Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings: Union of the Colonies (28 March 1865)
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 1865, 22nd Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 51-60.
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER,
TUESDAY, March 28.
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Debate on the Union of the Colonies resumed.
Hon. Mr. Hensley—Mr Speaker, I shall conclude the few remarks which I was making last evening when interrupted. I was referring to the returns of the importations into Canada and New Brunswick for 1863, showing that these Provinces did not manufacture nearly enough of boots and shoes, and other articles of the kind for them selves, and that consequently they could not supply this Colony. As regards tea and molasses which are said to be cheaper in Canada than in this Island, if this be the case it cannot arise from the fact that higher duties are paid on them there than in this Colony. But one of the principal points to which I did not refer last night was military defences. The argument advanced on this feature of the subject by those favorable to Union is that, in order to prepare for efficient military defence we require a central power. I, however, do not see the question in that light.
As long as we contribute our quota of men and means, and the other Provinces do the same. I con sider it would be quite as efficient a method of providing for defence as any organization into which we could enter. We are told that the General Government would take control of the general revenue and provide naval and military forces. In the event of a war with the United States, however, we know full well that there would be no chance of success without the aid of Great Britain, and it is difficult to understand how Confederation would increase our ability of resistance. By late papers I observe that the Colonial Minister, Mr Cardwell, has introduced a bill into the Imperial Parliament providing for a Colonial naval force, to be supported by Colonial funds, but to be at the command of the Imperial authorities. It was laid down in regard to the measure that commissions could not be granted by Colonial authorities; they must be issued by the Imperial Government to be valid. If this plan can be pursued in naval affairs, may not a similar scheme be adopted in military matters? All preparations for defence must be arranged under the superintendence of the Imperial Government, and under British commissioned officers; and since this is the case it is doubtful whether a central Colonial Government would be any advantage. We do not wish to shrink from our duty in regard to defence as subjects of the British Empire.
Disagreeable as it might be to be taken away to fight in the neighboring Provinces, still if the order should come it is not at all probable that we would refuse. Whence the necessity of merging all these Legislatures together to have a central power when we are already all organized under the Imperial Government of Great Britain? Another portion of the Report to which I object is that which provides that the expense of railways and canals connecting two Provinces shall be equally borne by all the Colonies. It was said by Mr Galt the other day in Canada that it was necessary all their railways should have an outlet to the sea. This is what he terms a geographical necessity; but I do not think that this Island would benefit by these works. We have the same geographical necessity in the winter season that Canada has; our case is even worse, for we are surrounded by ice, and there is little prospect that anything can be done to improve our position, unless indeed we obtain steam communication over the Straits during the winter, as suggested by one of the delegates the other night.
The intercolonial railway will confer very few commercial advantages on this Island. It will no doubt afford facilities for travelling; but its benefits to us will not at all compensate for the amount which we would have to contribute towards it by the terms of the Report. In view, then, of the nature of that Report, I am prepared to support the resolution submitted by the hon Leader of the Government. I do not say that I would be opposed to Union on any terms; but I think that such terms as are contained in the Report are very unfair to this Colony. If agreed to I consider that the interests of the Island would be altogether sacrificed. Our taxation would be greatly increased without corresponding advantages. Some maintain that we should not be alarmed at taxes; they would be no burden providing we had additional scope for trade. But what more scope do we require, as we have already facilities for commerce as extended as the bounds of the British Empire?
Mr. Brecken.—I would gladly avoid speaking on this question, feeling, as I do, my inability to deal with it, as its importance and the interests involved in it require. Never in the history of this Island, since it became a British Colony, has a subject of such consequence been submitted for the consideration of its Legislature. If we are to view the proposition for a Union of the British North American Colonies as an optional one, which we may reject without imperilling our position as a dependency of the British Crown, I confess I cannot see in the terms offered to us in the Report of the Quebec Conference anything to induce us to close with the offer. If, on the other hand, the choice is between a Union with the sister Provinces and a severance of our allegiance to the Mother Country, I would say, let us be united, even at a sacrifice of our local interests. But I do not think that the latter is our position, although the advocates of the scheme profess to believe that it is. Why should we be in such a hurry to assume that it is?
Previous to the Quebec Conference this question had not been pressed upon our attention by the Home Government, although we are now aware, from Mr. Cardwell’s despatch, written after the receipt of the Quebec Report, that the measure is very favourably received by the Imperial Government. Nor is it at all to be wondered at that they should wish to see our present political position changed Separate Provinces grouped close together with governments independent of each other; separate laws, different currencies and hostile tariffs; and, yet, all paying allegiance to the same Sovereign, is a state of things that will not, in all probability, continue very much longer. I am not opposed to a Union, provided just and equitable terms are secured to us; but it does appear to me that the urgent manner in which this question at this time is pressed upon us, is entirely owing to the action of politicians on this side the Atlantic.
It only requires a very slight acquaintance with the politics of Canada to be aware that the political difficulties and complications of that Province had arrived at such a pitch, and had become so perplexing, that party government was almost an impossibility; indeed, it would appear, that impending anarchy threatened them. The Hon. John A. McDonald, Attorney General of Canada West, In Parliament, when moving the Address to Her […]
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[…] Majesty for an Imperial Act to carry into effect the Report of the Quebec Conference, after stating the origin and history of the Union question in Canada up tot he time he was speaking, says:—
“Then men of all parties and all shades of politics became alarmed at the aspect of affairs. They found that such was the opposition between the two sections of the Province, such was the danger of impending anarchy in consequence of the irreconcilable differences of opinion with respect to representation by population between Upper and Lower Canada, that unless some solution of the difficulty was arrived at we would suffer under a succession of weak governments, weak in numerical support, weak in force, and weak in power of doing good. All were alarmed at this state of affairs. We had election after election; we had Ministry after Ministry, with the same result. Parties were so equally balanced that the vote of one member might decide the fate of the administration and the course of legislation for a year, or a series of years. This condition of things was well calculated to arouse the earnest consideration of every lover of his country, and I am happy to say it had that effect. Leading statesmen on both sides came to the conclusion that some steps must be taken to relieve the country from the dead lock and impending anarchy that hung over it.”
Such are the words of the join Premiers of Canada. Mr McDonald then goes on to state that to remedy this state of affairs—
“The Hon. Geo. Brown’s Committee was appointed, whose Report resulted in the formation of the present Canadian Government, composed as it is of men of all shades of politics, brought together for the purpose of bringing about a Union of the Provinces.”
In the face of such statements, coming from such high authority, it is in vain for the advocates of Union to tell us that it is either pressure from the Home Government, or the threatening aspect of affairs in the neighboring Republic, that has given rise to the Confederation question at this particular time. I believe, Mr Speaker, that if the Statesmen of Canada could have found within their country a solution of their political difficulties, we would not have heard much about Confederation. After the decision pronounced by New Brunswick at their late General Election to reject the scheme, I do not think there is any necessity for our spending much time in debating the subject, as it is quite clear that we shall not be called upon to enter Confederation until Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are ready to go into it. I shall not, therefore, at any length, go into the objectionable parts of the Report as they affect us; they have been over and over again brought to the notice of the public. While I admit that we could hardly expect that the delegates assembled at Quebec to block out a constitution for all British America, would so frame their work as to make it suit the peculiar circumstances and wants of the smallest and most insignificant of the Provinces, they, at the same time, appear to have entirely overlooked our claims.
