Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 5th Parl, 1st Sess (19 September 1854)

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Date: 1854-09-19
By: The Globe
Citation: The Globe (25 September 1854).
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[illegible] ADRESS [illegible]

[illegible] rose and [illegible] the address was then [illegible] administration [illegible].

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Mr. HINCKS [illegible] He was decidedly opposed to secular [illegible] to the alienation of any of the [illegible] also, of [illegible] property of either Upper or Lower Canada [illegible] purposes of religion. He could safely [illegible] that a majority of the Conservative constituencies of Upper Canada entertained the same view. He thought that the Conservative party ought to adhere to the principle for which they had contended for 20 years of dividing the Reserves among the different denominations in proportion to their numbers, notwithstanding that that principle had been abandoned by the leaders of the party. He did not believe that the opinion of the country had been unequivocally expressed upon this question at the late election. The late ministry were defeated in the last House, not upon the question whether the Clergy Reserves should be secularized, but upon the question whether that House, which had decided by a two-third vote that it did not properly represent the country, was competent to deal with the question. He was satisfied that, if the question was submitted to the country under the extended franchise law, a majority of the people of Upper Canada, at all events, would be found to be in favor of dividing the Reserves among all the religious denominations according to their numbers. The question of secularization or no secularization should be submitted to the country distinctly, unmixed with all questions of the popularity or unpopularity of candidates for election. If the question were so submitted to the people of Upper Canada he would acquiesce in their decision whatever it might be.

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th resolutions were the severally read and agreed to.

The 5th resolution—the on in relation to the Elective Legislative Council was then read.

Mr. GAMBLE would vote with the greatest pleasure for that resolution. Recent political changes had placed him in a somewhat peculiar position, but he had the utmost reliance in the honesty and integrity of those gentlemen of the Conservative party who had joined the administration. He could not sympathise with the charges made against these gentlemen of having abandoned their principles for the sake of office and patronage. He thought it ungenerous and uncharitable to put that construction on their conduct. Those who made such charged were probably themselves disappointed in their aspirations for power. He was disposed to give the new administration a fair trial, and to extend to them an independent support, reserving to himself, however, the right to vote for or against their measures according to the opinion he might for of those measures. Unquestionable he should not vote for any measure intended as a vote of censure upon them. He expressed himself strongly in favor of an elective Legislative Council, and also of an elective Governor. He denied that these were democratic reforms. He considered that a second elective chamber would act as a check upon democracy. He declared his intention to vote for the address as it stood, including the paragraph in relation to the Clergy Reserves, because he considered that the term “adjustment” covered the ground he occupied, and did not necessarily mean secularization.

Mr. MURNEY referred to a remark made by the last speaker to the effect that those Conservatives who opposed the administration must be actuated by personal and ambitious motives, or stung by disappointment. He (Mr. M.) was the only conservative who was prepared to oppose the administration through thick and thin, and he desired to know if the hon. member intended to allude to him.

Mr. GAMBLE disclaimed any intention of referring to the gentleman.

