Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Answer to the Speech (23 May 1850)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: “Legislative Assembly,” The Globe (28 May 1850).
THURSDAY, 23d MAY, 1850.
The door were thrown open shortly after 3 o’clock, when the routine business was postponed for the day.
ANSWER TO THE SPEECH.
Mr. JOHN PRINCE obtained the floor, and held it for nearly two hours. He was presumed to the be speaking to Mr. Boulton’s amendment in favour of an elective Legislative Council. He began by attacking Mr. Lafontaine, for having supported, in former days, the 92 resolutions with “his influence, his eloquence, and his pen,” and being now opposed to the sentiments he then favoured. He then passed on to Mr. Benjamin Holmes, and having panegyrized the speech of that gentleman in glowing terms, he proceeded to vindicate Mr. MacPherson from the breach of confidence charged against him. He declared Earl Grey’s despatch was a disgrace to that nobleman—that he knew nothing of law or of the colonies—and he defied him to carry out his threat of bringing the annexationists to account. Mr. Prince said, Mr. Murdoch, under-secretary in the Colonial Office, had once told him, that the Canadians had too high notions, and if they continued to act so, England would give them up! To which he (Mr. Prince) replied, that it was the best thing which could happen to them. The ignorance of the Colonial Office, of Canadian affairs, was the next theme of observation, and the present chief of the department was declared to know less about us than the King of the Cannibal Islands. Then followed a panegyric on Mr. Dewitt, who represented the banking interest in the House, and was on the side of annexation, and after that, a great laudation of himself [Mr. John Prince.] He said, his own design—he had published it at the request of a numerous body of the electors of Essex. He declared it was contrary to his nature to be in public life—against his inclination, his habits, and his means; and he would resign his seat tomorrow, if 150 of the electors of the County of Essex called on him to do so on the ground of his annexation principles, or on any other ground! After this, Mr. Sanborn was highly eulogised for his speech of the previous evening, and the House was assured that the highest authority in the country was in favour of an elective Council. Mr. Prince then informed the Ministry that he did not wish to see them turned out of office; he had not such a high opinion of the men on his own side if the House, as to think, they only were competent to form a good Ministry. As for himself, nobody ever thought of consulting him in such matters—he was a loose fish, and only fit to be roasted. He had great difficulty in seeing how the public business could be conducted, if the present Ministry were to resign—a general election might make a difference; but at present he could not see his way. His opposition was, therefore, not dictated by a desire to eject them, but simply, because they had acted wrongly, corruptly, unjustly and despotically. The fact was, he expected very little from the present House of Assembly; his opinion of members was very low—“as the Americans say, I have a very mean opinion of this House.” He knew he exposed himself to attacks from both sides for speaking thus, but he stood there the same John Prince as ever—the independent member for Essex—and he said he had a very low opinion of this House—they threw out petitions for independence, and sustained the Court of Chancery. He had no confidence in the new rules of the Court of Chancery. He had talked that very day with one of the most eminent practitioners in the Court of Chancery, and he was convinced that the costs of that Court would now be infinitely greater than they were [illegible].
Mr. PRICE, pointedly, [hear! hear! hear!]
Mr. PRINCE—I drew this, as my own conclusions, from what passed between us—
Mr. PRICE—Name, name!
Mr. PRINCE—I am not at liberty to name—
Mr. PRICE—Hear, hear, hear!
Mr. PRINCE—But I say at once, it was not Mr. Robert Turner. I got my information not from a solicitor—but one who had it from a solicitor in Chancery. [Sensation, and cries of hear, hear, hear.] He would like to know why the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands was so anxious to know the name; was it to get him into the power of the Ministry? He knew they were mean enough to dismiss a shoe-black; and he himself had struck out the names of two lawyers from the independence petition, simply, because they were a little—just a very little—in the power of the Ministry. Why had they not named Mr. Thomas Dixon’s accusers, when they were so fond of names? Why?—because they were “a pack of vagabonds, a set of blackguards, utterly unfit or unworthy to be credited.” [Sensation on both sides of the House, and Mr. John Prince backed engine.] Of course, he spoke hypothetically—he knew not who were Mr. Dixon’s accusers—but the refusal of their names to Mr. Dixon, prevented his showing the true characters of his accusers, whoever they were. The Hon. member then fell foul of the Pilot for some statement about himself which appeared in that Journal, and pronounced it a “lying paper,” with a “lying editor,” whoever he was. The public morals were utterly prostrated by lying editors. Why would they calumniate in this was a man who desired to do the best he could for his country—why publish such stuff? He appealed to Mr. Cauchon to confirm what he had said as to the statement of the Pilot. It was lamentable to see such things. He saw the Inspector-General laughed—he, too, had suffered from the press. For his [Mr. Prince’s] part, he cared nothing about it. Thank God, his skin was as thick as a Rhinoceros’ hide; had it not been so, he would have been crushed long ago—but he had moral courage to bear it all. It was the feeble who suffered by the lies of the papers—the sleepless nights were for them. He saw the Inspector-General was laughing, and delighted to think that there was a row established—bit he was mistaken. Annexation was rife through the land, and a general election would show it. This was now a new opinion of his—he had expressed every sentiment he had recently written, four years ago to Mr. Merritt. But he was not in favour of rebellion—he would uphold the laws of the land—he would advocate no organic changes without the consent of the Imperial Parliament.
Mr. BADGLEY addressed the House, relative in the first place, to the removal of the Seat of Government from Montreal, subsequent to the close of the last Session, which he contended was unnecessary and uncalled for, as means would have readily been offered to enable the government to fit up a place for the reception of both Houses of Parliament at no great expense; and he condemned the conduct of the government for having allowed excesses to continue unchecked, and large bodies of men to perambulate the streets, without availing itself of the facilities it possessed, to put down the proceedings of the mob with the strong hand of power. There was nothing to justify the removal of the Seat of Government, he repeated, or to sustain the reasons that had been advanced in the speech, delivered at the opening of the present Session. With reference to the subject of annexation, no argument had been advanced in its favour, which had satisfied his mind that any good results could be produced by the accomplishment of that object. It was true that individuals of eminent standing, had signed the Montreal Manifesto, many of his dearest friends, from whom he differed, took a similar view of the question. He considered it an insane project without the consent of Great Britain; and unless she were desirous of throwing off the Colonies. But he entertained different sentiments relative to the criminality of the movement, from those advanced by gentlemen on the other side of the House. If it were a treasonable procedure, then a precedent had been furnished by the Memorial of the Board of Trade of Montreal in ’48, which was at that time transmitted to the Governor General, to which an answer was communicated through one of the ministers, in no wise condemnatory of that document; if there were treason or sedition, therefore, contained in the petition in favour of a separation of Canada from the Mother Country, then the Memorial of the Board of Trade referred to, partook of the same improper character; and His Excellency should not have allowed it to be sent home. It spoke of the altered policy of England towards the colonies, and the change in the navigation laws of the country; and alluded to annexation to the United States, as the only remedy of the commercial difficulties which had in this way been introduced. There was consequently a perfect resemblance between the petition, and the memorial which had been laid before the Governor General; and the answer that had been communicated to those who signed it was, that it would be forwarded to England, and laid before Her Majesty; and it was so forwarded. As to the nature of its reception he knew nothing, except what he collected from a speech of Mr. Labouchere, one of the members of the British Government in the House of Commons, in which it was stated that the exclusive navigation of the St. Lawrence was essential to Great Britain. This was the first state paper, therefore, in which the question of annexation was broached. He repeated, that he was not favorable to annexation, and saw no possible advantage that could result to Canada from the severing of its connexion with the Parent State, and which was at present politically free. He would more particularly allude to the subject, to show the inconsistency of the members of the present government, in the conduct they had pursued on this occasion. Every English paper at one time exhibited a list of dismissals of persons holding situations under the Crown—and he would venture to say, that her Majesty did not possess men who were more loyal than those who had been dismissed—none who had done more for the colony. The member from Montreal had held a commission as colonel of militia and justice of the peace, he was a merchant of the first standing and respectability in trade, and he had been dismissed because he had given his opinion openly and freely. There were among the lists, the names of gentlemen who stood equally high for loyalty and good feeling. There was another gentleman who had attracted the censure of the government, who was the first to introduce steam into the Province, by which he lost a considerable sum of money; and although he suffered in this manner, in trying the experiment, yet he preserved after others had abandoned it. And realised a fortune. By his energy and enterprise that gentleman had set an example, which had been productive of much benefit to the Province; and where was there a man to be found, who had spent more money in useful undertakings than Mr. Molson. Even some of the present members of Government, when not in power, looked on annexation in a different light. There was a paper published in this Province in 1839, with which the present Inspector General was connected, who was exceedingly intimate with, and which no doubt, at the time reflected the opinions and views of the Attorney General of Upper Canada; and what opinion did that gentleman, (the Inspector General,) entertain at that time of annexation, and with reference to its discussion? Did he then consider such a proceeding as treasonable or seditious? He (Mr. B.) would give his own words. [The learned gentleman here read an extract from the paper alluded to, in which it was contended that the people of this country had as much right to agitate the question of annexation, as Mr. O’Connell had to press for the repeal of the union.] Here then was the opinion of the hon. gentleman opposite, when not in office. If, however, the agitating the question at the present day, was decided to be treasonable, the government should have nipt the evil in the bud; and by not doing it then, ministers were wrong in the course they afterwards pursued. But if it were right to discuss the subject in 1839, why is it not so at the present time, particularly when it was not intended to procure annexation without Her Majesty’s sanction. The London Times, the hon. gentleman said, had stated in an article which he read, that the proposition contained in the Montreal Memorial went to effect the destruction,. Rather than the dissolution of the colonial empire of Great Britain; that it argued from incorrect premises, and proceeded to deduce erroneous conclusions; that its framers were not actuated by any hostility towards the crown or people of England, but suggest annexation from motives of self-interest and advancement. The [illegible] there was [illegible] enunciation of such statements, would have rendered the parties uttering them, liable to prosecution for high treason, or involved the country in which they were uttered in a civil war, but that a great alteration had of late taken place; and the only question with the people of England would be, were it profitable to retain the Colonies. Twenty years since, Mr. B. continued, Mr. Canning had said that England was bringing up colonies in this hemisphere, which would eventually become portions of the United States; and other statesmen had made the same remark. Where, he (Mr. B.) would ask, was the colony that retained its connection with the parent state. And did not go off when it was old enough to go alone? The same remark would apply in domestic life; children, when of age break away from their parents, and seek by their own independent and individual exertions, their future advancement. And so it would always be with Colonies, when they arrive at maturity. He (Mr. B.) did not think the desire for annexation, which had been promulgated at Montreal, was making any progress throughout the Province; and that was another reason why he considered the interference of the government as improper; but they waited from October, when an interference would have been an act of wisdom perhaps, till the following February, at which time the question was losing its interest, and the feeling in its favour was evidently subsisting; when they began striking from the Commission of the Peace and from the Militia, a number of gentlemen; and they were thus brought into collision with public sentiment. The hon. and learned gentleman said. He was not disposed to give a factious opposition to the administration; he was conservative in his principles; but he would support them in the endeavour to introduce good and wholesome measures, and would oppose them in any course they were pursuing, which he deemed wrong or improper. That was what he did with reference to the Indemnity Bill, and were the subject again under discussion in that House, his opposition would be double what it was. The Judicature Bill, he did not consider a good one; and cheerfully lent his assistance, so far as it was practicable, to improve it. A word or two more as it the annexation movement. If the question was one that should be open for discussion, as it had been considered in former times, then he thought the government were wrong in interfering. In Lower Canada the dismissals which had taking place had produced bad results; although they were occasioned by more than a mere expression of opinion.—As for himself, the hon. gentleman repeated, that he still thought as he always had done, that the government, instead of soothing the public mind and rendering the people loyal, had acted in a manner that had been productive of personal animosities, which would last as long as the individuals should live. As to the consideration of the amendment, relative to an elective Council, he should not enter upon that subject until it came in a substantive form before the House, but with which he did not concur. He believed that in Lower Canada, the introduction of the elective principle, in relation to the Legislative Council, would be generally acceptable; and in Upper Canada a great many persons had formed in Upper Canada a great many persons had formed the same opinion, who did not see how the present constitution is to be worked out, unless that body were to be elective; and who thought that if it were necessary to have a conservative body, it should be constituted as is the Senate of the United States, which has among its members some of the most eminent and influential men in the Union, and which gave stability to the institutions of the country. Here at present, he said, the Legislative Council must be considered as the mouth-piece of the ministry. Did hon. members suppose that the body was not well drilled before the Indemnity Bill was introduced? If on the contrary, however, it were to become the mouth-piece of the Assembly, it would be a superfluity; and both should be avoided. With reference to retrenchment, which would form another portion of the address; the speech itself, as well as the resolutions before the house, only refer to the revenue and expenditure of the Province; but the amendment goes farther, and embraces retrenchment in carrying on the public service of the country. He presumed, however, that the movement would do whatever was right and proper, and consistent with a due regard to the efficiency of that service. He considered £350,000 too large a charge for a Province containing only £1,500,000 inhabitants; and that £260,000 was too much to be divided among some 1150 individuals. The learned gentleman concluded by saying that the members of the administration, by their own acts and admissions, stood indicted before the country, because they had not made offences caused by their acts, the subject of public prosecution, as they ought to have done.
