Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (1 September 1865)

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Date: 1865-09-01
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Morning Chronicle
Citation: “Provincial Parliament. Legislative Assembly. Friday, Sept. 1st” [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (2 September 1865).
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Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).


FRIDAY, September 1, 1865[1]

House in Committee of Supply

On the order being called for the House again to go into Committee of Supply, and His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Message of 21st ult, with estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1866, referred

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said he proposed to pass in review the principal points connected with the budget speech of the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt]. Although marked by all the ability, lucidity of statement, and facility of dictation which usually characterised the financial statements of that hon. gentleman, his speech, when stripped of its external trappings, and regarded in its substance, was a preeminently unsatisfactory statement; one which would be disappointing to the country, as he (Mr. Holton) was sure it must be to the House. It was unsatisfactory in two aspects; unsatisfactory because of the large deficit it manifested; and still more unsatisfactory because it failed to suggest any remedy either for the past deficit, or to guard against the recurrence of such deficits.

The hon. gentleman asked us to trust him; but he (Mr. H.) took it for granted he did not seriously urge his resolution of imposing new stamp duties as a remedy for the present unfavorable financial condition. He asked us equally to trust in his judgement when he told us the existing scheme of taxation would be found adequate to meet the wants of the country. Now, when an hon. gentleman threw himself on the trust and confidence of the country, it became necessary to enquire the grounds upon which that confidence reposed—confidence in him as the Finance Minister of the country [Alexander Galt].

He (Mr. H.) proposed, with that view to glance hastily at the history of the present Finance Minister’s [Alexander Galt] administration of the finances of the country since 1858. In that year out finances, under the administration of the two hon. gentlemen, still the leaders of the Government, had reached a very deplorable condition; and it would be admitted, probably, by those hon. gentlemen that among their political adherents no one was to be found of adequate reputation for financial ability to undertake the somewhat arduous task of restoring the finances then in such difficulty and embarrassment. They made overtures to the hon. member for Sherbrooke [Alexander Galt], then among their political opponents, which led to his joining their Government.

He (Mr. H.) would not impute to him any other than the most patriotic motives for his course on that occasion. He merely referred to this matter to show the great expectations formed of him at that time, arising out of the dilapidated condition of the finances brought about by the hon. members now at the head of the Government. Well, he took office in 1858, having then six months before him wherein to mature his plans and submit measures for recuperating the finances of the country. He submitted a tariff in 1859, which was protective. He would not argue the question of protraction and free trade; but it would be admitted that to the precise extent to which a tariff accomplished its purpose of protection, was it destructive of the revenue of the country. We could not produce the article at home and buy it abroad at the same time.

The tariff, therefore, from its very nature was not calculated to produce the amount of revenue required to meet the financial wants of the country at that time. But the hon. gentleman took a different view of the ease. He thought that his tariff, while protecting the domestic manufactures of the country, would produce, in 1859, so large a revenue that he could adopt a diminishing scale of duties upon the leading imports, tea and sugar. Well, that tariff did not restore the finances of the country or produce a revenue adequate to the expenditure upon the scale pitched by the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] himself. Next came 1860, without bringing any proposition to change the tariff of 1859. It only brought the great consolidation scheme of that hon. gentleman.

He (Mr. H.) remembered the ferocity with which the present President of the Council [George Brown] denounced that scheme, which had its meritorious features; under the guise of consolidating our debt and meeting out difficulties, it provided for a new loan which served to tide over the financial difficulties of the hon. gentleman for nearly two years. Then, 1861 came, and no proposition was made to disturb the trade of 1859; 1862 next came, when we were treated to a remarkable speech; for it abounded in distinct propositions to meet the difficulties that beset the hon. gentleman. The leading propositions of that speech were a recurrence—first to the free trade policy, as contradistinguished from the protective policy, and the reimposition of those duties on articles of necessary consumption, which he had proposed to take off by his diminishing scale of 1859.

