Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 5th Parl, 1st Sess (11 September 1854)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: The Globe (16 September 1854).
(Reported for the Globe.)
MONDAY, Sept. 11th 1854.
[Illegible] transaction of the ordinary routine [Illegible].
[Illegible] rose and announced the formation [Illegible] new administration, declaring at the same [Illegible] adhesion of Sir Allan MacNab and his [Illegible] Canada colleagues, to the policy of the late [Illegible] administration on all the great questions of the [Illegible].
Mr. HINCKS then rose and said, that in view [Illegible] the position he lately occupied, and in view also, of all the rumors afloat in the public mind, he felt it to be his duty to take the earliest opportunity of making a frank, open and candid statement to the House of everything that had happened since he had last the honour of addressing the House, and he hoped honorable members on all sides would at least do him the credit to believe that he had pursued that course which he supposed the interest of his country required.—Throughout his official career he (Mr. H.) had received from the Governor General that confidence and support which any minister who might be called to power had a right to expect, and he desired to take this, the earliest opportunity of referring to the subject as there were rumors afloat that personal prejudices, and personal difficulties had prevented his Excellency from sending for certain persons on the present occasion. At their closing official interview His Excellency had informed him that when he came to this country he determined, unlike some of his predecessors, not to allow his personal feelings to control him in the choice of an administration.—He then proceeded to deny that he had advised his Excellency to send for Sir Allan MacNab.—He (Mr. H.) was not consulted on the subject and after he tendered his resignation he did not presume to offer advice. He believed a large majority of the real and true supporters of the late administration would stand by him in the position he was now about to assume in supporting the administration as it had been reconstructed and he believed that the reconstructed administration would command the support of a majority of the Upper Canadian Representatives. After he (Mr. H.) tendered his resignation he called a meeting of his supporters in order that they might choose a leader in the present crisis, and at that meeting the choice of the true and staunch supporters of the late administration fell almost unanimously on the honorable member for London (Mr. Wilson), for leader of the party. He denied emphatically that he had made any arrangement with Sir A. MacNab or any of his friends in regard to the reconstruction of the administration. It had been rumored about town that a coalition with Sir A. MacNab had been arranged before the meeting of Parliament. This was an infamous slander. He had had an interview with the Commissioner of Crown Lands, (Mr. Morin) on Saturday morning on the subject of the formation of a new administration, but had given no advice to that honorable gentleman on the subject. He had merely assured him that if Sir A. MacNab was prepared to form an administration commanding the support of a majority of Upper Canadian Representatives that would carry out the leading measures of the late administration, he (Mr. H.) would give it a cordial support, although of course, he could have nothing to do with it. Subsequently, on the same day, he learned that the honorable and gallant Knight had undertaken the task of forming an administration and of carrying out those great measures in regard to which the opinion of the country had been unequivocally expressed, and he had been consulted by Sir Allan in reference to the new administration. Undoubtedly the honorable and gallant Knight was placed in a difficult and embarrassing position, but precedents for the course he was pursuing had been set by some of the most illustrious statesmen of England. He confessed his profound astonishment at the course of Sir A. MacNab, but had no objection to the coalition. A coalition between Reformers and liberal Conservatives was natural. The honorable member for Lambton (Mr. Brown) had aided the election of several of the liberal Conservatives.—He (Mr. H.) had promised Sir Allan that so far as his influence went the coalition should receive from him and his friends a cordial support. He would be the last man to desert his late colleagues from Lower Canada. He had consulted his friends from Upper Canada and believed a large majority of them would support the new administration (Hear, hear.) He did not allude to the members from South Wentworth (Mr. Freeman) or North York (Mr. Hartman) the man by whose treachery the late administration had been broken down, but to those who had given an honest and cordial support to that administration. [Hear, hear.] He believed that the honorable member for North Wentworth [Mr. Spence] and the honorable Speaker of the Legislative Council, [Mr. Ross,] who had accepted office under the new administration, after advice and consultation with their political friends, would be sustained by the country. [Loud cries of no, no.] Mr. H. then referred to the course of the honorable member for Glengarry, [Mr. Macdonald] who had combined with a party [the Rouges] which was in a decided minority in Lower Canada, and thereby excluded himself from any alliance with the coalition, and moreover rendered it impossible that he could form any administration. He taunted Messrs. Macdonald, Freeman and Hartman with having made improper and unsuccessful combinations to bring themselves into power. He eulogized Mr. Spence and said that his acceptance of office was a guarantee to the Reformers of Upper Canada, the great questions before the country would be speedily and satisfactorily settled by the new administration. He concluded by claiming credit for having pursued in this crisis an honest course, and the one which he believed the interests of the country required.