Mr. MURNEY was glad of it. He (Mr. M.) had nothing to expect personally, politically, pecuniarily or otherwise. Thank God! he was above it all. His only ambition was to serve those who sent him here faithfully and honestly. He could not pretend, like some gentlemen who preceded him, to support the administration, when he was opposed to the three great measures on which they accepted office, and when as yet he knew nothing of the other measures they intended to introduce. Any man who could get up and make such a declaration was no statesman, no politician, and he would not give a snap of the fingers for his integrity. (Cheers.) He referred to the question of the Clergy Reserves. He had been taught something about the words “sacrilege” and spoliation” in reference to that question. He had been taught this for 20 years. But now gentlemen of great responsibility and high intelligence, after three hours’ deliberation, came down and told the House that what was “sacrilege” the other day meant nothing now, and what had meant “spoliation” for 20 years meant nothing now! Politics, language—all changed after three short hours’ deliberation, and the interests of the people and the interests of the church were all to be sacrificed. He for one did not understand that style of thing. He did not understand how gentlemen could support an administration, to the three great measures of which they were opposed. Honorable members on the ministerial benches were offended with hum for not giving them the support they had expected. He had opposed those gentlemen ever since the union, and he would like to know what had since occurred that should induce him to support them now? The leaders he had followed for many years told him only the other day that the gentlemen opposite were the most corrupt people under the sun. (Hear, hear.) He believed it because his leaders were men of character, and would not say what they did not believe to be true. The present Attorney General West [Mr. McDonald] was almost as vehement on the subject as he (Mr. M.) was the other day. He almost jumped out of his skin. (Laughter.) That gentleman accused the honorable gentlemen opposite of jobs and corruption; he even went further and used the most extraordinary language. He [Mr. M.] believed him. Did the gentleman believe himself now? (Hear, hear.) If he did, how could he sit on the treasury benches? He [Mr. M.] could not sustain such inconsistency. He would tell the honorable gentlemen opposite in what he believed they were wrong. If the late honorable Inspector General was a corrupt person, he had been a corrupt personal for some time past, and he could not have been corrupt without their knowledge. If he was corrupt, they were equally so. (Hear, hear.) Why then should the Inspector General be discarded, unheard, and without trial, whilst they retained office? He could not sustain such a proceeding. He could not sustain those gentlemen who had deserted the Conservative party for the further reason that the opposition had granted nothing, but that the Conservatives had yielded all the cherished principles of former years. He for one was not prepared to give up all the great principles for which the Conservative party had been contending for the last 20 years, merely in order that he might see those leaders whom he had been perhaps blindly, but conscientiously following, on the treasury benches. It seemed to him that it was a mere question of office and patronage. (Hear, hear.) Mr. M. concluded by declaring that he would vote against the pending resolution, and against the whole address.

The question was then taken on the 5th resolution, (in favor of an Elective Legislative Council.) and it was adopted.—Yeas 94, nays 6.

The 6th Resolution was then read, as follows.

“That the other act of the Imperial Parliament having removed the restrictions which had for some time past prevented the Provincial Legislature from dealing with Clergy Reserves, and as from an early period in the history of Upper Canada, this provision which was originally intended for the support of the Protestant Faith, has been a source of discord and agitation in that section of the Province, we consider it most desirable in the interest of religion and social harmony, that a final, and conclusive adjustment of this long pending controversy, should take place without delay. The subject was distinctly brought before the people of the Province at the late Election, and their opinion upon it expressed in no equivocal manner. We hope it be able without difficulty to agree upon a measure for accomplishing this object which will give general satisfaction.”

Mr. HARTMAN could not help feeling some indignation when he saw gentlemen who had been sent here to represent reform constituencies, pledged in favor of progress and to oppose every thing that savored of retrogression or toryism, ranging themselves under the lead of the very head and front of “fossil toryism.” (Hear, hear.) He condemned the use of the word “adjustment” in the address, in reference to the Clergy Reserve question, as being too ambiguous and designed to catch as many votes as possible. He thought that, in view of the recent changes, the House should have a distinct and definite pledge, as to the kind of treatment the question was to receive and should distinctly and emphatically declare itself in favor of secularization. He therefore moved to amend the resolution by striking out all between the word “We” in the sixth line and the word “We” in the tenth line be expunged, and the following inserted, viz:—

“Will without further delay give our best attention to the maturing of a measure for the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, by which the opinions of the people of the Province, as expressed at the late election in no equivocal manner, will be carried into effect, and this fertile source of discord and agitation will be forever removed.

Mr. MORIN thought the amendment inexpedient and unnecessary. Those who would place any confidence in the repeated declarations of the government must believe that it was their intention to secularize the Reserves. He again repeated that such was the intention of the administration.

Mr. SMITH of Victoria, announced that he would vote against the amendment as he had voted against a similar amendment offered by the same gentleman in the last Parliament, although he was as warmly in favor of immediate secularization as that gentleman or any other. He gave a history of the legislation of the last five years in reference to this question, expressed his confidence in the sincerity of the late ministry in regard to it and his belief that the course they had pursued was the wisest and best. The amendment proceeded from gentlemen who came here determined to embarrass the government [illegible] liberals of [illegible] the treachery [illegible] in his place. [illegible] one jot or tittle [illegible], but if the administration [illegible] were prepared to carry out the [illegible] of the late administration, which he [illegible] here to support, he would not vote against them. He did not see how gentlemen opposite could pursue a different course unless indeed they were prepared to adopt the principle of “man, not measures.” The honourable member for Lambton, (Mr. Brown,) ought certainly not to complain of the combination, for he had all along contended in his Globe that any administration would be better than the last. (Mr. BROWN, Hear, hear.) He must, therefore, have gained something. He hoped that honourable gentleman would give the government a fair trial, judge them by their measures and not condemn them because they had once been on the opposite side to him. For the sake of procuring the passage of those great measures which the country demanded, he thought they should all refrain from offering factious opposition to the government. If, when the measures of the administration came in, they did not come up to his expectations or to what he believed the late government intended, he would at once walk across the House. (Hear, hear.). This was not the only combination cabinet that had been formed or proposed. The honourable member for Lambton at one time during the recent crisis, exhibited a list of a new ministry to members of the House. (Hear, hear.) The honourable member for Glengarry, (Mr. Macdonald,) was to be Attorney General West, (Hear, hear,) the honourable member for North York, (Mr. Hartman,) was to be Commissioner of Crown Lands, (Hear, hear,) the honourable member for Wentworth, (Mr. Freeman,) was to be Solicitor General West.