From our insular position, and the nature and character of our limited resources, the offer, as contained in the Report, presents fewer inducements to us than to any of the other Provinces; but it is our duty to see that the interests of those we represent are not sacrificed. With regard to the financial arrangement justice has not been done us. We are asked to give up nearly the whole of our revenue, now (£60,000.) and which will no doubt go on increasing, to the General Government, and in lien thereof receiving a capitation allowance of 80 cents per head on our present the difference between our debt and the debt of the Con federate Government, amounting to £31,600. The latter amount cannot be looked upon as a gift, as we are called of a debt which we had no hand in contracting, and from the results of which we have derived no benefit. These two amounts will be insufficient to defray our ordinary local expenditure, and if any large public work is required we will, in all probability, have to pay for it ourselves, unless its advantages extend for the general benefit of the Provinces, which, from our situation, is not likely to be the case. But who is to tell what increase of taxation the General Government will not be obliged to impose? Mr Galt, Finance Minister of Canada, says:—
“A revenue of $13,000,000 would, at the outset, be required for the General Government. This estimate allows but $1,000,000 for fortifications, military and naval purposes, and, as we are told by our Union friends, that there is to be a Confederate army and navy to protect us against Brother Jonathan, this estimate will no doubt have to be increased, not to say anything about deepening and widening the canals of Upper Canada, and the construction of other great public works, which must go on as the country becomes more developed, and we, Sir, will be powerless to check any extravagance on the part of the General Government. But we are told that the commercial advantages which will flow to us from the Union will so increase our prosperity that we will be able to bear extra taxation. Intercolonial free trade is to be established, and we will be able to import our manufactures from Canada and the other Provinces duty free.”
This is, in other words, telling us that our trade in manufactures will be confined to the Provinces, which I believe would be the case, as high and prohibitory duties would have to be imposed on imports from Britain and other countries, in order to provide a revenue for the General Government, as we can hardly expect that any Finance Minister would have the courage to attempt to raise such a revenue by direct taxation, a line of policy that even a Gladstone shrinks from. To have our trade confined to these Colonies would be a great disadvantage to us, as I do not believe that a new country like Canada could furnish us with manufactures on as favorable terms as the Mother Country. Among the many requirements necessary to make a country a manufacturing one, a surplus population is one of them.
Now, all other things being equal, can it be reasonably expected that a large country like Canada, with a sparse population, the same to the square mile as that of England to every two or three acres, not to say anything of the inducements which the fertile and cheap lands of Canada hold out to men to become farmers, can supply us with manufactures of the same quality and at as cheap a rate as England! How would such a policy affect our relations with the Mother Country! Certainly not improve them. As it is, the Manchester School of Politicians are for casting us adrift as useless and expensive appendages. They say we are always lightening John Bull’s pocket, on some pretence or other, and buttoning up our own against them, by placing high duties on their exports. They say, and with much truth, that we, their children, ought to buy from them more largely than we do. Intercolonial free trade would, no doubt, increase this cause of complaint, and strengthen the ranks of men holding the views of Bright and Goldwin Smith.
Then, again, Mr Speaker, why was not the principle of compensation extended to us as well as to Newfoundland and New Brunswick! It is true we have no mines or minerals to surrender; but we are, for five months in the year, shut out from the use and advantage of the great public works of the other Provinces, for the past and future cost of which we are to contribute, while these works, during the winter, are as useless to us as the Car of Juggernaut. If Newfoundland, by giving up her mines and minerals. will have them opened and worked, which I presume will be the case, otherwise $150,000 a year in perpetuity would not have been offered for them. That, alone, in the increase of trade which would follow would be a sufficient compensation; but I presume the grant was made with another object. I am afraid we were considered too insignificant to be worth bargaining for. It was easily seen that if the other Provinces went into the Union we would have to follow. And why pay for any thing when you can get it for nothing! Then, again, New Brunswick was granted £60,000 for 10 years for a local work.
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The Colonial Secretary—What about Nova Scotia!
Mr. Brecken—Nova Scotia is in a different position, She has a great deal to gain by Confederation. Halifax will likely be the terminus of the Intercolonial Railway, and that city become the empire city of British America. That Province has no claim for compensation. The reasons which weigh with Unionists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have little application to his Island. For instance, the Intercolonial Railway makes the other Provinces part and parcel of Canadian; the iron horse annihilates time and distance. With respect to the political part of the Report, I think we have reason to complain. The principle of representation by population is sought to be enforced on too sweeping a scale; but as this principle is a sine qua non with the people of Upper Canada, and is, I believe, at the bottom and root of the Confederation scheme, we might expect to see it applied to the Lower House; but I see no reason why the constitution of the Upper House should not have been assimilated to that of the Senate of the United States; but I do not attach much importance to this, as I believe the more representation we have the more our difficulties would increase.
We have no men of fortune amongst us; at any rate, none foolish enough to engage in politics. Hon members from distant parts of the Island, from the North Cape and East Point, can spare a few weeks during the winter months to attend to their legislative duties; but it would be found a very different matter to be obliged to leave home and business, and that, too, very likely in the winter season, for three or four months in the year to attend the General Legislature at Ottawa. The public men of this Island cannot afford to do so, even if willing. The sacrifice of interest which a seat in the Confederate Assembly would entail, would be greater than our public men could afford; and if to remedy this they were adequately paid, then their constituents would begin to suspect that their personal interests might outweigh their regard for the interests of the Colony. I doubt much whether men of stake, and really interested in the welfare of the country, would be found willing to offer themselves. Indeed, so far as our representation is concerned, it might as well be wiped out of the Report altogether.
There is another objection to the new constitution, as it applies to this Island. What, I would ask, looking at the wide range of subjects reserved for the General Government, will there be left to engage the attention of our Local Legislature? As it is, with the management of all our affairs, the subjects that most frequently engage our attention are not of a very broad or elevating character. If, from the subjects to be assigned to our Local Legislature we withdraw Education and the management of our highways, matters which, when once properly provided for, do not admit of being tinkered at every Session, what will be left for us to do? We might have a party for bringing in a measure that all pigs should wear rings in their noses, but on such a question it would be difficult to keep altogether either a Government or an Opposition, unless they were to differ as to the description of metal and rings should be made of; but to be serious, I believe if we went into Confederation we would find our Local Government a nuisance too cumbersome and expensive for the work assigned it, and before long would be petitioning to have it done away with, and to have municipal institutions instead.
This very Building with its empty walls and untenanted offices would stand a frowning remonstrance against the policy of the Hon Colonial Secretary and his Union friends; he would take fright at the sight of its decaying walls. Some body may yet say to him what the great Irish Orator, Curran, once said to a Peer who had been instrumental in bringing about the Irish Union. Curran, who was one day setting his watch at the Post Office, which was then opposite to the late Parliament Buildings, when the noblemen, who well knew that the Union was a sure subject with Curran, said as he passed him, “Curran what do they mean to do with that useless building? For my part I am sure I hate the sight of it.” “I am not at all astonished to hear you say so, my Lord,” replied Curran, “I never yet heard of a murderer who was not afraid of a ghost.” We are told that by going into the Union we will rise form being a small and obscure Colony to be a part of a great country.