He (Mr. H.) was inclined to agree with him in the latter change; but he thought that this complete revolution in the theory as well as the practice of the hon. gentleman, in such a short time, would hardly be admitted as a ground for trust in his sagacity or success in matters of finance. The budget of 1862 was remarkable in another respect. We had had all our difficulties for the last two or three years imputed to the American war. There could be no doubt it had a very prejudicial effect on our industry. But the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] did not think, in 1862, that this would be the result. He then ventured to predict that, instead of injuring our trade, the war would lead to a very considerable increase of our revenue.

Though he (Mr. H.) thought that the economical features of the budget of 1862 were, in the main, sounds, yet from the moment he left solid ground, and travelled into the ground of prophecy, we saw how far he went astray. We say that the very cause of all his difficulties now were then believed by him to be the certain causes of an era of the greatest financial prosperity the country ever knew. In 1862 he left office beaten, apparently on the Militia Act[2], but, in reality on his financial management and budget. Well, the hon. gentleman came back to office in 1864.

His own blue-book, submitted last session, disclosed the fact that the short financial year, ending 30th June, 1864, during only two months of which the present Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] was in office, there was, for the present time, in some years a small surplus of revenue over expenditure. Well, in 1864, the hon. gentleman proposed imposing additional taxation to an extent which, in his judgement would be found adequate, not only to establish an equilibrium between the income and the expenditure, but to create an ample surplus to meet any unforeseen contingency that might arise during the year.

He would now review the policy of that budget speech of 1864[3], with the results of the financial movements of the year closing on the 30th of June as disclosed in the papers laid before the House before the speech of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] the other night.

The hon. gentleman estimated that, in the Customs, there would be an increase in the approaching fiscal year, beginning with the 1st of July, over the corresponding period, terminating with the 30th of June, 1864, of $200,000; and he estimated the change he then proposed in the Customs would produce a further increase of $67,000—making an aggregate increase of $267,000. Now, what was the actual result? He found, by the statement laid upon our table, that there was collected, of Customs’ duties, for the year ending 30th June, 1864, $6,081,000; and for the year ending 30th June 1865,, it was $5,661,184—making a deficit in the latter year, as compared with the former, of $327,720. The error in the calculation made by the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] was, in the item of Customs alone, $587,000.

Then we came to the Excise. He estimated the increased revenue from increased duties on spirits and tabaco, would be one million and sixty thousand dollars. He found the full receipts from Excise for the year ending 30th June, 1864, amount to $1,183,790, while the total receipts for the year 1863, under the old system of Excise reached $829,801. So instead of one million and sixty thousand dollars, as predicted, we had an increase from the additional taxation of Excise of $353,984.

He (Mr. Holton) did not go into the minor branches of revenue. With the solitary exception of the territorial revenue, which shewed an increase from exceptional causes, there would be found to be a falling off in every branch of the minor revenues. Then, he would proceed to state the hon. gentleman’s calculations as disclosed in his speech of 1864. On that occasion, he estimated the total receipts at $11,863,000, and the total expenditure at $11,686,000, which showed an estimated surplus of $187,000. After providing for the estimated redemption in connexion with the public debt, including $264,000 of debentures, he would still have a surplus of $177,000.

Then, with regard to the expenditure, he (Mr. Holton) would remark that in the very important case of expenditure, the statement submitted to the House would show a very large excess—not only over the expenditure of 1863, and early part of 1864, but over the estimates of the hon. gentleman, as stated in his budget speech of May, 1864. He now desired to offer a few observations on that part of the Hon. Finance Minister’s [Alexander Galt] speech, respecting the important subject of the Reciprocity Treaty[4].

