Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings (6 May 1867)
By: Prince Edward Island (House of Assembly)
Citation: Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, The Parliamentary Reporter; or, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island, For the Year 1867, 23rd Parl, 1st Sess, 1865 at 77-88.
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State of the Colony
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION—On Saturday evening, I gave notice that I would to-day move the House into Committee on the state of the Colony. My object in doing so, is to take into consideration two very extraordinary appointments which had been recently made by the Executive Government of the Colony, viz:—the appointment of Benjamin Balderson, jun., to the office of Registrar of Deeds and Keeper of Plans, and of Charles Dickieson to that of Road Commissioner. It may be thought extraordinary that I, as leader of the Opposition, should make the motion which I intend regarding these appointments, but though they appear at first sight very simple and ordinary ones, there is yet in the background something so politically immoral that, were I to allow it to pass without expressing my opinion upon it, I would be recreant to my duty as a representative of the people. This Benjamin Balderson, jun., who has been appointed Registrar of Deeds, figured, but two years ago, in neither a very honorable nor very loyal position as Secretary of a disloyal association known as the “Tenant League,”—an association which almost brought this Island into a state of rebellion. Heaven only knows in what position we would be to-day were it not for the prompt action of the then Administrator of the Government, the Hon. Robert Hodgson, who, seeing the peril in which the Colony was placed, called in a detachment of Her Majesty’s troops to maintain law and order. When I consider the large amount of the public money which was expended in bringing these troops here, in building barracks for them and in paying for the services of special constables to aid in serving writs; and consider too, that the body called the Tenant League was the cause, and the only cause of that expenditure, I cannot but express my surprise at the action of the present Government, in the appointment of Mr. Balderson, in the very face of the Proclamation issued on the 22nd day of March, 1865, in which that association was declared to be an illegal one. I find, too, that this man on the 17th of June in the same year, figured as Secretary of a public meeting held by the League in Lot 31, at which meeting improper resolutions were passed. A Report of the meeting, signed by Benjamin Balderston, jun., appears in the Journals of this House for last session, among the correspondence which passed between the Government of this Island and the Colonial Office in England relative to the Tenant League, and the necessity for calling in the troops, and I find that Mr. Balderston, not content with giving a simple report of the meeting, closes by enunciating his own views regarding the collection of rent. In that report, among other resolutions there is one to this effect:
“Moved by Mr. William Large, seconded by Mr. John Deacon:
RESOLVED, That we will not traffic with any person who does not cordially sympathize with the Tenant Union, even though we should suffer loss thereby, except in cases where it is absolutely unavoidable.”
What more tyrannical or more despotic resolution could be passed than this—resolving not to bold commercial or social relations with inhabitants of this Colony, unless they joined this illegal association! I myself would scarcely have believed that any body of men in this Island, living under the aegis of Great Britain, would have so acted, had the fact not been placed beyond doubt by the report which I have quoted from. Then this Mr. Balderston, in his zeal for the prosperity of the League, and not satisfied with reporting these resolutions as a mere secretary of the meeting, gives his own views on the matter thus:—
“A large number of both tenants and freeholders then came forward to sign the pledge and subscribe to the funds. The subscriptions ranged as high as five pounds, and the people are willing to pay the same amount ten times over if required, rather than let the Tenant Union fail for want of funds. Rent paying has ceased in Lot
31, and I would take this opportunity of letting any person know, who might be disposed to come after any, that they need not take the trouble, for they will not get any rent.”
