Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 5th Parl, 1st Sess (18 September 1854)
By: The Globe
Citation: The Globe (23 September 1854).
QUEBEC, Monday, Sept. 18th.
On motion of Mr. MACKENZIE, an address was voted to His Excellency, for a Copy of the original agreement to rent for the use of the Legislature from the Grey Nuns “l’Hospice des Sœurade la Charitee” or Grey Nunnery, and of any claim by the Archbishop of Quebec for the loss sustained by the burning, in May last, of said House, also any correspondence between the Government and parties interested; and shewing what insurance was effected on the said building, when, by whom, and to whom paid.
And also, another Address for a Return shewing the number of Tenants upon Indian Lands, or persons due the Indian Department, or its Agents, in whole or in part, for lands in Haldimand County, by them severally purchased.
Mr. DARCHE introduced a bill to repeal certain parts of the Ordinances relative to Winter Roads in Lower Canada, in so far as regards the District of Montreal; second reading this day fortnight.
Hon. Mr. CAMERON introduced a bill to amend the Acts to secure the Independence of Members of the Legislative Assembly; second reading Monday next.
Mr. FOLEY introduced a bill to authorize the formation of Railroad Corporations, and to regulate the same: second reading on 3rd October next.
And also, a Bill to authorize the people of the several Counties of this Province to elect their own County Officers; second reading this day three weeks.
Mr. FERRIE introduced a Bill to amend the Naturalization Laws of this Province; second reading on 3rd October next.
Hon. Mr. CAMERON introduced a Bill to amend the Toronto Esplanade Act; second reading on Monday next.
Mr. SPEAKER communicated to the House a letter he had received from the Hon. Mr. Hincks, informing him that he elects to sit for the County of Renfrew.
Hon. Mr. MORIN reported the following Lists of Members to compose the Select Standing Committees, viz:—
1. On Privileges and Elections.—Messieurs Solicitor General Ross, Foley, Alleyn, Crysler, Burton, Laberge, Dufresne, Frazer, McCann, Pouliot, Freeman, Blanchet, and Wilson. (13).
2. On Expiring Laws—Messieurs Hon. Mr. Rolph, Scatcherd, Labelle, Larwill, Aikins, Biggar, Gill, Yielding, Laporte, O’Farrell, Daoust (Beauharnois), Meagher, Dostaler, Bourassa, Guevremont, and Marchildon. (16).
3. On Railways, Canals, and Telegraph lines.—Messieurs Hon. Mr. Morin, Hon. Mr. Attorney General Drummond, Hon. Mr. Robinson, Hon. Mr. Hincks, Crawford, Cartier, Cauchon, Egan, Papin, Tache, Bureau, Bellingham, Smith (Victoria), Hon. Mr. Macdonald (Glengary), Hon. Mr. Merritt, Lemieux, and Morrison (Niagara,) (17).
4. On Miscellaneous Private Bills.—Messieurs Hon. Mr. Cameron, Polette, Rankin, Felton, Dorion (Montreal), Powell, Prevost, Loranger, Sanborn, Ross (Northumberland East), Morrison (Simcoe North), Fergusson, Huot, and LeBoutillier. (14).
5. On Standing Orders.—Messieurs Langton, Turcotte, Smith (Northumberland West), Hartman, Murney, Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska), Casault, Bowes, Poulin, McKerlie, Chapais, Jackson, Wright, Daoust (Two Mountains), and Lumsden. (15).
6. On Printing.—Messieurs Stevenson, Terrill, Brown, Ferres, Fournier, Honorable Mr. Young, Flint, Thibaudeau, Shaw, Bell, Daly, Dionne, Delong, Munro, Matheson. (15).
7. On Contingencies.—Messieurs Roblin, Galt, Niles, Lyon, Gould, Valois, Jobin, Chisholm, Church, Fortier, Desaulniers, Darche, Macbeth, McDonald (Cornwall) and Cooke. (15)
8. On Public Accounts.—Messieurs Holton, Patrick, Hon. Mr. Young, Gamble, Mackenzie, Mongenais, DeWitt, Masson, Ferrie, Clark, Mattice, Rhodes, Somerville, Southwick, and Whitney. (15)
DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS.