Hon. Mr. PAPINEAU said, the question of an Elective Legislative Council was not new to the country; it was a subject by which the Province had been agitated for years, and it was one most dear to his heart, as being eminently necessary to secure good government; without which a stop could not be put to all kinds of abuse. The present body had been made the subject of all kinds of ridicule, and responsible government instead of rendering the Administration liberal, had made it more obstructive than it was before. On what principle did honourable gentlemen opposite object to the consideration of annexation, and repel principles of which they were formerly the advocates? England, he said, was not jealous of her Colonies; whatever it was right they should obtain, they could obtain; but yet the House and the country were told that the time had not yet came for considering such a change. It was odious and absurd to suppose that the Legislative Council is analogous to the House of Lords in Great Britain; on the contrary the former body is composed of members not possessing the least qualification or capacity, and were called to take their seats because they possess political power; it is sufficient if they are time serving politicians. They did not even require the pecuniary qualification, which is requisite in the Assembly; and yet it was not permitted to propose alterations in the constitution of either body, or to attend to the wishes of the people. The qualification which a member of the House must possess, excluded enlightened persons, such as physicians and educated men, who resided among and partook of the feelings of the farmer; and substituted for them avaricious Attornies, who fleece their clients, and who exercise the most corrupt patronage. Formerly, he said, the Executive Council cost the country annually £900; now it costs £15,000. Was the Province fifteen times better off than before? The proposal to have responsible government, had created expectations that had been disappointed. This was evident with reference to the acts of the government; the members of which had made themselves as well known, and who could appear on the page of history in the same category with Castlereagh, upon whom no dependence could be placed; who had made Ireland subservient to England, and which had been degraded by her dominion. The country ought to get rid of this state of things, and have elective institutions. The hon. gentleman here recapitulated his charges contained in a former speech, as to the vengeful character he attributed to the present Administration, which he attributed to the present Administration, which he described as influencing Judges, Sheriffs and Juries—as exercising an alarming influence throughout the country; and as being composed of men, who would afford indiscriminate support to a Governor, rather than surrender office. The entire system he said was bad; as of twenty three gentlemen who had been connected with the Administration since responsible government had been introduced, twenty had received for themselves, permanently, good situations, and only three remained in reality, responsible to the people; while the others dare not face another election. Did the learned Attorney General not understand, what are the feelings entertained towards him in Montreal? while the member who had recently been returned, comes here as an advocate for annexation, and from his commercial position possesses the confidence of the people of that city at large, whose influence derived from trade had procured the signatures of 1200 persons to the Montreal memorial, while that which was opposed to it, had but an insignificant number. The Attorney General had said that an elective Legislative Council would become equally Conservative with the present; that out of the materials thus placed at its command, the government of the day would create a body to suit its views, and that the power would remain where it is at present vested. His assertion only went to prove, that those who now possess such power, would violate every constitutional principle to retain it, and who brought men to the polls armed with clubs, for the purpose of influencing the electors.
[illegible] says is not true,
Mr. PAPINEAU continued, he was out of the country, when the circumstance referred to, was stated to have taken place; but he had been informed that the St. Patrick’s Society came to the election armed with clubs. He Mr. P. cared not for whom such support came; such interfering with the rights of electors was wrong and improper; and as is the case in England, should disqualify the member who resorted to it from retaining his seat in the Assembly. The British Parliament, he said, legislated at a distance, and could not be expected to understand the wants and the requirements of a colony; where people should be permitted to meet in convention and to form for themselves such a constitution as suited their views; many of whom came from England, and were naturally attached it the institutions of the freest country upon earth. Responsible government would answer, were it administered by angels; but when conducted by persons such as had been selected for that office in this Province, it could only be productive of misery. So far as regards the qualification of members for that house, he looked upon it only as a bar to the entrance of the strictly scrupulous and honest man, whilst those of another class were enabled to take a seat and if they felt so disposed to form the majority in it. It answered no good purpose, and could be easily evaded, for a man who was in reality in possession of landed property, at the day of his election, might, if he were so disposed, sell it immediately after he had taken his seat. If the hon. member for Rouville were in his seat—
Dr. DAVIGNON.—He is.
Mr. PAPINEAU continued—He would then put to him the following question:—That hon. gentleman had in his possession at the time of his election, a large amount of landed property, but as he (Mr. P.) had been informed, the hon. gentleman had since sold it. Now if that were the case, he would like to ask that hon. gentleman whether he could conscientiously sit in that house, and vote upon a landed qualification which was not in his possession? The hon. gentleman might be a richer man than he was before. He might have thousands of pounds invested in bank stock, but that would not affect the question of a landed qualification.
Dr. DAVIGNON would inform the hon. gentleman, that although he did not profess to be a rich man, he now held more landed property than he did before. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. PAPINEAU was glad to hear it, as it always afforded him pleasure to know that any persons was prospering, and because it would still enable the hon. gentleman to retain his seat in that House. He contended that the principle was bad in every way, and the sooner it was abolished the better; but the great evil of our system of government was that the antiquated systems of England and other countries, founded upon the wisdom of our ancestors, should be held sacred, and inviolable, whereas on the south side of Ontario, by paying proper respect to the mind which God has given to man, they have discovered and established the truth, that man should legislate according to the exigencies and emergencies of the day in which he lived; and no generation has the right to impose its creed or its dicta on that which succeeds it. And what was the consequence? Why, that if any portion of the body politic were dissatisfied with an established rule, they did not tear the Government down, but they waited patiently until the next convention, because they knew that they had the remedy within their power. With respect to the Legislative Council, he looked upon it as an impediment to the progressive advancement of the country. It had lost the confidence of the country, for it was under the control, complete and absolute, of the Ministry. They had shown in what manner it might be rendered subservient to their views and their interests, and he hoped that they would retain office till they had drank down to the last drop, the shame and the degration which their conduct would most certainly bring on them. Every day furnished fresh proofs of their complete incapacity for the situation they held. They had but recently appointed, as President of the Executive, a member of the Legislative Council—a man without influence—unknown in public life, and without the slightest acquaintance with Parliamentary law or practice. Now was it surprising, for the Attorney General East, although a pretty good lawyer, and having a fair practice at the Bar, had never made Parliamentary law his study—[hear, hear],—and was utterly incapable and unworthy of the great trust reposed in him. [Ironical cheers from the ministerial benches.]—Yet he was the man who could not admit the equality of another’s intellect, and expected and demanded the most absolute servility from all around him, not merely from the Cabinet, but from the entire House. He expected that the majority at his command should support him in every measure he proposed, and certainly he had no reason to complain, for he [Mr. P.] had looked in vain for that party he wished to see in the House. Nor could he find it in any of the classifications made by the jobbers who write for newspapers. He meant the honest party—(hear—the independent party—(hear, hear)—who would not support or oppose a measure, because it was introduced by the men in office, or the men out of office, but would consider it with regard solely to its merits, and pass or reject in on that ground alone. After those observations, he would say that he was glad to see an hon. member of the experience, honesty and talent of the Honorable Member for Norfolk, propose such an amendment, as it must command respect on account of his birth, and on account of his education, which caused him ever to cherish and defend his rights as an Englishman. He (Mr. P.) loved England also—but he loved freedom more; and it was on that account, and not from any sentiment of hatred or hostility to England, that he attempted to free himself from the misrule, that existed under the system her Durham and Sydenhams had inflicted on the Province. And the most effective means that he saw of doing that, was to obtain the establishment of the elective system in this colony, as she had granted it to her other colonies. He had early studied the constitutions of the different colonies, and the manner in which those institutions worked, and he had invariably found that where the elective system had been granted to any particular colony, it increased steadily in wealth and population, and was never subjected to those insults, to which the colonies, with royal Charters were constantly subjected. An instance of which was related in the paper of that morning, which stated that the Governor of Prince Edward Island had the impudence to dismiss the Legislature, because they had refused to grant the supplies after being only a fortnight in Session. What else could be expected from the men who were sent out here as Governors. They came out filled with the utmost contempt for the people whom they were to govern, and with a desire to impose on their minds with show and glitter, and in return were met with the most disgusting adulation, only after they had been in the country a few months, when their false position naturally brought them into contact with the people, and adulation was converted into the bitterest reproaches and abuse. After recapitulating several of the arguments previously urged, the Hon. gentleman concluded by saying; that the only mode by which relief could be obtained from the numerous evils with which Responsible Government afflicted the Province, was to be found in the amendment before the House.
