Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Address [Reply to Throne Speech], 8th Parl, 3rd Sess (23 January 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 19-21.
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MAY IT PLEASE YOUJR EXCELLENCY:
We, Her Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Canada, in Provincial Parliament assembled, humbly thank Your Excellency for Your Gracious Speech at the opening of the present Session of the Provincial Parliament.
We share with Your Excellency the desire to express our thankfulness to a beneficent Providence, that in calling us together to resume the performance of our constitutional duties, Your Excellency is enabled to congratulate us on the general prosperity and contentment of the people of this Province, and the continuance to us of the inestimable blessing of Peace.
We deeply regret that outrages have been committed on the commerce and territory of the United States of America by persons who, after the perpetration of these have acts, sought refuge on Canadian soil.
We learn with satisfaction that in order to prevent the organization of any such enterprises. within this Province, and also to enable Your Excellency to discharge, in an effective manner, your duties towards a neighboring power on terms of friendship with Her Majesty, Your Excellency has seen fit to organize a system of detective Police on the frontier line of the United States, and that with the same design Your Excellency has called out for permanent duty a portion of the Volunteer Force of the Province.
We receive with much interest the information, that similar considerations have suggested the propriety of arming the Executive Government with stronger power than it now possesses for dealing with persons, who, while availing themselves of the right of asylum which has always been allowed on British soil to political refugees from all foreign countries, may be unmindful of the implied obligations which, by their residence amongst us, they contract to obey our laws and to respect the declared policy of our Sovereign; and any Bill framed for that purpose, which Your Excellency may cause to be laid before us, shall receive our early consideration.
We are happy to be informed of the zeal and alacrity displayed by the members of the Volunteer force when called upon to turn out for active service; and that we are proud to feel, with Your Excellency, that their conduct shows that the present population of Canada has not degenerated from the manly virtues which characterize the races from which it derives its origin, and that it May be relied on, under all circumstances, to respond to the call of duty, either for the maintenance of internal order, or to repel foreign aggression.
We learn with pleasure that the Commissioners appointed under the provisions of the second chapter of the Consolidated Statutes of Lower Canada to frame a Civil Code, and also a Code of Civil Procedure for Lower Canada, have completed the former part of their duty; that the results of their labours will be laid before us, and that Your Excellency is informed that the Code of Civil Procedure is in a very advanced state.
We believe, with Your Excellency, that the completion of the Codification of the Civil Law, in both French and English, cannot fail to be of great benefit to the inhabitants of Lower Canada, by enabling the people of all origins to read, in their own languages, the Civil Law under which they live, and which hitherto has only been accessible in a language which is not the mother tongue of a portion of the people whose civil rights are regulated by it.
We are aware that the expenditure rendered necessary by calling out the Volunteers for active service, and which was unforeseen when the Estimates of the current year were agreed to, must necessitate a supplementary vote for that service; and the estimate for this purpose, which Your Excellency may direct to be laid before us, shall receive our prompt attention.
We ae happy to learn that Your Excellency finds yourself in a position to inform us that the financial legislation of the last Session has been attended with beneficial results, and that the Revenue has largely increased, and there has been a contemporaneous ex-tension of the trade of the Province.
The Estimates for the next financial year, which Your Excellency has directed to be laid before us, shall receive our most careful consideration, and we do not doubt that we shall find that they have been framed with a due attention to economy combined with efficiency.
We have not ceased to bear in mind, that at the close of the last Session of Parliament, Your Excellency graciously informed us, that it was your intention, in conjunction with your Ministers, to prepare and submit to us a measure for the solution of the constitutional problem, the discussion of which has for some years agitated this Province.
We receive from Your Excellency, with the most profound attention, the announcement,—
That a careful consideration of the general position of British North America induced the conviction, that the circumstances of the times afforded the opportunity, not merely for the settlement of a question of Provincial polities, but also for the simultaneous creation of a new Nationality;—
That preliminary negotiations were opened by Your Excellency with the Lieutenant Governors of the other Provinces of British North America, and that the result was that a meeting was held at Quebec, in the month of October last, composed of delegates from those Colonies, representing all shades of political party in their several communities, nominated by the Lieutenant Governors of their respective Provinces, who assembled here, with the sanction of the Crown, and at Your Excellency’s invitation, to confer with the members of the Canadian Ministry on the possibility of effecting a Union of all the Provinces of British North America.
That this Conference, after lengthened deliberations, arrived at the conclusion that a Federal Union of these Provinces was feasible and desirable, and the result of its labors is a plan of Constitution for the proposed Union, embodied in a series of resolutions, which, with other papers relating to the subject, Your Excellency has directed to be laid before us:—
And that the general design of a Union, and the particular plan by which it is proposed to carry that intention into effect, have both received the cordial approbation of the Imperial Government.
Inasmuch as an Imperial Act of Parliament will be necessary in order to give effect to the contemplated Union of the Colonies, we are gratified to learn from Your Excellency, that you have been officially informed by the Secretary of State, that Her Majesty’s Ministers will be prepared to introduce a Bill for that purpose into the Imperial Parliament, so soon as they shall have been notified that the proposal has received the sanction of the Legislatures representing the several Provinces affected by it.
Your Excellency may rest assured that in giving our attention to this subject, the importance of which, to ourselves and to our descendants, it is impossible to exaggerate, we shall bestow upon it our calm, earnest and impartial consideration.
We receive with deference the expression of Your Excellency’s conviction, that with the public men of British North America it now rests to decide whether the vast tract of country which they inhabit shall be consolidated into a State, combining within its area all the elements of National greatness, providing for the security of its component parts, and contributing to the strength and stability of the Empire; or whether the several Provinces of which it is constituted shall remain in their present fragmentary and isolated condition, comparatively powerless for mutual aid, and incapable of undertaking their proper share of Imperial responsibility.
And we unite with Your Excellency in the fervent prayer, that in the discussion of an issue of such moment, our minds may be guided to conclusions which shall redound to the honor of our Sovereign, and to the welfare of Her subjects.