Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 5th Parl, 1st Sess (13 October 1854)
By: The Globe
Citation: The Globe (19 October 1854).
[illegible] complained of [illegible] had been [illegible] Clergy Reserves [illegible] some time ago that [illegible] it was promised to be [illegible], when the hon. Attorney General [illegible] would have arrived from [illegible] had not been brought on, and [illegible] in excuse that hon. members [illegible] the arrival of the Post-master General [illegible] alteration of details of the measure [illegible] alter the principles altogether. It [illegible] said that the new ministry were to [illegible] all the measures of the last administration [illegible] and the late Inspector General had an[illegible] that there was no difference of opinion about the acceptance of these measures. [Mr. Macdonald then read from the Leader the announcement of the hon. Mr. Morin of the order in which the measures would be introduced, and this, he contended, showed that the measures had been agreed upon several weeks ago. The hon. member for West Northumberland (Mr. Smith), in his speech on the Address, had said that the hon. and gallant knight, from Hamilton, had come over to the Reformers, and adopted all their measures.
[Mr. M. then submitted the following amendment—“that, inasmuch as this House has been informed by the administration, of their intention to present to the consideration of this House the measures relating to the Clergy Reserves, the Seigniorial Tenure, and the Constitution of the Legislative Council, in the order named, it is inexpedient to depart from the course of procedure already indicated with regard to those measures, by giving priority to the discussion of the last measure, before this House shall have satisfied the country by an unequivocal expression of its intentions and policy on the important questions of the Clergy Reserves and the Seigniorial Tenure.”]
Sir ALLAN McNAB said that the hon. member for Glengary appeared to place a very small reliance upon the promises of public men. This country and the hon. member for Glengary had been told that the present Administration had been formed upon the basis of the secularization of the Clergy Reserves. He (Sir Allan) did not flinch from the responsibility which he had assumed upon these questions, and when the hon. member for Glengary accused him of going over to the Reformers, he should recollect that there was a day in the history of the Parliaments of this country when he (Sir A.) was considered a much higher Tory than at the present moment, and when that gentleman was one of his strong supporters; and he would also remember that he left them too at a critical period and wicked people circulated the report that the hon. member for Glengary had been bought by a Colonelcy of militia. (Hear, hear.) That hon. gentleman changed his position too without giving any great reason for it, except that the Conservative party had not paid him sufficient attention. That was the reason that he gave for deserting his colours. The reason that he (Sir Allan) had given for supporting the Clergy Reserve Bill was, that nearly three-fourths of the House of Assembly supported it, and appeals had been made over and over again to the people of the country, and they had given a verdict which showed that they wished the Government to be carried on according to the best interests of the country. (Hear, hear.) They had been in their placed in the House four or five days, and until they had come to the House that day, they had been engaged upon the Bill for the secularization of the Clergy Reserves. (Hear, hear.) And he would ask hon. members of the House if it did not become those who had seen that Bill and agreed to it, that their colleague should have an opportunity of reading it before it came into the House. The hon. gentleman was told that this Bill would be introduced on Tuesday next, and he would now tell this House that the Administration were ready to go into the second reading of the Bill as fast as they could, and they desired so to introduce it that it should receive the sanction of as large a majority of the House as possible, and the hon. gentleman might throw as many obstacles in the way as he liked. He would then ask that hon. member how long had his friends been settling this question? About fifteen or twenty years they had had a majority, and why did not they secularize the Clergy Reserves?
Mr. McDONALD wanted to know whose fault that was.
Sir Allan McNAB.—It was the hon. member for G’s. fault. He imagined how that he exercised a very large influence in that House, if so, why did not the hon. member introduce the measure in question. He [Sir A.] would ask the House whether it was unreasonable that the Administration should have a few days to consult with their colleagues in order to understand themselves? The Bill was ready to come down, and he thought that when it made its appearance a large majority of the House would approve of it, and were they now to be censured, when it appeared that certain members had scarcely had time to get into the Council Chamber to read it. Had not his [Sir A.’s] learned friend on his right stated that the very basis of this Administration in the secularization of the Clergy Reserves which measure they were prepared to introduce.
Mr. MACDONALD, Glengarry—The honorable member for Chicoutimi had stated that the Bill would be introduced a week ago, only that Mr. Drummond had gone to Washington.
