Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (24 August 1865)


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Date: 1865-08-24
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Morning Chronicle
Citation: “Provincial Parliament. Legislative Assembly. Thursday, Aug. 24th” [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (25 August 1865).
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PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Thursday, August 24

The Supplies


Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]
moved

That the House go again into Committee of Supply, and His Excellency’s message, with estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1866 referred.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] had an amendment of an important character to the motion of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] to propose. It related to the enlargement of the St. Lawrence Canals in connection with the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. It could not be disputed that all parties in the country were in favor of a renewal of that treaty, if it could be obtained on fair and equitable terms. All parties had professed an anxiety to secure that object, irrespective of the different opinions entertained as to the mode of attaining that object. He thought also there was no difference of opinion as to the desirability of enlarging the canals in connection with the renewal of that treaty. The fact that the people not only approved of this policy, but were very desirous of its being carried out, could not be disputed for a moment. It might easily be imagined also, that the enlargement of the canals might attract to this country an amount of trade—a small duty or toll upon which would be sufficient to meet the interest of the debt created for such an improvement. He proposed to show the connexion which subsisted between the two questions of reciprocity and the enlargement of the canals.

The Government of Canada of 1854, of which he was a member, recognizing the importance of reciprocal trade between this country and the United States had adopted a course which led to an extension of the existence of the treaty, and its renewal for 10 years. He was quite satisfied that if the present Government had pursued the policy which we adopted, in 1854, that a notice of the abrogation of the treaty would not have been agreed to by the American Congress. Well, in July, a meeting of American and British American delegates was held in Detroit, in reference to the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty.

The Canadian delegates, at their preliminary meeting in Toronto, passed a resolution pledging themselves to urge upon the Government the importance of immediately enlarging the Welland and deepening the St. Lawrence Canals, and the immediate construction of such new routes for the transportation of western produce to the seaboard as might be found requisite, and not inconsistent with the financial position of the country. This being the opinion of the leading men of the country, of the commercial class and all other classes, he regretted the initiative in those great improvements had not been taken by the Government, this being a matter of the gravest importance to the country. He regretted, too, that the Administration was willing to allow Parliament to adjourn without taking some action on this question. He was sorry that Parliament had not been invited to express such an opinion on this subject as would be thought proper at this time.

He had felt it his duty, however, before the session terminated, to invite the consideration of the Government and the House to this question. He would move—That all the words after “that,” to the end of the motion be left out, and the following words added:

“That it be resolved that the renewal of the treaty of reciprocity with the United States is regarded by the people of this Province as an object of the utmost importance; and, to secure that object, as well as to augment the trade and advance the general prosperity of the country, it is expedient that the work of enlarging the Welland and St. Lawrence canals should not be postponed, but pressed at the earliest possible period in preference to any other work involving considerable expense to the country.”

He contended, in conclusion, that the adoption of the motion was neither intended nor calculated to delay the supplies or the public business. He would desire it to be particularly understood that he did not introduce this motion as one of want of confidence in the Government.

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

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] raised the question or order. The hon. member had said he did not intend his motion as one of want of confidence, but he had moved it, not as a substantive one, but as an amendment. In England they never followed that course, but, on such an occasion, would have proposed this as a substantive motion, and on this ground—that the time money was granted, or application made for it, was the one for a subject to state his grievance or apply for relief. He (Mr. M) ventured to state that a motion of this kind, proposed without any previous notice, and at this stage, had not been heard of in England since the time of George the Third.

And why did the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] bring it up? Because, said he, there was a discussion on the canal question last night, and so he brought it up for a little clap-trap purpose and to make political capital out of this question, and he (Mr. M.) ventured to say it was the most unfair, uncandid and unparliamentary proceeding ever adopted by a politician, and he believed that any member of the House of Commons, with the slightest respect for his position and character, would never think of doing any thing like this. Why the very time Disraeli was hounding Sir Robert Peel to death he never did such an unparliamentary thing as introducing a motion like this. There never was such a mean attempt to damage a Government.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Order.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] contended he was in order, not having applied that epithet to any member, but to the attempt of a member.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Does the hon. gentleman raise the point of order?

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]—Yes. If the hon. member proposed it as an amendment he (Mr. Macdonald) had nothing to say on the point of order. But he said he did not move it as an amendment. If it was at amendment it was in order, and then it was an obstruction to the supplies; if not an amendment, but an original motion, the mover ought to have given notice.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said his motion was an amendment, and was precisely in the form, and submitted under the conditions—as far as parliamentary form was concerned—of the motion of the hon. member for Hochelaga {Antoine-Aimé Dorion], proposed on the 14th June, 1864, which had the effect of placing the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] side by side with the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] on the Treasury benches. It was precisely the same in every particular, and was a motion in amendment to that for the House to go into Committee of Supply.