The adjourned debate on the Address was then resumed by—
Mr. YOUNG, who vindicated himself from the charge that had been made against him, that he was actuated by personal feelings in his opposition to the late Administration. He explained that his opposition to that Administration arose chiefly from the principle asserted by the late Inspector General, that Executive officers had a right to buy or sell public stocks or lands. He was opposed to the present Government on the same ground—six out of the ten Ministers who endorsed that principle being members of the present Administration.
Mr. SANBORN had come to Parliament prepared to sustain the late Administration, and to give the late Inspector General an opportunity of clearing himself from the charges brought against him. He had, however, been driven from his support of that Administration by the ambiguity with which the Clergy Reserves question was referred to in the Address. He thought that after the unequivocal manner in which the feeling of the country had been expressed, the Administration should have come out boldly in the Address with a declaration in favor of secularization. He condemned the coalition, and thought the country should place no confidence in men who, for the sake of office, had abandoned the principles for which they had contended for thirty years. He believed the measures of the present Ministry would be unsatisfactory to the Reformers of the country, but at the same time he declared that it was his intention to vote for good measures, let them be brought forward by this or any other Administration.
Mr. MORIN repeated what he had said on a former occasion, that the policy of the Government in relation to the Clergy Reserves, the Seignorial Tenure and the Legislative Council, remained unchanged, so far as the principles of those measures were concerned.
Mr. POWELL rose, not as the defender or apologist of the present combination, but for the purpose of defining his position, and the course he intended to pursue. In doing so, he should probably express not only his own views, but those of a great many of the new Conservative members. At the outset, he declared himself distinctly and unequivocally to be a progressive Conservative. He felt the genius of the age to be progressive, and he would never be a clog to the wheels of progress as long as he had a vote in the House. (Hear, hear.) When first he heard of the combination he expressed the opinion that, confidence being a plant of slow growth, the sudden change on the part of the Conservative leaders would not produce that confidence in the public mind which was desirable in the administration of the affairs of the country. He advised that the Conservative party should not assume the reins of government, until the great question of the Clergy Reserves, upon which they had expressed themselves so decidedly during a long course of years, had been settled and removed from the political arena. He believed that was the only real barrier to the Conservatives taking part in the administration of affairs. He was, however, overruled by a majority of the party, and yielded his adherence to the Administration. He believed the reputation of the Conservative leaders would contrast favorably with that of the leaders of the opposite party. He gave them credit for honesty, elevation of sentiment and a firm adherence to principle, through years of discouragement and disaster. For this reason, they commanded, to a certain extent, his confidence, now that they had assumed the reins of government. The late Ministry were defeated on the question of the Speakership. What was the position of parties in the House at the time of that defeat? First, there was the Rouge party, comprising some fifteen members, and representing the Lower Canada section of the opposition. He asked if it was for a moment to be supposed that that pitiful minority should control the Government of this Province, so far as Lower Canadian interests were concerned, in opposition to a majority of some fifty members, who expressed their confidence in the Lower Canadian section of the Administration? (Hear, hear.) In the next place there were the Ministerial Reformers. Then there were the “malcontents,” led by the hon. member for Lambton, or the hon. member for Glengary, or the hon. member for Haldimand. Indeed, there were so many leaders that there were very few followers. [A laugh.] Then there was the Conservative party—the legitimate opposition—led by the gallant knight of Dundurn. The latter was certainly the most powerful section of the opposition. Now, if there was no principle of cohesion in the present combination, certainly there was none in that opposition. [Hear, hear.] Upon the very first question that arose—the Speakership—was not the hon. member for Glengary deserted by his friends the Rouges of Lower Canada? [Hear.] Certainly the strongest opposition on that occasion came from the party led by Sir Allan McNab. He therefore thought that His