Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings (8 March 1870)
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 1870, 23d Parl, 4th Sess, 1870 at 17-29.
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TUESDAY, March 8.
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Mr. Kelly in the chair.
Mr. McLean said that no people could be called free and independent unless they had power to make their own laws, and on looking at the position we would occupy in the Dominion, were we to join it, he concluded we would be virtually deprived of that privilege. In the Senate we would certainly have no representation, because whoever might represent us there would be appointed by the Governor General, and not by us. This, he considered, would be bordering on despotism. It might be argued by hon. members of the Opposition that Her Majesty the Queen had the power of appointing the British Peers. This he admitted to be true, but she might be said to hold her position by divine right, or inheritance from King Wm. III., who was placed on the throne by the unanimous voice of the people. But no such right existed in, or should be conferred upon the Governor General of, the Dominion. He was nothing more than a loyal British subject, who received his appointment from the Crown and not from the people. It appeared to him that the great desire evinced for confederation by certain hon. members of this Legislature arose from the attraction which $4,000 per annum looming up in the distance had for them, but not from the conviction that such a union would benefit this Island. He thought it should have the opposite effect, and induce us more earnestly to set our faces against such proposals. Last evening he heard an hon. member refer to loyalty, who said that in this day it was in the pocket, and not in the heat, and that loyalty now necessarily led to confederation, and that confederation was a stepping stone to annexation. He could not see that such was a correct conclusion, and hoped the question, when it came up, would be fairly considered.
Hon. Mr. McAulay said that, in this discussion, hon. members had diverged considerably from the points more immediately before the Committee. The paragraph stated that the visit of the Governor General was “watched” with deep interest by the people of this colony. He did not understand how that was done. The Government must have been apprehensive that Sir John Young was going to draw the Island up to the head of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and hence set a tremendous “watch” over him—even the whole of the men, women and children of the colony. Before proceeding further, he would pause for an explanation from the chairman of the Committee who prepared the Address.
Mr. Reilly thought the hon. member had better finish his speech. The Committee put the word “watch” in that it might induce the hon. member to expend some of his superfluous ability.
Hon. Mr. McAulay—Superfluous did the hon. member say? As the Address would be sent abroad, he hoped the Government would make it plain.
Hon. Col. Secretary knew the visit of Sir John Young and some members of his cabinet to our Island last year had been watched with deep interest by our people. They looked forward to his arrival with pleasure, and when he came were delighted to see him, and paid him every respect.
Hon. Mr. McAulay contended that visit was like a ghost, invisible, and therefore could not be watched.
Mr. Reilly—They looked forward to the results of the visit.
Hon. Mr. MacAulay—Had the address said so, then it would have been understood. He had not expressed an opinion on confederation […]
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[…] for the last three years, and did not intend to do so now, but would give his views when the proper time came. He hoped he would then be found able to give satisfactory opinion on the question. As to all the people watching, half of them never heard that Sir John Young was coming to the colony.
Mr. McNeill considered the only object the hon. member could have in finding fault with the Government was to induce the people to get rid of those who had, and were now, watching the ship of state so faithfully.
Mr. Bell did not understand why any fault should be found with the expression in the Address. The members of the Legislature represented the people, and all the interests of the country were, for the time being, committed to the keeping of the Government. He could not see how the Government could show their interest for the welfare of the country better than by carefully watching the movements of any party who were suspected of aiming at depriving us of our privileges, nor could he perceive any word more appropriate or suitable than the one used. It was well known that the visit of His Excellency had something to do with confederation, and hence they were watching to see that no occasion should be given to confirm those alarms which appeared in the public press of the country.
Mr. Kickham—The Hon. Mr. Haviland said last night that each hon. member should express an opinion on this subject. At present we had power to levy our own taxes, regulate all our own affairs as we thought proper, and place whom we pleased in authority to manage our public affairs. For the last half century we had done so without receiving any assistance from Canada or elsewhere. We had lived without their aid so far, and he felt convinced were able to do so yet.
Mr. Prowse.—Perhaps it was well that the sentiments of all the members of this hon. committee should now be known on the important question of confederation. When he came to the House this session, he expected that he would have to oppose the majority on this question, but, to his surprise, he found the Government committed to the principle of confederation, as this committee was asked to give its calm consideration to the question. He thought it would have been more consistent for the Government to have expressed their decided opinion on the subject than to be waiting to feel the public pulse. The Government had not expressed any decisive opinion, and believing that public men should do so, he must condemn such conduct. The Government of Newfoundland did not express an opinion so undecisive, but distinctly said that no terms would be accepted.
Hon. Col. Secretary could not understand why the hon. member should condemn the government for submitting the question to the consideration of the House, when the hon. member himself said the subject should be well considered by each hon. member.