This, Mr. Speaker, I find the Journals of this Hon. House for last session, the Report having been first published in the recognized organ of the Tenant League. When we consider the sentiments expressed in this Report, it must be evident that the present Government in appointing its author to the highly important office of Registrar of Deeds and Keeper of Plans, have shown the utmost contempt for the rights of property in this Island. I would not, Mr. Speaker, have regarded it as being of so much importance had they appointed him Provincial Secretary; but they have placed him in one of the most important offices in their gift,—in the very one in which the title deeds of land are recorded. When, Sir, a man is placed in that office who considers that our proprietors have no title, what security or guarantee have we that these records will be properly kept. It may be hard that I should say anything to impeach the honesty of Mr. Balderston, but I must confess that I would place little confidence in the records of that office in case of his appointment. Then, Mr. Speaker, look at the case of Mr. Dickieson. Is not his appointment as Road Commissioner an insult to the Colony, when we remember that only some eighteen months ago he was tried in the Supreme Court for resisting the Sheriff of the County in the execution of the duties of his office, and convicted? But these two men, Mr. Speaker,—Benjamin Balderston, junior, and Charles Dickieson—are the very two whom, of all others, our new Government have delighted to honor and place in high positions in the Colony. When this fact is known how will we rank in the eyes of Great Britain and the civilized world? I have heard many hon. members say that, owing to our peculiar financial position at present, a loan from abroad is desirable, but what probability is there, I would ask, that capitalists in Great Britain will lend money to this Island when they find that men who have repudiated the law of contracts are appointed to important public offices. This will, I think, put a quietus upon the matter. Capitalists will be cautious of investing in our securities, for they will see that our present Government have appointed these men to office—men who joined an association which repudiated contracts and which was declared by proclamation to be illegal—and they will see no guarantee that, when the time comes, the contracts made with them will not be repudiated as well. The Government cannot give, as a reason for the appointment of Mr. Balderston, that no other man could be found to fill the office, for it is well known that there were many applicants. Nor can they have appointed him because of his devotion to the Liberal cause; for, aside from his connection with the illegal Tenant League, I am not aware that he has in any wonderful manner aided the Liberal party. An improper influence has, I believe, been brought to bear upon the Government of this Island. We know that they are placed in an extraordinary position, that they cannot take one step of the least importance without calling a caucus, and that it then takes them hours to come to any conclusion. They hold much the same position as did the French Government when under the influence of the Jacobin Club, for they are as much bound to obey the decrees and behests of this illegal association as was that government to obey those of the Club. These appointments cannot add to our credit as a colony, but will surely lower us and prejudice our interests in both Britain and the other Colonies. I might say, as an advocate of confederation, that I am glad our Government have acted as they have, for nothing will more surely drive us into union with the other Colonies. I do not, however, wish to be driven in by the outrageous acts of the Government. I wish to enter confederation because I think it better for the interests of the Colony to do so—because I believe that it would prosper better commercially, socially, and politically, when united with its sisters. Such means as these are, however, not those which I wish to see employed. Viewing these appointments as I do I will therefore move that this House do now resolve itself into a Committee of the whole upon the state of the Colony to take into consideration the recent appointment by the Lieutenant Government in Council of Mr. Benjamin Balderston, junior, to the highly important and responsible office of Registrar of Deeds and Keeper of Plans; the said Benjamin Balderston having taken an active part as Secretary of an illegal combination called “the Tenant Union Meeting” held at Mr. Fowle’s Saw Mill, Lot 31, on the 7th day of June, 1865 contrary to the Proclamation issued on that subject by Governor Dundas, on the 22d day of March, 1865, the proceedings of which meeting appear in the Appendix of the Journals of this House for the year 1866. And also to take into consideration the recent appointment of Mr. Charles Dickieson to the office of Road Commissioner of the Third District of Queen’s County; the said Charles Dickieson having been tried in Hilary Term, 1866, for assaulting the Deputy Sheriff of Queen’s County in the execution of his duty, and sentenced by the Supreme Court to 18 months’ imprisonment and a fine of £50 for the said offence.