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It appeared to him (Mr. Holton) did not fail to admire the general tone of his remarks, and general drift of his arguments on that subject. He agreed with him that we might make too much of this question of Reciprocity, and that it might be unbecoming in us to do so. He believed that the country could not only live, but thrive, without the Reciprocity Treaty. While he said that he did not undervalue the importance of the Treaty, which was clearly advantageous to both countries; that being the case; he did not despair of obtaining its renewal.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Neither do I.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—said that the whole drift of the hon. gentleman’s argument the other night was to show the improbability of its being renewed. He hoped it would be renewed on account of the great advantage to both countries. He was quite sure the hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] desired its renewal as well as he did; but he was also sure that none in the House were desirous of making any sacrifices or improper concessions, unworthy of ourselves and our independent position, in order to secure that Treaty.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—But he might venture to think that hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches had failed in their duty, in not brining the matter forward ad asking the American Government whether they would enter upon the negotiation; for its renewal or not. The signs twelve months before that the notice for the abrogation of the Treaty[5] would probably be given, and that Congress might take action upon it. It was the duty then of the Government to have brought this question to a distinct issue with the Americans

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That step should have been taken at an early stage. His fear was that while these gentlemen were pursuing phantoms, looking after “new nationalities,”[6] and the great scheme of Confederation, this pressing practical question was neglected. He believed, as already stated, that we could get along without the Reciprocity Treaty, but if we were not to have it the sooner we knew it the better.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He had no doubt that serious revolutions would occur in certain branches of the trade, if this treaty be brought to a sudden to a sudden termination. Looking forward, therefore, to the time when it might be abrogated, considering the signs of the times which pointed to the probably action of the Americans in this direction, he maintained that it was the duty of the hon. gentleman, at the earliest possible moment, to have brought the question of the reopening of the negotiations with the Americans to a practical test, in order that the longest possible notice might have been given to people in trade to prepare themselves for the change to ensue. He repeated it was to be deplored that those who had charge of the material interests of the country had failed to ascertain whether the negotiations would be renewed, instead of looking after vague constitutional changes

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He now proposed to discuss briefly the policy of the canal enlargement, and to indicate his dissent from the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt], that the enlargement of the canals should be contingent upon the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty. He believed that the policy of enlarging the canals, if entered upon would play an important part, in securing to us, the renewal of the Treaty in question.

He maintained that sound policy required that we should cultivate the Western trade irrespective of the Reciprocity Treaty. There was no Reciprocity Treaty when these canals were constructed, and it was not with a view of the Treaty being agreed to that they were constructed, but with the object of securing the transit trade of the West; and that trade we did secure to a very considerable extent, and could secure to a still larger extent, quite irrespective of any Reciprocity agreement.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He thought that what the country wanted most urgently, at the present moment, was good economical government—one that looked to the judicious development of the great natural resources of the country. There was no need of great constitutional changes.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He believed we had a constitution that had produced most satisfactory results. It was not perfect any more than the British constitution and required amendment perhaps. He considered our present want was a good and practical government under our present constitution which, he maintained, with all its faults, was infinitely superior to the abortion framed at the Quebec Conference.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, “oh, oh” and cheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It was a sort of hybrid between federal republicanism and British colonial toryism.

Some Hon. MembersCheers and laughter.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It was a thing that had no parallel in our history, and was truly hostile to the spirit of the British constitution, without securing the advantages of the American system of federation.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—This constituted in the main objection to the scheme; but, whatever its merits, we ought not to let all our other great practical questions wait upon the attainment of that measure. The hon. gentleman might, indeed, say that the measure was remote, and he (Mr. Holton) believed it would take many years to carry it; and we might lose, as we were doing now, golden opportunities of bettering the position of our country if we continued the system that the hon. gentlemen had entered upon this session of postponing every measure till the accomplishment of Confederation.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said he scarcely thought the House would expect him to reply at great length to the remarks the hon. gentleman (Mr. Holton), in the nature of a critique, on his conduct as Finance Minister during the time he had held office. But he thought that the hon. gentleman, in referring to his past conduct as Finance Minister might have drawn a little more attention to some of the difficulties it was his lot to encounter.