Mr. CAUCHON said his character had been assailed in the most wanton and injurious manner by the hon. member for St. Maurice; and in order to defend himself, he found it necessary to depart from a determination, not to take part in personal recriminations. He had marked out a line of conduct for himself henceforth, and he was resolved, that in no case would he act as the aggressor; but if he were maliciously attacked, he would then consider himself at liberty to retaliate, and shew that the assailant was not actuated so much by a desire for the public good as by personal considerations. He therefore hoped the House would pardon him, and he believed he would be able to shew in the most convincing manner, that the hon. member for St. Maurice—who not content with an attack on him, spared no one in that House—but accused hon. members either of subserviency, or of a desire to tyrannize, had viewed public questions only a few years ago in a very different light, and he would then leave it to them to judge, whether the charge he had brought against the Ministry or being influenced by personal motives was not misplaced, and whether it would not tell with greater effect against himself. And when that hon. gentleman and other hon. gentlemen referred to the [illegible] of the country was jeopardized, when the Government had to guard against the tumults that had been excited, by incessant agitation and misrepresentation; when it had to deal with the hatred of men, who had been excited to madness for the purpose of overthrowing the institutions of the country, when they had to fear the most frightful of all evils—a civil war, for the purpose of raking up charges and accusations against the Government; he would say let the Government throw itself—not upon the mercy of the House, but upon the justice of the House, and they might confidently await the result. At the same time, he was surprized that such references should be made by any honourable member, for he had hoped, that when that time was passed, its unhappy incidents would be forgotten, and that honourable members would come here prepared—not to revive a remembrance of them—but to promote and carry out such measures as would prevent their return. The hon’ble gentleman then touched briefly upon the different topics mentioned during the course of this debate. The Public Works on the line of the St. Lawrence he had visited last year, and the impression left on his mind was, that they were the most magnificent works of human hands, in the universe, and reflected infinite credit on that administration, which, finding the Province almost bankrupt, and obliged to struggle with the greatest difficulties, and finally triumphed over them all, redeemed the public credit and honour, and left those great canals as a monument of their ability and Industry. He had good reason to believe from what he had heard, that the Reciprocity Bill would undoubtedly be passed by the Congress of the United States, and that a great benefit would be conferred on the people of Western Canada; but he believed that too much importance was attached to that Bill. Canada alone would not benefit by it. The people of the States themselves would derive some share of good from it, and even if it were rejected, we would not necessarily be ruined, and there would be some consolation in the fact, that we must certainly obtain the great bulk of the western carrying trade. On the subject of the Post Office, he would content himself with saying that in giving up the management of that important department to the Colonies, the Imperial Government had given another proof of its willingness to leave in our hands the entire control of our internal affairs, and he believed that if it were necessary, the Government would be prepared with a Bill to meet the requirements of the Imperial Act. On the subject of increased representation he had written largely, urging the propriety and necessity of the measure introduced by the hon. Attorney General East during the last session; he contended that it was founded on the strictest principles of justice, as the increase was divided equally between the two sections of the Province, and was absolutely necessary for the exigencies of the people. Convinced himself of the justice of that Bill, it was with the greatest astonishment, he had seen hon. members vote against it, who had always proclaimed their anxiety for a full representation. With respect to the Court of Chancery question, he and his colleagues from L. Canada had been taunted with having voted on a question they did not understand, and forcing upon Upper Canada a court which they desired to get rid of. It was very true that he did not understand a great deal about this question, but he thought the taunt was very much misplaced, for he found by a reference to the division list that seventeen Upper Canada members voted as he did, whilst only eleven voted for the abolition of the court. It was not his desire to vote on any question which he did not understand, or which had not been fully discussed, lest he might mistake the principles on which it was founded—but admitting that he did not fully understand a question under debate, would he not be justified in acting with the first men in the country; men whose ability and merit were universally acknowledged? In such a case he thought he might be allowed to form an opinion from the course they adopted, without being subjected to such taunts as had been made on this occasion. With respect to the Municipal Bill and the School Bill, he hoped that they would be placed on a permanent footing this session, as he was convinced that a good deal of inconvenience was caused by the very great changes which were made in the laws from year to year. These changes, of course proceeded from the pressure without, and were frequently inconsiderate, showing that however advantageous or beneficial the elective system might be, it was not without its disadvantages. The proposition of the Ministry to submit all the different departments of the public expenditure to a Committee, he was sure would receive the approbation of the whole House. In taking that course they followed the example of the Imperial Government, when a great cry was made in Britain for retrenchment. The Committee would, no doubt be composed of the leaders of all parties, and when a thorough investigation was completed, it would be seen how far retrenchment could be effected. For his part he did not believe that it could be carried to the length that some hon. gentlemen demanded, without impeding the action of the Government, and consequently doing a public injury. He was not disposed to go so far as that. He would vote for cutting off unnecessary expenses, and felt confident that the Government would be willing to meet the House there, and he would assist them in opposing any attempt to go beyond that limit. On the subject of Supplies, he had heard sentiments enunciated that night, which he hoped would, have no influence on the House. No one denied the right of the House to withhold the supplies—it was the constitutional check that the people had on the Government. But it was a power that could not be used rashly or systematically without bringing great evils in its train. Hon. members need not look far for an instance of the truth of that assertion; for if they would look at the state of Lower Canada previous to the union, they would agree with him, that it was cursed more by the adoption of that system of stopping the supplies, than any other country on the face of the earth. The entire Province was thrown into confusion. The Government was obliged to struggle against almost insuperable difficulties. The public officers were unpaid, and finally, the English Government was obliged to interfere, and absolutely encroach on the rights of the people, for the purpose of restoring order. Such was the result of that system, and he would say, he did not care whether he blamed his friends or his opponents, that it was destructive of the best interests of their country. Let hon. members look at its effect in England, during the reign of King George the Third, when the Whig party, contrary to the advice, contrary to the wishes of their great leader, Mr. Fox, refused the supplies. What was its effect there? Why, that public opinion was turned immediately against them.—The great mass of the people lost all confidence in them, as a party, and they never regained power, until after a lapse of seventeen years. That was the result in England. In Lower Canada, it resulted in the destruction of the constitution. Referring to the dismissal of the militia officers and magistrates, who had signed the manifesto, he said that although opposed to the extreme exercise of power in any case, he could not conceive that those parties had any right to complain of dismissal, when they declared themselves ready to throw off their allegiance. How was it possible for any Government to entrust them with such important situations after that? Surely the government was justified in saving—“if you want to throw off our authority, and seek for a union with a foreign power, we cannot put confidence in you any longer.” He did not blame those men for the opinions they held. He would oppose such opinions both in the house and out of the house; but that was not the ground he took then. He merely wished to show the impossibility of the Government retaining in any office of trust or confidence, subordinates, who were indisposed to yield it obedience; and if Messrs. Sanborn and Holmes viewed the matter in that light also, he thought the House would not have heard any of these complaints. Now, a great deal had been said about elective institutions. No man could be more willing than himself to yield to the people every power that was necessary for hood government; and it was an axiom with him, that the governing power was established for the public good, and to that end, it should be adapted to their wants and wishes; but on this question he was inclined to think that nothing should be done rashly. If the elective principle in all its branches were to be established here, it ought to be done gradually, and after it was ascertained that it was absolutely required by the great body of the people. Individually he was not opposed to Elective Councils. But it should be remembered, that the Legislative Council in its [illegible] to the same objections as the old Council of Lower Canada. That was framed by the Governor, or rather by the people round the Governor, and was a screen between him and the people. That has been changed. The Council did not stand as an impediment to the advance of the country; it might be called a nullity, but he was not prepared to say that it was—at all events it was not a nuisance, but if they were resolved to destroy it, he thought they would do well to consider the propriety of establishing another body in its stead. He could readily understand why it was necessary to have two Houses in a union of federal states; because there were two elements necessarily at work in a federal union; and it was necessary that the weaker states should be protected against the others, but he could not understand what necessity existed for two Houses in any one state, except to increase the expense of Government. He might possibly be wrong, and such an arrangement might be made, by giving the members of one House a higher qualification than in the other, or by electing the members of one House for a longer time than the members of the other, so as to produce a beneficial effect but in his opinion, if the elective principle were to be thoroughly carried out, and the wishes of the people were to be immediately carried into effect, the most certain means of obtaining that object would be, to bring the representatives frequently into contact with the people, by electing them at short intervals, and having but one House in which to carry out their views. That was the opinion he had formed of the mode of government best adapted to the wants of the people on this side the Atlantic, as we do not possess the materials for embodying such aristocratic bodies as exist in the old European nations. In connexion with this subject, the ninety two resolutions, with which every one in Lower Canada was well acquainted, had been mentioned. It was true that one of them declared an Elective Council to be absolutely necessary, in order to secure good government in Canada, but, as had been already observed, the Constitution was entirely changed since that resolution was passed; and under Responsible Government, the desire to obtain an Elective Council had gradually declined, as the people began to understand that it was within their power to remodel the Constitution, or to make such changes as seemed most requisite. In short, as they became fully convinced that they were in possession of the best Constitution that was ever granted to any colony. Still it should be remembered that the Cabinet had not pledged themselves to oppose a plan for an Elective Council, and he could not conceive why they were attacked with so much acrimony by the hon. member for St. Maurice, except it was because they were not disposed to yield to the dictation of that hon. member, than whom no man had made stronger aspersions against the prerogative, or declared more boldly a desire to destroy it altogether, and show, in all things, complete submission to the popular will. But there was an old adage, tempora mutantur, which he could prove to be peculiarly applicable to that hon. gentleman, and which , as had been shewn, might also apply to the political condition of these colonies since 1837. Then, the popular element was crushed. Now, it is triumphant. It was personified in the Cabinet. And the hon. member might say what he chose about a corrupt government, or a corrupt House. Such idle assertions carried no weight with them. But let the hon. gentleman collect proofs, let him convince the country of its truth, and on the moment, he could tear it down, crush it, trample upon it, and take possession of its power amidst general acclamations. The hon. gentleman should remember that, before aspersing the government any more—for it was a fact which upset all his complaints about the popular branch being crushed—complaints which were too true in 1837, but have no foundation except in fancy now. But did that man—who said that they did not possess the confidence of the public—believe that he possessed its confidence? He [Mr. C.] would tell him, and he could tell that House, that he did not, and for a proof if it, he would mention the fact, that neither of the two petitions which have reached this House from his constituency, were confided to his care, but were laid on the table by the hon. member