He (Mr. Holton) could not, therefore, imagine that the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] could be serious when he termed the amendment unusual and unparliamentary, and open to objection on the point of order. It was not his (Mr. Holton’s) purpose to, nor had he imported into this discussion any party acerbity or bitter personal attacks. He had carefully refrained from this course. He desired to separate the discussion of this subject from all questions of party, or reprisals of any kind whatsoever. If that character, however, was to be given it, the responsibility would rest on the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]. He had said not a word to invite that hon. gentleman’s personal remarks respecting him (Mr. Holton).

The Speaker decided that the motion being an amendment, in his opinion, was in order.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said he must remark, as the motion was declared in order, that the course of the hon. proposer, in submitting it, without any previous notice, was exceedingly unusual. He (Mr. G) did not believe that hon. gentleman could find any precedent for his course to-night. And, moreover, he thought it might be questioned whether the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] was entitled to assume the very impartial character he laid claim to in bringing this motion forward, when if he had desired and expected the Government should have adopted it he would have communicated notice of it to them in the ordinary form, by the notice paper.

Whatever his motives, his tactics partook of the nature of a surprise. But, notwithstanding he availed himself of this mode of springing a surprise on the Government, on this occasion, it would not embarrass them much. There was no doubt, whatever, that the House and Administration were most desirous that free commercial communication and relations with the United States should be maintained intact. There was no difference of opinion as to that matter. As the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] had admitted, he believed the Government were sincere in their desire to maintain the Reciprocity Treaty, he (Mr. Galt) thought it unnecessary to make any declaration of that kind. But the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] adverted to the point that the notice of abrogation of the treaty was proposed to be given somewhat over as year ago, or in the session before the last of the United States Congress.

That motion, however, contained a clause recommending that the United States Government should appoint Commissioners for negotiating a new treaty, but no further action was taken by the Senate at the time. Hr took credit to himself for the statement, put in His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech, in 1864, was the cause of this step for the renewal of the treaty. Well, that was possible; but, he (Mr. Galt) thought that if the words put in His Excellency’s mouth, had had that effect, certainly the American trading class must have been very little. The paragraph read: “Your attention will be invited to measures designed, by the improvement of your existing system of inland water navigation to attract to the channel of the St. Lawrence a larger share than we have hitherto enjoyed of the great and growing commerce of the American Lakes.”

That was what he thought necessary to say when the Reciprocity Treaty was threatened. But he now found it would not do to confide in such general terms. Then, however, we never had any indications, after the speech inspired by the Government of which the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] was a member, that it was intended to act on the question. But he now found that the work of enlarging and extending the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals should not be postponed in preference to any other work involving large expenditures. So his ideas had greatly changed since he was in office. But when he was in office he had to be governed by what ruled all governments, namely, the power of commanding the means of carrying out the great improvements in question.

The resolution adopted by the Canadian delegates to the Detroit Convention—while in Toronto—expressed the feeling of the Government and the whole country. The member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] stated that the resolution in question, and the manner in which it was pressed on the attention of the American delegates at Detroit had a vast influence in inducing them to consent to the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty. If he (Mr. Galt) remembered rightly it was not long since he declared the Convention a failure. Within ten days of to-day be pooh-poohed the whole thing, but now came forward and said the resolutions adopted by the Convention were likely to have a material effect on the policy of the United States, and should have a marked effect here in inducing us to proceed with the improvement of our canals.

He was more correct now in stating that this Convention had had a most important effect, than in what he at first affirmed of it. He (Mr. G.) believed the resolutions come to at Detroit would produce the most marked effect upon the people of the United States and on the Government in relation to the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty. But what did the honorable member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] ask now? That this House should, regardless of all other considerations, in advance of knowing what the United States would do, pledge itself to go on with the enlargement of the canals., It might be well to pledge this House and the country to give the Western States all they sought for in order to have the reciprocity renewed, but he did not think that would be the feeling of the House notwithstanding.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It was with the view of obtaining those concessions, in regard to enlarged and improved system of inland navigation, that the American merchants agreed to urge on the Government the renewal of the treaty. He (Mr. Galt) asked, then, would it be wise in us, apart from all other considerations, including our ability to raise the means required, to go before Congress and yield our strongest advantages, without hearing what they were going to do, in order to obtain the continuance of commercial intercourse. He did not believe, in saying this, that the Americans had any intention of adopting a hostile commercial policy towards us, but that, on the contrary, when the question came before Congress it would be dealt with in a liberal spirit and in a manner mutually advantageous to Canada and the United States. We knew that the objections to the treaty on the part of the Americans were not all of a commercial character, but that many arose from political feeling occasioned by hostile acts committed against them during the war by parties seeking refuge in Canada, and that the bad feeling thus engendered incited the Americans to a determination to cease all commercial intercourse with us.

He believed that their objections to the treaty, then, arose more from that irritation than from any objections to the treaty as respects itself. No doubt the burdens thrown on our neighbors in consequence of the war rendered it necessary, in connexion with the alterations in their tariff, etc., to have the treaty reconsidered, which afforded a fine subject for negotiation. We found that the resolution to abolish the treaty was not passed from commercial considerations, but was declaratory that they would have no treaty with us at all. He was certain that this feeling would not exist when the question came up for consideration at the meeting of Congress in December next. He repeated that the influences which were likely to be beneficial in bringing about a renewal of proper commercial relations between the two countries would be weakened if, in the meantime, we pledged ourselves to a certain policy irrespective of any action by them, and granted the Western States the enlargement of the canals and all they desired at the time the Convention was held. Was the present a proper time for passing a resolution of this kind?