Sir Allan McNAB.—Well suppose that to be true, was it anything unreasonable that they should require four or five day’s delay. Had the honorable member not been told, that on Tuesday next it would be introduced. In regard to the Seignorial Tenure Bill, the Attorney General Drummond had been absent at Washington, and only took his seat yesterday, but every exertion was being made to introduce these measures, and to carry them through at as early a period as possible, and he [Sir Allan] did not believe that the honorable member for Glengary had a doubt in his mind about it, but he only desired to make a display of trumpeting, so that it might be read in Glengrarry and elsewhere that he had taken this step to shew that the Administration were not prepared to fulfil their promises, and that it was necessary for the honorable member for Glengarry to push them forward, but he would find that there was no necessity for it. They did not require twenty years to carry this Clergy Reserves Bill through this House, and he might depend upon it, that the Bill would pass during the present session of Parliament.
Mr. MURNEY regretted that this conversation should have taken place until the proper time arrived, but as it had, he should not shrink from that responsibility which it was due to himself and others that he should take in this particular part of the question. And what was the more to be regretted was this, that personalities had been liberally dispensed, and it had been charged in effect that coats had been changed, but when any honorable member in that House got up and accused another of changing his coat for a Colonelcy of Militia, it meant he [Mr. M.] thought, a changing of office, principle, speeches votes and everything else. Now it was very, hard to attack one person for changing his coat without looking to see what others had done. What were the present Administration doing, the Tory portion of it. Changing votes he did not call it, for he was sorry to say, that it was a change of a fixed principle, and not only that, but a change of all that which should be dear to both private and public characters. [Hear, hear] Those were his feelings upon the subject; he felt deeply, and would tell the members of the Administration that the language here used by some honorable members would recoil with double force upon those who gave expression to it. Now, to commence with the Premier’s speech, in which he asserted that the Government had been formed upon the basis of the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, and upon likewise the basis and principle that the majority of the people of Canada were in favor of it, would the Premier [of whom God knew, no man entertained a higher opinion than he (Mr. M.) always had, for from hi, he had always received personal as well as political kindness, and therefore felt towards him great affection,] would the Premier tell him if he was wrong in this statement. When this great question was a source of agitation in Upper Canada, as it has been for many years past, and when a majority of the Representatives entertained an opinion in favor of secularization, it was battled and contended against by the Premier, session after session, and always defeated in the Legislative Council, a body which was then a deliberative one, and worthy of consideration, and a great deal of principle was to be sacrificed to mere popular clamour, a clamour rational probably in its character. But he [Mr. M] could not go with that. He hoped that the honorable the Premier would not be offended with him if he questioned a certain portion of a public Address which he had seen published as an Address by him to the Electors of Hamilton, and which gave him [Mr. M.] great pain. A meeting then took place which was told to him [Mr. M.] to be of a strictly confidential character, not so much upon the mere question of the Clergy Reserves as upon the results of the then coming elections, but when the Clergy Reserves came up as a mere topic, upon the remark of a gentleman present, that he feared that he had no right there as he differed materially with the great majority of the Conservative party, upon one of the great questions of the day, namely, the Clergy Reserves question when it was then understood that if they all agreed upon other questions, that a member differing with them as a party, should not be refused our Committee Rooms. That was the only point of difference. Now, if the address of the hon. and gallant knight to his constituents had stopped there, every gentleman would have understood it, but it went one step further and said “I was resolved that if a majority was returned in favor of secularization, that they (Mr. M’s. party) as Conservatives, would join in that as to the Secularization, because it would be unstatesmanlike any longer to oppose it. He (Mr. M.) never so understood it, or if he had he would have been bound to leave that room, and he would never have pledged himself to it, and if after such a resolution as that, he had remained in that room, he should have felt himself bound to come forward now and sustain secularization, and sustained the principles of those. Churches interested in this question, and at that very moment, these Reserves might be the absolute property of those now enjoying it. But he would now state (although he stood alone in doing so) that there never was such a resolution, or any conversation or understanding to the effect attributed, within his hearing. He could not say how much he did regret being compelled to make this statement, because when he read that very address, he felt that he was compromised as one of the great party to which he did then, and now protested to belong—the Conservative; but he [illegible], that although [illegible] party have vanished, that [illegible] is the language of a conspicuous [illegible] day “professional anarchists, constitutionalists, and corruptionists.” Such language was