for Three Rivers and the hon. member for Lotbiniere. [Hear, hear.] He [Mr. P.] had boasted of his influence, and of the confidence reposed in him by the people, because he was called upon to act as the representative of two counties. If ever that confidence had existed, it was now entirely lost, and he would do well, instead of threatening others, with the loss of their seats in that House, to take care that he did not lose his own. His influence however was never so great or so extensive as he wished to make hon. members believe. And to convince them that was the case, he would relate what happened at the last elections. That hon. member went down to Quebec, trusting to his great influence to defeat the Government. Well, did he do so? No! They fought out the batter against him, and against his former influence, and his present influence, and beat him by a large majority, [hear, hear,] and to crown the victory, they immediately afterwards received intelligence of his being beaten in another quarter. Would that fact sustain his boast of the confidence reposed in him by the public, or did it not rather shew, that the public had their eyes opened to his real character; that he only desired power for his own ends; and that in order to obtain power, he was ready to commit every species of mischief, malign the characters of the most honorable men in the country, throw every thing again into confusion, and if necessary destroy even the constitution. How could any one suppose that the country would support a man who had thus shewn his heart and his head to be equally bad? He [Mr. C.] had said, that temporal mutantur would apply to the hon. gentleman, and he would prove it. A resolution was proposed in the Lower Canada Parliament, by a gentleman who had always distinguished himself by the strict performance of his duties as a public man, but who was now no more—asserting that as England had granted to the Colonies, the right of legislating for themselves, they also possessed the right of taking steps, by petition or otherwise, for the redress of grievances. But there was another man there of a totally different opinion—who was so anxious that the Imperial Government should be treated with the most dutiful attention, that he opposed that motion, and made use of arguments directly the reverse of what he uses now every day—who in 1827 said it was a crime to say, that they would only live under such laws as they passed themselves—who asserted that England had never relinquished her right to legislate for the internal interests of the Colonies, and it was happy for them that she did so. He did not refer to those opinions held by the hon. member formerly for the purpose of blaming them, but in order to prove the correctness of what he had asserted, and to show that the doctrines he had upheld in 1824 and 1827 were readily abandoned in 1837, when he found by that means alone could he preserve his power. For the same reason he had formerly accused Governors Prevost, Sherbrooke and Kempt of seeking only their own good, and to-day would eulogise them as being the only food Governors Canada had ever seen. Any change of opinions that would serve his object, any accusation, no matter how groundless, that would depreciate the character of his opponents, was immediately embraced and made use of. The other day he attacked the hon. Attorney General East, because he had declined sitting for Terrebonne, and insinuated that he did so because his election for the city of Montreal, would sound better in Downing Street. The hon. member, in the wantonness of his attack, had apparently forgotten that he had himself acted in a similar manner; but perhaps that was because it would sound better, not in Downing Street, but on the other side of the line. But he (Mr. C.) thought he had done enough to show the grounds on which the hon. member acted; that his present line of conduct, compared with that he formerly pursued, was extremely contradictory, and that he was not actuated by a love of the public good, but rather that he was governed by an inordinate love of power; and that finding himself neglected by the people who had discovered his real character, he would willingly overturn the existing order of things, provided he could establish himself on the ruins. The Speaker’s chair was the same seductive bait to him that it had ever been; and anxious to grasp it, flattering himself with the return of all his former power at the next elections, he was blinded as to his real position. He was like a consumptive man, who, whilst every day getting weaker and weaker, still says he is getting better, and that he only awaited the approach of spring, to be perfectly well. Spring would come and the consumptive man would walk—to his grave. So it was with the hon. member for St. Maurice. [illegible] stronger from day to day, that no obstacle stood in the way of his return to power, but the present administration, and that the next election would remove them; but the next election would have a very different result from what he anticipated; and if not before, he would then at least be thoroughly awakened to his real position. He (Mr. C.) would next turn his attention to a subject that was personal to himself. He had said it was not his intention to become the aggressor, or to indulge in personal recriminations; but although he had formed that resolution, hon. members would not expect him to sit patently, and allow the grossest calumnies to be heaped upon him, without reply? He would therefore explain the circumstances which had been distorted to his disadvantage, and leave it to the House to decide whether there was any thing in them to justify the charge of criminal conduct. In 1848 a number of Apprenticed Pilots waited on him with a request that he would introduce a Bill, to enable them to practice their profession. A similar Bill had been introduced in 1843 by Mr. Aylwin, and abandoned. It was again introduced by Attorney Gen. Smith in 1845, and abandoned. Well, he prepared the Bill, consulted the administration on it, and it was passed into a law. It was true that it was in its tenor a public act, but it was framed particularly to suit the circumstances of those men, and he received £25 from them for drawing up the Bill, although he ought to have received £100, to remunerate him properly for his labour. The hon. member for St. Maurice might tax him with being a poor lawyer, if he chose, but his Bill was before the public; it was open to criticism, and had been passed into a law, after the two other Bills on the same subject had been abandoned. He had prepared the Bill, but had nothing else to do with it.—For as he had already observed, the ministry had taken it up. He had not voted on it. The same thing was done repeatedly in England, and he did not see why he should be charged with the commission of a crime in this case. He was also accused of being charged with corruption by a Court of Justice. In this case, as in the other, the facts had been perverted to his disadvantage. In consequence of a by-law passed in 1836, no apprentices were allowed to practice as Pilots, without being able to write and read. He had prepared a small Bill to meet the exigencies of some particular cases, and it had been accepted, but it was found not to extend to all cases, and a man who was incapacitated to pass his examination, requested him to take his case into consideration and procure his admission. He (Mr. C.) promised to use every exertion in his power, but being well acquainted with the particular habits and modes of thinking of the class to which the man belonged, took his promissory note for an amount sufficient to remunerate him for the outlay and trouble to which he would be subjected. Well, he went to Montreal, waited upon the Ministry, explained the circumstances of this particular case, and according to his agreement exerted every effort in the man’s favour. In the mean time, the man studied, acquired a knowledge of arithmetic, and having qualified himself according to the requirements of the by-law, was passed. He (Mr. C.) sued for the amount of the promissory note, and was met with the plea that he was not entitled to claim anything, as he had agreed to get the defendant passed, contrary to the by-law, whereas he had passed under its operation. He (Mr. C.) was then put in the witness box, and having stated the case, the Judge decided that he had given no consideration on the promissory note, but that the by-law under which the defendant was admitted had given consideration. He did not stand there for ethe purpose of casting reflections on the Judge, nor did he ever in any way accuse a Judge of giving an improper decision—such a line of conduct would speedily result in the destruction of order—but he could not help remarking, that he had frequently thought the judgement in that case was not strictly according to law. Having thus explained this case, which had been used as an occasion to charge him with corruption, he would ask, were there any grounds for that charge? Could a single proof be brought, that it originated in anything else but malice? When one man charged another with misconduct, or with being influenced by personal considerations, he ought to be sure that he was himself free from imputations. It was not by those means, that he (Mr. P.) was going to regain his lost power. It was not by bringing false and malicious accusations that he was again to become the tyrant of that House. Where did there ever exist a greater tyrant than he had been? His presumption and his insolence had been unbounded. Who had ever dared to contradict his sovereign will? What man had ever been allowed to say a word in former days in the House, in the Committee, aye in the most remote corners of the city, in opposition to him, without being immediately arraigned, calumniated and punished? He (Mr. Cauchon) could not have submitted to such tyranny. He would have burst the bands, with which his compatriots had been shacked, for there was something in his breast that told him that he was a man—entitled to the rights of a man, and that to tyranny in whatever shape it came, he could never submit. But those times were past, and with [illegible] the power and the tyranny of that man were gone. The hon. member had said that the ministry had fled from Montreal; that they had acted like cowards, although they had the troops at their command. Yes, it was true that the troops were at their command, and could have been used at any moment to crush to mob. But they were not the cowards that he represented, and had not called out the troops through motives of humanity, and from a fear of spilling blood, of which no one would have been more ready to accuse them than that hon. gentleman. He (Mr. C.) was glad that they had left Montreal. By doing so, they had punished its unruly citizens, and given the Lower Canadians an opportunity of seeing and mingling with their brethren of the West, and promoting and encouraging that friendly intercourse, which ought to subsist between the inhabitants of the same province. He was glad of it, because he found that an injustice had been done to the people of Upper Canada. They had been represented to him as violent and brutal, and he had found the reverse. He had been told that French Canadians would be assaulted and knocked down with clubs in the streets of Toronto; and they had been received with hospitality and attention. He had visited Upper Canada last summer; he had gone through the country; he had addressed public meetings in a language that he did not thoroughly understand; and instead of being treated with contumely, had received on every hand marks of regard and respect. No persons thought of insulting or molesting him; but on the contrary, men of all classes and parties told him that he was entitled to regard as a stranger, and that they desired to convince him that the violence of the people of Montreal, met with no sympathy from them. On that account he was pleased to see the Government in Upper Canada; they were not the cowards that the hon. gentleman represented. Cowardice had no share in inducing them to leave Montreal. When he spoke of cowards, he should remember that he abandoned the people whom he led into a mortal struggle; when he spoke of the dragoons flying from Laprairie and Montreal, he should also remember, that he had fled from St. Denis. (Applause, in which the galleries joined.) Well, it was no fault of his, if he were not a brave man; but he had committed a great fault, and which, he repeated, and would repeat again, had destroyed his hopes from the people for ever. They had anxiously awaited his arrival in Canada. They expected to see him take part in the constitutional struggle against a corrupt Administration. He declined to do so. He received £4000 from that Administration, and kept silence. He found his brother and his cousin—although the latter was a subject of the United States—thrust into office by that Administration, and he kept silence. He found that that Administration increased the salary of the Commissioner of Crown Lands from £800 or £1000 a-year, and paid him the arrears of salary for three years, and he kept silence; and it was not until after that brother and cousin were out of office, that he issued his circular or manifesto. Was that the kind of man that should set himself up as a judge of the motives and conduct of other hon. members? And on the very first occasion that presented itself after the opening of the Session, bring charges and accusations against him—and not only against him, but against every member on his side the House—when he must have seen, that at the time, there was a great disinclination to enter into discussion. Before sitting down, he would mention one extraordinary transaction in which that man had been engaged, £200 had been sent to him by some parties in Lower Canada, for a specific purpose. Well, would it be believed, that instead of applying the money to the purpose of which it had been entrusted to him, he spent £50, and retained the remaining £150, as he stated, towards the repayment of his salary. But he had no right to retain this money, which was transmitted to him for a specific service, and should have been regarded as a sacred deposit. He (Mr. C.) repeated that he came to the house with a determination not to engage in a personal controversy unless he were attacked; but if he were so attacked, to retaliate. He could not, therefore, be blamed for the course he had then been pursuing, or the principle upon which he had acted. He thought he had shown that the individual who had called forth his remarks, was not in a position to attack others with impunity; and for himself, he trusted he should not again have to reply to future personal allusions.