The Government had declared it was advisable, apart from all other considerations that the avenues of communication with the Western States should be enlarged. But it was of no use passing a resolution affirming this unless the House also was in a position to give effect to it. It would not enlarge the canals or give any guarantee in regard to them to say we considered it desirable to do so. No appropriations were made for the works, no provision secured; and even if they were, the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] himself would never dream of going into the money market this moment to negotiate a large loan with our securities in their present position.

It was certain that if the Government were prepared to come down and say they would have the canals enlarged they would be unable at this moment to provide the means for doing so. The engagements of the country were already of very considerable magnitude, and it would be necessary for the House, in considering the application of our resources, to confine itself to the task of fulfilling the existing engagements of the country before proceeding the construct very large additional ones. He contended, on the ground of policy, in regard to the treaty, that it would be unwise to come under the pledge contained in the motion; and, in the next place, as regards the means of giving effect to it, he was not prepared to say it would be in the power of this House at once to authorize the expenditure or incur the outlay at present. On both those grounds, therefore, he thought the motion in amendment should not prevail. It was certain the Government would not accept it in the hands of the honorable mover.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It was its duty to originate and bring before the House matters connected with the expenditure of the country, and the cost of the improvement in question would be a very large item. It was the Government’s duty to assume the responsibility for the means of the country and their expenditure, and they could not give their sanction to any engagement which might involve the spending of ten or twelve millions of dollars without being prepared, at the same time, to tell the House how the money was to be provided. Thought the hon. mover stated he did not intend his amendment as a motion of want of confidence, it necessarily amounted to that, because, it resolved, it pledged the Hosur to an immense outlay, and to one the Government were not prepared to say they could make provision for at this moment.

He (Mr. Galt) thought the House might be satisfied with the declaration of the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] last night, that the Government regarded the enlargement of those canals as a work which must be undertaken for the future benefit of the country; but were not prepared to recommend at this moment that the works be proceeded with. He trusted, therefore, the House would reject the motion and would accept the assurance that the Government were devoting their best energies to what they considered for the interest of the country. He was sure the House would agree that the present motion was ill-time as it was unexpected.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Thomas Scatcherd [Middlesex West] in a short speech, seconded the motion. He said that the argument that it would be imprudent and impolitic for Government to undertake to pledge itself to such improvements, without knowing the cost, was altogether out of place—since they had pledged themselves to the Intercolonial Railway and other wild schemes of the cost of which they had no idea. The Government, instead of increasing our debt by millions to build mud walls or stone walls, to keep the Americans out, should make all the improvements they should and do all in their power to attract hither American trade and intercourse. Believing that the enlargement of the canals was a work of the first importance, he cordially seconded the motion.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] believed that the enlargement of the canals was a most important work—far above any other schemes which hon. gentlemen opposite talked about—and should therefore take precedence of all the rest. Every other consideration should be excluded in view of the absolute necessity of the work referred to in the motion. Hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches need not defend themselves by saying that they were averse to pledging the credit of the country in advance, inasmuch as they were quite prepared to do so in a variety of other matters which fell far behind the question now before the House in importance. He would heartily vote for the motion.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said that of all public questions, the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton) could not have found a more inappropriate subject. It was signally out of place for him to talk about. He should, in fact, have taken particular care to make his mouth closed in reference to the Reciprocity Treaty.

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

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The time was as inopportune as the subject.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—It was a most unfortunate selection for him to make—in point of fact, it was veritable clap-trap.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Here was a gentleman who had shewed his feeling in favor of Reciprocity—his patriotism as a citizen of Montreal—and his activity as a member of the Board of Trade of that city by not going to Detroit, when named a delegate to the convention there. He, as the representative par excellence of Northern feeling in this country, should have done his share towards convincing the Americans that it was a matter of mutual benefit that they should renew the Treaty. The hon. gentleman’s potion in this matter was most illogical and inconsistent. The citizens of Montreal and the electors of Chateauguay would see through this conduct, they would appreciate it at the proper value, and they would remember his dereliction of duty.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The hon. gentleman was doubtless not in earnest. He must be joking. He had tried to get himself elected one of the representatives of Montreal, but the [text missing] could not see the joke, and so he had to go to Chateauguay, which doubtless, form its name—chateau gai—was a very jovial place, and he managed to get elected. However, he (Mr. Cartier) was sure the public would estimate his conduct at its proper value. They would see how he had sneaked and skilled out of the course he had taken.

Some Hon. MembersCries of order, order.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The hon. gentleman went on to say he had no desire to violate order, or to say anything personally offensive to the hon. gentleman. He, therefore, begged to explain that what he meant to say was that the hon. member had sneaked away from the convention.