Mr. Prowse was not in favor of confederation on the terms proposed, but was in favor of the principle, and believed it would be difficult for this Colony to remain in isolation much longer. He knew that loyal men who had a sympathy with our institutions were making strenuous efforts to connect the whole of British America under one government. Last year we were called upon to provide for the payment of the Governor’s salary, and when he reflected that the sum annually required to meet this demand represented a capital of £42,000, at 5 per cent., he felt that the demand was a large one, and thought it was but the commencement of a pressure which might be continued, if we refused to accept reasonable terms and enter the Dominion. It was commonly said that straws showed how the wind blew, and this circumstance declared to us the determination of the British Government, and he believed their wishes should have weight with us. He was not afraid of the terms that had already been proposed, and believed the Dominion Government was disposed to do full justice to this Colony. He felt that if the Dominion would bear a fair proportion of the expenses of our public works, in addition to the construction of railroad throughout this Island, then the question should be formally considered. If a railroad was proposed to be built in any other way than in connection with the Dominion he would oppose its construction. He considered it the duty of the Government to state the terms we should accept, and give the Dominion Government to know that if they were granted we would unite with them. As to increased taxation, he thought we could bear it as well as the other Colonies, and ours would be no higher than theirs would be.
Mr. Cameron said the hon. member was last year opposed to confederation, and he was surprised to see what a change had […]
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[…] come over the spirit of his dream. He thought if the hon. member was justified in changing his mind on this important question, he certainly gave no reason to show it. Some hon. members appeared to think that if we resisted confederation it would lead to annexation. The tendency of the remarks of the hon. member for Charlottetown led to this conclusion. The hon. member for Murray Harbor said, if the Dominion would agree to build a railroad for us he would be willing to enter confederation, but that he would oppose the building of one out of our own resources. His (Mr. Cameron’s) opinion was that our chances for a railroad outside of confederation were greater than if we were joined to the Dominion. Judging from what had already taken place, he saw no reason to suppose that even if we were to enter the Dominion, that the conditions upon which we might enter would be always held inviolable.
Hon. Mr. McAulay regarded the discussion of the question now as altogether out of place.
Mr. Howat was of a different opinion, and thought hon. members should now give their views at once; others might have changed their opinions on this subject, but he saw no reason why he should change his. Although we should get terms that we might regard as favorable, the power of changing these would always rest with the Dominion. When the delegates went to Quebec, they said the terms were favorable, and he believed one of those who signed them sat in the House.
Hon. Mr. Haviland asked if he meant him.
Hon. Mr. Haviland was glad that he signed his name to that document.
Mr. Howat.—Those who signed the Quebec Report said the terms were good, yet other and better were now offered. This he regarded as showing that no confidence should be placed in the offer. The Imperial Government had already said that the Dominion Government had power to alter or change the constitution, which he regarded as a clear proof that any terms which might be agreed upon could be altered. The Dominion Government was now making strenuous efforts to get us to unite with Canada. Strenuous efforts were also now being made in some parts of the Dominion to upset the present Government, and what guarantee had we if a new Government was formed that it would not overturn, and set aside any arrangements their predecessors might have entered into. It was said that our produce would be shut out of the Dominion markets, but this should not alarm us. All the Provinces had fine capabilities for agriculture, and would soon have to turn their attention to it. They then would supply [illegible] own markets. He saw no reason why we should place ourselves in a position to be taxed by the Dominion. The hon. member for Murray Harbor said he was not afraid of high taxes; that if the Dominion could stand them so could we, but he thought that was a race our people would not wish to run. There were islands in the British Channel that had retained their own government, and why might not we do the same? He would not consent to surrender our privileges. We could be as loyal out of the Dominion, as in it, and our duty was to oppose confederation.
Mr. McNeill said it was well known that the terms of the Quebec report were condemned by the people of this Colony, and yet, without any offer from this Island, the Canadians came down here and proposed ether terms. When the first terms were offered, they were considered fair by some, these last were regarded as better, but, as the hon. member for Tryon said, what guarantee would we have that they might not be altered? Why, our agreement with them would probably prove no stronger than a rope of sand! The other Provinces might complain, even as Ontario was doing respecting Nova Scotia. They might say that the concessions made to us were unfair to the other Provinces. Money seemed to be the object, and the only one now in the way, in the opinion of many; but he would not look at it from that point of view. He would like to have the opinion of an experienced man like the hon. member for Georgetown (Mr. McAulay) and hoped he would favor the committee with it; he was sorry that the hon. Leader of the Opposition was in favor of confederation, for if he was opposed to it he felt sure that no undue influence would ever induce him to betray the country. He would, therefore, be glad to see him in the anti-confederate ranks, and regarded it as unfortunate that he was pursuing a course which, if carried, would prove so detrimental to the interests of the country. He viewed the matter also from another point. One hundred years ago, his grand-father came to this country, and, in common with others, had to encounter many hardships, such as clearing their farms, opening up new roads, and contending with wild beasts and land agents. The […]
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[…] country had since prospered, and that entirely by the industry of the people. We had no resources for the construction of our public works. The other Provinces derived a revenue from their public lands, and it appeared to him hard that a resort to any unfair means should be thought of to force us into a connection we disliked. It was now but one hundred years since we were separated from Nova Scotia. Since then we had managed our own affairs as well, if not better, than our neighbors, and if Canada had studied her own interests she would have seen that it was no use to be proposing new terms. To accept of any terms would be to give up our independence. We elected our men for four years, and could replace them with others, if they did not do right, but, once into confederation, what power would we then have to alter the government? He read the lecture which was delivered in the city, last fall, on confederation, and noticed that an argument was drawn from the union of the thirteen colonies in favor of confederation. He contended there was no analogy between them. Their union was cordial ; they were united by a common interest, being drawn together to fight for their liberty ; and by the arrangement made between them they had prospered commercially, as they exchanged their products with each other. In Newfoundland, wealthy men engaged in fishing, but the superior privileges conferred upon the French fishermen by the government of France, rendered their fishing, to a great extent, a failure. With regard to the union of the colonies, he felt that we were not prepared for it, and did not believe we would ever be forced to go into union with Canada. It had been laid down that parliament could not destroy itself and this was admitted by good authority and laid down by some of the best minds in England. He did not think Nova Scotia was fairly dealt with, and with her example before us, he believed this Island would never return men to the Legislature who would destroy our parliament.