Mr. DAVIGNON made a few brief remarks which could not be heard distinctly at the reporters’ desk; but we understood him to say, that he approved of the course pursued by the government, in the recent dismissals; and protested against the remarks made by Mr. Papineau on a former occasion, attributing to the Speaker an ignorance of his duty, as to the reception of petitions.
Mr. LATERRIERE addressed the house in French.
Mr. MCCONNELL rose, as he said, with more than usual embarrassment, as he had been mixed up in the debate which had taken place. Four months since he had been called upon by his constituents, to express his sentiments with reference to Annexation; and he had then frankly avowed his opinion in favour of the measure, if it could be accomplished with the consent of England; that opinion he still held, and would boldly state on the floor of that house; and even in the presence of his Queen he would do the same; whose integrity and greatness of mind, which her countenance exhibited in the picture of her Majesty suspended opposite him, convinced him that a respectful expression of his sentiments would not be deemed offensive. Before he alluded to the subject under debate, he would make a few remarks relative to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant member from Sherbrooke. He was not surprised, he said, at the view taken of Annexation by that gentleman; but he (Mr. McC.) regretted that he had not stopped there; but had described those who had signed the address, in that part of the Province which he represented, as dishonest men and drunkards.
Col. GUGY rose to complain of a misrepresentation which had been made—not now for the first time—with reference to what fell from him on the occasion alluded to. He did not say what had been attributed to him—or any thing approaching it. He did not attribute to the hon. member a desire to misrepresent him, for the purpose of enabling him to fulfil a threat he had made, that he would prevent his (Col. G.’s) election; still such statements were calculated to injure him, not only on the floor of that house; but among his countrymen at large. What he had said was, that there were the names appended to the petition of many exceedingly respectable men; but that among them were others of individuals, who were bankrupts in character and fortune; and who like drowning men, grasped at annexation, as they would at a straw. He hoped the hon. member would desist from repeating these misrepresentations; otherwise he should use language to him that would compel him to do so.
Mr. MCCONNELL said he was bound to receive the gallant member’s explanation; but he would first mention, that a large portion of his constituents at Durham were as honourable and respectable as those he had described. The Inspector General had stated in the debate, that the population of the Eastern Townships was more opposed to British institutions than the people were anywhere else. Men (said Mr. McC.) seldom become vicious at once—they seldom become rebels and traitors all at once; the past lives of men form a good criterion of their character; and he would trouble the house with a short scrap of history having reference to that part of the Province, which extends along the shore of the St. Lawrence for one or two hundred miles. Near the close of the last century, a royal proclamation was issued, inviting foreigners to settle there, and promising them the protection of the laws of England; in consequence of which, many persons removed from the United States. In 1812, the loyalty and attachment of these men were tried. When the stream glides smoothly, all is well; but when the rapids are approached, that is the time to try men; and in 1812, he repeated, these men were so trued; for although they were citizens of the United States originally, yet they had become subjects of the King of England; they were prepared, therefore, to fight against fathers and brothers in defence of the country of their adoption. Another time to try them was in 1837-38, when the inhabitants of the Eastern Townships came forward and formed a line of posts, which prevented those who had taken up arms against their sovereign from flying to the United States, and joining the sympathisers; by which many who so acted lost their lives. He himself had been called from his bed during a winter’s night, to meet those who were disturbing the country; and this service was performed by direction of Col. Knowlton, who has recently been deprived of his commission for saying that Canada ought to be annexed to the United States, with the consent of England. He might have lost his commission, but he had sustained no loss of character, and still retained the confidence of the people, who agree with Pope, that
“An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”
Subsequently an Act of the British Parliament was passed uniting the two Provinces; and although by its enactments, a large amount of the debt of the Upper Province, was to be assumed by Lower Canada; this was not objected to, in the expectation that the Colony would enjoy the full benefit of English jurisprudence; and that the Anglo-Saxon race—he meant nothing that could hurt the feelings of the French Canadians—would enjoy laws congenial to their minds. Instead of which, two sets of laws are in force—one for Upper and the other for Lower Canada, and the people complain that they live under French institutions, which had created much dissatisfaction. The next great event to which he should allude, was the Free Trade policy; he did not blame the government of the mother country for this, if the people of England called for it; he considered it unjust that they should be taxed to support the trade of the Colonies; but the consequence had been that the trade of the Province had been destroyed, and the people had been deprived of a market at home and abroad. As to loyalty—all were loyal man; but if the people of Canada could obtain twenty per cent more in the neighboring Republic were they annexed, what was objectionable in their desiring the change—twenty per cent was a considerable amount to a poor farmer; then there was the article for lumber, for which a good price could be obtained in the United States, but upon which a duty of 15 per cent is required to be paid. Besides, articles could be purchased, and imported and sold cheaper at Sherbrooke, than when bought at Montreal, even after the duty had been paid. There was another difficulty which was nearer the heart than the purse.—Their sons were leaving home in search of employment in a foreign land, where the labouring classes find it on railroads, bridges and other public undertakings; and the better educated in keeping schools and being employed in counting houses. If their sons left the country what must become of their daughters—they must and do follow them; and are to be found in Lowell, and teaching schools elsewhere. As to the dismissals he did not know but the government were obliged to do as they did; and their consciences may have prompted them to act one way and their duty another. There was one more grievance to which he should allude. When the tory party ruled the country its representatives were consulted as to the appointments about to be made. He wished he could say the same of hon. gentlemen opposite. This system he considered as forming part of responsible government. Acting under this impression, he said, at the close of the last Session he left a list with the Provincial Secretary. But nothing having been heard of the result, and no reply being made in answer to enquiries he made on the subject, he came to the conclusion that the administration had not acted upon his advice, because he did not happen to row in the same boat with themselves; and he was the more confirmed in this conclusion, when upon consulting the list he had given in, he found that five were tories and five were liberals. He was therefore satisfied that responsible government is not yet arrived at in this Province.
Hon. H. J. BOULTON said the subject under debate was, whether the elective principle should be adopted with reference to the construction of the Legislative Council; and the question was not what members thought formerly, but what they think in 1850. It was a waste of time to engage in such recrimination. The decision should be in accordance with what the House and the country at present desired—the public at large,—why do not wish to see representation extended, but upon the basis of population. That was the principle, he said, which was enunciated last session. The construction of the Legislative Council had much engaged public attention, and he was confident that the public minds would not be satisfied, unless that body were elective. It would be recollected that in 1792 the subject was under discussion, and that the opinion which at that time generally prevailed was, that the Legislative Council should be elective. Since that period, another system of government has been introduced, and the mother country has declared that she will not interfere with the colonies, but will leave them to the enjoyment of self-government. Were the people of the Province therefore not called upon to look round, and see which is the best system of government that can be adopted; particularly as that which had been in operation during half a century, had not fulfilled the expectations that had been indulged in. He therefore wished to test the sentiments of the House upon the subject. If it should be found that the Legislature would not adopt that principle, which is in accordance with public sentiment, let the subject be referred directly to the people of their decision. The Attorney General had asked him if he (Mr. B.) had matured a plan as respects responsible government? It was not to be expected that he should enter into minutæ. It was the duty of government not only to frame a general measure, but also to fill up the details,—to introduce it upon their own responsibility, and to carry its principles into effect. Should the Attorney General East think proper to place him on a Committee with reference to the subject, he would recommend that he deemed most advantageous to the country. The Legislative Council, he said, was not the bulwark between the government and the popular branch of the Legislature which was originally intended. Measures of a popular character were frequently introduced into the Assembly, to which members themselves were opposed; but for which they would vote, having previously ascertained that they would be rejected by the Legislative Council. Legislation should therefore be carried on more independently and substantially. It might become a question whether the second branch of the Legislature should not be abolished? From what took place in the United States, he [Mr. B.] inferred that the Senate exercised a wholesome control over the House of Representatives. The object of the Legislature here, he said, should be to control the Administration, and not allow them to put one branch of it into one pocket, and the other in the other, and then trot away with the governor in their mouths. With a government and Legislature so situated, the members of Assembly had better go home like good children, and allow the Administration full sweep. He believed indeed that it would be better if the government were directly in this case rendered amenable to public opinion; as they would not then be sheltered by the Parliament, and would carry on the public service more economically. Evils that had not been anticipated, had resulted from the introduction of responsible government into the Province; and a public writer had said that under the present system, it would ultimately degenerate into an unbridled democratic oligarchy. The administration of the day get the Parliament to do as they wish, and the Executive and the Legislature are in the same hands; while one of the most important duties which that House had to perform, was not only to see that proper laws were enacted, but that they were properly executed. They hold the purse-strings it is true, but that is open-mouthed. There was no difference between one administration and another; but by all the public monies are expended without a due regard to proper economy. The hiring of Monklands near Montreal, for the residence of the Governor General, he mentioned as an instance of this; which was originally hired for £150 per annum, and might have been bought for £3000. About £7000 was expended by the administration in making improvements; and after the lease had expired, the government had to pay £450 a hear for the use of their own improvements. Would any man in managing his own private property act so badly; or if the Government had to come to Parliament in the first instance, could any number of members be found to agree to such an expenditure. Just such another absurdity was perpetuated when Lord Durham came out, when five or six thousand pounds were paid for the McGill house. There were other topics to which he would allude, when they came up for consideration; but it was a great loss of time to review a variety of subjects, when but one measure was under consideration by the house.
Hon. MALCOLM CAMERON was in favour of a decrease of the property qualification of voters, and an increase of representation in proposition to the population, and he was certain that no other system would give satisfaction to the country. He did not think, however, that this was so important a matter in the estimation of the people as some persons considered it. He had had as many opportunities during the last four months, of becoming acquainted with the views of the people of the west as any other member, and there was no strong feeling in favour of the increase in the number of the members of that House; he found that they had a strong feeling of confidence in that House, that they did think that it could be easily bribed. He (Mr. C.) thought that an increase must take place soon, and it should be on the principle of representation according to population. He was also in favour of an elective Legislative Council. He (Mr. C.) had always desired to avoid taking up any question which was likely to lead to a collision with England; it was of the highest importance to avoid that, and he had, therefore, not thought it advisable some time ago to alter the present Upper House; but when he saw Great Britain approving of the principle of an Elective Legislative Council, and supplying it herself to another Colony, when he found that it was necessary to the efficient working of the constitution, he could not refrain from giving it his support. He had no fault to find with the present House; it was composed of men as honest and able as could be found anywhere, but who could shut his eyes to the fact that it was necessary that the two branches of the legislature should be in harmony with each other and with the frequent changes in public opinion, or that they would bring the government to a dead lock. They must look out for a time, when the Lower House would differ entirely in their views from the upper branch. It would then be necessary to appoint new members sufficient to overcome the majority in the Council, and no Government could be blamed for getting a majority to support the views of the representatives of the people. Mr. Cameron then stated that he would like to see the Council formed on the same basis as the United States Senate, which was elected by the State Legislatures; he proposed to give that power to the corresponding bodies with us—the County Councils. The Senate was elected for six years, one third retiring every two years, which kept the body in consonance with the state of public opinion. There was no property qualification for members, but they must be 30 years of age—while they were admitted to the lower house at 25. He was in favor of the abolition of property qualifications for members; he was not, however, of the same opinion as to voters. A body like the Senate of the United States, with the checks of age, and sufficiently long residence in the country, would act as a salutary check on the Legislation of that House, and yet be obedient to the will of the people expressed through it. He believed that, though members voted against the motions then, when the question came up again, there would be a majority in favor of the proposition. He was also in favor of the other part of the proposition, household suffrage; he was opposed to universal suffrage, because the persons who were here to-day and there to-morrow should not have the same power as the regular resident; but every one on the assessment roll should have a vote.