This may, in some degree, be true; but practically we are called upon to yield up to a very great extent the control and management of our public affairs, a great privilege, which none parted with is not easily regained. But the argument which Unionists dwell most strongly upon, as proving the necessity for Confederation, is the question of defence. They argue that unless we unite we must soon become absorbed in the American Union. If there is really danger just now of our |Republican neighbours adopting an aggressive policy; if they should take it into their heads to cross the Canadian frontier for the purpose of carrying out the Monroe Doctrine, or to indemnify themselves for losses recently sustained, and for which they may choose to hold Britain responsible, would a Political Union work such a change in our present position as to convert us once from helpless Colonies into a powerful Confederacy?
It must be many years hence before these Colonies will be able, unaided by the British arm, to defend themselves against an invading foe, extending as they do, over such area, with an extensive and exposed frontier, and vulnerable in so many points. No doubt is it high time that these Colonies did more for their own protection than they have hitherto done. They have drawn largely from the pockets of the tax payers of the Mother Country for the purposes of fortifications and the maintenance of naval and military forces among them. (This Island is not open to this charge; for very many years she has cost Britain nothing in this respect.) Colonists ought to remember that many of the tax payers at home who contribute to our protection are less able to bear their public burthens than we are. There is one argument urged by anti-Unionists which I do not agree with, viz., that when united, in case trouble arises, our young men will be liable to be drafted off to Canada and the other Provinces, there to assist in fighting their battles. This is not likely to be the case, as our small Militia and Volunteer force would be required for our own defence, which the safety of the other Colonies would require to be efficiently maintained, the chances are in such a state of things that not one man would be withdrawn from the Island, but men would have to be sent here. But even if it should so happen that they were taken off to assist in the defence of the other Colonies, ought we to complain?
Our British interests are intimately bound up with those of the other Colonies, in a national point, at any rate, and when Canada and the other Provinces have to succumb to a foreign power we will have to follow suit. In helping them we are fighting for ourselves, and that, too, under more favourable circumstances than the sister Provinces; for we would not have to meet the foe at our firesides. The further the scene of conflict is removed from one’s door the better; for the most terrible of all the horrors and devastation that follow in the track of war is having women, children and country exposed to the cruelty and fury of a merciless soldiery. This consideration ought to make ready at all times when the necessity arises (and God grant that it may never occur) to assist our fellow Colonists, and that with a good will too.
Our position as British Colonies must, for many years, depend upon the protection afforded us by the Mother Country. Separate or united without that aid we shall be powerless to defend ourselves. England’s European interests, her position as first among the nations, more perhaps than her wide spread possessions, oblige her to maintain her present powerful military and naval force. Those forces require stations. England is not prepared to throw off her wealthy West India possessions, not to say any thing of those Colonies. She has to maintain a naval force out here, which costs no more than at home, and to maintain that force the coal mines of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia are necessary. The threat that Unionists hold out to us that we will be cast adrift if we do not unite, is for the purpose of frightening us into Confederation.
They must, at any rate, produce stronger arguments than they have done, before they can expect us to be convinced that it is so. I believe that Britain is willing to untie the apron strings and send us off to do for ourselves when we are strong enough to stand alone; but I do not believe she will cast us off until we are able to protect ourselves. Hon members in favor of the scheme had better direct their attention to the other points of Confederation, and endeavor to show us that our material interests will become improved by the proposed Union. That, I take it, is the great point for us to consider just now. Our national relations rest with the Mother Country.
ERRATUM.—On last column of preceding page, only the first sentence of the paragraph given as a quotation from Mr. Galt’s Speech, should be read as his. The citation marks and the break out to have been placed after the worlds General Government, on the second line.
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Hon. Solicitor General.—Mr Speaker, I shall not shrink from the free expression of my opinion on this great question, because I happen unfortunately to be one of a minority of four. This is the most momentous subject ever submitted to the consideration of any of the Colonial Legislatures of British North America, and its importance is evinced by the fact that it has afforded the first example in the annals of this, or I believe any other House of Assembly, of the discussion being carried on with the Speaker in the Chair, thus retraining members from the freedom that a debate in Committee would allow them. I am aware that many hon members, on both sides of the House, are of the opinion that this should be made a Government question. I differ from them. Leaders of the Governments and Oppositions in the other Colonies united in the adoption of the Report. Nova Scotia treated it as an open question, and it is in that position here.
When the project of the Legislative Union was proposed, I was strongly opposed to it, and I am of the same opinion still. There is a vital difference between a Legislative Union of the Maritime Provinces and a Federal Union of all the North American Colonies. We would be bound in all our local affairs by the action of a Parliament constituted under a Legislative Union, while a Federal connection leaves to us the unfettered control of all subjects of legislation peculiar to our circumstances. At the Conference help at Quebec, at which were represented Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, the vote was taken on the details of the proposed Union, not by the suffrages of individual members of the Conference, but by each of the Colonies represented.
Therefore the assertion that the Report was the work of the Canadians is untrue; it was adopted by all the Colonies who had sent their delegates to take part in the deliberations, and, consequently, the Maritime Provinces had a majority as against Upper and Lower Canada of four to two. It is unjust then to object to the Report as having been got up by the Canadians for their own purposes. Whether the Report meets popular favor or not, the delegates from the Lower Provinces had the power to defeat it, had they been opposed to it. Why, Sir, the very first paragraph in the Report passed unanimously, and its passage was greeted with three cheers. That paragraph reads as follows:—
“The best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America will be promoted by a Federal Union under the Crown of Great Britain, provided such Union can be effected on principles just to the several Provinces.”
I am truly surprised that any gentleman, who being present as a delegate, voted for that paragraph, which affirms the principle of Union, can be found now to oppose it. It has been said, Mr Speaker, that a dead lock in the relations of political parties in Canada induced the proposal for a Confederation of these Provinces; but, Sir, the principle of a political Union of British North America did not see the light for the first time in the year 1864. The correspondence between the late Duke of Kent and the late Judge Sewell shows that the idea occupied the minds of men in high station many years ago.
In that mine of political information, the Report of the late Lord Durham, the opinion is expressed that Union among themselves can alone preserve these Colonies from absorption into the neighboring republic These facts show that the idea is not peculiar to the Provinces. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick several of their leading public men have advanced similar opinions. At the time of the Union between Upper and Lower Canada, the former Province obtained as equal share of representation int he United Parliament. With Lower Canada, although the population of Upper Canada was less than that of Lower Canada, they each sent an equal number of representatives—65.