Mr. BROWN interrupting, denied that he had ever exhibited such a list. The gentleman had been misinformed.

Mr. SMITH had been informed from reliable sources that the hon. member, in discussing the question of who was to succeed the late administration, took up a list and pointed to the names of those gentlemen which had black marks opposite them—intimating that they were to be in the proposed coalition [Ironical cries of Hear, hear.]

Mr. HARTMAN declared that he had never heard his name mentioned in any such connection.

Mr. SMITH replied that at all events it was a matter of public notoriety at the time, that such an administration had been planned, and it was whispered all over town who were to fill the different offices. Mr. S. concluded by declaring his intention to sustain the measures of the administration when he could do so consistently with his principles.

Mr. MACKENZIE in a humorous speech, condemned the ambiguity of the language of the address and declared his intention of supporting the amendment.

Mr. GOULD had come to Quebec to support any administration that would carry out the principle of secularization. He was elected upon that as a test question and was pledged to support any administration that would carry out such a measure. He expressed his belief in the sincerity of the late administration in their intentions with regard to that measure. Much as the late Inspector General had been denounced, he (Mr. G.) believed that that gentleman’s administration had brought the question into its present shape when we have power to settle and had done all they could to carry the measure although perhaps they had not done it as fast as they might have done. He should vote against the amendment as they had been solemnly assured by the Commissioner of Crown Lands that it was the intention of the government to introduce a measure for the entire secularization of the Reserves, [hear, hear,] and the amendment was merely designed to embarrass the government. He thought the late Inspector General had been rather precipitate in resigning office. He believed from what he knew of the feelings in the House that that gentleman’s ministry would not have been defeated on the address, [Hear, hear,] and that the “malcontents,” who were engaged in forming new combinations, would soon have found out how they stood and returned into harness. He believed that the late Inspector General was honest and sincere in his determination to carry out measures for the secularization of the Reserves, the abolition of the Seignorial Tenure and in relation to the Legislative Council, and that if his friends had allowed him to carry those great measures through the House, he would then have consented to some arrangement that would have been more satisfactory to the Reformers generally than the present coalition. He repudiated the idea that any fair comparison could be made between Sir R. Peel and Sir Allan McNab. The hon. and gallant Knight might with far more propriety be compared to Benedict Arnold or General Hull for he had sold himself and deserted the principles for which he had been contending for 30 years for the sake of a seat on the Treasury benches. (Hear, hear.) He concluded by declaring his intention to vote in favor of all the good measures that might be introduced into the House and against all the bad ones.

Messrs. CHABOT, POULIOT and MARCHILDON, addressed the house in French.

Mr. BROWN followed, and spoke for upwards of two hours. A full report of his speech will appear hereafter.

Mr. RANKIN thought it was premature and useless to be attacking the government now. He would give them a fair trial. Let them bring in their measures, and if those measures were not good, he would be the first to turn them out. He was in favor of an Elective Legislative Council, an Elective Governor, and elective institutions generally, and thought there was nothing in such reforms calculated to sever the connection between this country and Great Britain.

Mr. CARTIER made a long speech. He contended that the word “coalition” might be applicable to the Upper Canada section of the administration, but that it was misapplied so far as the Lower Canadian section was concerned. He candidly admitted that he was not, as a general rule, an advocate of coalition ministries. He was a strong party man, and would prefer to support an administration composed of his political friends—those in whose personal characters he had confidence as well as in their measures. He would like an administration that would meet the approval not only of his reason, but of his feelings. But the unfortunate split among the U.C. Reformers had rendered a combination of some sort necessary, in order that the business of the country might be transacted, and being a friends to the material advancement of the Province, he could not refuse to give his support to that coalition. His support would be given, however, not to the men, but to the measures of the administration, and only to those measures that his judgement approved. He proceeded to defend the late ministry. He declared his belief that a measure for the secularization of the Clergy Reserves could not have passed the last parliament.