used in Kingston, but he must confess, that he could not understand it. The question had been asked “why did they not thus settle the question”? The Premier would not allow them but he might have now done so, in a matter sustaining their high honor, and they could have allowed the Inspector General to come down with his genius and talents, and settled the matter. But he (Mr. M.) would deny emphatically that this was the basis of this ministerial combination. He would declare that every principle here which was Conservative, had been surrendered. To whom had Hon. members then surrendered their Conservatism? To “democratic” influences (Hear, hear.) What had been the Attorney General East’s expression in a declaration he recently made? That the tories were “proselytes,” and use that word within the hearing of every gentleman throughout his speech. He did not say that they had consolidated, but On the contrary, that they had not yielded a point. But he would deny that the two questions that he had alluded to were made the basis of formation of the present administration. There was a great question mooted in Upper and Lower Canada, namely that of Landlord and Tenant, and the administration were going to settle it by charging Upper Canada with part of the expense of the commutation of the tenure of Lower Canada—they were giving Upper Canada the go-bye and Lower Canada the benefit. That formed another part of their policy, and he thought that his Hon. friend from glengarry had been a little premature in this matter, without giving the administration the opportunity of stating, the terms upon which they meant to go there after to the country, and the terms upon which they had now agreed to go o But he (Mr. M.) was anxious to hear from the administration the avowal of their policy in the matter for it very much depended upon that how long he [Mr. M.] would remain on that side of the House. He begged to state that he was independent, but he took this opportunity of publicly disclaiming the terms; the unholy and discordant terms of the present combination. There were his best friends at the moment, retaining office at the mere whim of those to whom they had been opposed all their lives.
Mr. SOLICITOR GEN’L. WEST, No.
Mr. NURNEY, Yes—he would again insert—that they had taken offices with those to whom they had sacrificed their feelings.—Ah! he witnessed it with pain, so much so, that he scarcely thought he could have addressed them. He must say that they stood in a very false position.
Mr. MACDONALD (Kingston) quite agreed with the Hon. gentleman who had just spoken that the motion in the Hon. member’s hands opposite, was quite premature. It was due from every opposition, that they should however give a fair opportunity to those to whom they are opposed to explain their views and the course which they intend to take. And yet he (Mr. M.) was surprised that when the hon. member for Hastings saw the moat in his neighbour’s eye, that he failed to discover the beam in his own. Now all that the Government asked for was a delay of a few days until the return of the Hon. Post Master General. That was surely not unreasonable, seeing that this ministry was composed of elements brought together as it were from all parts of the political horizon, and under those circumstances, was it too much to ask, that they should consult together before they brought down the Clergy Reserves Bill?
Mr. MACDONALD (Glengary).—If this motion had not been forced upon the House he would not have made these observations.
Mr. MACDONALD [Kingston] Did not understand that to be an explanation at all. He had been alluding to the unhappy language used by the honorable member for Hastings. He charged the Hon. member for Glengary with precipitately bringing forward his motion before explanations were given by the administration, and yet before the Hon. member for H, had the opportunity of hearing one single word of the hon. member for Glengary or any of his followers in the House, or before then waited for the Hon. Post Master General, (a person connected in political principle with the Reform party, and that section of it which seeks to hold office] to explain their general course that they intend to take upon several measures which had been announced as forming the basis of the coalition; he had got up in opposed them in everything, and had not even given to his dear friend, any credit for truth or principle in the course that he had adopted.—Was that the course of an old and tried friend? Did not he say that he owed everything to the honorable and gallant Knight And that he had fought in the same ranks with him, and during his whole life that he had never seen a deviation from principal in him; and now was this the act of a friend? God save him from such friends. Was it not the act of a man who has got something rankling in his bosom, which he does not choose to expose? (Hear, hear, vehemently.) Ah; it showed not only a laxity in principle, but it was making a violent assault upon the honorable and gallant knight’s veracity. He (Mr. M.) had nothing to say against the veracity either, of the honorable member for Hastings, but he would say this, that the character of his honorable friend before him was at any rate equal to the honorable member for H.’s; and if he acquired only the number of years that the honorable and gallant knight had, and was held so high in the estimation of the country, he then might be indeed proud (Hear, hear.) The hon. member for H. had said that he read with surprise the address of the honorable and gallant knight to his constituents; and he then says that he hoped that the honorable gentleman, whose veracity could not be impugned, would not be offended if the Hon. member for H. said, that what the gallant knight stated in his address was untrue. [Hear, hear.] Now what he said in it was precisely what took place.
Mr. MURRAY would like to know if the hon. gentleman was there himself?