He might have referred to the fact that he (Mr. Galt) had to deal with the deficit of three and a half million dollars in 1858, and that the Municipal Loan Fund and railway guarantee claims had all matured then—that in 1857 we had a deficient harvest and in 1858 almost a total failure of the harvest.

We were then sustaining also, from the sudden stoppage of the public works, which had raised a sort of hectic prosperity in the country, and which, coincidently with the failures of the crops, brought about an entire depression and cessation of public outlay. He thought he might refer, with some degree of satisfaction, to the policy pursued by the Government of which he had the honor to be a member. He contended that that policy had been eminently successful. It was perfectly true that we were unable to overcome at once, under circumstances to which he had alluded, the great increase of the public burthens; and it was deliberately stated that it was felt that if the Government had come down with sufficient taxation at once to meet all these engagements that the depression existing in the country would have been seriously augmented.

Therefore we believed, and he thought correctly, that the country required time to recover from the depression under which it suffered, and that it was better to use its credit, which, owing to prompt payments, was good in the foreign market, to obtain means to meet our present necessities, and thereby tide over the difficulty. He had no hesitation in saying that was the policy of the Government, and that it was a sound one.

Speaking at this moment, he would say that it would have been a most unwise thing in the Government to have come down and laid on heavy taxation on the country when suffering from depression of every kind. What was the result of the policy pursued? What was thought but that we estimated our securities and credit at their proper value; for though under the adverse circumstances in which we were placed we were enabled to borrow money cheaper than ever before, and change the rate of interest on more than half the amount of our debt from six to five per cent

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—And how was it done? Because we maintained the credit and good faith of the country, and he believed at this moment that the Province was greatly indebted to the Government for having carried out that arrangement. The hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] objected to the tariff of 1859; and at the same moment said it produced the effect expected. He said it was intended to give a certain amount of protection to our manufacturers, and that, so far as it served that purpose, it affected the revenue. Granted—was it not an advantage to the country to have manufacturers turning out goods here instead of having to import them from abroad.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Why not continue it, and why propose to reverse it?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said he proposed to come to the tariff of 1862. The tariff of 1859, so far as he was aware, was not greatly changed, except with regard to groceries. Most of the duties on goods had been imposed the previous year by the Hon. Mr. Cayley, and not by him (Mr. Galt). The only articles at 20 per cent. were cotton goods and some articles of hardware. The hon. gentleman had spoken of the effect of the sliding scale on groceries. We were enabled to submit to the gradual dimensions of the duty, the revenue being able to bear the loss at the time—the American war having then broken out. This war threw open to us means we did not possess before, and the Government in 1864 was in a position to avail itself of these means to meet the difficulties of its condition. We were aware we were going to have an increase of our expenditure for militia, and considered from the state of the country that we were justified in putting larger duties on spirits and tobacco.

The hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton) had said that the defeat of the Ministry in 1862 was not upon the Militia Bill[7], but upon the question of financial management.

Well, that was news to him (Mr. Galt) as he had always supposed, as well as every body else, that the Government were defeated on their militia policy, and he thought the hon. gentlemen who voted against them on that question would scarcely thank the hon. member for saying that it was on a different question altogether they had given their vote. Every one was aware that the bill for the reorganization of the militia really did provoke a great deal of hostile criticism. The bill was not understood, but he (Mr. Galt) was convinced to this moment it was the best measure that could have been proposed. He considered it was a great loss to the country that the bill did not pass.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He did not mean that it was a loss as regard the defeat of the Ministry; but that it was a loss that the country had suffered from evident from the character of their successors

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] followed you.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said that he believed the Hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] did vote against the Government on that occasion, and no doubt he acted conscientiously. It was very probably the hon. gentleman would have opposed the general policy of the Government—Militia Bill as well as everything else, including financial questions.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—As to the statement of the hon. gentleman, that the finances were so very bad in 1862, when he (Mr. Galt) left office, it was, to say the least, extraordinary. The hon. gentleman added that, in 1864, for the first time in the history of the country, there was a surplus. He (Mr. Holton) then possessed all the advantages of being Finance Minister; and if he (Mr. Galt) remembered rightly, he told us quite different in his speech. Then he had no idea of a surplus, but told us we were on the eve of a financial crisis.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That was the year before