Hon. Mr. MACAULAY.—It is to be regretted that the circumstances of the country are such as to call for the motion which has just been made by the hon. and learned friend the leader of the Opposition. Any man who is truly interested in the welfare of the Colony, must regret the appointment to offices of trust and emolument of these two men; one of whom was incarcerated for a crime and the other charged with seditious conduct. It appears, Mr. Speaker, like a premium for insubordination. The matter is one which calls for investigation by this honorable House, and I will therefore second the motion of the hon. the leader of the Opposition.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—I consider, Mr. Speaker, that the motion which has been made by the hon. the leader of the Opposition, is a Resolution, and as such, must according to the Rules of the House, be tabled twenty-four hours before the House can take it into consideration. It is a resolution setting forth the reason why the House is moved into committee, and stating that upon which the House is to decide. It is a resolution censuring the Government and, therefore it should, I contend, have been tabled twenty-four hours. I would then, perhaps, have been prepared to go into the arguments of the hon. Leader of the Opposition, though I must confess that objections to the appointment of Mr. Balderston come with a bad grace from a member of the late Government, who, ever since that act of his to which they
now so strongly object, have been granting him his warrants as a schoolmaster. We know that other teachers have had to make very humble apologies, and some have been dismissed, while this man has been allowed to remain a teacher, in a district in which one of the “pets” of the Government was interested. They thought that any censure on him might operate against the Government, and the result proved that they were right, for he canvassed and did much against the return of that “pet.” How inconsistent, then, to overlook all his acts while he held the office of schoolmaster, and now censure the Government for merely appointing him from one office to another. I do not intend to justify the acts of Mr. Balderston, but think it strange conduct that a member of the late Government, after the manner in which they have acted towards him should now object to his appointment as Registrar of Deeds. Had they dismissed him or refused to grant his warrants, they might now come forward with clean hands, but they did no such thing. I would not exonerate Mr. Balderston from blame at the time he attended the meeting at which he was Secretary, (Hear, hear,) but is it just that, when these Tenant Leaguers have returned to their loyalty, they should be prevented from ever holding office under the Government? The hon. the Leader of the Opposition has also stated that the appointments of Messrs. Balderston and Dickeson will drive us into confederation. I cannot see why this effect should follow, for in Canada some of perhaps the greatest rebels that ever were on British soil have been acknowledged as eligible for office. The present Minister of Agriculture in Canada was a rebel and now fills one of the highest offices in the Colony. It seems, indeed, strange that for the appointment of a man who was formerly a Tenant Leaguer to the comparatively unimportant office of Registrar of Deeds, we should be driven into confederation. The Government was not, however, aware that this man, Benj. Balderston, junior, was the one who took part with the Tenant League. No mention was made about the matter, and I myself thought that it was the Hon. John Balderston, who I knew was dismissed from the magistracy. The idea of this young man’s making any resistance to the law never entered my mind. He might almost be said to be incapable of doing so, for he is so crippled as to be compelled to use crutches. He was recommended as a proper person to be appointed Registrar of Deeds, and was therefore appointed, though I will not hesitate to say that, had the Government been aware of all the facts of the case, some other person might have been found for the office. This appointment is not, in my opinion, of sufficient importance to warrant this House in going into Committee upon the state of the Colony, nor do I believe that those persons who belonged to the Tenant League should be regarded as for ever incapacitated from holding office. We know that the Registrar of Deeds under the late Government gave more assistance to the League than perhaps any man in the Island. It was his money which purchased the press from which “Ross’s Weekly,” the organ of the League, was issued. Why then is Mr. Balderston considered worthy of greater condemnation than this public officer? But it was not, perhaps, pleasant for the Government to interfere with the late Registrar, and his conduct was therefore overlooked. That same man at the last Election used his influence over John Ross, the proprietor of the Weekly, and induced him to go to Georgetown and record his vote for the Conservatives, telling him that unless he did so he (Mr. Crawford) was in danger of losing his office, since the party knew that it was his money which supported the Weekly. The hon. Leader of Opposition was one of the gentlemen for whom Mr. Ross voted, and such being the case, he did not, I suppose, consider Mr. Crawford’s conduct worthy of so great censure as that of Mr. Balderston. Respecting Mr. Dickieson’s appointment, I may say that many of the Government were not aware that he was the same person who had been tried for resisting the Sheriff. His family is very respectable, and one of the most numerously signed petitions which I ever saw was presented to his Excellency in his favor. The Tenant League has seen that resistance to the law was both wrong and useless, and what no honest man could justify, and this young man was, I believe, penitent. My own election is a proof that the League does not now influence the people, for the foremost man of the body was brought out to oppose me, and be polled only 25 votes against my 851.