Mr. MACDONALD said he was, and could vote for the truth of it to the very word. He [the speaker,] did not doubt the honorable member for H.’s veracity, but he had lost all confidence in his recollection—prejudice had warped his mind, or else he would know that every single word in the address was true, and so clear, that the honorable gentleman had said that the meeting spoken of in that address was a confidential meeting; and so far was it a confidential meeting that the Editors of the Conservative papers were asked to attend there, and several did. They could not disguise from themselves that the Clergy Reserves question was the most necessary for the present session, and that a large increasing portion of those who had formerly served with the Conservative party had given in their adhesion to the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, and they thought that the public had made up their mind to that effect, and that it would be better to give up all position to that; that it was only keeping up a hobby horse for every demagogue who made use of who wish to run into power, and that it would answer no purpose but to keep up that bad will which once produced actual bloodshed and war; and the very principle that induced the Duke of Wellington to grant the Colonial Emancipation Bill, for fear of a Revolution in England, was the very reason which had induced him [Mr. MacDonald] and the honorable and gallant knight to yield to this measure. They might prevent some things, but they could not stop that measure. Do what they like, and what they could, but they could not prevent the measure becoming law. Their opposition, therefore, would only be productive of harm instead of good. They had, therefore, come to this conclusion; and he thought that men who take an enlarged view of the political sphere, and did not look through just the same key-hole of party purposes as he and his friends, yet would agree that they were right to surrender their opinions for the good of the country—or in other words to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the public weal, and peace. But in order that it should be an open question among them, and that no man should be considered less a Conservative because he was in favor of the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, these sentiments were to be promulgated immediately as being their principles; but the gallant knight had gone further. He had said that not only should it be an open question, but he was to have told the people of Hamilton that if the popular feeling was not in favor of maintaining the Reserves, that the Conservative party would no longer struggle to uphold them. When the Parliament sat in Montreal, and a Committee of the House sat upon this question, he [Mr. M.] was Chairman, and the honorable Mr. Baldwin an Mr. Price were members, they agreed to a report which declared that the act of 1840 should be considered final on the matter. That did not prevent those gentlemen from afterwards yielding to the pressure of the country. His hon. and gallant friend also stated, that whilst he should go to his constituents and state that he was desirous to retain that act without violation, and hope that the Conservative party would stand to carry that out upon this very great question which was about to be decided by the people, which has been before them for years, that if they gave their deliberate judgment upon it, and if the voice of the Provinces was unequivocally expressed in favor of secularization, that in his own language “it would no longer be wise or statesmanlike to resist the verdict of the country, but bow to that as being final.” The honorable and gallant knight stated that, and it was understood among them that they should hold back their addresses until he [Sir A.] came out with his. The honorable member for Brockville was present also. This explanation might be called in that House a mere formal affair; but he merely mentioned the circumstance, because he thought that he was bound to do so, because the veracity of the honorable and gallant knight had been called into question by his dearest friend. If the administration for the time being where is great scoundrels as the honorable member for Hastings evidently by his motion intimated them to be, this country would not allow them to be so. It had been announced clearly and distinctly that the basis upon which the administration was formed was one that would carry out the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, purely, simply, and without conditions. [Hear, hear.] Those conditions being forced upon them by the restrictions and reservations of the Imperial Act. It was also agreed, that the relief of the Censitaire from the burden of the seignior imposed upon him, should be another principle of this coalition ministry, and that the elective principle should be introduced into the Upper House; and the moment that those principles were settled, they had gone to their constituents to ask for a renewal of their confidence in their conduct, and the country new the result.
The honorable gentleman made a few further observations.
Mr. CRAWFORD was present at the caucus in question. The object was to arrange for the coming elections. It was clearly understood that the Clergy Reserves would be an open question among Conservative candidates, and the question of opposing secularization was discussed, and understanding being come to that if public opinion should prove to be strongly opposed to the maintenance of the Reserves, no further strong attempt should be made to maintain them.
Sir ALLAN MACNAB said, it was quite true that he had a post secularization for twenty-five years, and every year when the question came up their party grew less and less. He had been in favor of maintaining the act of 1840, but when the question was brought back to his country, and legislation had to take place upon it—that on the approach of the general election he had a meeting with his friends, at which it was agreed that if the results of the elections were to condemn the maintenance of the Reserves, the Conservatives should no longer continue their opposition. It was agreed that he (Sir Allan) should insert in his address a paragraph to this effect, and he was prevented by sickness. There were at that meeting four or five of their friends, who resolved to vote against secularization in any event, and they would do so still. There were only fifteen or sixteen members in the House who would vote against secularization. At his (Sir A’s) election, a gentleman came to him and offered that if he would pledge himself to vote for secularization, all opposition to him should be withdrawn. He refused at once, saying that he would await the result of the elections, and see what public opinion was, and he would then make his decision. He had done as he then promised, for seeing so larger majority in favor of secularization, he thought that it ought to be carried, and he was resolved to use his influence to secure that object.