Mr. MERRITT said that no event had taken place in Canada since the establishment of responsible Government that would cast more gloom over the provinces than the events of the last few days. (Loud cries of hear, hear.) Two-thirds of the representatives from Upper Canada were returned as reformers, and yet under this new coalition they were made to succumb to the one-third who were elected by the opposite party. [Hear, hear.] He [Mr. M.] came down to Quebec resolved to support the Administration, but he had also made up his mind before he left home to vote for the honorable member for Glengarry as Speaker. He never considered the Speakership a party question, and was not prepared to take a party view of such a question. He believed that a majority of the Reformers from Upper Canada came down here to sustain the late Inspector General. [Loud cries of hear, hear.] He had no disposition to censure Sir A. MacNab, but he could not believe that that honorable and gallant knight would be sustained in his present position by the people of Upper Canada, who knew that for 30 years he had been battling against those who advocated the secularization of the Clergy Reserves. [Cheers.] A minority had been put into power to govern a majority. [Hear, hear.] That was the result of the present coalition. It was now that a grave question whether Reformers ought or ought not to allow Sir Allan to go on and carry the great reform measures—whether they should receive those great measures from the hands of their opponents? He desired first to ascertain whether it was by a preconcerted and treacherous scheme that his coalition had been formed. [Hear, hear.] He had his doubts about that. He had never known a similar transaction since he had been in public life. He desired to say distinctly that for one he had never intended to separate from his party. He had never intimated directly or indirectly that he would not sustain the late administration, and he could see no reason why this extraordinary course of forming a coalition should have been adopted. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. HARTMAN had been referred to by the late Inspector General, or he would not have said a word. He had not come here with his hands tied. He had not come here pledged to support any man or set of men. He had not come here with his mind made up either to support or to oppose the ministry. He came here to carry out those great principles which, as a Reformer, he had always advocated, and he defied the ex-Inspector General to point to any act of his since he had been in Parliament having a tendency to obstruct legislation upon those questions. He had voted against the late administration more than once, and thereby incurred the displeasure of the ex-Inspector General, but he had the satisfaction of knowing that his constituents approved his course. Measures not men was his motto. But they had been informed beforehand on high authority that the speakership was not to be made a ministerial question. The honorable member for North Wentworth [Mr. Spence] so stated in nominating the gentleman who was now claimed to have been the ministerial candidate. Mr. H. then denied having taken any part in the formation of any combinations hostile to the late administration, and avowed his determination to accept a measure for the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, by whomsoever offered or advocated. [Hear, hear.] He must not be understood as having confidence in the combination which had been formed. Far from it. Still if he believed that combination would honestly carry out the wishes of the country, he would support it incongruous as were the materials of which it was composed. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. McDONALD, of Glengarry, believed it was not unusual for members of a retiring administration to make explanations such as they had heard, but he was not surprised at the eagerness from the late Inspector General to exculpate himself from the charge of concocting this extraordinary and unprecedented coalition. The honorable ex-Inspector General had given the House a candid, fair, and open explanation—one no doubt satisfactory to himself, but whether it would be satisfactory to the people of Canada remained to be seen. No one who heard that explanation could doubt that the new administration owed its existence to the honorable member for Renfrew. [Hear, hear.] The coalition was formed by the advice and assistance of that honorable gentleman. He [the ex-Inspector General] admitted that at a meeting of his party friends, Mr. Wilson, of London, was elected their leader, and yet he was now sustaining a combination in which Mr. Wilson had neither part or parcel. Mr. McD. then contended that the Clergy Reserves and Seignorial Tenure questions ought to have been settled by the last Parliament, and condemned the hasty and ill-considered dissolution of that Parliament.