Mr. BRECKEN.—Who brought him out?
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—That is the question. The League, if it was determined to carry out their principles, would surely not have allowed Mr. Ross to poll only 25 votes in a district in which its influence was, a short time ago, greater, perhaps, than in any other on the Island. I believe that the League has seen the errors of its ways, and it has shown in my election that, as a body, it is not determined to carry out those extreme views entertained by some of its members. This opposition was brought against me on account of Mr. Whelan’s having been appointed Queen’s Printer, and it was favored by many opposed to the Government, but notwithstanding this, the result was a poll of 25 votes against 851. This is sufficient to show that the members of the League have seen their errors, and when this is the case they should not be debarred from holding office. They should be placed in the same position as before, without however having any preference shown them. The mere fact that a few appointments were given them, would show that they were not forgotten. We know that a certain gentleman was, many years ago, tried for sedition, and afterwards appointed to office by the Conservatives.
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—He was never found guilty.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—Mr. Balderston was never even tried. I do not, however, now intend to justify his appointment. I wish to be understood in this. Had I known all the circumstances of the case earlier, I might perhaps have remonstrated. The motion that the House go into Committee on the matter, I will, however, oppose, since according to the 14th Rule of the House, a Resolution to be submitted to a committee of the whole upon the state of the Colony should be tabled twenty-four hours previously.
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—I rise to a point of order. What I have submitted is a question not a resolution. I contend that that is not a resolution which merely states the reasons for going into Committee, without an expression of opinion.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—The motion of the hon. Leader of the Opposition, in my opinion, is contrary to the Rule of the House referred to. If, however, the motion which he has made did not require to be tabled twenty-four hours before it was put to the House, then the resolution which he intends to submit in Committee ought to have been tabled according to the Rule of the House, in order that hon. members might clearly understand the object which he has in view in moving the House into Committee on the state of the Colony.
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—The resolution which I intend to submit, should the House go into Committee on the subject, I have conveniently at hand. The course for the Government to pursue, providing they do not wish the House to agree to the motion which I have submitted, is to vote directly against it, or move that the House go into Committee on the state of the Colony this day three months. The question is, whether it is a rule that a member is moving the House into Committee on the state of the Colony, should state the
object he has in view. I contend that it is possible to go into Committee on such a matter without the object being expressed. I, however, stated my reasons for making this motion yesterday, when the hon. Leader of the Government gave me the answer which he did respecting the appointments of Messrs. Balderston and Dickieson.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—I quite understand the hon. member; but I contend that he ought to have tabled his resolution in order that this House might understand why it should be dragged into Committee on the state of the Colony. Much valuable time may be lost by going into such a Committee without having some definite grievance and its remedy in view. Unless some particular object be stated, when once in Committee on the state of the Colony, we may discuss anything and everything from the East Point to the West Cape. To prevent a debate of this kind appears to be the object of the 14th Rule of the House cited by my hon. friend the Leader of the Government. Of course we might waive our objections to the motion and go into Committee on the state of the Colony, and discuss marine hospitals, lighthouses, and the like, and have a stroke at everybody, taking up the time of the House for three months or so, without any practical benefit. The Government have no hesitation in entering upon a review of those matters referred to by the hon. Leader of the Opposition. With respect to the appointment of Mr. Charles Dickieson to the office of Road Commissioner, I think there must have been some mistake. I did not know that it was the same person who was convicted in the Supreme Court; I was under the impression that it was his brother. Still, I do not hold that his appointment is a sufficient reason for the House going into Committee on the State of the Colony. In regard to