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said he recollected very distinctly the most interesting speech of the hon. gentleman on that occasion. It was rather an essay than a speech, in which he laid down general principles, but never carried them out; and he certainly left office without leaving us under the impression that he had a surplus.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—When he reflected on the way he told us that the country was in a kind of crisis, how could he deliberately say that when he left office there was a surplus, and no political difficulties. Was it not really surprising?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—You did not think a few months’ good management could have done so much.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—What a pity the honorable gentleman left office. He went out, but he was so very anxious the country should have a good Government that he not only went out himself but took all his colleagues along with him.

Some Hon. MembersRenewed laughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He had just said that the country wanted good government; and he (Mr. Galt) dared say the hon. gentleman was under that impression a year and a half ago when he resigned, and in doing so he gave effect to his belief. No doubt the country appreciated the change.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—No doubt the country was beginning to think it had got good government. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Holton) in making his statement on finance, while in office, said it was quite obvious that an extraordinary load would have to be resorted to, and that at the earliest possible moment, to meet the deficit and underfunded debt.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—This statement was made in September 1863, but the hon. gentleman never made another financial statement—but no, it was in reality the Hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] who made it. The then Finance Minister [Luther Holton], however, at least brought down one item of his own—fifteen hundred dollars for the Caughnawaga Road.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The hon. gentleman now proceeded to read a portion of the speech delivered by honorable member for Chateauguay (Hon. Mr. Holton) while Finance Minister, setting forth the “necessity of a loan to bridge over the time to elapse before any extra taxation could be resorted to, it being too late to enter upon any new taxation this year,”[8] going on to say that he maintained “we were not in a position to borrow money, however, till we declared our fixed purpose, to provide for our increased expenditure by increased taxation.”[9] That was the only remedy proposed for the state of affairs. The hon. gentleman then said “he had no magical plan of getting money except by the old way of increasing the taxation.”[10]

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He, however, never tired to meet the difficulty, or bring down the scheme for increased taxation.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He (Mr. Holton) argues that he must look at the question of direct taxation he hinted at. How was it to have been done, though?

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—By localizing our burthens.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] read another extract from Hon. Mr. Holton’s speech in 1863 to the effect that so strongly was he impressed with the necessity of meeting the financial difficulties of the country, that should he be obliged to retire from office he would “do all he could to strengthen the hands of his successor, in taking these measures necessary to place our finances in a proper condition.”[11]

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Now, we saw the kind of assistance his successor had experienced from him, and no doubt a little more of it would have been very bad indeed.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The hon. gentleman read another portion of the speech in which the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] promised to bring down his budget immediately after Easter—that, however, was the last ever we had heard of it; and he (Mr. Galt) might say that the pledge he had given of assisting his successor was very widely deviated from.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Did I not give you all the assistance I possibly could, in imposing additional duties at the earliest possible moment, which you said were necessary in order to save the credit of the country? Did I not vote for giving the new taxes instantaneous effort? I think in this I redeemed my pledge amply.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said he quite agreed that the hon. gentleman had given his assistance towards the early enforcement of the new duties; but his course otherwise had not been of a nature to support his successor in maintaining the credit of the country. Instead of endeavoring to maintain its credit, his course since quitting office had been to depreciate its credit. He (Mr. Galt) had taken a more cheerful view of affairs, and always believed that the resources of the country were so great that any little misfortune we might have to submit to were not sufficient to justify gloomy anticipations with regard to the country’s future.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The hon. member’s (Mr. Holton) estimate was wrong in this particular,—he considered that the estimate for the Customs’ duties was made from the 1st July to the 30th June, whereas he might have seen that the estimate of $200,000 was estimated on the actual year previous. If he (Mr. Galt) recollected correctly, the receipts for 1862 were $5,160,000, and he added to this $200,000.