Mr. RICHARDS was not sent there by his constituents to make organic changes, he was sent there to devise, under the present constitution, practical measures for the benefit of the Province; but if their whole time was to be taken up in discussing mere matters of theory, they could do nothing practically for the country. He believed that they had the power under the present constitution of doing everything they desired for the good of the Province. If the desires of the people could not be carried out under our present system, he would go as far as any in changing it for a better. He cared not for theory; it was substantial good he required, which was the end of all government. We had too much theory already, and too much of what honourable members had thought twenty-five years ago. They were sent there to pass measures for the good of the country; when these were passed, if they had any time to spare, let them then theorize.
The vote was then taken on Mr. Boulton’s Amendment on the Legislative Council, and Suffrage.
Yeas:—Messieurs Boulton of Norfolk, Boulton of Toronto, Cameron of Kent, Christie, DeWitt, Holmes, Hopkins, Johnson, McConnell, Papineau, Prince, Sanborn, and Smith of Frontenac.—13.
Nays—Messieurs Armstrong, Badgeley, Attorney General Baldwin, Boutillier, Cameron of Cornwall, Cartier, Cauchon, Cayley, Chabot, Chauveau, Devignon, Solicitor General Drummond, Duchesnay, Dumas, Fergusson, Flint, Fortier, Fournier, Fourguin, Fuillet, Hall, Inspector General Hincks, Jobin, Lacoste, Attorney General LaFontaine, LaTerriere, Laurin, Lemieux, Lyon, Sir Allan N. McNab, Malloch, McFarland, McLean, Merritt, Methot, Meyers, Mongenais, Morrison, Nelson, Notman, Price, Richards, Robinson, Sauvageau, Scott of Two Mountains, Seymour, Smith of Wentworth, Stevenson, Tache, Thompson, and Viger,—51.
It was now past 12 o’clock, and Mr. Malloch moved an adjournment, which was opposed by ministers, who wished to finish the address that night, as two weeks had passed since the opening of the Session, and nothing had yet been done. The motion was put, and lost by a large majority.
Mr. Boulton, seconded by Mr. Hopkins, moved his amendment on the estimates, and the vote was taken.
Yeas:—Messieurs Badgley, Boulton of Norfolk, Boulton of Toronto, Cameron of Cornwall, Cameron of Kent, Cayley, Christie, DeWitt, Hopkins, MacNab, Malloch, McConnell, McLean, Meyers, Papineau, Prince, Robinson, [illegible] Smith of Frontenac, and Stevenson—20.
Nays:—Messieurs Armstrong, Attorney General Baldwin, Boutillier, Cartier, Cauchon, Chabot, Cauveau, Davignon, Solicitor General Drummond, Duchesnay, Dumas, Fergusson, Flint, Fortier, Fournier, Fourquin, Guillet, Hall, Inspector General Hincks, Holmes, Jobin, Johnson, Lacoste, Attorney General Lafontaine, LaTerriere, Laurin, Lemieux, McFarland, Merritt, Methot, Mongenais, Morrison, Nelson, Notman, Price, Richards, Ross, Sanborn, Sauvageau, Scott of Two Mountains, Smith of Wentworth, Tache, Thompson, and Viger—44.
The adjournment was again proposed by the Opposition without effect, although
Mr. CAMERON (Kent) said, that he had an important motion on the Reserves to make, which would occupy a long time, and he had not yet spoken on the general question at all; he did not think it possible to get through that night.
Mr. H. J. BOULTON then moved his last amendment with some remarks, which were inaudible in the gallery.
Mr. CAMERON (Kent) said, that he hoped that there would be no opposition to leaving out the allusion to illusory hopes of retrenchment in the address. These words were not in the speech, they only were Globed into the answer to insult particular individuals; he thought it had been done hastily; he believed that they would get retrenchment from the government, the country believed it, and he [Mr. Cameron] would support them in it.
Hon. W. B. ROBINSON had been surprised to see that sentence.
Mr. CAMERON (Cornwall) said that there was good reason why the sense of the House should be taken on that phrase. He was told that the Administration intended to refer the whole subject of retrenchment and expenditure to a committee of the House, as had been lately done in England. Had not the whole press of Great Britain pronounced that a scheme to prevent all reform—that the Ministry, on referring it to a Committee, were consigning it to the tomb of all the Capulets, for they could mould it as they pleased. No better or cleaner proof could be required, that the gentlemen opposite did not desire retrenchment, than their throwing out a bill on the subject, introduced by his hon. friend from Norfolk. The anticipations of retrenchment from them were illusory. (No, ho; from Mr. Hincks.) Well, then, why did they say so? The hon. gentleman then referred to the Halton election, which he said had been decided on the question of retrenchment, and contended that the administration should take the responsibility of the reforms upon themselves.
Mr. HOPKINS followed in the same strain.
Hon. W. H. MERRITT said that the opposition complained of the ministry forcing the question to a conclusion that night. They ought to reflect that this House had been nearly a fortnight in session, and it was they that asked for delay, and that in taking up the speech they had since discussed every trivial point at the greatest length. He was aware that the whole country was in favour of retrenchment; no one would be so foolish as to oppose it when practicable. Let the members read the words of the address and see whether retrenchment was not there strongly recommended. The hon. gentleman read the following paragraph:—“That this House receives with peculiar satisfaction the recommendation of His Excellency to direct their attention to an enquiry into the Revenue and Expenditure of the Province, and trust that the consideration of this important subject thus introduced under the highest sanction, will not fail to be attended with beneficial results, as well in dispelling illusory expectations as in leading to the adoption, of every practicable retrenchment that the efficiency of the public service will permit.” What stronger declaration could be required. He was asked why illusory expectations were mentioned; he believed that some people expected that the government could be carried on without any expense whatever, and their illusory expectations would certainly be dispelled. Honourable members should wait till the committee was appointed and then the country would see who would go farthest in retrenchment. The course of the home government, in referring the question of retrenchment to a committee had been approved of by Peel and Cobden and many other zealous reformers; he could not see who was to take the responsibility of these changes if the members of that house would not do it, who were responsible to the people, for whose benefit they were to be made.
Mr. PRINCE spoke against time for we know not how long.
Hon. INSPECTOR GENERAL was surprized at the course of the honourable and learned member for Cornwall, from whom he expected a fair opposition; he was sure that he would not find in England a precedent for his present conduct.—The late Ministry had never received from the then opposition, the factious resistance which the hon. members opposite were giving to the present one.—The Reform electors of the Counties of Norfolk and Halton would mark the expensive delays caused by their representatives.
Mr. H. J. BOULTON said something about the County of Oxford, which was not heard distinctly in the gallery.
The INSPECTOR GENERAL was not afraid of losing the confidence of the electors of Oxford by his present course. He had heard something of a recent popularity-hunting expedition of the hon’ble member for Norfolk among his constituents.
Mr. BOULTON said the statement was utterly unfounded, and called the hon’ble gentleman to order.
Hon. INSPECTOR GENERAL—well then, the honourable member did not go up on a popularity-hunting expedition to his constituents, he only happened to be in the county, and he happened to be invited to a dinner, and it happened that his constituents insisted on drinking the healths of the administration.
Sir A. McNAB called the hon. Inspector Gen. to order.
The SPEAKER said that the hon. member was referring to a fact to prove the state of feeling of the people of the Province, and he was in order in doing so.
Hon. INSPECTOR GENERAL was going on to show what was the object of the hon. member in introducing his various amendments at the beginning of the session. He wished an impression to go abroad that the Administration were disposed to resist the progress of the popular mind when they voted against these amendments, introduced as they were, in an improper spirit and irregular manner. It was not to be understood that the members who had voted that day against an Elective Legislative Council were pledged not to vote in its favour when a proper time arrived. It had been said that Great Britain had granted an elective Legislative Council in another colony; he was quite certain that none there present would be in favour of adopting that part of the new Constitution of the Cape Colony. Another piece of factious opposition had just been announced, an amendment in the address on the subject of the Clergy Reserves, although no notice had been laid on the table as was usual in such cases. With reference to the hon. member for Norfolk’s wish to have the public accounts sent down immediately, he could hardly believe that the hon. gentleman was sincere; he knew that the accounts could not be brought down till after the address was passed, yet he delayed that passage in every way in his power. These amendments were altogether unusual, and gave rise to most vexatious delays. First, four or five hours on the Court of Chancery, then on Gaols and Court Houses in Lower Canada, and now it was desired to argue whether the appointment of a committee upon retrenchment were correct, before even notice was given of such an appointment.
Mr. W. H. BOULTON spoke against time for a considerable period.
The vote was then taken on the amendment—
Yeas—Messieurs Badgley, Boulton of Norfolk, Boulton of Toronto, Cameron of Cornwall, Cameron of Kent, Cayley, Christie, DeWitt, Hopkins, MacNab, Malloch, McLean, Meyers, Papineau, Prince, Robinson, Sanborn, Seymour, Smith of Frontenac and Stevenson—20.
Nays—Messieurs Armstrong, Attorney-General Baldwin, Boutillier, Cartier, Cauchon, Chabot, Davignon, Solicitor-General Drummond, Duchesnay, Dumas, Fergusson, Flint, Fournier, Guillet, Hall, Inspector-General Hincks, Holmes, Jobin, Lacoste, Attorney-General LaFontaine, Laurin, Lemieux, McFarland, Merritt, Methot, Mongenais, Morrison, Nelson, Notman, Price, Richards, Sauvageau, Scott of Two Mountains, Smith of Wentworth, Tache, Thompson, and Viger—38.
After a conference with the opposition, Mr. Baldwin moved that the House should adjourn till 10 o’clock on Monday, to finish the debate on the Address on that day. The opposition objected to meeting so early, but the Ministerial benches then becoming clamorous to go on that night, they gave way, and the House adjourned at half-past two.
MONDAY, MAY 27, 1850.