Mr. Balderston’s appointment, all I have to say is, that if he had been guilty of any crime or misdemeanor sufficient to render him unfit for office, the late Government ought to have had him brought up and tried for the offence. It will not do for persons to be proscribed on account of private reports or opposition. We know that many men who are brought to the bar of the Court with grave charges against them are uncondemned; and perhaps if this person, whose name has been prominently brought up in discussion to-night, were arraigned before the highest tribunal in the land, he would be honorably acquitted. British law regards every man as innocent until he is proved guilty. I was one of the Counsel for the tenantry concerned in the Tenant Union disturbances; some of them who were tried answered the charges brought against them, and others were threatened to be prosecuted, but the matter was allowed to drop. It was thought, I suppose, that the agitation had run its course; or perhaps there was some object to serve in not pursuing the cases further,—probably an election was coming on. If the late Government party would not bring those connected with the Tenant Union before a jury of their countrymen and have them tried, they should not be bringing up charges in this House. If this Mr. Balderston was not tried, the presumption is that he was not guilty. It is not sufficient to take up the Journals of the House, and say that this person or that person was connected with an illegal association, and that therefore he should be prescribed from office. No doubt some of the tenantry acted in violation of the law; and the conduct of the League, I consider, was very reprehensible; still I would not like to live in a country where, when a matter has passed away, those who took a part in it are to be continually held up for proscription. If the members of that association are to be tried at the bar of this House, let it be so, and with the decision of this hon. body there let the matter rest. I remember that a person in this Island was brought up and tried for sedition some years ago, for writing something to the effect that the Government of that day were a parcel of land-robbers. I believe he went a great deal further and brought a bill into the House of Assembly to transfer the lands of the proprietors back to the Crown without allowing them any compensation. This was going further than the members of the Tenant Union, when they would pay no rent; yet the very person who was prosecuted for sedition by the Conservatives was afterwards by them appointed to office. We know also that D’Arcy McGee, the present Canadian Minister of Agriculture, is said to have been one of the actors in the famous Cabbage Garden affair in Ireland, and yet he now occupies the high position in that Province of being one of the Governor General’s responsible advisers. I believe also that Cartier was one of those who took an active part in the Canadian rebellion; but after he and his co-adjutors had shown their regret for the share they had in that insurrectionary movement, they were restored to favour. Mr. Balderston, whose appointment to the office of Registrar of Deeds seems to be the principal cause of the motion before the House, has seen the error of his ways so far as to give his hearty support to the Government. The Opposition, instead of asking the House to go into Committee on the state of the Colony and pass a vote of want of confidence in the Government, should come forward and declare their confidence in the governing abilities of the party in power. Since the present Government came into office the country has been quiet; and when it is in such a state, to stir up this question again will have a very injurious effect. It would be as much as to say to every one who had anything to do with the League, you shall never have peace and contentment in the Colony. I would advise the hon. Leader of the Opposition to withdraw his motion, if he desires the welfare of the Island. If such a vote were passed, I could only pity the Government that would then have to take charge of the country. We should rather endeavor not to tear up old sores. I do not charge the hon. member with the desire of stirring up strife in the country; I believe, on the contrary, that he spoke sincerely, under the impression that the appointments in question would throw discredit upon the Colony. But perhaps he did not see that this motion would have the effect which I have pointed out. When the Liberals are in power the Conservatives all think that the country is going to ruin. If we only appoint a Tenant Leaguer as Registrar of Deeds, the records in that office will be all wrong, and the Island will lose its credit abroad. I would like to know what would have the most favorable effect upon the British public, the quiet state of the country, or the appointment to office of persons who had been connected with the Tenant League. There are hon. members on this side of the House who are not at all disposed to rake up old matters that should be allowed to drop, but to carry out the different branches of the public service efficiently. I have no fears but the majority of this