Mr. FELTON replied, and maintained that if the reformers from Lower Canada were found to-day in strange alliance, it was in a great measure owing to the course pursued by gentlemen like the member from Glengarry. (Hear, hear). That honorable member deserted the late administration just as soon as he thought its downfall was [illegible] hear, hear.) The liberals [illegible] liberals of Upper Canada had fallen [illegible] the treachery of some of their number. (Cheers). In concluding, he attacked the member for Sherbrooke. (Mr. Galt), for having given notice of his intention to move amendments to the address, when he professed to be a supporter of the administration.
Mr. GALT defended himself.
Mr. FREEMAN, as the ex-Inspector General had referred to him, felt called upon to make a few observations. The voice of Upper Canada had been clearly and emphatically expressed on the subject of the Clergy Reserves, and there was no necessity for this unholy alliance between the reformers and those who had been their opponents for thirty years, (Hear, hear.) It was admitted that no divisions could hazard the settlement of that great question; for now, even the Conservatives were prepared to yield to the irresistible tide of public opinion. There was no doubt as to that; but the question was, whether the late Inspector General should continue at the head of the Government, and that was a question about which Reformers were divided. He denied that the new combination would receive the confidence of the Reformers of Upper Canada. What confidence had the country ever shown in the late Attorney General and present Speaker of the Legislative Council [Mr. Ross]? None. He had been appointed to office without receiving the sanction of the people. The honorable member for North Wentworth [Mr. Spence] would be the only guarantee the Reformers of Upper Canada would have for the liberality of the new administration. He [Mr. Freeman] confessed that he had not the utmost confidence in the Upper Canada members of the late administration. [Cheers.] The administration were defeated in the last Parliament and appealed directly to the people, and in that appeal even their own candidates did not dare to come forward and avow their confidence in the administration. It was not for him to decide whether the charges against the late administration were all true; it was sufficient for him to know that the country had expressed its want of confidence in that administration. Mr. Freeman then denounced the new coalition as a combination which was nit demanded by the political necessities of the times, and which it could not be justified unless some urgent necessity for it existed. The Inspector General [he contended] must feel some gratitude for the support he had received from the Upper Canada Reformers, and must also feel that his administration had forfeited the confidence of the country. That administration had projected gigantic railroad schemes and kept them within its own control. The Attorney General, West, was at the same time President of the Grand Trunk Railway, and Solicitor and Adviser of the Contractors. No wonder then that the confidence of the country in the administration was shaken. Mr. Freeman, in conclusion, denied that he had taken part in any combinations, and contended that the recent conduct of Sir A. McNab was not at all analogous to that of Sir Robert Peel in reference to the Corn laws, because the latter avowed a change of his own opinions, whereas the latter could not deny that for the sake of office he had entered into an unholy alliance for the purpose of carrying out measures to which he had been opposed throughout his whole political career, and in regard to which his opinions remained unchanged.
Mr. GALT enquired when ministers intended to proceed with the debate on the address.
Mr. MORIN replied that they would do so as speedily as possible.
Mr. GALT would wait until the debate came on, to express his opinion in regard to the coalition which had been announced by the late Inspector General. He stated in reply to Mr. Felton that his views were much more liberal than those of the late administration, and that that administration never expected much support from him. The references in the Governor General’s speech to the Clergy Reserves and the Seignorial Tenure were not such as to meet the wishes of the country.
Mr. CAMERON felt called upon, as a friend of Sir Allan McNab, to say a few words, as that honourable and gallant gentleman was not here to answer for himself in regard to his course in reference to these combinations. He thought the attacks upon Sir Allan premature and unfair, as that gentleman was not here to defend himself.—He [Mr. C.] and those who acted with him were willing to give Sir Allan credit for high and patriotic motives in thus undertaking to carry out the known views of a majority of the House.—Although he [Mr. C/] had not changed his views in reference to the Clergy Reserves question, he would still give to the new administration a generous and cordial support upon other questions.—He believed the administration were sincere in their determination to secularize the Clergy Reserves, and that they would do it promptly. [Cheers.] Whatever they undertook to do, they would, he was sure, do faithfully. He [Mr. C.] could not help saying that he thought an alliance between the conservatives of Upper Canada and those gentlemen from L.C. was a natural alliance, [Hear, hear,] as the time might come when there would be a similar attempt to sweep away church property in Lower Canada as there was now in Upper Canada. He expressed his individual regret that the Clergy Reserves were to be swept away, but declared that on the dissolution of last Parliament it was agreed by the conservative party that the question of the Clergy Reserves should be an open question.