Col. PRINCE rose for the purpose of moving the amendment, of which he had given notice at the beginning of the Session, not that he imagined there was the slightest chance of its being carried, but rather because it would form a good ground-work for the Administration to proceed upon at a future day. Now, he did not happen to be one of those who thought that it was the duty of the government to visit with their displeasure, the gentlemen who had signed the manifesto, for he could not conceive, and it was impossible for him to bring his mind to think otherwise, that they had done anything calculated to bring Executive disfavour on them. And to use the words of Junius—substituting “executive indignation” for ‘royal indignation’—it might hereafter be found, “that the walks of executive indignation had served rather to illumine those persons than to consume them.” Of what crime had they been guilty? The manifesto and the Annexation Petition, which he had the honor to present, did not make a former avowal of a determination to separate from Great Britain, but were in the form of a prayer to the Imperial Government, that it should consent to that separation which was so essential to their interests. But the administration, in the height of their wrath and passion, chose to view it in a different light; and by a great mistake made it appear that it was a treasonable design. But how much more mistaken must they have been when they advised his Excellency to say that the Annexation movement was not viewed with favor by the mass of the people? Thousands—aye, and tens of thousands—were in favor of it; but not the tenth part of them dare give expression to their opinions, lest they should bring down on their devoted heads the weight of executive wrath. He believed that the administration themselves were favorable to it, as it was in perfect compatibility with the views and sentiments they had formerly expressed; and he felt confident that they were also well acquainted with the fact, that the great body of the people were in favor of it.—But admitting that this statement was correct, how was it that there were no petitions on the table to support their views? It could not be said the people had been taken by surprise, they were all well acquainted with the fact that this question was agitated throughout the Province; aye, even His Excellency himself had received a copy of his petition a full month ago, in order that he might read, mark, and digest his contents. And indeed he had received much more substantial proofs than he had expected, that the people were on his side. The hon. gentleman then produced an envelope, marked with 1s 9½d postage, which had enclosed two petitions in favour of annexation. He mentioned that circumstance for the especial benefit of the hon. member for Kent, who had asserted that there were not twenty men of respectability in the Western Country favourable to the subject of these petitions. They were signed by men of the highest respectability in the Irish settlement, on the middle road, with whom, he believed, the hon. member was but slightly acquainted.
Mr. CAMERON—Let us have a peep at these names.
Mr. PRICE continued—Surely the hon. gentleman was not in earnest in asking for their names. Surely the hon. gentleman did not want to bring the signers within the reach of gubernatorial indignation. No, he would not give their names, or expose them to the same insults which had been heaped on the parties who had signed the other petition; but if the hon. member really wished to find out the names, he (Mr. P.) would be happy to communicate them to him in all faith and confidence, some day when they happened to crack a bottle of wine together. The speech from the throne, informed them that the people were contented and happy, because they looked to their own Parliament for the redress of any evils, of which they had to complain. He never heard anything more absurd. Why the people did look to this Parliament for redress of a grievance which could not be remedied in any court of common law, and their petition had been treated with the utmost contempt; but it was just of a piece with all the other absurdities and incongruities of the administration. He would ask them to explain one fact. There were certain persons—he did not choose to call them revels or traitors, he wished those words were expunged from the dictionary—who had broken through the laws of the land in rather a prominent manner, and they had been raised to offices of trust and emolument; while the parties who had signed the manifesto, without infringing on any law, had been degraded, and displaced. Nothing, in his opinion, could be more unjust or inconsistent. Now he did not mean to make any personal attack on the head of the Government, but he thought he might be permitted to say that he did not approve of the course he had taken in regard to this question. In his opinion, he (Lord Elgin) ought to have told his ministry to take no steps on the manifesto or the petition, or treat it with perfect silence, and if the people were not favourable to the views they contained, the agitation would die away itself. If he had done so, he would possibly have been placed in the position assumed by Lord Metcalfe—that truly noble Governor, who would not submit to their domination—and like him, he (Lord Elgin) would have entitled himself to the gratitude and respect of the people, and would undoubtedly be supported by them. The hon. gentleman concluded by calling on the Conservative members to vote for his amendment; not because they approved of the principle contained in it, but because he was confident that they would on all occasions maintain the liberty of speech which was the right of every man.
Mr. CAMERON (Kent) said he was very glad that this question had come before the House in its present distinct form, as he wished that his views should not be misunderstood. The hon. member who had just spoken had made an allusion to his constituents on the middle road.
Mr. PRINCE explained. The people he spoke of were not the hon. member’s constituents. They resided within the County of Essex.
Mr. CAMERON continued.—He would then say nothing more on that point. Now, he believed that what preserved this Province to Great Britain in 1837, and rendered the people patient under the misrule of the Tory party here, was a form confidence in the liberality and justice of the Imperial Government, and a belief that the Provincial Administration did not possess the confidence of the authorities at home, particularly on the subject of the Clergy Reserves. He believed that opinion was general, and when he himself went in 1837 to offer his services in the defence of the country, to the Governor, he (Mr. C.) told him then that although he was willing to defend the Province, he was as much opposed to the Government and its views as he had ever been; and he would appeal to Sir Allan McNab, whether he had not written on the handspike with which he operated in mobbing on the cannon on the frontier that it was for the Queen, the Kirk, and the Country that he was willing to fight, but not for the government. He was happy to support the Administration in the course they had taken in dismissing the signers of the manifesto.—If he could make any objection to their conduct, it would be because they had not acted with sufficient promptness. (Hear, hear, hear.) The moment the manifesto appeared, every man who put his name to it, ought to have been dismissed, and more especially the gentleman who sat behind him, (Mr. Holmes,) as he more especially deserves it. That hon. member was not the man to back out from any views he had once expressed—not he. He would go on steadily, step by step, till at last he took up his musket to support his arguments. [Hear, hear. And when that was the case, how would it be possible for him [Mr. C.] or any other man, if called out to defend the country, to feel any confidence while acting with him. For himself, he had always avowed his attachment to Great Britain, because she had acted in a liberal spirit towards the Colonies, and had conceded to us the right of self-government. If he had thought otherwise, he should not have waited for the consent of Great Britain to a separation, but would immediately take steps to obtain it; but as he was convinced that a separation would be injurious to the Province, he was determined to adopt the opposite course, and resist a separation by every means in his power.
Sir. A. McNAB said, that the case of Mr. Holmes cited by the hon. member who preceded him, was a very unfavourable one for the Ministry, as that gentleman still held his commission as colonel of a regiment, and he called on him to state whether he was not correct.
Mr. BALDWIN—It must be a mistake. The hon. member holds no commission.
Mr. HOLMES said that he had resigned his commission four years ago, and it had been accepted; but to his great surprise he found his name afterwards in the Gazette as Col. Holmes.
Sir A. McNAB—That was exactly what he had stated. The hon. member, who was a prominent supporter of the government during the last four years, and a leading annexationist, still retained his commission.
Mr. HINCKS—The hon. member must perceive from the remark of the hon. Attorney General, that the government was not aware of the fact.
Sir A. McNAB continued—No man ought to be better acquainted with those matters than the hon. Inspector General, who had taken a deep interest in them; and raised from the ranks men who had never done a day’s duty, and made one of them a full Colonel. The honorable gentleman then contrasted the position of Mr. Holmes, who retained his commission, with that of Col. Odell, who although he had been in the midst of the disturbances, and performed his duty in such a manner as to merit the thanks of the authorities, had been summarily dismissed by the present administration through motives of revenge. He blamed the Government for allowing four months to elapse from the issuing of the manifesto, before they dismissed from office the parties who signed it, and said it was done with the design of getting as many as possible of their opponents into their net, before they raised their anchor. Their design [illegible] to destroy them altogether. He then reiterated [illegible] as having concocted the Rebellion of 1837, and asserted that the Minerve, the organ of their views in Lower Canada, in its issue of 12th July, declared in plain English that it was not opposed to annexation, and that it supported the Government because it was convinced that they would bring it about sooner than any other body of men in the Province.
Mr. HINCKS and Mr. DRUMMOND said that nothing of the kind was to be found in the Minerve.
Sir. A. McNAB would read the paragraph, if he could find the paper. He then read something which appeared to be an extract from the Minerve, made by another person.
Mr. HINCKS said that the very language was sufficient to prove that the hon. gentlemen had not read that from the Minerve, which, as was well known, was published in French. Besides, it appeared to be put in third person; for instance, “he says.”
Sir A. McNAB.—The extract was from the Minerve. He would get the paper and hand it to the hon. gentleman, in order to convince him.
Mr. LYON said, it appeared to him, from the numerous amendments proposed, that the House was called upon to vote, not so much on the address or an amendment to the address, as on the opinions of individual members. It was a kind of warfare calculated to embarrass, but would inevitably be viewed by the public as being of a very factious nature. Now, with regard to the question of annexation, he concurred most heartily with the Government in the view they had taken of the duty that was imposed on them, and argued with Mr. Cameron that if there was any fault, it was in their movements being too tardy. He should like to ask hon. gentlemen, who complained of the conduct of the Government as unjust, whether they would have done otherwise, if they had not been in opposition. As he was convinced that they would have acted precisely in the same way themselves, he was convinced that this opposition was unfair, and unjust. There were no doubt many arguments that could be urged in favour of annexation, by the agricultural and mercantile classes, but, as had been very properly said in the speech, Parliament had within itself the means of redressing all grievances. That was perfectly true, that under our present system of government, we enjoyed a greater degree of freedom than is possessed in the States, as the government holds office immediately from the people, and a want of confidence vote was sufficient to dismiss them at any moment. In the States, it was quite the reverse. The President and his Cabinet being there elected for four years, could adopt any course, at their own pleasure, and govern in direct opposition to the wish of the people, as they actually do at this moment. He well knew, however, that the people feared that there was nothing to prevent a governor from usurping the whole power and governing the majority by means of the minority, and that was one reason why they wished for annexation. Now, it was worth while enquiring to whom we are indebted for this movement in favour of annexation? He remembered well that it was stated by hon. members who are now in opposition, that a change was about to take place in the opinions of the people, and although annexation was not then named, it was distinctly pointed out. He also remembered the apprehension that was excited in the minds of hon. members of this side of the house, by those insinuations, and that it was increased by the declaration of Col. Gugy, that if a certain bill ever passed into a law, it would at once absolve the people from their allegiance. (Hear, hear.) What did all this tend to, but annexation? It was sufficient to prove to him that the agitation emanated from certain hon. gentlemen who were in opposition to the government of the day. He had also heard of another body that had attempted to legislate for the country—advocated retrenchment, an elective Council, and hinted at annexation as a means of carrying out their views. Now one thing was certain, that whatever were the views of any one or all those parties, they had failed to carry them out, and in fact had abandoned them. He did not think, therefore, that any great danger was to be apprehended of its doing much mischief just now. The hon. gentleman then referring to several topics mentioned in the speech, expressed his dissatisfaction at the small outlay of public money in his part of the country, although the works that had been erected there had paid from ten or twelve per cent on the outlay. Representation ought to be extended equally to the whole people, and the vote by ballot was, in his opinion, absolutely necessary, in order to secure purity of election. The Court of Chancery was in his opinion unreformed and unreformable. The terror of both rich and poor, who shrink from the idea of obtaining redress by its means. The extension of the jurisdiction of the inferior Court was also objectionable, as it overburthen them, and taken away from the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of Queen’s Bench the trifling amount of business that they have now. On the subject of retrenchment, he feared that the expectations of the people would be disappointed, and that the chances were two to one against anything being done effectually, if the committee were composed of Clear Grits, and those who had always been opposed to present enormous expenses of the government had grown up. It was with some pain that he found it necessary to throw any degree of blame on the ministry; but he hoped that the numerous propositions about to be submitted to the house, would inspire them with that degree of courage which was necessary to carry out the reforms expected from them.