Some Hon. Members—Oh, oh, and hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—The Hon. Attorney-General, then briefly referred to the meeting alleged to have been held in Montreal, of the supporters of the hon. members for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] and Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]; and concluded by condemning the motion as meaningless, inopportune, and out of place, and said it would receive the condemnation of the great majority of the House.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] ridiculed the arguments of the Hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier], and said that it simply amounted to this—that the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] had no right to urge the importance of the enlargement of the canals and the reciprocity—no right to comment upon a matter of vital importance to the country—no right to place a motion of this kind before the House—and why? Simply because the hon. gentleman had not chosen to go to Detroit as a delegate to the commercial convention at that place.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter, and hear, hear.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The Hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] had no right to make in a vague, indefinite way a statement that there had been a meeting of his (Mr. Dorion’s) and his hon. friend (Mr. Holton’s) friends in order to promote annexation. The hon. gentleman had no right whatever to repeat this stale story, unless he was prepared to come to proof. As for the manner in which this motion had been brought up, he declared that it was quite in accordance with precedents, and that in the case of the numerous amendments moved by hon. gentlemen opposite, when they were in opposition, no notice had been given.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] said that such was not the case.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] went on to say that the Government stood in a most illogical position on this subject. They professed to be in favor of the important work referred to in the motion, and yet they were unwilling to accept this motion. It could not be because they were unable to obtain money. This reason would not hold good in view of the fact that they were quite willing to involve the country in a vast outlay for defences, for North-west extension, and for a variety of other matters. The hon. gentleman concluded by denouncing the conduct of the Government generally, and urging that the motion now in the hands of the Speaker was at once timely and reasonable, and ought to meet with the approval of those who were in favor of canal enlargement.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council] was shocked to hear the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] and other hon. members opposite say that he (Mr. Brown) had ever made a motion similar to that which was now before the House. He indignantly and emphatically denied that he had ever done so.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear and cheers.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It was miserable in the extreme—it was entirely without purpose. What did this motion amount to? It consisted of a number of sentences strung together at random, setting forth a sort of declaration that something upon which we all agreed, with respect to which there was no difference opinion, which we all admitted was advisable, ought forsooth to be carried out at some future time.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The object of such a motion, however, was quite obvious, and every supporter of the Government must vote against it.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—If any proof were needed that the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton) was opposed to Reciprocity we had it now in an unmistakeable manner, in his course in proposing the motion now before the House. The motion, as he had already stated, had no real purpose, being merely a sort of general challenge. It was like the conduct of the countryman of his hon. friend the hon. member for Montreal West (Mr. McGee), who flourished a shillelagh, and challenged anybody to tread upon his coat-tail.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—But that man had a policy.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council] denounced the motion now before the House as being merely a weak attempt to seduce a few supporters of the Government from their party allegiance. Even in this hon. gentlemen were mistaken, and their hopes would be deceived.—The hon. gentleman concluded by briefly reviewing the arguments of hon. members opposite, and denouncing them as absurd. One of their chief assertions was that while the Government did not name the time at which they would proceed with the work of carrying out the canal policy of the Government, they were quite willing to undertake the North-west extension and other matters involving great expenditure. Now, if the hon. gentlemen really believed their own assertions, they could, with some show of propriety, make the motion now in the hands of the Speaker, when the Government came down and asked for money for North-west extension or other purposes.

John Macdonald [Toronto West] expressed his intention—in consequence of the course of the Government—of voting as a member of the Opposition and for the motion now before the House.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Lucius Hungtinton [Shefford] went on to refer to the negotiations of the hon. members of the Government, in England, and said he was sure all would agree in saying that they had exceeded their jurisdiction to a very great extent. He could not see that they were entitled to any credit whatever for these negotiations, and more particularly for those in regard to the defence question. The only protection we were to have was some system which was to be endorsed by a Confederate Parliament not yet in existence, consisting of representatives from Provinces, several of which had rejected Confederation.

James Cowan [Waterloo South] briefly retorted upon the hon. member for Toronto East (Mr. J. Macdonald) for the style of arguments he had used in opposition to the Government.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics] said that hon. gentlemen opposite might as well have asked the House to declare by vote that two and two made four, or that six and six made twelve, or any other truism, as to ask hon. members to vote for the resolution now in the hands of the Speaker. To ask us to put our names upon the Journals as supporting a proposition frankly laid down to the effect that we did not believe the enlargement of the canals to be an important matters, would be to ask us to act in hostility to the policy enunciated in a clear and unmistakeable manner yesterday. We all heartily approved of that policy, and if it was put before the House in a fair, honorable and opportune manner, all would unhesitatingly vote for it.

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

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—But he (Mr. McGee) blushed for this House—

Joseph Rymal [Wentworth South]—I don’t see it.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Of course the hon. member does not see it. He has got so far removed from the point of view that he can neither see his own blushes nor those of others.

Some Hon. MembersRenewed laughter.

Joseph Rymal [Wentworth South]—I always look on that side of the House.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Well, the hon. gentleman had something to look at on this side of the House.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—What he desired to say, when interrupted, was this—that he blushed as a member of this House, for the conduct of those who—in view of the presence here of one or two birds of passage from the Lower Provinces—had so shaped the debate of the last two days as to give themselves an opportunity to denounce the scheme of Confederation.