Hon. Mr. Haviland said the hon. member was not correct in saying a parliament could not destroy itself, for facts in this case were stronger than theory. In the reign of Queen Anne, the parliament of Scotland destroyed itself. The parliament of Ireland did the same, and so did that of Jamaica. Hence the theory of the hon. member did not hold good.
House Adjourned for one hour.
Hon. Mr. Haviland said he did not intent to make many remarks on the question of confederation until the despatches and papers relating to that subject were laid before the House, but he purposed replying to some hon. members who had spoken on the subject. He agreed with the remark of the hon member from East Point (Mr. McLean) that no people were independent unless they had a right to make their own laws, but he took exception to the application of that principle to the union of this Island with Canada, for, in case such union should take place, our local government would still make our local laws, and we should have representatives in the Parliament at Ottawa who would assist in making the general laws of the Dominion. It had been said that we would only have five members in the Dominion Parliament, but if we joined the United States we would have no representatives in Congress at all, for, according to the American law, no place could have a representative unless it had a population of one hundred and twenty-seven thousand. There was territorial representation in the Senate. The Dominion was divided into three sections, and each section sent twenty-four members to the Senate. The hon member (Mr. McLean) had been very indignant that the Senators should be appointed by the Governor General, and not elected by the people; but the former great leaders of the Liberal party in this Island, Messrs. Coles and Whelan, had always argued in favor of having the Legislative Council nominative, and not elective. The hon member (Mr. Howat) had informed the House that he (Leader of the Opposition) had been guilty of signing the Quebec Report, but he would say that he was in very good company in doing so, as all the leading statesmen of the colonies had done the same. The only delegates from this Island who had not signed that Report were the Hon. Colonel Gray and the Hon. George Coles, who were in the United States at the time it was signed. The hon member (Mr. Howat) had stated that our […]
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[…] trade with Canada was nothing, and that we had better therefore hug our isolation ; but if he would look at the statistics he would find that our trade with the Dominion was equal to that with Great Britain, if we excepted the new ships sent to England. Large quantities of butter, lard, and pork, which was becoming a large article of export, were sent to the Dominion.
Mr. Howat said that the Hon. Leader of the Opposition had misunderstood him. He referred to the future, and stated that they had plenty of land in the Dominion capable of producing all they could consume.
Hon. Mr. Haviland was glad that the hon member (Mr. Howat) only referred to the future, and that he acknowledged that the inhabitants of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick did require our produce at the present time. The agricultural capabilities of Nova Scotia had been over estimated. A great part of it was utterly sterile. The soil of this Island was much more easily cultivated than that of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It would not be so easy as some hon members thought for us to find a market for our produce, if the Dominion treated us as a foreign state, and taxed all our exports, especially at the present time, when all our products were prohibited from the American market. The first thing that should be done was to ascertain whether a union with the rest of British America would benefit us or not, and when that question was decided, it would be time enough to talk about the terms. He (Mr. Haviland) had given it as his opinion four years ago, that confederation was only a work of time. Then there were only three or four confederates on the Island, but now there were more than the hon member for Belfast (Mr. Duncan) would like to see. The youngest men of the country, who were being literally educated, would understand this subject, and would be strong advocates of confederation. In the middle of the nineteenth century to say that isolation was preferable to confederation, was contrary to the spirit of the age. If states were better apart than joined, why had the United States not permitted the Southerners to have their independence instead of expending so much to force them back to their allegiance? The petty German States were being absorbed by the larger countries around theirs. Scotland had prospered since her union with England, and was not ahead of almost any other country in proportion to her size. If we joined the Dominion we would be of some importance, and not the miserable, wretched sand bank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that we now were.
Hon. Mr. Duncan said that this isolated sand bank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was more prosperous than the lower provinces, and he believed also was better off than Canada ; and if, as had been argued, the union of two provinces was for the benefit of the poorer one, this was an argument against our joining the Dominion. If the Dominion should put a duty on our exports, we could turn our potatoes and barley into pork, and find a market for that in England. He (Mr. Duncan) had received a statement from an intelligent farmer that he could raise pork of the value of £ 82 10s. at a cost of £76, reckoning potatoes at 1s., and barely at 3s. per bushel. Thus a farmer could get a remunerative price for his potatoes without the trouble of hauling them. Some time ago New Brunswick required a large quantity of our oats, but of late years they had shipped oats to England themselves, and in a few years New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would grow all the produce they required. If we required £80,000 to supply our local wants now, when we had a population of about one hundred thousand, what would be the consequence when our population should increase to two hundred thousand, were we joined to the Dominion? for the only additional amount we would then receive would be £24,000 (eighty cents per head for one hundred thousand) which would be utterly inadequate to meet our requirements, and a resort to direct taxation would be inevitable. Canada could not give us terms which would be fair to us and themselves. If we should be obliged to go into Confederation, as some hon […]
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[…] members had stated, that was no argument why we should voluntarily go into it—we should not commit suicide because we had to die. He (Mr. Duncan) believed that confederates were increasing in number, for he had heard the present Leader of the Government party (Mr. Davies) state, at a public meeting of his constituents, that if they had changed their views on confederation, it would make a great difference with him, intimating that he would be ready to change his opinions to suit the times.
