylvain, Tasse, Turcotte, Walsh, Wilson, Alonzo Wright—58.
The result of the division having been declared,
Mr. JOHN A. MACDONALD moved that the House do now adjourn.
The motion was carried admits Opposition cheers, and the House adjourned at a quarter to twelve o’clock.
The floor of the House for some time afterwards presented a lively scene, members in excited groups, discussing what result would follow the vote just given.