Mr. LANGTON confirmed what had been said by the other speakers about the Conservative Caucus, agreeing to make secularization and open question at the elections. As he understood the matter, the present administration was pledged to the principles, not to all the details of the measures of the late administration.
Mr. MACDONALD (Glengarry) said he understood from the speech of the late Inspector General, that the new ministry were to take all the measure of the late administration just as they were.
Mr. LANGTON hoped that any administration would have had more wisdom than to adhere obstinately to all the details of any such measures. He doubted whether the late administration, if they had remained in power, would have introduced the measure now in precisely the same shape that it was in June last. [Hear, hear, from Mr. Hincks.]
Mr. HINCKS never for one moment understood that the new ministry were to be tied down to all the details of the measures of the late ministry. What he understood was, but they were to carry out the principles of those measures. It was most extraordinary that the member for Glengarry, and others who were opposed to the Clergy Reserves bill of the late ministry, should now object to the possibility of a somewhat different bill being introduced. If even the late ministry had made changes in the Clergy Reserves bill, how could that right be denied to their successors? He perfectly understood the object of this motion, but never did in attempt more signally failed, for the effect had been to draw from ministers declarations that were perfectly satisfactory to a large majority in this House. [He then referred to the taunts frequently thrown out as to the position of parties in the House and the Government. The Conservatives were taunted with going over to the Reformers, and Reformers were taunted with having allied themselves to the Conservatives. The coalitions originated in one of those necessities which are liable to occur, and which at times do occur in all countries. He then read an extract from the explanation of Lord Aberdeen on the formation of the present imperial administration, remarking that the elements of the administration were far more discordant than those of the cabinet lately formed here.] At the time of the formation of the Government, he (Mr. H.) was taunted with having taken a position which the Hon. Mr. Baldwin would disapprove. He had in his possession a letter received from that gentleman.
Mr. DORION (Montreal) would like to have the letter read, inviting the expression of Mr. Baldwin’s opinion.
Mr. HINCKS would gladly have read it, had he kept a copy. Mr. Baldwin was in possession of all his explanations, and it was not to be supposed that he (Mr. H.) would presume to give him a different relation of the facts from what he had given elsewhere.
Mr. DORION did not intend to accuse the honorable gentleman of being capable of giving an inaccurate relation of the facts, but he might have expressed such opinions as would influence Mr. Baldwin.
Mr. HINCKS proceeded. He had however taken the opportunity of ascertaining that honorable gentleman’s opinion from the subject, and he would read an extract from a letter:
SPADINA, 22d Sept. 1854.
MY DEAR SIR: It is not easy for men to satisfy themselves fully as to what they would themselves have done under a give combination of circumstances in which they have not been placed, and certainly in no department of human affairs is this more true than in politics. The materials with which one has to deal are so various the prejudices to encounter often so violent, (and not unfrequently unjust in proportion to their violence) that the public man who boldly affirms in a spirit of condemnation that had he been in the place of another, he would have done one thing and not have done another, must be either deficient in experience or judgement, or reckless of assertion. If therefore by its “being on all sides said, that I would never consent to a coalition” it is meant to draw a contrast between us to your prejudice; all I can say is, that those who undertake thus to speak for me, undertake to do so far more positively than I could do for myself. For however disinclined myself, to enter upon such combinations, they are, unquestionably, in my opinion, under certain circumstances not only justifiable but expedient and even necessary. The government of the country must be carried on. It ought to be carried on with vigor. If this can be done in no other way than by mutual concessions and a coalition of parties they become necessary, and those who under such circumstances, assume the invidious duty of becoming parties to them, so far from deserving the opprobrium that is too frequently, and often too successfully heaped upon them, have in my opinion, the strongest claims to public sympathy and support. You have expressed yourself “most anxious for my opinion,” I feel therefore that I should fail in doing by you what under similar circumstances I should expect from you were I to omit applying the foregoing remarks to the particular transaction which has given occasion to them, with respect to which, then I add without reserve, that in my opinion you appear to have acted in this manner with judgement and discretion, and in the interest at once of your party and your country.