House will take the view that if the resolution which has been proposed be agreed to, it will throw this Colony back into the state which it was some two or three years ago.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I was surprised at the answer given by the hon. Leader of the Government on Saturday—for he generally defends his position manfully—when he said there was no evidence that the Mr. Benjamin Balderston, whose name figured on the Journals of this House, was the same person who has appointed to the office of Registrar of Deeds. He probably thought of this matter all Saturday evening, and perhaps Sunday too, and he and his colleagues have come to the conclusion, that it is safer for them not to allow the House to go into Committee on the state of the Colony. The motion made by my hon. friend the leader of the Opposition, they declare to be out of order, though it says nothing about an address to Her Majesty on any subject. The person whose name has been dragged before this House I do not know, but I am aware that he belongs to a respectable family, and any reference I may make to him will be simply on the ground of political expediency. Until this matter came up, I must confess that I was not aware that such a person’s name was on the Journals of the House. The hon. leader of the Government tried to console himself with the idea that because Mr. Balderston happened to be a school teacher, and as such had received the warrants for his salary through the late Government, therefore the present Executive were justified in appointing him to office. But there is a marked difference between the two situations. Is a school teacher appointed by the Government? No, he is selected by the people themselves. And does not this fact show that Mr. Benjamin Balderston was employed as the teacher in a particular district, because he suited the tastes of its people? Was it probable that they would choose a people to preside over their school, who was a reflex of proprietary opinions? Mr. Balderston may have been a good teacher, but I presume that his views harmonized with those who secured his services? In the same manner may we not reason that if the Government appointed him to office, they must to some extent sympathise with his opinions? The hon. leader of the Government next referred to some of the politicians of Canada; they had taken part in rebellions, and were now in the Government of that Province. But allow me to tell him this, that there were circumstances connected with the revolution in Lower Canada which almost justified rebellion. The people there, whether on account of their nationality or not, I am not prepared to say, were at that time under a ban. This was admitted by the British Government, for they redressed the grievances complained of, after which the chief actors in the rebellion came out as loyal men. We had no grievances here, however, such as they had at that time in Canada, to justify the disturbances occasioned by the Tenant League agitation. Then the hon. Colonial Secretary made an allusion to the Hon. Mr. McGee. Did not the hon. member associate with that gentleman, and others in Canada to whom he has referred, a few years ago at the time of the Union Conferences? I am surprised that he should do so, and now come forward to stigmatize them as rebels.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—I did not stigmatize them I only compared them to Mr. Balderston.
Mr. BRECKEN.—That is all very well, but it does not alter the fact that the hon. member associated with these gentlemen and admired them.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—So did you.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I? Oh no, I was too small a figure for them! My consistency was too much to subserve their purposes. I did not, like the hon, member, compare the Confederation scheme to a marriage settlement. (Applause.) So much for his allusions to Canadian statesmen. But, Mr. Speaker, what has made this Mr. Balderston as officer of the Government? I believe he was once a Conservative, and what turned him against his party? Was it not because the Conservative Government did its duty in checking the Tenant Union association? I can scarcely believe that the hon. Leader of the Government was not aware of the political position of the person whom he and his colleagues have appointed to the office of Registrar of Deeds.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—I did not know that he was connected with the League; I simply thought that he had used his influence at the general election to defeat a member of the late Government.
Mr. BRECKEN.—Did Mr. Balderston not receive his appointment because he was connected with the Tenant League? How many applications were there for the office to which he has been named? (Hear, hear.) Some six or seven, they say, and how comes it that he was the one chosen?
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—By the ballot.
