Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Seat of Government (9 November 1854)

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Date: 1854-11-09
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: The Globe (18 November 1854).
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[illegible] Kinmond, of [illegible] Engine [illegible] of incorporation [illegible] Montreal Locomotive, works.”

Of the United Council [illegible], praying for the [illegible] to Construct a Railroad [illegible] Amherstburg passing [illegible] Norwich, and St. [illegible].
[illegible] Durrant and others, of the [illegible], praying for the passing of [illegible] Liquor Law.
[illegible] introduced a Bill to prevent [illegible] and within the limits of incorrect [illegible]; second reading Thursday next.
[illegible] the motion of Mr. DAOST, of Beauharnois, [illegible] address was voted to His Excellency, for a statement of all sums of money paid for Official Advertisements in all the Public Departments, from the 1st of January 1853, to the 1st of Sept. 1854, with the name of each Journal in which such Advertisements were published, and the dates and general description of the Advertisements.
Hon. Mr. MERRITT introduced a Bill to limit the guarantee of the Province to any Railway Company to Three thousand pounds per mile, and for other purposes; second reading Monday next.


A good deal of discussion in French took place on a motion by Mr. Laberge, for leave to introduce a Bill to provide a legal recourse for persons who have claims on Her Majesty’s Government in this Province. It was objected to it that it was inconsistent with the theory of responsible government for the government to be liable to be sued in a Court of Law. Mr. Drummond finally stated that he intended himself to introduce a measure which would meet the case, and Mr. Laberge withdrew his motion.


Mr. PATRICK moved that the debate upon the amendments proposed to the motion for an Address to His Excellency on the subject of the Seat of Government, be further postponed till this day fortnight. He said that, when he introduced the subject, he had hoped that the question would be settled in a very short time, and that the debate would have been carried on in a more quiet dispassionate and appropriate manner. But the course the debate had taken was such that he considered it decidedly desirable that the matter should be postponed till a further day.

Mr. BROWN said it would be an utter waste of time, after the subject had been thoroughly discussed for two whole days, to adjourn it for a fortnight, when it would be commenced de novo, and the old arguments all be gone over again. [Hear, hear,] By the 23rd November, the House would either have adjourned, or a great many of the members would have gone away, so that the subject would either be discussed in a thin House or be thrown over although till February.

Mr. WILSON said the gallant knight at the head of the Government stated that the question had been most thoroughly discussed, so thoroughly that no one seemed disposed to say another word. If after that, the gallant knight and the Government supported the present motion, it would not be saying much for their consistency. [Hear, hear.] The object evidently was to postpone the discussion of the question, till many of the Upper Canada members should be left.

Mr. DRUMMOND contested that the question had scarcely been approached as yet, for if it should be decided that there should be a permanent seat of Government, another one, two, or probably eight days discussion would be necessary to decide where that seat should be. That being the case he did not think it should be discussed farther at present, so as to delay the great measures which were being pushed forward by the Government.

Mr. CHAUVEAU denied that in supporting the motion he and his friends intended to deal out Punic faith to Upper Canada. For his own part he maintained that this was a question on which good faith with Upper Canada should not be broken, and even if it were moved that Quebec should be the permanent seat of Government, instead of the present alternating system, he would willingly run the risk of incurring the displeasure of his constituents, by voting against such a proposition. [Hear, hear.]

Mr. GAMBLE said that after a call of the House had been obtained by the Government for the consideration of this question, it was a most extraordinary thing that it should now be postponed. [Hear, hear.]

After some further discussion, the motion for adjourning the debate was carried by a majority of 77 against 32.

YEAS.—Messieurs Alleyn, Blanchet, Brodeur, Bureau, Cartier, Casault, Cauchon, Caylet, Chabot, Chapais, Chauveau, Church, Cooke of Ottawa, Daost of Beauharnois, Daoust of Two Mountains, Delong, Desaulniers, DeWitt, Dionne, Dorion of Montreal, Attorney General Drummond, Dufresne, Egan, Felton, Ferres, Fortier, of Nicolet, Fortier of Bellechasse, Fournier, Galt, Gill, Guevremont, Hincks, Holton, Huot, Jobin, Labelle, Laberge, Laporte, Le Boutillier, Lemieux, Loranger, Attorney General Macdonald, McDonald of Cornwall, Sir Allan N. MacNab, McCann, Marchildon, Matheson, Mattice, Meagher, Mongenais, Morin, Morrison of Niagara, Morrison of Simcoe, Morth, Munro, O’Farrell, Papin, Patrick, Polette, Poulin, Pouliot, Powell, Prevost, Rhodes, Roblin, Solicitor General Ross, Ross of Northumberland East, Shaw, Solicitor General Smith, Smith of Northumberland West, Smith of Victoria, Somerville, Spence, Terrill, Thibaudeau, Turcotte, Whitney, and Young,—77.