Believe me to be
My Dear Sir,
Hon. FRANCIS HINCKS, M. P. P.
Mr. MERRITT then rose and said:—The extract was susceptible of a clear explanation. Mr. Baldwin had only justified a coalition in case no other Government was possible, He then proceeded to denounce responsible Governments, saying that the theory of Mr. Baldwin, that the country should be governed according to the well understood wishes of the people, was not realized.
[A question of order here arose, it being objected that the motion of amendment contained a preamble, and could not therefore, under the rules of the House, be put.]
The SPEAKER decided that the motion did not contain a preamble, but to strike out the word “whereas.”
Mr. MERRITT. (continued). The majority in the House was not a representation of a majority of the country. The effect of the coalition would be to open the eyes of the country to the defects of our governmental system, and lead to the adoption of a different kind of Government, under which there would be a much better means of expressing opinion than at present. He then proceeded to censure the government for not bringing down their measures.
Mr. HINCKS asked the honorable gentleman if he desired the measure, to show his own constituency, as he had always been opposed to the Reserves Bill.
Mr. MERRIT said that since 1831 he had been in favor of giving the whole of the Clergy Reserves to religion—he repeated it, to religion, and now wanted them for education.
Mr. MACKENZIE principally wanted proof given of sincerity by the administration on the Clergy Reserves matter. He then eulogised the late government for the many good things they had done, and made a few other remarks.
Mr. MORIN.—The question of the call for the House was very clear. It was necessary to have a full House to vote on the great measures. There would be nothing to prevent a consideration of the Clergy Reserves Bill on the day named. The declarations of his friends during the debate he was sure would give satisfaction to the House and country. The honorable member for Glengarry had no grounds for doubting the sincerity of the ministry, and he did not believe that he really felt any such distrust. In reply to the objection that the order of bringing forward the measure of the Government, as announced by himself, had been departed from—he said it so happened that the Legislative Council Bill was ready first, and as he wished to meet the wishes of the House as far as possible, he brought it forward. There was no intention to put it ahead of the Clergy Reserves Bill. The Seignorial Tenure Bill would also be introduced on Tuesday.
Mr. HINCKS said a few words in explanation of his first speech, and to the same effect in reply to remarks upon it.
Mr. CAUCHON opposed the amendment and could not understand Mr. Merritt’s ideas of responsible government. It was ridiculous to contend that a government composed of a large majority of the representatives of the people was a government of a minority. The amendment was frivolous. The government should have a fair trial, as it was the custom in England to give all governments. The public opinion of Canada would say that this opposition was factious. He believed the resolution of amendment had a preamble, but he would how to the decision of the Speaker. The Clergy Reserves question must be settled, and so must the Seigniorial Tenure, and the house ought to wait to see the promised bills of the government.
Mr. GALT thought the motion was one that ought to receive the support of the friends of the secularization of the reserves, and the abolition of the seignorial tenure. He thought there was great risk of the measures being lost unless they were brought down in the order promised some weeks ago by the ministry. They had no guarantee that the government would not receive a defeat on the Legislative Council bill, and as he did not expect that in that case they would favor them with resignation, they would likely appeal to the country under the franchise act, and by that process the measures might be indefinitely delayed or lost altogether, for he could not suppose that as the honorable and gallant knight had consented to waive his principles to cross over the house, he would not resume them again if that would prevent him from recrossing. [Laughter.) He thought, therefore, there was the very greatest danger in departing from the order which he asserted was announced from the treasury benches. The honorable and gallant knight had not said that he had changed his opinions; and while three-fourths of the house were in favor of secularization, he did not see the necessity if asking the assistance of those who opposed the principle the carry a secularization bill. What faith could they put in the promises of the ministry, when the honorable and gallant knight told them that evening that the Postmaster General had never seen the Clergy Reserves bill, when they were told by the hon Commissioner of Crown Lands five weeks ago that all the ministers had agreed on that and all other great measures; in short that there was no difference among them.
Sir ALLAN denied that he had made such a statement.
Mr. GALT must beg his pardon, for he had distinctly heard him and written the words down, but if the hon and gallant knight chose to take them back, he (Mr. G.] could have, of course, no objection.
Sir ALLAN said all his colleagues and he had agreed on the principle of secularization, but he desired his hon friend, Mr. Spence, to see the details of the bill before it was introduced.