Mr. BRECKEN.—Yes, yes, by the ballot, I suppose,—that principle for which the hon. Attorney General had such a horror the other day. Perhaps the hon. leader of the Government may excuse his ignorance on this ground, but it will not do. It was scarcely straightforward in him to say that he did not know of Mr. Balderston’s connection with the League, when, had it not been for that circumstance, his appointment would never have taken place. This is the way business is conducted by the present composite Government. The hon. Attorney General says let the man be tried by the House of Assembly, before his appointment is condemned. When a person published over his own name a most restrictive principle, to the effect that the members of the Tenant Union would not trade with any except those who favored their views; and of his own accord declared that rent-paying was done on Lot 31, and shortly afterwards—as if it were granting a premium on such extraordinary conduct—the same individual is raised to one of the most important offices in the Colony, is it not time for this House to take action in order to save the credit of the country? Mr. Balderston may not have been punished although he used hard language; but, Sir, where is the reason for elevating him to a responsible position? Simply, I believe, because he had supported two gentlemen who have seats in this House,
and their influence could not be overlooked by the Government. I do not know much about the principles of one of these gentlemen although he resides in Charlottetown; but the other, I understand, was a member of the Tenant League, and one of its paid travelling agents. The worst feature connected with the appointment is, that it looks like giving a premium upon lawlessness. What will be thought of this Colony in the Mother Country, if one year it sends home a statement respecting Tenant disturbances, and cities this Mr. Balderston’s letter as an evidence of the necessity of applying to Halifax for troops, and the next year it transmits a notice of the very same person’s being appointed to one of the most responsible offices in the gift of the Government? The question of Confederation has also been introduced into this debate. The Government could scarcely have taken surer steps to forward that measure than they have done by the appointments in question. We say that we are a law-giving and law-abiding people, and contend that we should not be deprived of our rights. This may be our position, but the Government have weakened it very materially by the course which they have pursued. Looking at the appointment of Tenant Leaguers to office, the Home Government will probably say that the state of the Island must be such that others could not be found. The hon. Attorney General has told us that he will oppose the motion, because it leads to a vote of want of confidence in the Government. It might put this composite Government into a fix, and therefore the majority of the House muse come forward to prevent so disastrous a result—it would have such an injurious effect upon the peace and contentment of the country! And one of the pieces of sophistry which he uses to support his case is, that as the Conservatives did not try Mr. Balderston, therefore, he might safely be appointed by the Liberals to the office of Registrar of Deeds. Two or three members of the League had been brought to the bar of Justice, but the excitement having somewhat cooled down, the late Government thought it might be as well to let the people reflect upon their conduct. Because they extended their clemency to the Leaguers, this Government must go and elevate some of them to office! I was astonished, as I listened to the reasoning of the hon. Attorney General on this point. Notwithstanding his remarks, I believe Mr. Balderston was made Registrar of Deeds because he supported the League and two members in this House who represent that element. This, I do not say, because I think the Government have any fixed principles, for they appear to have little or no principle at all. Perhaps their object was to get aid in the other end of the Building, or the upper branch of the Legislature. Whatever may have been their motive, the minority would not have discharged their duty had they not brought up this question; but I do not expect we shall be allowed to go into it, for Liberal as the party call themselves, we can scarcely suppose they are liberal enough to permit the Opposition to carry the motion before the House. The safety of the dominant party, however, does not weigh but with me; I consider that the honor of the country is of far more consequence that the existence of this composite Government. (Applause). I believe that any change could scarcely be a change for the worse. In regard to Mr. Balderston, personally, I do not wish to say anything to his prejudice.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—He was a good Conservative.
Mr. BRECKEN.—He was a good Conservative until he was misguided. The Government party he has only supported for a few months; still he was appointed to office in preference to others who have had claims on the Liberals as supporters of their cause for the last 15 or 20 years. What other conclusion, therefore, can we come to than this, that he was rewarded with office solely on account of his Tenant League principles?
Hon. the LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT: Mr. Speaker, a motion to go into the state of the Colony must lie upon the table of this House twenty-four hours before it can be considered, and sir, you will have to decide whether the question is on order or not.
Mr. SPEAKER.—The question cannot be gone into, until the motion has been twenty-four hours upon the table of this House.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT then moved that this House do now adjourn, which being seconded by Hon. Mr. Howlan, Mr. Speaker was putting the motion of adjournment, when
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN rose and said:—Mr. Speaker, I do not think that they need be so anxious about an adjournment. No doubt they feel their present position rather disagreeable, and wish to get out of it by closing up this discussion with an adjournment. There can be no doubt but that they wish to get clear of it as soon as possible. What surprises me most is, that those hon. members who have come in here by means of Tenant League influences cannot rise up like men and defend the cause of those who sent them here. Why, there are some hon. members in this House who ought to rise and defend the action of the Government in this matter.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—The Speaker has put the question of adjournment.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—I am astonished that there are so many hon. members here who, though they ought to rise and defend the Government in this matter, do not. There they sit; but there were sone of them who could rise and travel, from south to north, and from north to south, in aid of the cause, and yet they cannot get up and defend the men who sent them here, although they received ten shillings a day from the League. (Applause.)