Mr. RANKIN would support any administration that was prepared to carry out such measures as would promote the interests and prosperity of the country. It was certainly a strange spectacle to see Sir Allan McNab coming forward as the advocate of measures which he had been consistently opposing for the last twenty years, but if the honourable and gallant knight were sincere in his purpose of secularizing the Clergy Reserves, of promoting Reciprocal trade with the United States, and of introducing the elective principle into the Legislative Council, he (Mr. R.) would give him his support.
Attorney General DRUMMOND thought it was only fair to the administration that they should be allowed some little time to deliberate as to the manner in which their measures should be taken up. They asked no unnecessary delay;—they asked but 24 hours for deliberation and consultation. The remarks of the gentleman from North York [Mr. Hartman,] and South Wentworth [Mr. Freeman,] were premature and out of place. It would be time enough to discuss those questions when the debate on the address came on. At that time, the members of the late administration would doubtless be prepared to defend themselves. The late Inspector General had already avowed his willingness to submit to an investigation into the charges brought against him in his public career. It would be well if every man could point to so useful and honorable a career during seven years. [Hear, hear.] He [Mr. D.] had known the late Inspector General since 1843 and could bear testimony to his straightforward and honorable course. His present withdrawal from office, when gentlemen opposite admitted he might have been sustained, was a proof that he was not actuated by selfish motives. But combinations had been resorted to to defeat that gentleman, a majority of the U. C. representatives had been alienated from him and he therefore felt it would be dishonorable and degrading for him to retain office. The present Speaker of the Legislative Council (Mr. Ross) had been charged by the honourable member for South Wentworth (Mr. Freeman) with receiving money improperly from the Grand Trunk Railway.
Mr. FREEMAN denied that he had intended to make any such charge.
The Attorney Gen’l East would like then to know what the gentleman’s remarks meant? [Hear hear.]
Mr. FREEMAN had not intended to make such a charge. He had merely referred to the fact that the late Attorney Gen’l West [Mr. Ross] was appointed President of the Grand Trunk Railway while at the same time he, or his partner was Solicitor to the road.
Att’y General DRUMMOND replied that the allegation was incorrect. The present Speaker of the Legislative Council never was solicitor of the Grand Trunk Railway, altho’ a gentleman who had once been his partner was.
Mr. McDonald [Glengarry] thought the House ought in fairness to adjourn and give the ministry time for deliberation. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. ROLPH said that he rose not to make a speech at the moment, which did not call for it, but simply to avow an opinion at the earliest opportunity, lest silence might lead to misconstruction. He held the coalition, which had just been announced, as unwise, uncalled for an unjustifiable, as a coalition destructive of the integrity of party and of principle upon which party is founded. [Cheers.] He felt therefore, bound to declare the coalition unworthy the confidence of the House or of the Country; and he hoped and believed there was a spirit an independence enough in the reformers in this House and of Canada to meet the emergency and frustrates so unworthy a combination. [Cheers]. He expressed this opinion [and it was only an opinion he intended to express] with regret, because he saw honourable gentlemen with whom he had acted, placed in this painful dilemma, under a course which was dangerous to the purity of government, abhorrent to every true Reformer, and, to say the least, dangerous to the honor and integrity of public men. [Loud Cheers.]
Mr. MURNEY was somewhat astonished that no Conservative member had yet come forward to explain the views of that party. [Hear, hear.] Gentlemen holding what they were pleased to call liberal views had come forward and avowed themselves in favor of this, that and the other.—But not one single Conservative—and he had acted with that party for nearly twenty years of public life—had yet dared to come forward an express an opinion of those who had sacrificed themselves in their party: and for what? For a few paltry thousands a year. [Loud Cheers.] It amounted to that and nothing more nor less.—They had sold themselves and they were trying to sell their friends. [Renewed Cheers.] Men who had been in opposition to each other ever since the union, were now coalescing, [Hear,] and for what?
Mr. MACKENZIE.—Plunder! [Cheers.]