Hon. Col. Secretary, in reply to Hon. Mr. Duncan, stated that he had never made use of the language attributed to him by that hon. member, but had merely asked his constituents, at the meeting referred to, if they had changed their opinion on the subject of confederation. The people at that meeting had almost unanimously declared against confederation, but he (Col. Sec’y) had told them that they should give the subject their calm consideration, and not look upon all the advocates of confederation as insincere. At first he (Col. Sec’y) had thought the terms somewhat liberal, but on closer investigation, he had seen the injustice of them. The Canadian government had performed one act of justice towards us, in stating that our lands had been taken from us unjustly. The offer made by the Canadian government was not sufficiently positive. They were first to endeavor to induce the British Government to give us compensation for our lands, and he (Col. Sec’y) did not think the British government would pay any more attention to their requests than they had to ours. The Dominion government not only asked us to give up our revenue, but to give them power to tax us at whatever rate they might think proper, and we would have no privileges under confederation that we did not now enjoy. It would be better for us not to have any representatives in the Dominion Parliament, because if we sent five members there, we would be responsible for all the laws passed by that Parliament, and could not protest against them. The Governor General would have the appointing of the senators, and as it would be done by the advice of his ministers, they would be all chosen from one political party—the party which had carried confederation. It was the policy of the present government to keep on friendly terms with both the Canadian and Imperial governments, so that we might be allowed to remain in our present position. If we treated the despatches from the British government on the subject of confederation with contempt, the Colonial Minister might make it a pretext for recommending that this Island should be forced into union. The British government should put us in the same position with respect to public lands as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were, before they asked us to join the Dominion. Instead of receiving a revenue from public lands we had been paying a heavy rent, and if we received fair play we should get the interest of about one million pounds sterling paid to us annually by the British Government. Had Scotland not united with England she would probably have been just as wealthy as she now is, her prosperity was owing to the energy and industry of her inhabitants. Our union with the Dominion would be no advantage to us, as the Canadians did not want our oats or pork, which were our principal articles of export.
Hon. Mr. Haviland said that Mr. Owen Connolly had a contract to deliver four hundred barrels of pork in Quebec on the opening of the navigation.
Hon. Col. Secretary quoted the following from the speech of Mr. McKenzie, one of the leaders of the opposition in the Commons of the Dominion Parliament, published in the Globe newspaper of 25th February, 1870:
“We find at one end of the Dominion chronic discontent, at the other end open rebellion; we find all the Provinces that were then out of the Dominion still out of the Dominion. We find that, although this government has enjoyed the most powerful support that any government has received in this country since 1849, they have utterly failed to accomplish what they promised, and what they charged the Opposition with wishing to obstruct them in doing. * * * * The financial department is in such a state of utter disorder that it is quite impossible to give the slightest attention to any document coming from it. Last session a report was taken three times for correction, and came back incorrect after all. The balances are false. The late Finance Minister brought down a statement, made in 1868, showing the amount of interest on the public debt. At the beginning of the next session we were informed that there was an error of $200,000 or $300,000. We find that most extraordinary irregularities have taken place in the Receiver General’s department; that there has been no proper system of book keeping; that the leader had not been posted for years; that it is very nearly impossible for any one to get a proper statement of our debenture debt. I make these statements simply because they are known to every one, […]
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[…] and the extraordinary revelations made in connection with one of the officers of the government some time ago, show a state of things which no merchant in the country could endure, and which would bring ordinary commercial affairs into ruin a couple of months.”
In view of such a state of affairs, he (Col. Sec’y) thought the charge of bribery and corruption brought against the Dominion Government was not without foundation, and we would act the part of wisdom in refraining from linking our destinies with a country under such a government.
Mr. Brecken thought it would have been better to have left the discussion of confederation until all the documents relating to it had been laid on the table. As the “better terms” were sent by the Dominion Government shortly after the visit of Sir John Young and some of the members of his cabinet to the Island, the inference was that our government had given them to understand that some such terms would be acceptable to the people; and if so, the conduct of the present Leader of the Government party (Mr. Davies) was unaccountable. The hon. member had certainly been very inconsistent; one moment lauding the Canadian Government to the skies because they coincided with his views on the land question, and the next moment declaring them so corrupt that he did not wish to have any connection with them. The bug-bear of taxation had been brought up to frighten the people, but the Canadians could impose no taxes on us that they did not put upon themselves, and if we were wealthy, as had been stated by some hon. members, we would be able to bear taxation. It was a deplorable piece of ignorance on the part of the Colonial Secretary to say that strangers might be appointed to represent us in the Dominion Senate, for a section of the Act expressly provided that they should be taken from the Province which they were to represent.
Hon. Col. Secretary said he had not made such a statement, but that the senators would all be chosen from one political party.
Mr. McLean did not believe there was any such clause in the Act, and wished the hon. member (Mr. Brecken) to point it out if there was.