Some Hon. Members—Oh, oh and Opposition hisses.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He repeated the expression “birds of passage” in reference to the one or two gentlemen from the Lower Provinces who were here—not through any desire to speak offensively of these gentlemen, but in the same sense that he (Mr. McGee) might himself be called a bird of passage if he were on a passing visit to the Lower Provinces.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He repeated that he did blush for those who had shaped the debate so as to give themselves an opportunity of expressing anti-Confederate principles which they hoped would be carried away and repeated elsewhere as indicative of the feeling of the country at large. The policy of Confederation was emphatically a Canadian policy. As the sponsor, the elder-brother, the guardian and protector of the project, the greater and more important of the Provinces—with no disrespect to the others be it said—hoped that it would ere long see its younger and weaker brethren adopting that which was in reality its own policy.

He was sorry to see an anti-Canadian spirit creeping into this debate. Grave exception had been taken to the declaration of Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] that the country owed something to the mission to England and the delegates, for their services. Although unconnected with that mission he was in the old country on another mission at the time, and could say that if the members for Chateauguay and Shefford (Hon. Messrs. Holton and Huntington) with all the views which had inspired their attacks on the Government—with all their prejudice and passion—had been in England their bad feeling would have yielded to patriotism, and they would have been proud of being citizens of a country so highly honored in its representatives as Canada had the good fortune to be. They had been honored by the most intelligent and able men of all parties as the ambassadors of no first-class power had been since 1815. Why the very dignified and scholastic Oxford, that never bothered its head about Canada, been affected by all-pervading interest prevailing in England, regarding Canada, to such an extent that the senior member of the delegation had been honored with the degree of D.C.L.—an honor conferred on but few distinguished men in England or the colonies.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—The late Chief Justice of Upper Canada was honored in the same way.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—And deservedly so. It enhances the compliment bestowed on the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] that he had so distinguished and worthy a predecessor.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—There was an immense difference between Canada’s position in the early part of April and, after the delegates had spent some time in England. About the former period the first anxiety in every Englishman’s heart was America and the second Canada. When it was seen the Confederacy had been suppressed people asked, anxiously—what will the Americans do with their large army? And this anxiety which was deepened by the atrocious murder of President Lincoln and the elevation of a new man, was mainly because of Canada, the Great Britain on this Continent, and it was known that we were here, on one hand a guarantee of peace and on the other a source of danger from exposure to attack, reprisal and aggression on the part of the States.

He (Mr. McGee) learned all he could of public opinion in England, where he found in many circles the opinion that there was a strong annexation feeling in Canada; that also the anti-colonial party were coincident with the pro-Federal party, which included all who believed that our manifest destiny pointed to annexation, and that we ought to go to the States as the best thing for ourselves. He found also that the maritime provinces, by their conduct on Confederation, not only gave a check to colonial politics, for a time, but they injured themselves—this applied particularly to New Brunswick. Because people on the other side naturally asked, what can we believe?

There is nothing but uncertainty about colonial politics. See, in New Brunswick one government favored Confederation, and in a short time was succeeded by another that opposed it. You are one thing to-day and another to-morrow. Whatever might have been the local justification for the turn things took in New Brunswick, it threw an air of instability over our whole colonial politics; and to the extent of affecting the credit and character of New Brunswick, as well as check-mating the great scheme of confederation.—In answer to the hon. member for Shefford (Mr. Huntington) he would say the Canadian ministers did not attempt to bind the Canadian Parliament to any action.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—They did nothing then.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Why did the hon. gentleman talk about the Government doing nothing, when he lay-in of a budget six weeks, and brought forth absolutely nothing?

Some Hon. MembersRoars of laughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He (Mr. McGee) had not changed his policy. Did the hon. gentleman call it nothing to say that after years of correspondence by the Government that preceded them, and in which that hon. member had himself been, a definite understanding had been arrived as to what Canada was to do in her own defence, and as to what England was to do for Canada? When they declared that the result of our mission had been but small, he could point proudly to that fact in answer.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—In relation to that very Reciprocity Treaty of which he (Mr. Holton) had talked so much—which he would not go to Detroit to endeavor to have renewed, the very first act the present Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] did on entering office was to call in the most emphatic manner the attention of the Imperial Government to these reciprocity negotiations. Was it nothing to have it arranged, so that the British Ambassador at Washington was to communicate with this Government during the negotiations relative to the treaty, instead of the old system which obliged us to communicate in the circumlocution style by sending to Downing street when we wished to reach the District of Columbia?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—This was followed by still another step which showed that something had been done. By an Imperial despatch from the Colonial office, in England, we were to have a Confederate Council next month to deliberate on the Reciprocity Treaty as affecting the various Provinces. That word “Confederate” was displeasing and one of ill-omen to some hon. members; but it would be great and glorious hereafter, and when the great union was effected it would redound to the honor of every man who had given it his support.