Mr. MURNEY yes, for plunder. If these same measures were to be carried out, why not let the late Inspector General carry them out? [Hear, hear.] Why discard him—why turn him to the right about—white trample upon him?—[Loud Cries of Hear, hear.] Surely his public and private character were worth something and yet he was dismissed without even a fair hearing, [Cheers.] He [Mr. M.] I would like to ask Sir Allan MacNab, and therefore regretted his absence, how or why he was going to carry out the very identical measures of the late cabinet? He could not do it without giving a lie to his whole political career [Cheers.] A ministry composed of such discordant materials must split upon the first public question that comes up. [Renewed Cheers.] He was surprised at the statement of the honorable gentleman for Toronto, that the Conservative party at the close of the last Parliament agreed to an elective Legislative Council.
Mr. CAMERON had not said that. He had merely said that the Conservative party agreed to make the Clergy Reserves in open question. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. MURNEY Said that he for one, had never agreed to anything of the kind. He would like to know whether the honorable gentleman had any authority for making that avowal and if so, who was his authority.
Mr. CAMERON did not think it necessary to state his authority on the floor of the House, although he would have no objection to answer the gentleman’s question privately. Not being a minister of the Crown, he was not subject to be interrogated publicly. [Laughter.]
Mr. MURNEY believe that sundry persons representing a portion of the country met at the close of the last Parliament and held the confidential conversation. It amounted to nothing more nor less. The gentleman from Toronto was not a party to that conversation, and could have no authority to make such an avowal as he made today, unless he received it from one or the other of the parties to that confidential conversation.
Mr. CAMERON felt sure that he was surrounded by a large number of Conservative friends, agreeing with him on the Clergy Reserves question, and with the exception of the honorable gentleman [Mr. Murney] those Conservative friends all agreed on the remarks he [Mr. Cameron] had made. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. MURNEY asserted that when three or four gentlemen held a private and strictly confidential conversation, it was the greatest possible breach of confidence for one of those three or four to divulge what took place without the consent of all the others. He was present at that conversation, and the honourable member for Toronto never had his consent to make the avowal they had heard there today. I tell that honourable gentleman [continued Mr. Murney] that I do not say it insolently or petulantly, that he has broken my confidence, by whose authority I cannot pretend to say, but I say distinctly and emphatically that somebody has divulged private and confidential conversation. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. GAMBLE had not attended the meeting of the Conservatives which had been referred to, but he understood at the time that it was not a confidential meeting at all.
Mr. MURNEY continued. He, of course, should not oppose those of his party friends, who had gone into the coalition, but he might feel it necessary to resign his seat and go quietly home. [Hear, hear, and cheers.] Certainly he should never sell his principles. [Renewed cheers.] He would like to know from some gentleman upon what particular question the amalgamation party were agreed. [Hear, hear.] Oil and water could not mingle. He for one could not support the coalition ministry, and he might feel it necessary hereafter to resign his seat.
Mr. CAMERON denied that he had divulged any confidential proceedings. What took place at the meeting of the conservative party to which he had referred was well known even to the gentlemen on the opposite side. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. SOUTHWICK had come to parliament to support certain measures and not men. He would accept the secularization of the Reserves by whomever offered.
Mr. CLARKE defended Sir Allan McNab, and taxed Mr. McDonald of Glengarry with being the first to seek a combination with the honorable and gallant knight. As a liberal conservative, he [Mr. C.] should support the new administration and should go for the secularization of the Reserves.
Mr. FOLEY wished to explain briefly the position of himself in a few friends around town.—when he (Mr. F) heard of combinations and the name of the Attorney General East connected with them, he declared that it could not be, and that he believed that gentleman would be the last for many such combination He asked the Hon. Attorney General East to remember his last visit to Upper Canada, and the language he then used to the Reformers of Upper Canada, and reflect whether he had not now betrayed those Reformers of Upper Canada, and handed them over to the enemy. [Cheers.] So far from the alliance into which the honourable gentleman had entered being a natural one, it would be looked upon by the Reformers of Upper Canada—even by the ministerial Reformers—as a base betrayal of the principles of the Reform party, and as an unnatural alliance that could not last. [Renewed Cheers.] The Inspector General, in the course of his remarks, had referred to honourable gentlemen on that side of the host as his betrayers. He [Mr. F.] desired in the absence of the Inspector General to speak of him with all becoming respect. But when he spoke of betrayal, he should think of his own course. (Hear, hear.)—It was to him that the reformers of U. C. Were indebted for the position of which they now stood It was owing to that gentleman’s course that, with a majority of 35 or 40 in the House, they found the government of the country in the hands of their political opponents. [Cheers.]