Mr. Brecken said it was also provided in the Act that, if a senator, after being appointed, left the Province which he represented and went to live in another country, his seat would become vacant, and a permanent resident of the Province would be appointed. He (Mr. Brecken) believed the present government of Canada were an extravagant set, and probably they had some dishonest officials, so that the accounts might not always be correct, but that was no more an argument against confederation than the want of proper attention to roads and bridges by a member of this House would tell against responsible government. He (Mr. Brecken) had been charged with saying that anti-confederation meant annexation; what he meant was, that unless we united with the other colonies, we should be absorbed by the Republic. The statesmen of Great Britain were in favor of consolidation, as was evidenced by their not interfering when Prussia swallowed up the little kingdom of Hanover, the birth place of some of England’s sovereigns. When king George, the poor blind ruler of Hanover, was driven from his throne, the statesmen of England had not raised a voice against it, because they believed in the great principle of confederation—the happiness of the many must prevail over the comfort of the few. The United States could not make a treaty with us, and every offer they made now was only for the purpose of tampering with our loyalty.
[The hon. member here read a letter which had appeared in the Cape Ann Advertiser, but the Reporter was unable to obtain a copy.]
Hon. members were in the habit of disparaging the people of Canada, but if they would travel through that country they would find as fine a set of men as were to be seen in any country. The following article appeared in the London Times, which would show the feelings of the people of England respecting these colonies. Respecting Mr. Beaumont’s resolutions it said:
“The first three relate to the short comings of the mother country, the remainder to the means of remedying them. The first resolution declared the duty of England to afford “protection” to every colonist. ‘As British subjects in the colonies no less than in the mother country are bound to render, and do render, allegiance to the Crown of England, they are no less entitled to the constitutional rights of British subjects; and to withhold from them any such rights which are applicable to their situation would be a grave offence on the part of any responsible officer of the Crown.’ The sonorous language about protection from the Crown of England being the constitutional right of every British subject, does not imply any dereliction of duty on the part of the mother country as against a European enemy. The colonists know well that if France or the United States threatened them, the mother […]
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[…] country would strain every nerve in their defence. A few years since we sent the Guards to Canada in the depth of winter, and hurried to sea the squadrons which should guard the British American coast and the West India Islands. Was there here any failure in duty, any shrinking from the responsibilities with England had incurred by the planting of colonies, any disregard of the colonists as fellow subjects or as men? To persist in ignoring the plain and just, and equitable distinction which has been laid down by the home government is to trifle with public opinion. It has been declared that England is ever ready to defend the colonies from external and civilized enemies, but that it belongs to themselves to deal with local tumult or with the barbarous races who may exist within their borders. The pretence that such an apportionment of duties is an abandonment of our own, or a withdrawal of a due protection, tends to make us suspect the spirit in which the colonists call for a closer union. As to the severance of the colonies from the Empire, we retain the opinion we always expressed that politically, socially and commercially, the colonies are in the highest degree valuable to England, and ought to be retained. When their abandonment was urged some years ago by Mr. Goldwin, Smith, with the dogmatic intolerance of his school, we combated the proposal, and should it be renewed, we would combat it again. But there is a great difference between maintaining an honorable connection with free fellow-subjects, and making them helpless by keeping them in leading strings like children. God forbid that the colonies should be abandoned! But if ever this comes to pass, it will be the result of a conviction on the part of England that their inhabitants look only to the loaves and fishes of the Imperial system, and that the dependencies are suckers and not feeders of the body politic.”
Mr. Bell did not see the first thing we would gain by confederation. The Dominion could provide no market for our produce or our fish; and whatever inducement they might offer to us in money, as we had seen to-day, might be taken from us again. The British American Act had been violated by the late arrangement with Nova Scotia, and what was given us one year by the Ottawa parliament might be taken away another. It ought to be our great aim to open up trade with the country that would furnish us a market, and Canada could do nothing for us in this respect. The confederation scheme was highly objectionable in that it offered almost a fixed income for a rapidly increasing revenue. Though the tabular statement issued in Charlottetown showed that a considerable quantity of goods were imported from the Dominion, and claimed that under confederation they would come in here free, yet on examination it was found that a large proportion of these articles were of English manufacture, or were the produce of the West Indies, and would be subject to duty under the Canadian tariff. With respect to the exports to the Dominion set down in that statement, a great portion of them were only articles forwarded through New Brunswick to the United States. For example, those statistics showed that a quantity of fish had been exported to the Dominion, and he knew that the part of the country from which he came sent almost all that quantity over the New Brunswick railway to St. John, for the American market. Our isolation here prevented us from having any trade with the outside world for about five months in the year, consequently it would be hard for us to pay equally with the other Provinces in supporting the public works of the Dominion. Once into confederation, the general parliament could tax us as much as they pleased, and only grant us what they thought proper; they might even refuse to give us what they promised. This $800,000 which they offered to settle the land question, they had no right to pay, as the grievance was not of Canadian but Imperial origin; therefore, we might expect, it we entered the Dominion, that the first time our representatives asked for money, they would be told that Prince Edward Island had already for her share and would have to be content. In answer to the hon. Leader of the Opposition’s remarks with respect to his (Mr. Bell’s) annexation tendencies, he might say that his great desire was to see this Island obtain a free market for her fish and produce. He thought, too, that any observer of events must come to the conclusion that this continent would some day be under one government ; and though he was a Scotchman, and would yield to no person in loyalty to his sovereign, he did not think that our interests should be overlooked. In his opinion, there would be nothing improper in petitioning the home government to allow us to change our allegiance; he would never give his consent to strike one blow or shed one drop of blood against the Queen’s authority, but he could not see that it would be disloyalty to ask in a peaceable way for separation from her government. John Bright, now one of Her Majesty’s cabinet ministers, had expressed the opinion that America would be one from Baffin’s Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, and he (Mr. B.) contended that we should not be called disloyal for holding the same views.