Excellency had pursued a judicious and constitutional course in sending for that gentleman to afford him an opportunity of forming an administration. [Hear.] This course had been condemned by 39 gentlemen who had signed a “round robbin” and sent it to Upper Canada to influence the elections. This manifest and the names attached to it reminded him of the 39 articles of the faith he professed, because each of those gentlemen had a particular doctrine of his own and unless all the others would subscribe to it there could be no unity or harmony amongst them. [Hear and laughter.] Had there been a few more offices to distribute he felt confident that there would have been less opposition to contend against. [Hear hear.] No man in the country had been more zealous in advocating the interests of the Conservative Section of the administration of the late election that the honorable member for Lambton. [Loud cries of hear, hear, from the ministerial benches]. His talented organ, the Globe, came out in favor of the Conservative Candidates wherever there were ministerialists in the field. If this combination had not been brought about, what combination could have been proposed? Would a combination of the Conservative party of Upper Canada with the Rouges, and “mal-contents” and “clear grits” have been sustained by the country? No, he felt that it would not, although he believed there had been a disposition on the part of the malcontents to unite with the Conservative party (Hear, hear, from the ministerial side.) This alliance was a natural one and it was to be regretted that it had not been made years ago. It was natural because of the identity of opinion between the two parties on the subject of separate schools. The Lower Canada reformers held that men had a right to educate their children in the religion of their fathers and to receive their fair proportion of the public money for that purpose. [Hear, hear.] He, as a progressive conservative, endorsed that doctrine. [Hear, hear.] There was also an identity of opinion on the subject of religious incorporations and in this aspect also the alliance was a natural one. He (Mr. P.) was certainly surprised when he saw the honorable member for Norfolk (Dr. Rolph) raise his hands with pious horror at the idea of the unnatural alliance that had taken place between conservatives and reformers; for that gentleman had been living for the last three years in a state of political concubinage. [Laughter.] To see that gentleman therefore affect virtuous indignation reminded him of the mawkish sentimentality of a lady of easy virtue who having spent the greater part of her career in the depravity of a city life and having lost her charms so as to be no longer sought by her paramours, turned round with virtuous indignation and rolling up the whites of her eyes, rebuked those younger females who still possessing allurements, persisted in the same course. [Laughter.] The hon. member for Norfolk returned to public life as the embodiment of reform and progress, pledged to secularization and the abolition of sectarian schools and religious incorporations, and yet for three years he acted with a ministry who passed such acts of incorporation, adopted the principle of sectarian schools and did nothing at all with the Clergy Reserves. [Hear, hear.] He stated this on the authority of the hon. members for Lambton and Haldimand with whom the gentleman now acted. [Hear hear.) So far as he (Mr. P.) was concerned, no principle of his had been changed or would be yielded. If the Clergy Reserves were to be secularized; if the Church was to be robbed, his, at least, should not be the impious hand to desecrate her altars [Hear, hear.] He could not support the present combination upon that question. [Hear, hear.] With respect to other questions mentioned in the address such as the Elective Legislative Council and the reduction of the tariff, he entertained opinions in common with many gentlemen of the opposite side as well as with the gentlemen on the treasury benches. One of the purposes for which he was elected was to oppose the corruptions of the late administration, such as the interference in individual speculations by men who held public offices, and he would support no administration that would not go for a full investigation into those charges. It was due to the country, and due to the individuals against whom the accusations were made. He repeated that in supporting the combination he was guilty of no abandonment of principle. He should vote for the address because there was no expression in it that would compromise him in the least. The selection of the term “adjustment” in reference to the Clergy Reserves was such a happy one that he believed all parties might conscientiously vote for it. [Ironical cries of hear, hear] No person was more desirous than he was for an “adjustment” of the Clergy Reserves although perhaps he might wish to see them adjusted in a different manner from what gentlemen opposite desired.