Some Hon. MembersLoud cheers.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Was it no advantage to have a body deliberating here respecting our foreign commercial relations, and thus advancing step by step to the very threshold of independence? Then, again, we had gained something in the fact that the Imperial Government had withdrawn from its former position of umpire and protector of the Hudson’s Bay Company as against Canada. It now told the Company to go and make their own terms with the Canadians. People had tried to alarm us about the big figures asked for the Company’s land and rights, and they tried to frighten us with the prospect of paying it. But let them ask what they pleased—it was not in politics they could say “Ask and you shall receive.”

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Whether this Government gave them their price or not, was a thing for which they were responsible to the House and country. It was a question of the utmost imminence—as far as he was informed—that if we were to have a British Central America, and a prairie country equal to Illinois and Iowa we could not have it too soon, for there was a strong American commercial interest established there; and while we had been talking the Americans had been buying and selling and putting a steamboat on Red River for commercial purposes; and nothing but the hopes of its people becoming a portion of the British American Confederacy kept them true to their allegiance—and the hope that Canada would be enabled to settle their many difficulties for them.

During the six weeks, the four Canadian delegates were in England, they completely disorganized the anti-colonial party, by the assurance every one gave of the fair-dealing of the Imperial authorities with Canada, on her representation that she was sound to the core for British connexion; and the Imperial Government was told that Canada would do her whole duty if England was willing to discharge towards this country the same duties of defence and protection that she would for a country in Scotland or Ireland; that on these conditions the allegiance of Canada was as unmistakeable as that of any district in the mother-country itself. In order that the good feeling towards the colonies might be perpetuated in England, the tone of this Parliament should command the respect of the people of the mother country, and should be of the same kind as that which characterized the operations of the delegates with the English ministers.

Frank upon all subjects, fearless and free-spoken, and at the same time loyal and dutiful to the metropolitan power, if the Parliament of Canada would but continue and confirm the policy of the delegates who sat with the Queen’s ministers, considering the great subjects of defence, commercial relations with the United States, the Hudson’s Bay Territory, and the union of all the British North American Provinces, he had no doubt that the policy which was essentially a Canadian as well as an Imperial policy, and had been twice approved by the Queen in her speech would attain the success which it deserved. There were two parties committed to this policy—England and Canada. And who were against it? A few malcontents, willing to use their opposition as a lever to unseat certain official persons, and put themselves in their seats if possible—a few malcontents who never rose to the height of the argument.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—The hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] who had asked what had been done had never discussed this great policy—had never spoken upon the principle of Confederation. He rose at page 17 of the volume of reported debates, and sat down for the last time at page 1021.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He was up after every public speaker during that lengthy discussion. He had spoken four times as often as the very honorable and long winded member for Brome [Christopher Dunkin]—

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—and after all never spoke upon the question, or declared himself for or against Confederation.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He had objected that this thing was wrong, and that thing awry—that this thing had a squint, and that other thing was a-gee.

Some Hon. MembersRenewed laughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He never said he was opposed to union—never discussed the merits of the case from the beginning to the end of the session, and never would, he was sure. He (Mr. Holton) said that he had prophesied that scheme would prove a delusion. Well it appeared he had indulged in other vain hopes and fancies, and had become the very prophet of delusion.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—When he was in the Administration and occupied a high office he was put down—but by whom? None bu the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] could put down the hon. member for Chateauguay as well as himself.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear and laughter.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Not rising to discuss great questions—never initiating great principles, nor cherishing fructifying thoughts; but buggling here a little and there a little, it was always, higgle, higgle, and higgle! (Renewed merriment.)

He ought, like the old housekeepers, to carry a “trash-bag” by his side for those scraps and fragments with which he loved to amuse himself. It was just in little bits of detail he would excel if his temper were more under control, and his implements more at his fingers’ ends. He (Mr. McGee) repeated that two months’ better work was never done in England for Canada than had been accomplished by the delegates between the beginning of May and the end of June; and every one must come to the conclusion that the moral effect of their visit was immense; and the credit and reputation of the country, as well as its representatives, was enhanced by their conduct in the settlement of the questions which brought them to England.

Some Hon. MembersLoud cheers.

Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North] desired to direct the attention of the hon. member for Montreal West (Mr. McGee) to the fact that the word “union” was that which was used in all official references to the movement, and not Confederation. Did the hon. member believe that by this expression was meant the scheme of the Quebec conference?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics] referred the hon. member for North Hastings [Thomas Wallbridge] to the first despatch of Mr. Cardwell, after the scheme of the Quebec conference had been transmitted, in which full and entire approval of the seventy-two resolutions was expressed, with the exception of the clause relating to the pardoning power of the Crown, and that relating to the constitution of the Upper House.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Moreover, the word confederation was used in Her Majesty’s speech.

Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North] said he had followed the official language throughout, and he did not observe an approval of Confederation.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—It was in the last Queen’s speech.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] regretted somewhat that the motion now before the House had been brought up, but since it was before the House, he (Mr. Cameron) would not hesitate to deal with it. In reply to the Hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. McGee) he should say that he did not see any good whatever accomplished by the boasted mission to England. Everything was in the same condition as before that event. He regretted exceedingly the allusion to “birds on the passage,” indulged in by that hon. gentleman. As for the Lower Provinces he denied that they were in favor of Confederation, as was pretended by hon. gentlemen opposite. New Brunswick had, in the most unmistakeable manner, pronounced itself opposed to Confederation, and there was no change whatever in the public opinion of that Province, as hon. gentlemen opposite had alleged.

Thomas Wallbridge [Hastings North]—How do you know?

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] said that the state of public opinion in the Province in question was vouched for by two members of their Government now in this city.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and oh! oh!

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—What if you heard two members on the other side?

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] said that the point was just this—that he had not yet heard any two members from the other side.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—The hon. gentleman, after referring to the motion before the chair, concluded by expressing his favorable opinion of a union of the Provinces, but his decided opposition to the Confederate system.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] said that notwithstanding the assertions of hon. gentlemen on the other side, the Government considered this motion as one of want of confidence, and accepted it as such. These hon. gentlemen professed a very great anxiety for the common object which all had in view, and on which all were agreed that they had the very best means to injure the cause they professed so eager to serve. It would be most impolitic and inopportune, now in advance of the action upon the Reciprocity Treaty to take the course which was proposed to us. We required the enlargement of the canals for the accommodation of the western trade, but we should first know if we were going to have the western trade. He was firmly of opinion that the motion would damage the cause, and no further argument was needed to shew that it was improper in the extreme.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South] said there never was a more unpatriotic and unstatesmanlike motion ever submitted to the House than that which had been moved by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton].

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—Nothing could be more inopportune than the act of offering such a resolution at the very moment the Government was about to enter upon important and delicate negotiations. The demand made upon us was just this—that we should commence by pledging ourselves to canal extension, and that we should then enter upon negotiations on the subject of the Reciprocity Treaty. The proper course was that the Government was about to follow, namely, to call together the representatives of the British North American Provinces, and thus making a bold front as a whole, to treat with the people of the United States on the common interests of all the Provinces.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear and cheers.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—He would not occupy the attention of the House by replying in detail to the assertions of the hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. Cameron). He entirely differed from those who held that the mission to England was fruitless—but of course there were none so blind as those who would not see.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—Was it not a gain to be able to say that the great scheme of Confederation was no longer an open question in the councils of the Empire, but that, on the contrary, it was a settled object of Imperial policy, with all the statesmen belonging to the Imperial Government committed to it?

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

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—Was it not a gain that the misunderstanding which had been caused by the rejection of a militia bill had been removed, that the efforts of the Goldwin Smith party had been neutralized, and the feelings and wishes of the people of British North America properly interpreted?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] said that the honorable member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton) was so emphatically the apostle of the negative policy that he (Mr. Mackenzie) was glad to hear from the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee] that the motion affirmed a truism.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—Coming to the merits of the motion, he disagreed entirely with the arguments of those who were in favor of it, and who commenced by begging the question by saying that we must first have the canals enlarged in order to assure ourselves of the continuance of the Reciprocity Treaty. He regretted exceedingly to observe in the course of the discussion that some hon.; gentlemen seemed to treat the defence question as a matter of secondary importance. He (Mr. Mackenzie) held that we should make preparations for our defence to the full extent of our means. He sincerely hoped an emergency might never arise, but it was our duty to be prepared; and it was a mean, craven, unworthy course to shrink from the burthen of proper defence.

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

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—He would vote against the motion now before the chair, and never had greater pleasure in opposing any motion.

Thomas Parker [Wellington North] expressed briefly his intention of voting against the motion.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South] also said he would vote against the motion. He valued the Reciprocity Treaty, but we need not abse ourselves towards our neighbors on account of it, inasmuch as there were other channels of trade easily available, which would amply compensate us for its loss.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said he wished, before making the few remarks he had to make upon the motion, to reply to a personal attack upon himself. The Hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] had ventured to reaffirm the old story, which had already been most emphatically denied by him (Mr. Holton), respecting a certain meeting on the annexation interest alleged to have been held in Montreal. Now, what he desired to repeat was that any statement about his connection with, or knowledge of, any such alleged meeting was infamously false; and, if it were reiterated he should not hesitate to brand the utterer of it as stating a falsehood.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Taking up the motion before the House, he would simply remark that it contained two main propositions—firstly, that we desire the Reciprocity Treaty, and, secondly, the desirability of the enlargement of the canals. If these things are granted as useful, beneficial and desirable, then all he asked that precedence should be given to these undertakings over those which were assuredly of a minor degree of interest. If hon. gentlemen opposite would declare that they accepted the premises and the conclusions of his motion, he (Mr. Holton) would not ask that it should be placed on the journals of this House; he would content himself with accepting such a declaration of policy from the hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches, if they were prepared to come out at once in a definite manner and state that this was their policy.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and oh! oh!