Mr. BROWN believed so too. What he blamed the government for, was for not trying. If they had been defeated on that question, the country would have been with them (Hear, hear.)

Mr. CARTIER justified the hasty dissolution of the last parliament. He maintained that the assembly having declared its want of confidence in the ministry, the people was the proper authority to which to appeal, and that it was right to make that appeal at once. He considered that the late election had settled the question of the Clergy Reserves, and that there was no use in discussing that question further. He eulogized the railroad policy of the late administration, and congratulated himself on the part he had taken in the passage of the Grand Trunk Railway bill. Finally he expressed his intention to leave the consideration and discussion of abstract political theories to the gentlemen of the Rouge party opposite, and to devote his whole time and energy to the promotion of the material progress of the Province.
Mr. DORION, of Montreal, replied.—The gentleman had said, that the term “coalition” was misapplied in regard to the L. C. section of the administration. Were they, then, to understand that there were two distinct and separate administrations? The gentleman admitted that his personal feelings were not with the administration, and that he would support the measures and not the men. This was the position of all those who professed to support the ministry. He denied that the Rouge party were determined to oppose any government that might be formed, but they were opposed to a coalition government with a Tory element in it. He believed if an election were now to be held, the result would be vastly different from what it was at the recent election; the country would not sustain such a combination. He had been elected to oppose the late administration mainly because they had proclaimed the doctrine that a minister of the crown had a right to speculate in the public funds.

Attorney General DRUMMOND denied that the ministry had ever asserted any such principle.

Mr. DORION replied that the head of that ministry had declared repeatedly, without being contradicted by any of his colleagues, that a minister of the Crown had a right to speculate in the public funds, and other property, and had admitted that he had himself so speculated. The people of the city of Montreal, and of the District of Montreal generally, repudiated that doctrine as immoral, and dangerous to the public interests he had sent here, also, to enquire into the truth of the rumors generally current that some members of that administration had adopted improper and corrupt means to enrich themselves at the expense of the Government. He was not elected to condemn them on that point, for he did not know anything about it; but he was elected to see that those charges were fully, fairly and thoroughly investigated. They had not yet heard what were the views of the administration with regard to the Seignorial Tenure. If the Bill of last session was presented, he expected to see many of the present supporters of the administration abandon it. Referring to the Clergy Reserve question, he denied, in reply to the Mr. Cameron, that there was any Church property in Lower Canada which was in the same position as the Clergy Reserves. If there was, he would treat it in the same way; for he had not one set of principles for Upper Canada and another for Lower Canada. He had no double majority principle. The people of Lower Canada recognized no vested rights in the tithes. They were paid entirely by the Roman Catholics, for whose benefit they were designed. This was a very important point of difference between them and the Clergy Reserves. The Reserves were public property, belonging equally to all denominations, but the tithes were paid out of the private property of those who were willing to pay them, and who made no complaint on the subject. If ever the time should come when a majority of the people of Lower Canada would ask for the abolition of tithes, and the adoption of some other means of paying the Clergy, it would then be quite time enough to look into the question; but he had no objection to say that when that time arrived, he for one should not regard the tithes as vested rights. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. ROBLIN declared his confidence in the Reform portion of the administration, and thought they had no right to question the motives of the Conservatives who had joined it. He was willing to give them a fair hearing, and to judge them by the measures they might produce. He stated, in reply to a remark made by Mr. BROWN, that if that gentleman would get twelve men in each of the townships in the counties of Lennox and Addington, who supported him at the last election, to call upon him now to resign, he pledged himself that he would resign. (Loud cries of hear, hear.) He said that he should vote against all amendments, and especially against the pending amendment, because it had been gotten up for the purpose of obstructing the public business, and preventing the carrying out of those great measures which the country required. It would have been more palatable to him to have received those measures from the hands of his own party friends; but he would vote for them, let them come from whom they might. The gentleman for Glengarry had said that the Reformers had been sold. He knew of one man who put himself up for sale at the commencement of the session, and he was knocked, not into a cocked hat, but out of one. (Laughter.)

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