Mr. McKERLIE could not conscientiously support a combination between men who had been opposed to one another throughout their whole political lives and who now coalesced, the one party to obtain office and the other to retain office. He denied that the independent reformers of Upper Canada, he showed any disposition to amalgamate with the Upper Canada Conservatives although overtures had certainly been made to them by that party. He expressed his surprise that the honorable member for Toronto (Mr. Cameron) should have promised a general support to the administration and could only account for it by the rumours which were afloat that the Chief-Justiceship of the Court of Common Pleas was soon to become vacant. (Hear, hear.) Even if that gentleman should oppose the administration of the Clergy Reserves and Legislative Council questions, he (Mr. McK.) believed, his opposition would amount to something very like a support. Mr. McK. after further remarks referred to the Rouge party of Lower Canada and declared that he was not ashamed to avow that upon many questions his opinion co-incided with theirs, although in some respects he was prepared to go even further than they were.
Mr. DALY briefly defined his position and announced himself an opponent of the present government because although they might consent to secularize the Clergy Reserves, they could not be expected to bring forward those other great measures of progressive reform which the country demanded.
Mr. DORION of Drummond, delivered an animated speech in French and as soon as he had concluded Mr. FELTON rose amidst much laughter and presented a petition against the election of that gentleman.
Hon. Mr. CAMERON then rose and said that surprise had been expressed in the course of the debate, that no voice had been raised; and not one word said in the House, in behalf of those principle for which the opponents of secularization had always contended. It was not because there were no voices left, or that no words remained to be spoken, but it was rather that those who thought as he (Mr. C.) did on that question had been rendered mute by the announcement that those principles, so long contended for, had been given up, and that the struggle of a lifetime was nearly over. Magna est veritas et prevalebit, was an old maxim, but he was almost inclined to doubt its application to politics when he saw right thus overcome by power. Still he believed that truth was immutable. The stars shone in the Heavens as brightly by day as by night, although the power of the sun obscured their splendor, and the gazers upon earth were not able to behold them, and it was so too, with truth, although the power of the multitude might for a time destroy its expression and the will of the people repudiate its force. [Cheers.] Upon this question of the Reserves he felt as strongly to-day as he had always felt, and in reference to it, he would offer the Government every opposition. [Hear, hear.] So too, with reference to the question of the Legislative Council as to the Seignorial Tenure, his position was not the same; because he agreed with many gentlemen from lower Canada that the rights between the Seignors and the Censitaires ought to be placed on a different footing, although he might not, perhaps, be in favour of the particular measure which the Government would introduce. He desired to have it distinctly understood that in reference to the measures to which he had referred, there had been no change in his political sentiments, no alteration in his political views. He was a member of the Church of England from honest conviction. He revered her creed, he loved her teachings, he acknowledged the doctrine she sent forth to the world that the State ought to contribute to the maintainance [sic] of religion. He recognized in the setting apart of these Reserves in Canada West in the early history of the Province, before the year 1791, those rights were established in this country, called Clergy Reserves, and he maintained that they stood in all entirely different position from many of those rights which were claimed by one party and repudiated by another, and which were said to be supported solely by money raised from the taxation of the people. Those rights had an additional sanction, for when, by the constitutional act of 1791, the Crown and Parliament concurring, gave those lands for the support of the Protestant Clergy, they gave the strongest possible guarantee to those men who intended to make their homes in Canada, that they should find in the New World the same provision for the maintenance of religion that was afforded in the Old. He conscientiously believed that although the words “Protestant Clergy” were used, the lands were intended at that time to be for the sole benefit of the Clergy of the Church of England, but subsequently in had been decided that those words included the Church of Scotland and other Protestant denominations. He referred to the act passed in 1840, carrying out the Legislative Settlement of 1828, which was supposed at that time to be a permanent settlement of the question; and one that would put an end to these struggles and strifes in which demagogies could make use of religious feelings and prejudices to elicit shouts at the hustings or applause in Parliament. But soon after that, the very same men who were the first to pronounce it a final settlement renewed the battle cry for party purposes. It might be that now, when the Reserves were about to be secularized by the Conservative gentlemen who had gone over to the other