But the influx of immigration into Upper Canada has so far changed her position to the Lower Province, that the former provides two-thirds of the revenue, the share of which appropriated to her is in the inverse ratio to the amount which she contributes. When the Hon George Brown’s party came into power, the idea was broached of dissolving the Union with Lower Canada, and having a general Confederation. When the opportunity offered by the Conference of the dele gates of the Maritime Provinces, Canada thought it a favorable occasion to send delegates to listen to the views of the leading men of the Lower Colonies, and I may say that in this instance Canada’s difficulty is our opportunity. But, Mr Speaker, in whatever motives the idea of this Confederation may have had its origin, the result of the defeat of the project will be, I have no hesitation in saying, our absorption into the United States. Already the handwriting is on the wall, and it needs no prophet to expound its meaning that Union or Republicanism awaits us.
A great outcry has been raised on the subject of the increased taxation to which we would be subjected if we became united to our sister Colonies; but no hon member has yet shown how much our situation in that respect would be improved by having to pay the far higher taxes if we should form part of the United States. I leave the financial part of the subject to be dealt with by others, and shall adopt the so-termed “glory argument.” I maintain, Mr Speaker, that the pages of history may be ransacked in vain for the record of any people who ever rose to a position among the nations of the earth whose minds were not imbued with that sentiment, and the decline of those who have receded from their once high position dates from the time when it began to lose its influence. Without that element in her national character where would Great Britain have been in her gigantic struggle with Napoleon the first? The hon member for East Point (Mr Hensley) says that we would be taxed for the construction of the Intercolonial Railroad, and that we would receive no benefits in return for our expenditure. Under any circumstances we would receive indirect benefit, but I contend that the preservation of monarchical principles to us would be a direct boon, and the promised military aid of the Mother Country by her troops which that railway could transport in the winter season from Halifax to the frontier of Upper Canada, would insure our protection, for, as it has been truly said, if Canada falls we must all share her fate.
In addition we would have the protection of her navy on our coasts as long as the navigation continued open. In the convention at Quebec, it was urged by myself and others that the principle of the constitution of the United States Senate, as regards the number of members from each State, should be applied to the Upper House of the Confederate Legislature. The proposal was overruled, and since that time I have begun to think the decision was right.
The Conference adopted a medium course between the two extremes, and if Newfoundland shall come into the scheme the Maritime Provinces will receive four additional members. The principle of representation by population in the lower branch is not a novelty. It was recommended by the Late Durham as far back as 1837. The duty of arranging the electoral districts for the first election is to be left to the respective local Governments. The Conference merely apportions the number of representatives to the different Colonies. The hon member for the city (Mr Brecken) said that it would be time to consider our situation when our position as a British Colony shall be involved. He labors under a mistake; the present is the proper time. The crisis will soon arrive, and the time is at hand when we must assume our full share of our burdens.
Let the old adage be remembered that those who aid themselves the gods will aid. I am aware of the great satisfaction experienced by the opponents of Confederation at the result of the general election in New Brunswick; but the issue, Union or no Union was not fairly submitted to the people. Personal antipathies had much to do in bringing about the results. Parties took sides on the principle of the old distich—
I do not like thee, Doctor Tell,
The reason why, I cannot tell.
As to Nova Scotia, any action on her part would have been premature before the result of the New Brunswick elections had been ascertained. Sir, I believe that the sun will yet rise upon a Confederation of those Colonies, notwithstanding the jubilant feelings of the opponents of this great measure at its temporary failure. Thirty-three representatives of the six North American Colonies were united on the question last year, and now several of them, strange to say, oppose it. The Report, in my opinion, embraces the best features of the constitutions of Great Britain and of the United States, applicable to our circumstances; and it is no small satisfaction to those who support the measure of a Union, that though it may meet opposition in the Colonies, it has received approval from the statesmen and press of Great Britain.
One great benefit which would accrue from Union would be the diversion of the tide of immigration from the United States to these Colonies, where his civil and religious liberties would be secured to the stranger the moment he landed on our shores. Mr Speaker, I may say that the Report of the delegates embodies principles greater in some respects than those on which the Constitution of the United States is based. The chief ruler of that country is, himself, during his term of office, irresponsible to the people, and is surrounded by a ministry equally unfettered. The Constitution of the proposed Union acknowledges only our gracious Queen and her successors as the chief authority, and the administration of the Confederate Colonies will be conducted by […]
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[…] her representative to be appointed by herself; but he will be advised by ministers responsible for the acts of the Government, and whom an adverse vote in the Lower Branch of the Legislature would at once dismiss from power. In the States, one result of their institutions is the extinction, or, perhaps, more properly the total ignoring the rights of the minority. Where, however, British principles obtain, the rights and privileges of a minority are maintained to them inviolate.
One reason for the fact alleged by the hon member for the city (Mr. Brecken) that the manufactures of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are of but limited extent, is to be found in the limited market open for their consumption. Once remove the barriers of hostile tariffs, and free trade with four millions of people will at once be the result. Union will have the effect of benefitting all parties, and removing the feelings of estrangement arising from different tariffs. Not many years since the Englishman was estranged from the Frenchman. No international sympathy had existed between the two countries for many centuries; but now a treaty of commerce mutually beneficial has united them, so that one country will not move without the other.
Their Union has made these hereditary antagonists the harbingers of peace and civilization. So would it be with us. If hon members had the opportunity of associating with the statesmen of Canada, and if they saw the great resources and made themselves acquainted with her institutions, I am confident that some, at least, would feel that their previously formed opinions were of a very contracted nature, and were based on a defective knowledge of facts. We have been told that Canada is bankrupt—that her debentures are at a discount—that she is sunk in corruption—that it would be madness to unite our fortunes to a country in that condition. Sir, all this is delusive. The debt is seventy-five millions of dollars; of that twenty-five millions are represented by Canals; an amount about equal in Railways, of which she has two thousand miles.
The purchase of the Seignorial Tenures and the cost of the great Victoria Bridge will represent a large proportion of that debt. True it is that Canadian Debentures had fallen in the English market, but that was in consequence of the Trent affair. British capitalists fearing that war might arise out of that occurrence between England and the States, Canada being a portion of the Empire, her securities were naturally depreciated; but I can tell hon members that on receipt of the Report of the Conference in England, they advanced 15 per cent. I have now, Sir, given you my individual views on this vital question, which I am convinced will resolve itself either into a Confederation, or an application to us of the Monroe Doctrine by absorption into the United States.
I, for one, am not prepared to sacrifice the constitutional privileges we at present enjoy, and I trust that the inhabitants of those now separate Colonies will soon sing in chorus from Newfoundland to the extreme boundary of Upper Canada
“Let us be firm and united,
One country, one flag for us all;
United our strength will be freedom,
Divided we each of us fall.”
Mr. Howlan.—Mr. Speaker; the hon and learned member for Georgetown will probably think it vain for me to place my views on this great question side by side with his opinions. We have been told that sine the result of the elections in New Brunswick, discussing the subject in this House is only like a disputation in a mere debating club, as our decision can lead to no practical result. But, Sir, the principles involved in the scheme concocted by the delegates at Quebec are still the same, and I look upon it as our duty to give our sentiments freely on this question. We know not how soon another delegation may be originated, and advantage taken of our indifference should we evince such on this occasion. Before this debate is concluded, Sir, I hope the Hon Solicitor General will find that his glowing description of the benefits of Confederation has vanished into thin air.