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Mr. Brecken.—The British American Act, it was said, had been violated, and the questions asked what guarantee had we that the proposals of the Dominion, if accepted by this Colony, would not be receded from again by the general parliament? True there was a party in Upper Canada that did grumble at the increased allowances made to Nova Scotia, as being a violation of that Act, but he thought if it were an error, it was one on the right side, as Nova Scotia had had nothing taken from her. We had as yet been no party to any arrangement with the Dominion, and to say that any compact entered into between her and this Colony, would afterwards be altered by the general parliament, was simply absurd. The hon. member from Alberton had stated that Canada could not effect a removal of the restrictions on our trade. But what prospects, he (Mr. B.) would ask, had this Colony of obtaining free trade with the United States on her own account? A reciprocity committee from Congress had been here, and their visit had only resulted in showing that there was not the ghost of a chance of the Island alone getting the restrictions on her trade with that country removed. Any person who had listened to the extract read from an American paper by the hon. Leader of the Opposition must be convinced that any concessions in that direction must be obtained at the expense of our loyalty. It was said by some that were we to enter confederation we would lose the glorious privilege of self-government. Well, that was a very taking argument. Self-government was a great blessing, and we were undoubtedly about as free as any part of the world. Greater freedom existed here than even in the United States, as was evidenced by the difficulty there a short time ago between President Johnson and Congress. Here there could be no dead lock of that kind, for as soon as this House passed a vote of want of confidence in the government the administration was overthrown. Here also we could worship God as we pleased ; but if we became a part of the Dominion, would our freedom in this respect be tampered with? The liberty of the press was another of those glorious privileges of which we boasted in this Colony, but was the press less free in Canada? Would the right of trial by jury be taken from us were we in the Dominion? Had the people there not the same sun to shine upon them, the same dews to moisten them, and the same showers to water their fields as we had in this Island? Then why all this outcry about losing our self-government, when the whole question between us and Canada resolved itself in one of money? In considering the subject of confederation, there was no occasion to soar to the regions of political fancy ; just look at our various public officers, what a miserable pittance they received. Yes, it was money we needed, so let the government go to work and make up their bill, and tell Canada what they wanted. At a recent public meeting in this city, he had heard gentlemen in high-sounding strains ask their auditors whether they would sell their rights for money. Such language could only be addressed to the passions of the people, for it must be evident to every unprejudiced mind that not one feather would be plucked from the eagle of our liberty by uniting with the Dominion. It was useless, as he said before, for us, a separate colony, to think of getting free trade with the United States. When the delegates, General Butler, Judge Poland and that other talented gentleman, Mr. Beck, were here the other summer, he (Mr. Brecken) put the question to Mr. Beck whether he expected their visit would accomplish anything towards establishing reciprocity between their country and this Island. He answered, no. In fact, he remarked, he was only put on the committee by Speaker Colfax, to hold one end of the political rope whilst General Butler held the other, and he was very glad of it, for they had had an exceedingly pleasant time; but, said he, you will have no reciprocity treaty until you have it with the whole of British America included. He (Mr. Brecken) knew that our fisheries were valuable, but an agricultural people, such as ours, did not care to engage in them; our neighbors, however, who had not so fertile a country as this Island, would prosecute them. Nova Scotia would also become a manufacturing province, as she possessed the coal and the iron, and all these industries would tend to make a market for our produce. These were some of the results which we might expect from confederation, but whether we entered it or not, we could not stop the progress of events in the Dominion. Many in the country thought this agitation was started by a set of young politicians in Charlottetown, who saw that there was no scope for them in this […]
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[…] Colony, and wished to have the wider field of Canada for their ambition. Charges of bribery and corruption had been freely made against the advocates of confederation, but the expression of a little independent sentiment in this House had had a wholesome effect for within the last day or two nothing had been heard about Canadian gold. No person had a right to hold up past political actions to any one, and say, you ought not to pursue this or that course. Every hon. member should have the manliness to express his own conviction. When this great anti-confederate party would be returned at the next election, he hoped they would not play a fast and loose policy on the question, like what the hon. Colonial Secretary had done when he went down to the Uigg meeting, and asked the people there whether they had changed their opinions and were now in favor of confederation. A voice in the crowd answered, “no;” and he replied, “then I am with you !” (Laughter.)
Mr. McLean maintained that he was right with respect to what he said in the morning about the senators of the Dominion; they were to be appointed by the Governor General, and it made very little difference where they lived, as it would be their interest to please him. We, at least, would have no control over them. The fewness of their number was also an objection. In the United States, the smallest state had as many senators as the largest ; but, in the Dominion, it was not so. Upper Canada had 24 senators, Lower Canada 24, and the Lower Provinces 24, once Newfoundland should come in, when the number would be 28. He contended that this arrangement was against the Lower Provinces; in his opinion, they ought to have a majority in the Senate, so that if any encroachment upon them should be attempted, it might be counteracted by that body.