NAYS.—Messieurs Aikins, Bell, Biggar, Bowes, Brown, Burton, Chisholm, Clarke, Cooke of Oxford South, Crawfod, Daly, Dorin of Drummond, and Arthabaska, Fergusson, Foley, Frazer, Freeman, Galmble, Gould, Hartman, Jackson, Larwill, Lumsden, Macbeth, Macdonald of Glengary, Mackenzie, Niles, Robinson, Scatcherd, Southwick, Stevenson, Wilson, and Wright,—32.


Hon. Mr. DRUMMOND read a letter he had received from Attorney General Cushing, to the effect that a Treasury Circular would be issued in a few days to admit into the United States from Canada all the articles enumerated in the late treaty, under the same conditions as with the same object as expressed in the late Circular in regard to fish from the Lower Provinces. Mr. Drummond took credit to the Canadian government for having secured this result, as a return for the similar liberality they had displayed towards the United States, and explained what the conditions referred to in Mr. Cushing’s letter were. Canadian products would not be introduced into the United States under this circular, absolutely free from duty. The duty would have to be paid, but the person paying it would receive a treasury receipt equal to a bank check on any bank of the United States, which might be made use of as any other money. The government of the United States were now convinced that Congress would not hesitate to pay back the money, and therefore these receipts would be given, which would be as good as money in any bank. [illegible] towns, and [illegible] of Upper Canada advocated this measure on the ground that the people best understood their own interests in their several localities, and that they should be allowed to elect their own officers because they paid for them. His proposition was no new one, but was carrying out a principle which existed in other countries. In the City of London, the largest metropolis in the world, the s\Sheriffs were elected by the people by whom they were employed. At present it was notorious that local officers were appointed, not because of their fitness for their offices, but because they were the friends or partisans of the member who represented the county, if he happened to be a supporter of the administration of the day. He had no doubt it would be for the advantage of the government themselves to remove from them the dispensing of the patronage, which laid them constantly open to accusations of unfairness in the distribution of the offices in the gift of the Crown. The people of Upper Canada could not have made better selections than they had done, in electing their municipal councillors, &c. and he believed they would display the same wisdom in exercising their privileges, if the elective principle were still further extended. If the Bill should pass a second reading, he meant to move that it be referred to a Committee, with a view to having its details perfected as much as possible.

Sol. Gen. SMITH moved in amendment that the Bill be read a second time this day six months. If those officers were to be elected every three years, as proposed in the Bill, the whole business of the country would be thrown into confusion. Before extending the elective principle, the hon. mover should have shown what objections existed to the present system. Could he show that there was an Upper Canada single Sheriff who was not discharging his duty properly? He looked upon it as of the greatest importance that the Sheriff should be directly responsible to the Government, and not to the people. The Sheriff was an officer whose position should not lead him to court popular favors.

Mr. HARTMAN favor of the offices referred to being made elective, and he should therefore vote for a second reading of the bill. He did not approve, however, for there being elective directly by the people, but by the county councils. It had not been shown in one single instance that the people of Upper Canada had abused the elective institutions which had been confirmed upon them, and he thought those institutions might with safety be extended. He was not in favor of the officers being removed every three years, as proposed in the Bill. They ought to hold their appointments as long as they gave satisfaction and discharge their duty; but that and other points of the Bill might be amended in Committee.

Mr. GAMBLE said that no man was more desirous than he of seeing the elective principle carried out, even in regard to the Legislative Council, and the highest office in the country. But he could not vote for the second reading of the bill, as he thought the appointment of the officers referred to should be vested not in the people directly, but in the county Councils. He wanted to see as much power vested in the county Councils as possible. He did not want to see power concentrated in a Government or in Parliament, but he wanted to see it distributed as much as possible over the country. He did not believe in the supremacy of Parliament, and hoped to see the day when they would have a written Constitution controlling parliament. As the Government, by their Legislative Council measure, had adopted the elective principle, he hoped they would take the matter up, and introduce such a bill for extending that principle as would receive the sanction of the House.

Hon. Mr. SPENCE said there was a great distinction to be observed between officers purely Municipal, and officers having an Executive character. He did not think it would be desirable that the people should elect officers who were to carry out the law, and obey the commands of courts, and who were more or less connected with the administration of justice. Nor did he think that the people desired the change, and he should therefore vote against the second reading of the bill.

Mr. MACKENZIE advocated the extension of the elective principle, and referred to the case of Ontario, and other counties, where sheriffs had been appointed by the Government, contrary to the wishes of the people.

Mr. HINCKS thought it necessary that the sheriffs should continue responsible to the Executive. For the exercise of executive control, the Government were responsible to Parliament, and to the people, which in his opinion furnished a sufficient amount of responsibility. If the appointment of those officers was taken away from the Government, such a course, he conceived, would materially interfere with the theory of Responsible Government. In the case of the appointment of a sheriff to Ontario, referred to by the hon. member for Haldimand, Mr. Reynolds had been strongly recommended to the Government. There were two or three other candidates and among their respective friends very strong feelings had sprung up. The Government thought that if either of those rival candidates were appointed, that bad feelings would only be increased, and they therefore appointed a gentleman unconnected with either of the rival parties. He believed that that gentleman was now giving great satisfaction, and that he had proved a good and efficient Sheriff.