With respect to the subject before the House, there is one thing very apparent to those who were here last Session, namely, that the resolution then passed has not been adhered to. On that occasion the argument of the Leader of the Government was that it would be very uncourteous not to appoint delegates to confer on the subject of Union with others to be appointed by the two neighboring Provinces; but so careful were hon members in regard to the matter that they placed it on the records of this House that no action should be taken on the question until the delegates appointed should report to the Legislature of the Colony. Now, Sir, we have among the papers laid before this House, a document, which purports to be a report from the delegates authorized to confer on a Legislative Union of the Lower Provinces, but which I take to be no report. It merely states that the delegates met at Charlottetown, then adjourned to Halifax, then to St. John, and then to Canada, where it was decided to postpone the consideration of the question of a Legislative Union of the Maritime Provinces.
But the subject which the people of this Island are now called upon to consider is the Report of a delegation not authorized by this House, and one by which the constitution of this Colony is to be wrested from us. In considering the question of Con federation, we ought to view it not as it would affect us at present, but as it would probably operate upon the interests of this Colony in all time to come. The principle of representation by population in the Lower House is borrowed from the American system; yet the Quebec Conference did not follow out the same model with respect to the constitution of the Upper Branch. In the neighboring Republic each State has the privilege of sending two representatives to the Senate, no matter how small its population. New York with its population of 3,097,394, has only the same number of Senators in Congress as the State of Rhode Island with its population of 147,545. The difference between the population of these two States is as 20 to 1, greater fully than it is between that of Upper Canada and this Island; yet while this Report allows Upper Canada 24 members in the Legislative Council of the Confederation, this Colony is only allotted 5.
Instead of all the Provinces being allowed the same number of members each in the Upper House, according to the principle of the United States’ constitution, each of the Canadas is to have as many Councillors as all the Lower Provinces put together. Then, again, the members of this body are to be appointed for life, a system which would undoubtedly bring about a dead lock, the very state of affairs in Canada which Confederation is intended to remedy. In the 17th paragraph of the Report we are told “the basis of representation in the House of Commons shall be population, as determined by the official census every ten years; and the number of members at first shall be 194.” Of this number Upper Canada is to have 82, and Lower Canada 65—in all for Canada 147. The remainder of the 194 is distributed as follows: Nova Scotia 19, New Brunswick 15, Newfoundland 8, P. E. Island 5—in all for the Lower Provinces 47. By this arrangement it will be seen that Canada will have 100 representatives in the House of Commons more than the aggregate of all the other Colonies.
Representation by population might be very well for Canada herself, but in a general union of the Colonies it would operate injuriously for the Maritime Provinces, as they could not expect to protect their interests when they would have to contend with 100 of a clear majority over their own representation. This principle would give the city of Montreal with its 101,000 inhabitants one representative more than this Island. Quite different is the representation of Great Britain, for while London has about the same population as Scotland, that city has only 16 members in the House of Commons, while Scotland has 53. But it may be argued that as our population increases our representation will increase. This is very doubtful.
Indeed, under the operation of the 20th and 21st clauses of the Report it seems probable that we might lose our representation altogether. Lower Canada is always to have 65 members, and the representation of the other Colonies is to be arranged every ten years so as to give each the same ratio to population as she will then possess. Now, should the population of Lower Canada increase more rapidly than that of this Island, which is almost certain to be the case, our representation would decrease, and we would be left perhaps without a member at all. To show at least that […]
- (p. 56)
[…] it is much more likely that our representation will decrease than increase, I will read the Hon. George Brown’s opinions on the subject, as given in the Toronto “Globe.” In treating of the probably effort of these two clauses of the Report, to which I have been alluding, on the representation of the Maritime Provinces, that journal says:—
“The fact is best shown by illustration. Prince Edward Island, with a population, say $5,009, is, it is said, to have five representatives at starting. Suppose she increases at the rate of 20 per cent. each ten years, at the end of twenty years her population will be 126,000. But at the same rate of progress the population of Lower Canada would be 1,596,000. Divided by 65, this would give one representative to every 24,550 of her people: so that the Island would not be able to claim an increase of membership. If similar calculations be made with respect to the other Provinces, it will be proved that the additions they will be able to make their representation will be very small. In fact, if the increase in the population of some of them be not greater in the future than it has been in the past, they will, if the plan be strictly carried out, lose instead of gain.”
But there is another point which I desire to notice with respect to representation in the House of Commons. An important alteration has been made by the Canadians in the 24th clause of the Report. In the copy before this House which is signed by Sir E. P Pache [sic] as a “true copy,” the clause reads thus:—
“24. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the Electoral Districts for the purpose of Representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the Representatives to which the Province is entitled in any manner such Legislature they think fit.”
But, Sir, I have another copy on my table in which this clause is quite differently worded, and which is the same as the one presented to the Canadian Legislature. It reads as follows:—
“24. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the Electoral Districts for the purpose of Representation in such Legislature, and distribute the Representatives to which the Province is entitled in such local Legislature in any manner such Legislature may see fit.”
This is a very different matter. The clause as it first stood was an important one, because it gave the Local Legislature the power to arrange the districts for the representation in the popular branch of the General Legislature; but as altered it would enable the gentlemen who might hold the destinies of this Island in their hands to cut and carve the constituencies as they pleased. The privilege of being taxed is a very great privilege indeed. And if the resources of our local government should be insufficient for the wants of the Colony we have the additional privilege of taxing ourselves. To show how the arrangement for taxing ourselves. To show how this arrangement for taxation contained in the Report will operate upon the Lower Provinces, I will read an extract from Mr. Galt’s speech this his constituents at Sherbrooke, wherein he treats of excise duties. He says:
“The General Government would also have the power of regulating excise duties. The imposition of these duties was a necessary corollary to the imposition of the duties of Customs; and the power to impose the one must be given to the same authority that exercised the power to impose the other. Excise duties were placed upon spirits made in the country in order to place the consumer thereof on the same footing he would be on if he consumed spirits imported from abroad. He might remark that in the Lower Provinces they had no excise duties; he believed they did not manufacture whiskey to any extent, but in introducing a system of excise duties they would have to be subjected to the same regulations that were followed in Canada. In general terms he would add that the Central Government would have the power of raising money by all the other modes and systems of taxation—the power of taxation had been confided to the General Legislature—and there was only one method let to the local Governments, if their own resources became exhausted, and this was direct taxation.”
Again, in a speech delivered in the Canadian Legislature on the 7th February, Mr Galt said:—
“Let the house be frankly and kindly look at it, as a great measure brought down for the purpose of relieving Canada, from distress and depression. At this moment Canada standing alone, had seen her credit seriously impaired, but Con federation would give us a much larger fund to pledge for the security of the public creditor. The Lower Provinces are in a much better position, and if the local revenues became inadequate the local Governments would have to resort to direct taxation.”
This talk about direct taxation is no empty theory. The Canadians hint that their impost duties might be lowered under Confederation; but if this were done taxation in another form would have to be resorted to. This idea, however, is not new, for in a debate in the British House of Commons on the 28th of April, 1863, the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies said:—
“Her Majesty’s Government had freely expressed their opinion,, (to the Governor General) “that nothing would tend so much to raise the credit of Canada as a measure for direct taxation, which would enable her to lower her duties upon imports.”