Mr. Brecken.—The last speaker was a new member, and he would not employ the same language towards him which he did to the Colonial Secretary, who ought to know better. The senators, no doubt, would be nominally appointed by the Governor General, but he must act according to the advice of his council, who were responsible to parliament.
Hon. Mr. Laird.—Hon. members of the Opposition had twitted the Government for holding any conference with the delegates from Ottawa, if they did not intend to entertain their proposals. He did not see what harm could result from asking these gentlemen what they were able to do for us. He (Mr. L.) was not present at these negotiations, a circumstances for which he was sorry. But had he been with his colleagues on the occasion, he would not have objected to head their proposals, so that any terms they might offer could be placed before the people at the next general election. He considered it was the duty of members of the Executive to ask the so-called all-powerful government of the Dominion what it could do to aid us in obtaining a redress of our grievances. It was admitted on all sides that we had been wronged by Britain with respect to our lands, and were this government, this noble government of Canada, to give us some tangible proof that they had an irresistible influence with the Imperial authorities, it would go a great way to remove his objections to confederation. He was surprised that the hon. Leader of the Opposition, who was such an admirer of free trade, did not look to his own favorite, model country, Canada, and vent his righteous indignation against her Japanese trade policy, instead of wasting all his eloquence in condemning the restrictive tariffs between this Island and the Dominion. Here we imposed a duty on such articles as wine, tobacco, &c., for a revenue must be raised from something, as governments did not live on air; but surely it was better to replenish the treasury in this way than to impose a tax on newspapers, printing paper, books, and notes-of-hand. In the Dominion, even knowledge was taxed, but here we were free from all such restrictions. The hon. member for Charlottetown must also receive a little notice; but he (Mr. L.) had to confess he remembered very little of what that gentleman had said; his words, indeed, were pleasing to the ear; but they left little behind them but an echo-an echo, too, of the sentiments some person else had uttered before. Well, he (Mr. Brecken) seemed to be very much exercised about the views expressed by the members of the government to the delegates from Ottawa. He (Mr. L.) thought it made very little difference what had passed at the informal meeting with these gentlemen, for it was quite probable that they had formed their conclusions chiefly from outside information. About the time of their visit, it was stated in the Toronto Globe that the government here was in a tottering condition, and that, no doubt, a change int he sentiments of the people would be seen when the general election came off next spring. If this was the […]
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[…] opinion entertained by the Canadian delegates, it was altogether unlikely that such far-seeing statesmen would base their proposals on the views of a shaky administration. It had been said that Canada had at present an economical government. He was glad to head it, for evidently such a character could not be given its predecessors. The customs revenue of the Dominion for the year ending June 20, 1868, was in round numbers $8,000,00, and the interest paid in the same time on the public debt over $4,000,000. This was a debt, too, incurred without any expensive war. What would her case be when she had to provide a standing army to defend her frontier from ocean to ocean, and a navy to protect her commerce on every sea ? The hon. member for Charlottetown (Mr. Brecken) said isolation was played out. If it was played out, how came it that we were so wall off on this Island, with a trifling public debt, and free newspapers, books and no stamp duties ; with a people, too, as happy and contented as those of any other country in the world. Nor need we refer to this Island alone, for where was the British colony that had not prospered without confederation, unless there was some natural cause to prevent it ? It might be answered, however, that it was time for these colonies to cast off the leading strings of the mother country. He (Mr. L.) was of opinion that they would be allowed to choose their own destiny, either to remain as they were or to set up for themselves. The British people, he believed, as he said yesterday, were opposed to the dismemberment of the empire. As to the good looks of the Canadians, so much commented on by the same speaker, (Mr. Brecken) he (Mr. L.) was sure they could not produce a finer looking gentleman than that hon. member himself. (Laughter.) The peace of the Dominion, he (Mr. L.) feared was nearly at an end. This very day a paper had been put into his hand, containing a series of resolutions proposed in the Ontario legislature by no less a person than Mr. Blake, complaining that the Provinces had been broken, and the British American Act violated by the Dominion parliament giving to Nova Scotia nearly $2,000,000 more than was specified in that Act. Then, again, the North-West territory had been purchased, at a cost of £300,000 sterling. What right, he asked, had the people of the several Provinces to pay this money for lands which should be the property of the settlers in that country? It was no wonder that the half-breeds of Red River had rebelled against being literally sold—no wonder that the Hon. Joseph Howe should caution them to look after their own rights as inhabitants of the territory. Now was the time for them to see to their lands, and not be like this colony, oppressed by a system which nothing short of a miracle could relieve from. It had been argued that this new nationality, the Dominion, would state on its career as strong as the United States were at first. But the relative positions of the two countries he (Mr. L.) contended were very different. The United States had variety of climate, and, consequently, a market to a great extent within themselves. Then, again, the young republic had no powerful rival state on its borders that necessitated it to keep up an expensive military establishment. As to the liberal terms which we might receive from Canada, on condition of our entering the union, he considered them of very little account. He believed that before ten years the whole financial arrangement between the Provinces of the Dominion would be re-adjusted, and very properly so, for a government could not be expected to prosper if based upon wrong principles. Hence he was opposed to this us for the loss of our lands. It would be unjust to tax her people to remove wrongs which her government did not cause. Any sum that Canada might give us now for the settlement of our land question, would undoubtedly be counted against us when the re-arrangement which he anticipated in the affairs of the Dominion took place. Let the home government redress our land grievances, and then we would be able to enter confederation on something like equal terms with the other Provinces. But even then, he would like to see our rights as a local government places on a more substantial basis than the will of a parliamentary majority at Ottawa.