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The best interests of the country demanded that the important work of the enlargement of the canals should be proceeded with instead of the proposition to purchase the Hudson’s Bay Territory. The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] said he had never moved a motion similar to that which was now before the House. The hon. gentleman was mistaken—it was only necessary to look over the journals of the House, in order find scores of them.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Give one!

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] went on to argue that the motion which he had placed in the hands of the Speaker was perfectly in accordance with British parliamentary practice and precedent. As for its purport or principle the Government admitted that they were in favor of it. If this was so, however, why did they not come out at once broadly and say so.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He could not help remarking the acerbity which had prevailed in the tone of hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches. All had found some reason to attack the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton].

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—He need not advert to the tone of the Hon. Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier]. As for the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee], he had also something to say, and so had the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown].

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I scarcely noticed you.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said in conclusion he had to observe that those who voted against the motion would at the same time be voting against reciprocity and enlargement of the canals, inasmuch as they would thereby be voting that the Intercolonial Railway, the Hudson’s Bay Territory, and permanent works of fortification should have precedence of the other and much more important matters.

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

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said that the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] had alluded to the question of veracity, and he (Mr. Cartier) therefore felt bound to make a few remarks in reply. He (Mr. Cartier) had stated that all that hon. gentleman’s conduct in connexion with the Reciprocity Treaty was tainted with want of sincerity. He had alluded to his culpable conduct in refusing to go to the commercial convention at Detroit, when named by the Board of Trade of the important city of Montreal.

Some Hon. Members—Oh, oh.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—He had contrasted his present anxiety with his past lack of zeal.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—He had likewise alluded to the Potter-Wood affair, and in this connexion had made some reference—not of his own personal knowledge—but on the strength of reports publicly circulated, as to an alleged meeting on the subject of annexation. What he (Mr. Cartier) did know of the matter was that he had read Mr. Potter’s speech as reported, and Mr. Wood’s letter—which had been complained of by Mr. McGillivray, a member of the Convention—and the alleged conversation of those who were favorable to the policy of which these two gentlemen had made themselves the exponents. He (Mr. Cartier) had further stated that the conduct of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Holton) in persisting in this obstructive motion was in the end on a par with them conduct of those who said that reciprocity should be refused in order to force Canada into annexation with the United States.

Some Hon. MembersIronical cheers from the Opposition.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Now, as already observed, there was said to have been a consultation in Montreal of the persons who held the latter policy. He did not know where this meeting was held, nor he did not pretend to say, but he presumed it was not on the Champ-de-Mars.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—There were parties in Montreal who hold the opinions already cited—Mr. Wood being an authority on that point. Now, these parties were not friends of his (Mr. Cartier)—they were friends of the hon. gentleman himself (Mr. Holton.) He reiterated that if there were an election tomorrow those parties would vote for the hon. gentleman opposite.

Some Hon. Members—Oh, oh.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—And he (Mr. Cartier) would further say, in conclusion, that whenever the hon. gentleman came before the House with his assumed anxiety about reciprocity, he (Mr. Cartier) would bring up the Potter-Wood matter, and the culpable neglect of the hon. gentleman in not going to Detroit when he had been named for that purpose.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said it was very unfair, after the direct denial of the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton), in the Hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] to go on reiterating charges of this kind. He hoped there would be an end of it.

The members were then—at ten minutes to one a.m.—called, and the vote was taken, resulting in Hon. Mr. Holton’s motion being rejected, on the following division:

YEAS

Messrs.

Biggar
Bourassa
M.C. Cameron
A.A. Dorion
Eric Dorion
Alex Dufresne
Fortier
Geoffrion
Holton
Houde
Huntington
Joly
Lajoie
D.A. Macdonald
John Macdonald
J.S. Macdonald
Paquette
Rymal
Scatcherd
Thibaudeau—20.

NAYS

Messrs.

Alleyn
Archambeault
Ault
Beaubien
Bell (Russell)
Bellerose
Bown
Brousseau
Brown
Burwell
Bowman
Carling
Cartwright
Cauchon
Chapais
Cockburn
Cornellier
Coupal
Cowan
De Boucherville
Denis
De Niverville
Dickson
Duckett
Joe Dufresne
Dunsford
Thos. Ferguson
Wm. Ferguson
Gibbs
Galt
Gaudet
Gaucher
Harwood
Higginson
Huot
Haultain
Jackson
F. Jones
Langevin
Le Boutillier
J.A. Macodnald
Alex Mackenzie
H. Mackenzie
McConkey
McDougall
McFarlane
McGee
McKellar
Morris
Magill
Parker
Pinsonneault
Pope
Poulin
Poupore
Powell
Raymond
Rémillard
Robitaille
J.J. Ross
J.S. Ross
W. Ross
Scoble
Shanly
Somerville
Stirton
Street
Sylvain
Tremblay
Thompson
T.C. Wallbridge
Walsh
Wells
White
Wilson
Wood
Amos Wright—78.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] motion that the House go into Committee of Supply was then carried, and the House went into committeeThomas Street [Welland] in the chair.

After a few minutes in committee, the committee rose, reported progress, and asked leave to sit again.

The House then, at one a.m., adjourned.

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