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Who does the hon. member mean?
Cries of “adjourn, adjourn.”
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—These interruptions are out of place. Hon. members ought to keep cool.
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order, and to say that although the question of adjournment is before this House, the hon. member can speak to the motion on any irrelevant matter as long as the question is not put.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—I do not wish to give the hon. the leader of the Government much opposition,
for I am aware that he is not in the position he formerly was. He, perhaps, is unable to do what he would wish; for he cannot act with the party to which he is now attached, as if it was his party. Why, sir, there are so many of them who belong to no party! No less than five members were put in by the Tenant League party. But where are they now? They are silent! Was it only that they might get into power that they supported the League? Why do they not rise and show something like an interest in those who supported them? I heard of one of them who in some parts of the district for which he was returned, knew all about the League, and in others, oh, he knew nothing at all about them! Some of these men said that the League would get them free land without the aid of the Government. There are five of them here, and yet they will not rise and defend their friends. Well it is too bad. (Laughter) The Liberals have got all they wanted out of them. I wish to know if they are ashamed of the party, when they cannot say a word in their favor. But then perhaps they could not avoid this appointment. It may not be right to refer to the other branch of the Legislature, but it appears that there was one member there who stood master of the situation. He had to be bought, and he would not sell himself very cheaply. He would not sell himself for the office of a Road Commissioner. There was one member there, however, who had to be won over.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Was there?
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—I did not hear what the hon. member said.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Was there? (Laughter).
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—I did not hear the hon. member yet. (Laughter). I suppose he is ashamed to speak out. (Laughter). Well, there are so many interruptions. (Roars of Laughter). Now, I do not think they ought to be so anxious to get clear of the discussion in this manner. If they would only agree to go into committee on this subject to-morrow, then we could discuss the matter. Why, even to their own friends they do not seem willing to do justice, when they say they cannot tell who this Dickieson is. Is it not a wonder to see them so ignorant? I think that there are among them those who heard of him, and who knew him too. But I have just now come to my recollection. Those middle men have to be bought, and the spoils divided among them. It does not say much for their independence, if they have to be bought. I do not know exactly what to call them. I am very much disappointed. I would like to hear the Tenant League men get up and say something. Perhaps one of them may get up yet. I think we will hear something from him now, for I see him rising. I will sit down.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Oh, go on, they will not say a word. (Laughter).
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—Well, now, how they have got him under; they have kept him down. (Laughter).
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Does the hon. member refer to me?
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—Oh, is that hon. member the person. (Laughter). It is so strange how the same remark suits two hon. members at the same time. There is nothing like going forward in an honest straightforward manner. But this appointment is rewarding a man for violating the laws of the land. Hereafter, let a man get up a noisy organization, and he will obtain a good office. Why, some of those travelling agents of the League received ten shillings a-day, and I heard one of them admit it.
Mr. McNEILL.—Will the hon. member listen to me?
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—Oh, have I stung one of them at last? Will he get up now? (Roars of Laughter). They could travel from Cavendish to Murray Harbor, earn their ten shillings a-day, and then in their hearts turn round upon the people and say, “What fools you have made of yourselves!” Will the hon. member get up now? (Loud Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—Don’t stop him. (Renewed Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—Is this the Leaguer? Well, some of them may break their bonds yet. I suppose that notwithstanding the Lieutenant Governor’s proclamation, this person who violated the law is to get an office. But it is strange they do not say one word about the Barracks now. This Mr. Balderston was once a Conservative, but a good office brought him over.
Mr. McNEILL.—There have been a good many insinuations thrown out—
Mr. SPEAKER.—This House stands adjourned until 10 o’clock to-morrow.