Further, we have the testimony of the Hon. George Brown, as to the manner in which the Maritime Provinces are to be taxed to bear the burdens of Canada. I will read from his speech on the Confederation in the Assembly of Canada, an extract wherein he touched on this subject:—
“It was said New Brunswick was getting more than her share; but it was absurd to oppose the adoption of a scheme such as this for such a paltry sum. It could not be weighed in the balance against it, and the subsidy was granted for only ten years. We would get a large additional population to assist us in bearing our burdens—a most economical population, too. Why the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia only gets £600 a year. He was in favor of the scheme if it was for Canada alone. The Conference had pledged to open up the great North West and deepen the canals.—He believed there was no such instance in history; other nations paid large sums for territory. Louisiana was bought for twenty mil lions of dollars. What would we not give for Maine or Michigan, or Minnesota, which it was possible to pay? Yet we have peddling objections to give us nearly a million of people and vast and rich territories: a few dollars for a few years ought not to stand in the way.”
So we see, then, that our “economical population” is to assist in bearing the burdens of Canada; that there is danger ahead to the best interests of this Colony. It is evident that the whole scheme has been concocted to relieve Canada of her difficulties; but while her politicians are prepared to purchase New Brunswick with a “paltry sum,” they have thought this Island too insignificant to offer us any subsidy. The next paragraph to which I will refer is the 55th, relating, among other things, to Canals and Railways. The extension of the Canals, we are told by some of the framers of this Report, is not to be proceeded with until the state of the finances permit; and we are also informed that they will be a general benefit to the Colonies. I am inclined to differ with these gentle men upon this point. This subject has occupied the attention of the people of Canada for several years. Munro in his work on British America says:—
“What is the estimated cost of Canal extensions? A Canal between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario is estimated at $22,170,750, and the improvements which will be required in the St. Lawrence Canals, &c. are estimated at nearly as much more, so as to admit vessels of 1000 tons to pass from Chicago to the ocean. In the Canada Board of works report for 1856, it is stated that the Georgian Canal from comparison with other Works, would cost $25,000,000.”
So it appears that this work has been under the consideration of the Canadian Government for at least ten years, […]
- (p. 57)
[…] and now we are told it is to be undertaken especially for the benefit of the united Colonies. But the question is, when will the state of the finances admit of this Canal extension. The Hon George Brown in his speech at Toronto, said:—
“I will, however, take care, gentlemen, that while I have the honor to be one of the advisers of the Crown, the closest economy shall be practised in all matters of the kind. (Cheers.) But in agreeing to the construction of the Inter colonial Railway, we were not without a slight regard for the interests of the West, and I am happy to say that with UNANIMOUS CONSENT OF THE DELEGATES, WE HAVE AGREED TO THE EXTENSION OF THE CANAL SYSTEM OF THE WEST.” (Loud Cheers.)
His constituents would have discarded him for consenting to the construction of the Intercolonial Railway had he not obtained this concession. Upper Canada will insist on Canal extension if the Railway is proceeded with, and without any regard to the state of the finances. The finances would be considered sufficient as soon as Confederation was consummated. We may look upon this as almost certain, and the great point for us to consider is, what benefit would those expensive Canals be to the tax payers of Prince Edward Island? This is a question which hon members, and the people of the country can very easily answer for themselves.
Reference has been made to corruption in Canada, and to the stories in newspapers; but in alluding to the manner in which money has been squandered by Canadian politicians, I do not intend to quote common newspaper authority, but the remarks of the Hon George Brown himself, the present Premier of Canada, based upon an authentic document. In the Toronto Globe of March 8, 1861, the Hon George Brown wrote:—
“The publication of the Auditor’s Report upon the financial condition of the Grand Trunk Railway, may be regarded as the final bursting of the great bubble. What was known to a few, suspected by many, and feared by all, who had money in the concern, has now been confirmed by official examination, and published to the world.”
“The Company’s accounts have been systematically cooked and deliberately falsified by John Ross & Co., to deceive the English proprietors and capitalists. While these gentlemen were claiming a profit in the shape of revenue of $1,472,113, the Company actually suffered a loss of $1,009,491! No wonder the Montreal Gazette, the faithful organ of the coalition for years, and the ready apologist of every railway iniquity hitherto brought to light, stands aghast now. The figures, revelations, and arguments of the Auditors, have proved too much even for the Gazette, and he talks boldly of criminal prosecutions, of the personal responsibility of the directors to deluded purchasers of stock, and quotes the statute book in support of his views. He declares that the Report ‘will be read with painful interest, that its statements are of the very gravest nature, affecting not only the character, of the management of the Grand Trunk Railway, but the characters, and perhaps the fortunes of individuals.” Of the fitness of the Auditors for their task the Gazette says: ‘There are perhaps no men in this country better fitted than Messrs. Allan and Workman to pass a judgment upon it, none who better understand the value of figures, or who are more capable in such matters to winnow the chaff from the wheat. We simply mention this for the benefit of our distant readers. These gentlemen say distinctly, after a careful investigation of the books of the company, that the balance sheet which has been prepared for the eyes of the public is not correct.”
Hon George Brown adds,—
“But perhaps the most interesting part of the Report is under the head of ‘General remarks.” It is there stated as the deliberate opinion of the Auditors, that ‘the present embarrassments of the company have arisen, chiefly from its connection with the successive Governments of the Province, and the necessity therefrom of conciliating political support. Under this head they appropriately place Mr GALT’S HUGE SWINDLE in the purchase of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway at 37 1/2 per cent. premium WHEN IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN PURCHASED AT 60 per cent. discount. The leasing of the Portland end at 6 per cent. annual interest on its entire capital, when its stock was selling at a very large discount, ANOTHER SWINDLE OF Mr GALT, by which he realized a FORTUNE, is added to the list. The loss to the company through the SPECULATIONS of Mr Galt and his friends is set down by the Auditors at $6,000,000. The murder is out at last, upon the authority of the Company’s own Auditors, that ALEXANDER T. GALT, our worthy Minister of Agriculture, have made ENORMOUS FORTUNES, but at an expense to the Grand Trunk stockholders of (6,000,000) SIX MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.”
I may be simply allowed to ask if it is safe to entrust the financial affairs of the United Colonies to such men. The clauses of the Report numbered 60, 61 and 62, call for a passing notice. The 60th says that “the General Government shall assume all the debts and liabilities of each Province.” And the next two state the amount of debt to be assumed for Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The arrangement does not give satisfaction to the people of Nova Scotia, for they say the debt of Canada is large, her railroad does not pay, and her debentures rate very low in the money market. New Brunswick has not so much reason to complain, for she presented her claim for compensation, and obtained $63,000 for ten years. But when poor Prince Edward Island asked for a few thousand pounds to buy up her proprietary lands, it would not be granted. A proposition to this effect was made by one of our delegates, and I believe none of them can tell who seconded the motion. There was certainly something wrong here.
