Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (16 August 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Morning Chronicle
Citation: “Provincial Parliament. Legislative Assembly. Wednesday, Aug. 16th” [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (17 August 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).
Wednesday, AUGUST 16, 1865
Education Laws (L.C.)
Henri Taschereau [Beauce] moved
Third reading of the bill to amend chapter 75 of the Consolidated Statues for Lower Canada, respecting education.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said that this and some other bills on the same subject were postponed by the Government last session, because they intended to bring down a measure of their own on the subject. The House were entitled to know what course the Government intended to pursue, and he (Mr. Holton) would like to hear from hon. gentlemen opposite on the subject.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said that the Government had already given their answer. With regard to the document which had been so much talked of professing to give a written security to Township members for the protection of certain educational rights under Confederation, he (Mr. Cartier) had never seen such an “agreement”
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] insisted that a written agreement had been given by the Government—he himself having seen a letter received by one of the members from the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt].—The hon. gentleman went on at great length to comment upon the impropriety of the Government giving written pledges to members in order to secure a certain course of action, hinting that this would account for some of the votes given on Confederation.
Some Hon. Members—Cries of No, no, and cheers.
Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] denied the right of any hon. gentleman to use a private communication. He (Mr. Galt) had a right to demand the name of the party who had made use of the letter, and considered that the hon. member for Hochelaga (Mr. Dorion) should either give his name or cease further reference to the document.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] defended his conduct in referring to the letter, which he contended should not be considered private, as coming from a Minister of the Crown. He inferred from the Hon. Finance Minister’s [Alexander Galt] refraining from any denial of its accuracy, that the genuiness of the letter was beyond dispute. He believed that if a private correspondence, revealing some wrong act about to be perpetuated, fell into any one’s hands, he was not bound to keep it secret.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said that the Government had no objection whatever to state their intentions with regard to any measures affecting education in Lower Canada. They had announced their intentions already during the debate on Confederation last session. The hon. members for Chateauguay and Hochelaga (Messrs. Holton and Dorion) had referred to an alleged correspondence between the Government and certain members relating to protecting the British Protestants of Lower Canada. He [Mr. Cartier] had stated that there was no such “agreement; but he contended there was no variance between the hon. Finance Minister’s [Alexander Galt] statement and his own on that subject.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—These hon. members opposite, feeling ashamed of their position, in having divulged a private correspondence, had called it an “agreement.”
Some Hon. Members—Hear.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Irrespectively of any document, it would be his duty, when the question of the Local Governments was discussed here, to shew his policy; and he would furthermore state, that the British inhabitants of Lower Canada would be fairly, liberally, and honorably dealt with.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Then, if in the future the British feared that the French-Canadians might not treat them fairly, by diminishing the number of constituencies in their possession, then he (Mr. Cartier), in his responsible position as a member of the House and the Government, would unhesitatingly state that he was willing to give the British all the securities which their position and their interests demanded.
Some Hon. Members—Loud cheers.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The hon. gentleman read a number of extracts from the report of the debates of last session, by way of shewing how clearly he had defined the views of the Government, and his own determination to see justice done in educational matters.
Considerable discussion took place—the debate being lengthened by the repetition of the remarks in French.
Finally the bill, after a very brief conversation on its merits, was allowed to stand over.
Anselme Paquet [Berthier] moved
The second reading of another bill, to amend chapter 15 Con. Stat. L.C., relative to education.
A lengthy discussion ensued, confined to Lower Canadian members, relative to the effect which the bill would have on the working out of the municipal and school system in the rural districts. Finally—
Henri Taschereau [Beauce] moved the six months’ hoist.
After some discussion, the members were called in, but no vote was taken—the bill being considered rejected.
No other orders were taken up, and the House adjourned at eleven o’clock.
 This charge against Galt—the guarantee of English, Protestant rights in Lower Canada in exchange for a vote on Confederation— was a charge that had been made in the Legislative Assembly as early as Mar. 18, 1865, p. B:7. Luther Holton is the first to make the accusation. The letter itself remains an unconfirmed reference
 Supra footnote 2.