Mr. Brecken—The hon. member for Bedeque had referred to the resolution brought up in the Ontario legislature against the additional allowances to Nova Scotia. It was well known that when confederation was proposed, it was cordially entered into by Hon. George Brown and other Upper Canadian politicians, as a scheme whereby they might free themselves from the difficulties of their position, Wen the delegates went to the Quebec conference they were fully aware of this, and compromises were […]
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[…] made, but he (Mr. B.) did not think Ontario had much reason to complain of what had been done for Nova Scotia, considering the improved position which she herself occupied in the confederacy to what she held under the union of the two Canadas. The hon. member (Mr. Laird) appeared to justify the course pursued by the rebels at Red River. The people there were chiefly half-breeds and indians, and because they preferred living in a semi-lawless state to coming under an organized government that would foster civilization and the arts of peace, they forsooth were to be held up as patterns to all true patriots. The terms proposed by the Canadian delegates, said the hon. member, were of no account. He (Mr. B.) wondered when the memoranda came down to this House whether anything like this sentiment would be found recorded there ; and whether the overshadowing power of the Great Republic would therein be set forth. He would ask, looking at the respective positions of Great Britain and the United States, whether a war between them was to be apprehended ? Did the hon member not know that there were millions of British gold invested in the United States ? And further, would not one week’s war cost the United States more than all British America was worth? He (Mr. B.) was sorry to hear a member of the government argue that we should not take the $800,000 from the Dominion for the settlement of our land question. The British government would never pay us that money after all she had expended in supporting military establishments in these Provinces ; and Canada, in consideration of this, might well give us the amount offered. The Dominion held property belonging to the mother country of much greater value than $800,000, and he (Mr. B.) could see no impropriety in our taking that money form the Ottawa government. The Hon. Mr. Coles, at the time of the Quebec conference, saw no impropriety in it either, when he asked for £200,000 to settle our land question. Reference had been made to the newspaper postage and stamp duties of the Dominion. He (Mr. B.) admitted those taxes were obnoxious, particularly in a new country ; but were we to condemn everything about Canada because some of her duties were objectionable ? In the United States even photographs were taxed, and go where we would, something of the sort would meet us. The present government of the Dominion would not always remain in power ; the reformers of Upper Canada, who were mostly Scotchmen and economists, would yet get control of the finances, and then we might look for the abolition of all obnoxious taxes. But taxation was being increased in this colony ; last year our duties were raised one per cent., and if the public works were carried out which we required, he believed that in a few years our tariff would be up to 15 per cent., or as high as it now was in the Dominion.
Hon. P. Sinclair scarcely knew what side of this questions the hon member for Charlottetown was on till to-night ; but he had now come out squarely in favor of confederation. The Scotchmen of Canada had come in for a share of his admiration ; he thought they were so economical they would keep down taxation. He (Mr. S.) could tell that gentleman that these Scotchmen, or their forefathers, came from a country much more heavily taxed than even Canada, and perhaps would not be able to keep down these burdens in their adopted, any more than in their native, country. That hon member had a great deal to say about confederation, but he had never shown what benefit it would be to this Colony. He had soared away to the glory argument, and asked if we would not have the same sun to shine upon us, and the same dew to fall upon us in the Dominion as we had now. He (Mr. S.) wondered if we were to become subjects of the Sultan of Turkey whether we would have a different sun to shine upon us! All this was beside the question. We had our rain and sunshine independently of any earthly government, and our duty was to consider those things which a change of our constitution might […]
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[…] bring upon the Colony. We knew we were lightly taxed at present, and that in a general way our revenue, from the improvement of the country, would keep pace with out expenditure. With respect to the proposals from Canada, he did not look upon them as any better than the Quebec Scheme, as revised at the London Conference, with the exception of the increased number of our population on which the 80 cents a head would be paid ; and the $800,000 for our lands, which was only an offer of the amount asked by Hon. Mr. Coles at the first conference, namely, £200,000 Canadian currency. It had been stated on the floor of this House that we had a very large trade with the Dominion. He (Mr. S.) had looked into the matter, and found that our exports to Canada during the last three years had decreased from £2,188 9s. 6d. to £1,093 19s.; while our export trade with the United States during the same period, in the face of a hostile tariff, had increased from £21,688 4s. to £48,031 19s. 7d.
Hon. Mr. Haviland merely rose to ask the hon. member from Wilmot Creek (Mr. Laird), who had such a horror of taxes on newspapers, and the like, why it was that we had to pay time pence postage here on a letter to the neighboring Provinces, while throughout the Dominion it was only three cents ? and why postage from Britain to Canada had been reduced to three pence sterling, and to this Island it was still six pence; and to those who had to pay the fine by late mails, thirteen pence half-penny currency ?
Hon. Mr. Laird—The postage referred to was only a temporary inconvenience, which, he believed, would be remedied with as little delay as possible; but the taxes in the Dominion were a deliberate charge imposed by parliament.
Debate adjourned till to-morrow.
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