Mr. GOULD supported the bill. In reference to Mr. Reynolds, who, it was said, had been strongly recommended to the Government, he would like to know who in the county of Ontario had recommended him.

Mr. ROBLIN said that a more worthy or high-minded man that Mr. Reynolds did not exist in Upper Canada. There were some charges against him in 1837, and he fled across the lines, but he returned and gave himself up, and being tried was honorably acquitted, which was more than the member for Haldimand dared do. (Order!) He was aware from his own knowledge that Mr. Reynolds had been recommended to the Government by parties in Ontario.

Mr. ROSS of Northumberland opposed the Bill, and made some further remarks on the Ontario appointment.

Mr. LUMSDEN said that after a convention had been held of the people of Ontario, and a Candidate selected by them for recommendation of the Government, their wishes should not have been set aside in the way they had been. In regard to the measure now before the House, his view of the matter was that the County Council, on a vacancy occurring, should make up a lost of parties eligible for the vacant office, from which the Government should be bound to make their selection.

Mr. MACDONALD of Glengarry said he had always been in favour of county Councils electing those officers who were immediately under their direction, and paid for by the locality itself. But the case was different with those officers such as Sheriff, in whom non only the particular locality but the whole country was interested in their discharging their duty properly. If those officers were to be made elective, he would rather go to the source at once, and have them elected by the people rather than by the county Councils. But he was not prepared to go that length in the meantime, although it might not be long till he was forced to it. He was tired of those perpetual assertions, which had been repeated to-night by the ex-Inspector General about the responsibility of Government. Where was that responsibility he would like to know in the issuing of the commission of the peace for the county of Kent last summer, by an Administration just on the eve of crumbling to pieces? (Hear, hear.)

Mr. DALY supported the Bill. If a Sheriff was liable to removal by the people at the end of every three years, he did not think that that consideration would make him less disposed to act conscientiously.

Mr. FREEMAN said the office of Sheriff was different from most others. He had to exercise his duties against the people and upon the people, and he did not think it very desirable, therefore, that this tenure of office should depend upon the people. However, if the people should petition for it, he would be disposed to grant their request, but not till then, he could see any reason against the Register being elected. He was not afraid of any fraudulent practices mentioned by the Solicitor General.

Mr. SCATCHERD supported the Bill. He thought that the county Councils would be perfectly competent to elect those officers, but he believed that the people themselves were still more competent.

Mr. FOLEY replied to some of the statements which had been made in the course of the debate, and asserted, on the authority of numerous letters which he had received, that none were more anxious for the change, that the officers themselves who were affected by this Bill. He was astonished to find the hon. Postmaster General opposed to the principle of this Bill, or, although he had been a constant reader of his paper, the Dundas Warder, and especially during the election of 1851, when that hon. gentleman strongly supported a candidate in whose platform this principle had a prominent place, he never till now knew that he was opposed to it.
A division was then taken on the amendment, that the Bill receive the six months’ hoist, which was carried.

YEAS,—Messieurs Alleyn, Brodeur, Cartier, Casault, Cauchon, Cayley, Chapais, Chauveau, Chisholm, Clarke, Crysler, Desaulniers, Attorney General Drummond, Felton, Fortier of Bellechasse Fournier, Freeman, Gamble, Hincks, Labelle, Larwill, Loranger, Macbeth, Macdonald of Glengrary, Attorney General Macdonald, McDonald of Cornwall, Sir Allan N. MacNab, Mattice, Mongenais, Morin, Morrison of Niagara, O’Farrell, Patrick, Poulin, Powell, Roblin, Solicitor General Ross, Ross of Northumberland East, Solicitor General Smith, Southwick, Spence, Stevenson, Turcotte, and Whitney,—44.

NAYS,—Messieurs Aikins, Bell, Biggar, Bourassa, Cooke of Ottawa, Cooke of Oxfard South, Daly, Darche, De Witt, Dorion of Drummond and Arthabaska, Dorion of Montreal, Dufresne, Flint, Foley, Frazer, Galt, Gould, Guevremont, Hartman, Holton, Laberge, Lumsden, Mackenzie, McCann, McKerlie, Marchildon, Massen, Matheson, Munro, Niles, Papin, Prevost, Scatcherd, Smith of Northumberland West, Thibaudeau, Valois, and Wright,—37.


On motion of Mr. Powell, the Bill to erect the Town of Bytown into a City, under the name of the City of Ottawa, was read the second time, and referred to the Standing Committee on Private Bills.

The House then adjourned.

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