To correct the hon. gentleman’s statement of his estimate, the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] proceeded to read the figures of his own statement, giving estimated increase under the new duties at $200,000 for the whole year—this estimate being based on the probability of a good harvest. Instead of the sum being less than he expected, he had derived $200,000 more. He did not estimate the increase from the excise at upwards of one million as was stated, but he estimated from all those sources of revenue that we should get $629,000. That was, however, subjected by the subsequent action of the House to serious reduction.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Your increase on tobacco alone was estimated at $629,000, and on spirits at $1,060,000.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said these were not the figures quoted in the report of the speech before him. The estimate of consumption of spirits was 3,600,000 gallons, but it was reduced to 3,200,000 gallons for the purposes of the estimate.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—My point, is your estimates are all wrong.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—In this case, if wrong they are wrong on the safe side. If the estimates of revenue were wrong now it was because they were too low, and if that was the case he thought they could take care of any surplus they might get. The hon. gentleman then referred to the course the Government had taken on the Reciprocity Treaty[12], but the only charge he brought against us was that we did not put a categorical question to the American Government, as to whether they would or would not renew the treaty.

He (Mr. Galt) thought it was not expedient to discuss the course the Government might take in a matter of so much importance and which was now in the hands of the Imperial Minister at Washington. He (Mr. Galt) was not at liberty to state what course the Government had taken, or the reasons that induced them to take their present course. It was not in the interest of the country that we should state what had governed our opinion on that question. Therefore, we were obligated to rest our case on that ground, relying on the confidence the House chose to repose in us, that we would do the best in our power to have the treaty renewed with the United States.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He did not think that, unless there were reasons to suppose that the answer would be favorable, any advantage would arise from forcing the American Government to give an answer. The country had received all the warning necessary as to abrogation, and it would be prepared for any change in the direction of that portion of our trade. The Americans thought we derived the larger share of advantage under the Treaty, and we could not of course compel them to change their minds. We could, however, join in negotiating a new treaty, but going with our hat in our hand and begging them to do so was not the course we should adopt. If we could obtain it in the usual and honorable way, we should of course do so, but we ought not to make any unworthy concessions towards the country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—As to the canal enlargement question, he would not repeat what he had already said.—The hon. gentleman (Mr. Holton) had stated that no Reciprocity Treaty existed when the canals were built but he forgot to state that the differential corn-law existed by which we were permitted to grind American corn into flour, and had the prospect of an immense trade through the manufacture of American wheat, and sending it to Great Britain. The famine in Ireland, however, and the failure in the crops, which led to the repeal of the Corn Law, did away with the duties in question, and from this cause the Province had suffered considerably.

Some Hon. MembersThe hon. gentleman sat down amid loud applause.


[1]      Source: “Provincial Parliament,” [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (Sep. 2, 1865).

[2]      Bill: An Act Respecting the Militia (Province of Canada, 1862).

[3]      Alexander Galt, Legislative Assembly (May 10, 1864), p. 133-134.

[4]      Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The United States passed a Joint Resolution abrogating the treaty in Jan. 1865. It was formally terminated on Mar. 17, 1866.

[5]      Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. Supra footnote 4.

[6]      Lord Monck, Legislative Council, Speech from the Throne (Jan. 19, 1865), p. A:1.

[7]      Bill: An Act Respecting the Militia (Province of Canada, 1862).

[8]      Luther Holton, Legislative Assembly (Sep. 16, 1863). “Provincial Parliament,” Montreal Herald (Sep. 18, 1863). Galt is quoting another source as the words don’t align perfectly, but the content is the same.

[9]      Luther Holton, Legislative Assembly (Sep. 16, 1863). Supra footnote 8.

[10]    ibid.

[11]    ibid.

[12]    Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. Supra footnote 4.

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