Mr. GALT.—Then if the ministry had not agreed upon the details of the bill, why did they not say so at first. Why tell them the bill was all ready and promise to introduce it, while all the Upper Canada ministers were away, if they had not agreed upon it? Why not have asked for so reasonable a thing as an adjournment? No objection could have been made to that. It was, he believed, a customary course in England. The ministry were either agreed or not agreed on the Clergy Reserves bill. If they were not agreed they should say so. If they were agreed the bill ought to be before the house. The Commissioner of Crown Lands told them one thing, the hon. and gallant knight another, and the hon Attorney General West reproached the hon. member for Hastings for not giving the hon. and gallant knight the benefit of a doubt before he accused him of deserting his principles. On the whole he thought a grave responsibility rested on those reformers who did not insist on the measures being brought forward in the order promised by the ministry.
Sir ALLAN MACNAB said that he had announced three times that night that the Clergy Reserve bill would be brought down on Tuesday and such a pledge from a minister of the crown ought to hold good for that time, and in that case he thought it most unfair for the hon member who had just sat down, to attempt to alarm the house or the country. [Hear, hear.] They would go on first with the Clergy Reserve bill if the house desired it. He did not think the ministry deserved a vote of censure for keeping the bill back for a few days.
Mr. CAYLEY could not understand Mr. Galt’s logic. If they anticipated defeat on the Legislative Council bill, he should consider that a good reason for postponing it until the last, and averting as long as possible such a consequence as that.
Mr. DORION, of Montreal, contended that the two measures on which the country was most agitated were the Clergy Reserve and the Seignorial tenure. It was on these the vote of censure on June last proceeded, and now he believed it was the duty of the house first to occupy itself with those measures. Here the hon member narrated the different occasions on which the promise of Mr. Morin had been made. His [Mr. Dorion’s] friends wanted to have them brought down now they wanted to run no risk of losing them. They desired to offer no factious opposition, and they would support the government in those measures if they were good. If the honorable and gallant knight would then promise to go on with the Clergy Reserves bill first, he [Mr. D.) for one would not vote for the motion now before the house. He complained that Mr. Macdonald, of Kingston, had called him and his friends anarchists in order to secure his election at Kingston, and stated the use of such a species of warfare proved that this government had not good arguments with which to defend itself, and that it was bad and dishonest at the bottom.
Mr. CHAUVEAU charged the party of the hon. member for Montreal, with having two sets of principles—one for their newspapers, the other for the House. He proceeded to defend in general terms the policy on which the coalition was based, and taunted Mr. Galt with unfair desertion of the late ministry.
Mr. GALT thought it due to himself and the House to explain. The attack of the Provincial Secretary was unwarranted. He had never, as the late Inspector General would admit, been a regular supporter of the late ministry. He gave that ministry a qualified support in June last, because he desired the speedy settlement of the Clergy Reserves and Seignorial Tenure questions, and because he believed that ministry more likely than any other that could be formed, that he could agree with to settle those questions. He intended to renew that support this session on the same grounds; and with the same object in view he gave them his support of the Speakership; but when he saw the speech from the throne, he wrote a letter to inform them that the language was not sufficiently decisive to meet his views, and that he could not any longer continue his support. If they had come down more decisively on those questions in the speech from the throne, they would have had his support, and the responsibility of their losing it rested on their own, not on his shoulders. He could not have been a regular supporter of the late ministry in the extreme views that he had formerly taken the responsibility of announcing, and which he still held. Those views were unpopular now, but the day might come when they would be in the ascendant. He took the responsibility of those views, and never had, as he had been taunted by the hon. and gallant knight, either any desire or any hope of obtaining office.
Mr. HINCKS stated that he had never considered Mr. Galt a regular supporter of the late Government. He considered, however, that he had pursued the wrong course in withdrawing the support he gave in consequence of the language of the speech from the throne. He believed however, the hon. member had acted honestly in accordance with his opinions, and he only had to complain that he thought those were wrong.
Mr. PAPIN spoke for some time in review of Mr. Chauveau’s speech, and taunted that hon. member with alliance with the Tories—even the old and the bitterest enemies of Mr. Chauveau’s party, nationality, and principles. He also accused Mr. Cauchon of inconsistency.
After a few words from Mr. MARCHILDON, in review of the debate, Mr. CAUCHON replied to Mr. PAPIN with some warmth.