I am of opinion that had our delegates advocated the interests of the Island as well as Mr Tilley did those of New Brunswick, we would have received a grant for the purchase of our lands. They would have some show of argument in favor of this Colony entering the Union, could they come down to this House and tell us that the long vexed Land Question was to be at last set at rest. Instead of procuring a sum for this purpose they have not obtained a single farthing. Is the settlement of our land question not as important to us as the railway to Pictou for Nova Scotia, Western extension for New Brunswick, or $150,000 a year to Newfoundland? We have the best of authority for supposing that had the application for a grant to buy up the proprietors’ lands of this Island been unanimously supported by our delegates, it would have been acceded to. That authority is the Hon George Brown, who, in an extract which I have already quoted, said respecting the allowance to New Brunswick, “It was absurd to oppose the adoption of a scheme such as this for such a paltry sum.” I now come to what we are to receive under Confederation, as laid down in the 63d and 64th clauses of the Report.
I, however, can scarcely call it receiving, for in this case we are to pay the difference to boot. The Hon Colonial Secretary says this Report is just and liberal to Prince Edward Island. Is it justice to require us to pay some £20,000 more than we receive? If this be justice, it is such as I will never accede to. We are to give up a large and increasing revenue to the politicians of Canada, who have never been able to govern their own country, and what are we to receive in return? We are to get 80 cents per head of our present population, and the interest of £632,812, being the proportion of debt in our favor, in all amounting to about £50,000. We have been told that a part of this £632,812 may be taken to buy up proprietary lands; but the Report says nothing of the kind; it only states that we shall be entitled to receive the interest at 5 per cent. Besides, if the principal was taken to purchase lands, the amount of interest which would then be received would be less, and our local revenue diminished to that extent, consequently than would be no gain.
With respect to the allowance of 80 cents per head for the benefit of the local governments, it would be insufficient for the Lower Provinces, but it would […]
- (p. 58)
[…] be a gain to Canada, as will be seen by the following statement:—
|Local revenues retained,||1,297,048|
|Deduct local appropriations given up,||2,260,129|
|Gain by Canada,||$1,048,085|
This gain to Canada would amount to about 41 cents per head of the population, while the Maritime Provinces by giving up their customs’ revenues and only receiving 80 cents per head in return, besides having the Judges’ salaries and a few others paid, would be under the necessity, in in order to carry on their local governments, to resort to direct taxation, together with having to submit to an increased Tariff. But it is said that after the Union their Tariff will be reduced from 20 to 15 per cent. Why should theirs come down and ours go up? If, under Confederation, the tariff could be made 15 per cent, it must be on account of the flourishing state of the Maritime Provinces. But why should our tariff be raised to even 15 per cent?
I must say again this is a justice and liberality which I can not understand. As a set off, however, to an increased tariff we are told that would an interest in the vast public works of Canada, costing over 20 millions of dollars, and that we would be united to a country possessing great wealth. It is a strange thing that Canada with all these advantages is running so rapidly into debt. The following statement of her financial affairs for several years, copied from authentic sources, does not show that she is a prosperous country:—
In 1863 an attempt was made to reduce the expenditure, which was accomplished to the extent of $228,337 and still the result, as officially stated, was
|Expenditure, less redemption of debt||$10,742,807|
|Receipts, less sale of Debentures and Sinking Fund.||9,760,316|
These annual deficiencies, amounting in the aggregate to $16,964,000 have passed into the funded debt of Canada, and now form part of the debt of $62,500,000 which that Province asks the Confederation to assume.
Here in a few short years we see that her debt has increased over 16 millions, and for the great privilege of contributing towards paying the interest of this debt, we are to receive 80 cents per head! But Galt says that last year Canada would have a balance of revenue in her favor, and talk of reducing the debt under Confederation. Now, Sir, when the statesmen of a country propose to lower their tariff and reduce their debt, they must intend to do it by taxing some person. But even though 80 cents a head should be sufficient for our present wants, it would not be sufficient in a few years. Our Prince of Wales College costs us a large sum, and our common Schools require no small portion of our revenue; but if in a few years our population were to increase to 300,00, and we should want larger Colleges, and almost twice as many schools, we would not receive a single farthing more from the General Government. Is this justice or liberality?
Our revenue in 1850 was £18,000, and last year £66,000 or nearly £70,000, making a difference of nearly £52,000. Supposing, then, that this Delegation had taken place in 1850, £18,000 would have been taken as the basis to work upon, and the increase in 14 years, namely £52,000, shows to some extent the increasing amount which we would annually pay into the general treasury under Confederation. But to begin with, the difference between the Tariffs of Canada and this Island, would give us at once nearly £27,000 additional to pay. Some, however, may say that the Tariff under Confederation would not yield so great a revenue as would appear by adding the difference between the Canadian Tariff and our own. The amount could be very little less, for the principal items which go to make up our revenue are the duties on articles not produced within the bounds of this great Confederation. In 1863 the revenue which we derived from the following articles was:—
On these six articles alone—which are only some of the number that must be imported—you see we had a revenue in 1863 of £18,814, while the whole revenue for the year was merely £38,550. But we are told to look at the advantages of intercolonial free trade. This is only a very weak argument, for free trade could be obtained independently of a Union of the Colonies. The following memorandum under date 18th September, 1862, signed by the Premiers of the three Provinces, is conclusive on this point:—
“The delegates from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the Government of Canada, having under consideration the report of the Hon. the Finance Minister of Canada, of the 8th September, instant on the subject of Intercolonial Reciprocity, agree—
- That the free interchange of goods, the growth, produce and manufacture of the Provinces, and uniformity of tariff, are considered to be an indispensable consequence of the construction of the Intercolonial Railway.
- But in consequence of the recent diminution of the revenues of the respective Provinces arising out of the war in the neighbouring republic, and the increased liabilities incurred by the additional obligations necessary to the construction of the proposed road, the delegates from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia regret that they are not at this moment in a position to adopt measures to carry this important principle into practical effect.
(Signed) J,S. MCDONALD (For Canada.)
(Signed) JOSEPH HOWE,
(Signed) S.L. TILLEY.”
Then, again, it is said Canada will furnish a market for our produce. We are to have nearly 4,000,000 of people to deal with. It, however, will be a strange thing if Canada, which exports large quantities of the same kinds of agricultural produce we have to spare, will afford us any advantages in this respect. The Board of Trade returns for that Province show:—
“In the 1863, Canada exported 8,905,578 lbs. of butter; 556,305 dozen eggs; 3,844,272 lbs of pork; 1,182,576 lbs of ham; 1,201,819 barrels of flour; 1,905,980 bushels of oats; 5,741,479 bushels of wheat; 2,147,977 bushels of barley and rye; 17,650 barrels of oatmeal; 29,168 barrels of fish, and 187,599 ewt. of dried fish.”