side, regret would be felt by Liberal members that they were at last to be for ever deprived of that battle cry, by the final settlement of the question. He could not helping thinking that it would have been better for the country, had this question been treated with regard to the different large religious bodies, in a different spirit. It might be that some denominations maintaining, like the English dissenters, the voluntary principle would be willing to give up their proportion of the Reserves, or to apply it to some other purposes, but that was no reason why those who were desirous of having their preportion [sic], continued to be applied for the maintainance [sic] of religion, should not be allowed to do so. Gentlemen on all sides admitted that there were rights in these Reserves else why should the secularization be postponed until years had passed by, and the present incumbents had passed away. Could rights exist where there were no rights? And if there were no rights on what ground were the present incumbents to be protected? It seemed strange that gentlemen from Lower Canada belonging to the Roman Catholic religion, and claiming that the State ought to maintain the Church and provide for the religious education of the people, should go for the destruction of the Reserves and not see that the very same reasons which applied to the maintainance of their Church, applied equally to the maintainance of the rights of other Churches in these Reserves. He would battle manfully and to the last moment against the secularization of the Reserves, but when the question was once settled, he, for one, wished it to be finally settled and he would never re-open it. He warned the Government however, of the difficulty they would have to encounter, in the settlement of this question. It was he believed the rock on which they would split. What sort of measure were they going to offer the country. If the Bill of the late government was not to be adopted, how were the Reserves to be disposed of? For educational purposes? Why, the Roman Catholics of Upper Canada—140,000 of the people of that section of the Province—had already put forth in anticipation of the secularization of the Reserves a claim that a portion of these Reserves should be devoted to the separate education of their youth. Would the Upper Canada liberals consent to that? This question of separate schools would give rise to an agitation compared to which the agitation of the past had been as nothing. [Hear, hear.] Mr. Cameron then warned Lower Canadian members that the first attack on the Roman Catholic Church—an attack already foreshadowed in the programme of the Rouge party—would be on the subject of tithes—that was the outwork which the opponents of State religious endowments would first assail, in order to get at the interior of the fortress. What he [Mr. C.] contended for to-day, the Lower Canada Reformers might, under altered circumstances and changed occasions, contend for to-morrow, and then they would perhaps feel that it would have been wiser and better for them to have allied themselves earlier with those who felt as he [Mr. C.] did upon this question. Mr. Cameron then referred to the question of the Legislative Council. He argued that if the Legislative Council were elective; and declared that upon that question also he should strenuously oppose the Administration. He announced that it was his intention at the proper time to bring forward some amendment or measure that would submit these two great questions directly to the people, including the new voters under the franchise act, whom he estimated at 50,000 in Upper Canada, in order that they might be decided by them distinctly, without being mixed up with personal and party considerations. He believed that if that were done, the result would be widely different from what some gentlemen expected. He had only further to say that in regard to the position in which the Upper Canadian members of the Administration were placed, they would receive the support, in all measures that were worthy of support, of those who had heretofore acted with them. He could see no combination that could be made in the event of the removal of those gentlemen from the treasury benches, that would give him an administration better or more Conservative, or more likely to stay the downward progress. On the contrary he thought that the union which had taken place between the Lower Canadian ministerialists and the Upper Canadian Conservatives was a natural one and one more likely to strengthen conservatives’ positions than any other that could have taken place. Various notices had been given by gentlemen on the opposition benches of extensions of the elective principle, [illegible] which he could not assent, and upon those questions he could not doubt although no announcement had yet been made on the subject, that he would be found voting side byside with the [illegible] try. (Hear, hear.) He felt sorry for the appro[illegible]ing downfall of the Clergy Reserves, for he believed that after those who came to the colonies from the old country had passed away, and their descendants had no recollections of that country to attach them to it, the strongest link that still bound them to England was the tie that bound them to the temple, the altar and the Church. (Loud cheers,)
After a few remarks from Mr. FELTON, the debate was continued in French by Messrs. Chauveau, Laberge, Huot and Turcotte until 11 o’clock when after some opposition from the government, the debate was adjourned until to-morrow.