Mr. HOLTON said, as the debate had digressed so much, he thought it better to call attention to the motion before the House. The hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had promised the introduction of measures in an order that had given satisfaction to the country. The question was, should the House permit a departure from that order in circumstances when such departure might peril the measures? He thought not; and should support the amendment.
Mr. Solicitor General SMITH said the Speaker had permitted a range of debate far too wide. The discussion had been altogether too discursive. The motion of amendment assumed facts which the House could not know. The House did not know that the ministry did not intend to go on with the Clergy Reserves before the Legislative Council bill; and if the House desired the Clergy Reserves bill proceeded with the first, he did not see that the Government could have any objection.
Mr. J. S. MACDONALD replied to the debate, and complained that Sir Allan’s attack on him was unwarranted, as all he had done was to say that the member for Northumberland had stated in seconding the Address, that he, Sir Allan, had undertaken to carry all the late government measures, and had bodily hone over to the reformers instead of the reformers having gone over to them. He thought that if the Clergy Reserve bill were brought in on the 17th, it would require ten days to consider upon it.
Mr. FERRES thought the debate would not be lost upon the country, for he must say, he had never seen men cut a more miserable figure than hon. gentlemen around him. This debate, like that on the Address, had wandered upon every imaginable subject except that before the House. Great complaint was made of this Government, but could gentlemen around him make a better. The House had heard what sort of a government the hon. member for Sherbrooke would give them—he would make over the country to foreigners. Even the hon. member for Glengary would not support that. He (Mr. F.) could sympathize with the position of the hon. member for Hastings, and some years ago would have gone with him; but now he believed that in order to secure the peace of the country, the Government had taken the right course on the Clergy Reserve question. Allegiance, it was true, might not be so much as it was formerly, but still he could never be a party to the doctrines of the hon. member for Sherbrooke, and never could consent to hand the country over to foreigners. With respect to the motion of amendment he thought the House ought to accept the promise of the Government. He was willing to give the Government time with their bills, and he would be satisfied if the ministry left the Legislative Council bill till next Session, in order to give the country time to consider it.
Mr. McKERLIE said the hon. member for Missisquoi had the modesty to lecture the House for wandering from the subject, yet before he had been on his legs one minute, he himself pursued the same course which he condemned. According to that hon. member’s account, the country must owe a deep debt of gratitude to the hon. and gallant knight and his friends for throwing aside their principles and walking across the House just in the nick of time to prevent the country from being sold to the United States. Now he (Mr. McK.) did not understand that even the hon. member for Sherbrooke desired to sell them to the United States. Mr. McK. continued at some length to reproach the conservative coalitionists, saying that they had abandoned their own principles to make very bad reformers. He stated that he should support the amendment.
Messrs. Sydney Smith, Powell, Larwill, Daly and Dr. Southwick followed, but as the hour was long past midnight, and the physical powers of the reporter not adequate to the oratory of the members, he laid down the pen.
The amendment was put and lost:—
YEAS—Messieurs. Aikins, Bourrasea, Bureau, Daost of Beauharnois, Darche, De Witt, Dorion of Drummond, Dorion of Montreal City, Dufresne, Ferrie, Fraxer, Freeman, Galt, Guevremont, Hartman, Holton, Jobin, Lumsden, Macdonald of Glengary, McDonald of Cornwall, McKerlie, Marchildon, Mattice, Papin, Prevost, Scatcherd, and Valois—27.
NAYS.—Messieurs. Alleyn, Bell, Bellingham, Biggar, Blanchet, Bowes, Cartier, Cauchon, Cayley, Chabot, Chapais, Chauveau, Crawford, Daly, Daost of Two Mountains, Delong, Desaulniers, Dionne, Dostaler, Felton, Ferres, Fortier, Fournier, Gould, Hincks, Labelle, Laberge, Laporte, Larwill, Le Boutillier, Lemieux, Macbet, Attorney General Macdonald, MacNab, McCann, Mathteson, Meagher, Mongenias, Morin, Morrison, of Niagara, Murney, Niles, Patrick, Poulin, Powell, Rhodes, Roblin, Solicitor General Ross, Shaw, Solicitor General Smith, Smith of Northumberland West, Somerville, Southwick, Stevenson, Tache, Terrill, and Thibaudeau.—57.
The main motion was then agreed to; and it was ordered, that such members as shall not then attend be sent for in custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House; and that Mr. Speaker do cause Circular Letters to be written to the absent members enclosing to them copies of the said Orders.
The House then adjourned till Monday next.