So that in almost every way we can view this Report, it presents nothing to us but increased taxation on the industry of this Island. And I now come to notice some of the more prominent items of expenditure of which we would have to bear a share under Confederation. The 67th clause say: “All engagements, that may, before the Union, be entered into with the Imperial Government for the defence of the Country, shall be assumed by the General Government.” This question of defence seems to have been the burden of nearly every speech of the delegates. At one of the dinners given to them the Hon George Brown said;—
- (p. 59)
“I cannot conclude without referring to some other things which have received the grave attention of the Conference. And the first point to which I desire to call attention is, the fact that the delegates have unanimously resolved that the United Provinces shall be placed at the earliest moment in a thorough state of defence. The attacks which have been made upon us have created the impression that these Provinces are in a weak and feeble state; if, then, we would do away with this false impression, and place ourselves on a firm and secure footing in the eyes of the world, our course must be to put our country in such a position of defence that we may fearlessly look our enemies in the face. It is a plea sure to me to state, and I am sure it must be a pleasure to all present to be informed, that the Conference at Quebec did not separate before entering into A PLEDGE TO PUT THE MILITARY AND NAVAL DEFENCES OF THE UNITED PROVINCES IN A MOST COMPLETE AND SATISFACTORY POSITION.”
Not being a military man, I approach this question of defence with considerable diffidence. I believe, however, it is all a matter of moonshine. I have the fullest confidence in Great Britain’s ability to defend her Colonies, and very little faith in their being able to protect them selves. For stating that the latter is a ridiculous idea, I have the authority of a military man—no less than Lieut. Colonel Haviland—who, in addressing this House on this subject last Session, said:—
“As to the idea attributed to the Imperial Government that these Colonies are able to bear the burden of defending them selves against the invasion of a foreign foe, the sooner Great Britain awakes from that delusion the better. Our small annual appropriation of £400 for the volunteer organization is not passed without strong expressions of disapprobation, while Nova Scotia grants $20,000 for that service.”
I think since last year, another change has come over the spirit of his dream. (Laughter.) But at the utmost what does Great Britain expect us to do for our defence? I will read the resolution of the House of Commons on the subject, together with the war Minister’s explanation thereof:—
“That this House (while fully recognizing the claims of all portions of the British empire to imperial aid in their protection against perils arising from the consequences of imperial policy), is of opinion, that colonies exercising the rights of self-government, ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security, and ought to assist in their own external defence.”
A few days after the passage of this resolution, a debate occurred in the Commons relative to an appropriation for military purposes in the Mauritius and Nova Scotia, when Mr Adderly spoke as follows:—
“According to the resolution assented to by the House, the distant possessions of the Crown were to be responsible for their own internal defence, and to take their share in the repulse of a foreign enemy, the further proposition that distant fortifications should be discontinued was not pressed because accepted of course.” Mr A. continued “as regards Nova Scotia, bearing in mind the resolution agreed to the other night, he would like to ask what share of the burthen of the defence, the Government expected that Colony to take?”
Sir Geo. Lewis replied, “its share would be the maintenance of a Militia.”
If that is what Nova Scotia is expected to do, I do not think it probable that this Colony will be required to undertake more. Then, again, what are we to understand by “the communication with the North Western Territory,” as set forth in the 69th clause. That it is no new subject, and an undertaking which will involve great expense, will be seen from an extract from the preface of a work by Professor Hinds, called “A Narrative of the Canada Exploring Expedition.” He says:—
“The chief difficulty in the way of rapid transit across the continent lies between Lake Superior and Rainay Lake. The liberality which has already been manifested by the Parliament of Canada, in voting supplies to explore and open this communication, will doubtless be persevered in until the route is well established.” In 1857 an expedition was sent out by the Canadian Government with the following instructions; “The primary object is to make a thorough examination of the tract of country between Lake Superior and Red River; to determine the best route for a communication through British Territory from that Lake to the Red River Settlement, and ultimately to the great tracts of cultivable land beyond them.” In vol. 2, page 212, it is stated “That the shortest line of road from the limits of the settlement on Western Canada via the shores of Lakes Huron and Superior form the basis of speculative enter prise on an enlarged scale, a winter communication with these regions will become a necessity, and may ultimately extend Westward to Red River. It is not improbable that circumstances now dimly forseen may expedite the opening of this communication, and make it a matter not only of Colonial but Imperial interest.”
It would appear from these statements that the communication referred to is principally for a military road. However that may be, if we enter the Union we must pay for it, whatever its cost, which will probably be nearly as much as that of the Intercolonial Railway. And in the face of all this we are told that taxation will not be increased. I will sum up a few of the items of increased expenditure to show that such an idea must be absurd; and in doing so I will only mention those expenses which must be borne immediately should the Confederation scheme be consummated:—
|Intercolonial Railway, as estimated||$15,000,000|
|Canal Extension, “||30,000,000|
|Interest on the above amount for Railway and Canals at 6 per cent||$2,700,000|
|Estimated expense of new Parliament||600,000|
|Militia beyond present expense||500,000|
|Army and Navy, estimated to cost||2,500,000|
Of this sum not a farthing is paid at present. How, then, I ask could the Government under Confederation be carried on without increased taxation! Again, we are told, that Union would tend to develope our fisheries. But I would ask is there anything now to prevent people from Canada or any other place coming here and engaging in the fisheries! I heard a gentleman who was extensively engaged in fisheries at Gaspe state that though he received a bounty of 25 per cent he would not come to prosecute them in this Colony. We are further told that if we do not enter the proposed Union we will be like dormice.
But, Sir, would we then have any greater scope for our youth more than now! Have not Davies, Hyndman, and others of our young men, as great a field open for them in the British service as they would have in a Confederation with a paltry population of 4 millions of people? Have the people of this Colony petitioned to do away with its constitution? Do they wish to enter Confederation? I believe they complain of their land tenures; but have they set forth any other grievance? And further, is there anything in the financial condition of the Colony to warrant us in going into Confederation?
Take our Blue Book for 1863-4 and see what unceptionable [sic] state of our Revenue it presents. It shows:—
|An increase of those of the previous year||£82,191 over|
|An increase of those of the previous year||£58,923 over|
|Value of Imports over Exports||$83,959|
|Which is set off by 100 vessels,
24,991 tons, the value of which is about
|Which leaves a balance in the favor of the Colony of||£40,000|
- (p. 60)
It is well enough for those to go into Confederation who have not been able to manage their own affairs; but for us to do so in the prosperous state of our Revenue, would be but committing political suicide. Some of the delegates, however, inform as that we may obtain £250,000 to buy proprietary lands. There is nothing in the Report to this affect; all that I see promised is interest for a certain sum. If the hon. member for St. Peters were in the General Legislature, and to rise and ask for a grant of £200,000 to purchase proprietors’ lands, could he have the face to paint to a certain paragraph of the Report, and may I claim this sum as a constitutional right? (Laughter.)
But it might be said, he would have other four members to aid him in urging our rights. Our delegates, did they wish to secure our rights, had a much better opportunity to gain their point at a conference of a few individuals than in a House of 194 members. Their first object ought to have been to get the settlement of our Land Question—the only question which is a grievance in the Colony, and then they might have come with some show of reason and asked as to go into Confederation. But they ask us to give up our constitution—for what! simply the glory of belonging to a country with four millions of people! (Hear, hear.)
I believe our people would prefer representation in the Imperial Parliament to Union with Canada, for though they might scarcely have one member in the British House of Commons, they would at least feel that their liberties were in the lands of people that could be trusted.
The Debate was then adjourned.