Mr. CAYLEY was not prepared to condemn the admiration for dismissing from office those who favoured annexation, but condemned the too frequent exercise of the Royal prerogative for merely party purposes. It had been so used in the cases of Mr. Dixon and Mr. Stanton. In the latter case the one person had acted as judges and judge advocate, and had succeeded to the office beside. He was not prepared to condemn the Imperial government for their conduct; he regretted their change of commercial policy, their sanction of the Rebellion Losses Bill and their packing the Upper House, but he only blamed their ignorance for these acts. He had no sympathy with the views of the annexationists, but he was not surprised that such views were held under the present government.
Mr. SHERWOOD felt constrained to give the most decided opposition to the amendment of the hon. member for Essex, whose recent movements were totally wrong and bordered were closely on what was called constructive treason. He would not entertain the merits of the annexation question; he did not think it profitable to do so, if it were so he should have no difficulty in showing that the evils to remedy which annexation was demanded would not be removed by it and that they might be removed by means at present under our own control. If gentlemen who had sward allegiance to the Crown, afterwards do everything in their power to separate us from that Crown, he could see no other course for the government than to dismiss them from their offices and not permit them to use the influence obtained through them to thwart the government in every possible way. He thought however that, the ministry had exercised their prerogative of dismissal in some cases in the most wanton, cruel and unjust manner. The case of Mr. Dixon was one of the worst he had ever heard of in his life. A petition was sent to government making certain charges against that gentleman, and praying for an investigation, and a copy of this document was sent to him without the names; he replied that the allegations were not true, and that he was ready to explain when he heard the names of his accusers. This request was refused and he was dismissed. No man should be brought before any tribunal, and he refused the names of his accusers; by refusing that act of justice, the government had screened these persons who might be the most worthless of the people. It did no harm to that gentleman, however, as the sympathies of the public always went with men who were ill treated. He knew nothing absolutely to justify the annexation movement, but he did not wonder at its progress when he considered the conduct of the government; the commercial distress had prepared the public mind for any change, however desperate, and the Rebellion Losses Bill was like the torch to the train of powder. He (Mr. Sherwood) had recently changed his views on the subject of an Elective Legislative Council, and he was now disposed to advocate its adoption. He would have no objection to the present system, if the prerogative were properly exercised; but they had recently seen that house packed with twelve or fifteen members by the present ministry to pass particular measures, and when a change of government took place another addition would be required to balance these, and what kind of body would it be which daily received additions of the tools of the administration of the day. But if that house were elected by the people it would be filled by the men of highest reputation and intellect in the country; it would be looked up to as was the United States Senate, for all the wisdom in the land; this house would then be passed over, and all the wisdom of the country would be collected in the upper house, we should have a new state of political existence, and every body would be happy and every body contented. He regretted than an important subject had been omitted from the speech. The subject of retrenchment had been taken up by the country in the most zealous manner, and he regretted that it was not mentioned in the speech. [Ironical cries of hear, hear.] There was a vague reference to it, but there ought to have been distinct mention of particular points on which retrenchment might be effected; this notice of the [illegible] from Mr. Hincks.] Well it was so in England. The subject of the reserves was one of the most troublesome that head ver agitated the country. Such a subject the ministry ought to treat as a Cabinet question or oppose it as a ministry, and if they failed they ought to retire. It was a mark of weakness.
Mr. HINCKS said that the ground upon which hon. gentlemen opposite disapproved of the recent dismissals was, that the parties who had been thus dealt with, were loyal men in 1837, and the gallant knight said, many were originally annexationists who were not so now. But a similar policy had been adopted by the government of a former day, which they supported, and when persons were removed from office, for less than annexation. Mr. Ridout had not agitated for annexation, but was accused of attending a political public meeting, at which he never spoke; the practice then was, to dismiss persons merely on account of difference of opinion. But gentlemen forgot what it was important they should not lose sight of—that it does not follow, that because men were disloyal at a former period they still remained such; he would suppose that every man on those benches had been engaged in a former rebellion; which an hon. member had said was not a rebellion against the Queen, but against the system of government. But he would suppose for the sake of argument, that all were so implicated; whatever might have been their previous standing, the government were bound to adopt that course which they had recently pursued. If they consulted history it would be found, that the administration of Sir Robert Walpole had to dismiss persons, whom the gallant knight would characterize as most loyal men. Circumstances might render such a course necessary. It was not what a man was in 1838, but what is he at the present time; and persons much be judged by their own declarations. The gallant knight said parties were sorry for what they had done; but if such were the case, the government had no knowledge of it, and there was every desire not to press hard upon persons who were willing to retract erroneous opinions; but when members of the administration were charged with being disloyal, and reference had been distinctly made to the Attorney General of Lower Canada, it became more necessary, to show what were their true feelings at the present time. Had the government not acted as they have done, what would have been said of them in that Parliament—what would have been said in England? Had they not met the movement as they did, they would have been charged with secretly encouraging it, particularly when the hon. member for Montreal, and others with whom several of the administration had been associated during their entire political life, were engaged in the proceeding alluded to. The effect of the action of government, he was satisfied, had been beneficial, and had given a check to the agitation which was then going on uninterruptedly. The member for Missisquoi had read an article to the House on a former day, which he found in an old newspaper, for the purpose of showing his (Mr. H.’s) inconsistency, because at that time, he asserted that persons who were in favour of annexation had a right to discuss it. There was no objection on the part of the government, to a full and fair discussion; but at the same time, those who vindicated the severance of these colonies from the Parent State, must not expect to retain offices of power or emolument under the Crown. He was satisfied, parties had had privileges in this respect, which would not have been granted to them in any other country; particularly when the member for the County of Sherbrook an American, had been allowed in a British Parliament to vindicate the annexation of this Province to the United States. Would any persons from Canada, dare, under similar circumstances, in an American House of Representatives, to propose the annexation of one of the United States to this Province. In no other Legislature in the world would any one venture to attempt such an outrage. He [Mr. H.] drew a wide distinction between a native born British subject, and an American citizen, who had availed himself of the liberality of our laws, boldly to stand up on the floor of that House, and propose the annexation of the Province to the neighbouring Republic. The government had been charged with unnecessary delay in adopting the measures alluded to. He had not the dates with him; but owing to peculiar circumstances, the government not being entirely removed from Montreal, whatever delay had taken place was unavoidable. But this he would say, that at is first meeting the policy of the government was resolved upon; the memorial had only been out a few days, when the determination was made, and if steps were not taken earlier in accordance with that decision, it was because the government had not been the sufficiently organized, and might be considered as in a transition state. He (Mr. H.) arrived from England just as the manifesto appeared; and a timid gentleman, who met him in New York, expressed much anxiety as to the effect it would have, for as he understood it was to be signed by the gallant knight opposite, and the member for Simcoe. It was not to be supposed that the government in pursuing the course which had called forth the animadversions of gentlemen opposite, were actuated by motives of revenge; when on every ground, either personal or public, it was with great paid they felt compelled to act as they did. The member for the city of Toronto had referred to a topic which had been fully discussed already—the Legislative Council. He [Mr. H.] was not going to debate the question, whether the introduction of the elective principle in the construction of that body was desirable or not. But he would reply to the charge brought against the Government by the hon. member, of having swamped that body, in order to pursue the course they did last year. Had they done so, however, it would only have been following the example formerly set by the tories when in power; who, after swamping the Legislative Council once, and finding the majority would probably obstruct their proceedings, swamped it again.—Gentlemen opposite, had forgotten the appointment of persons belonging to the party, on his [Mr. H.’s] side of the House on former occasions. Last year, till the close of the session, the majority of the Legislative Council meagrely was opposed to the administration; and at present politically, that body represents very fairly public opinion. But, when the hon. member talks of the legislative council being a check upon party representation; he [Mr. H.) should like to know, if that hon. member wanted such a body as existed at one time in Upper Canada, when for seven successive sessions, during which there were three new Parliaments, they voted against a measure almost unanimously passed by the Lower House. That was what gentlemen opposite wanted; and they would not be satisfied unless that body was so constituted, that it would act in opposition to the Assembly. It had also been said, that members had been introduced to enable the government to carry their measures; one of their most prominent opponents, was at that time appointed; he meant Mr. Jones, upon whose support they never relied, and from whom no pledge was asked or required. He would ask gentlemen if Mr. DeBeaujeu was put into the Council in the expectation that he would be the advocate of liberal measures, was it not owing to his wealth and sanding, and as due to the class to which he belonged. As to the comparison that had been made, between the Legislative Council and the House of Peers, a more conclusive answer could not be given than is contained in some remarks that fell from the Marquis of Lansdowne. The members of the House of Peers, he said, are never reduced in number; but when a member dies, his son, as the successor to his title, succeeds him. It therefore did not become necessary, on the part of the crown, to supply vacancies. But when dealing with a body composed of persons who merely held their seats for life, and which might be rendered vacant by their death of removal from the Province, or appointment to certain offices, it became necessary to make new appointments. The learned member for Toronto had also spoken of retrenchment, and had referred to the expressions in the speech, at the opening of the Session, as not going sufficiently far. It was the same language he (Mr. H.) believed, which was used in England on similar occasions, and when measures of retrenchment were contemplated. As to the present civil list, It was voted for by the member for Toronto himself. If the salaries were too high, that gentleman brought in the scale, and was more responsible for its correctness than any other member. As to the course which the government mean to take, it was impossible, during the long debate that had taken place, but that its members should be drawn into explanations, which had better have come up when committees were formed, and when they would be prepared to show that the course which they had adopted, was that which has been pursued in England during the last sixty years, and that it is the proper course, and most likely to satisfy the country, and which did not remove the responsibility from the Administration. The hon gentleman said, he was surprised at the strange manner in which the Clergy Reserves had been alluded to. He admitted that it was not desirable for a government to have open questions, and he regretted that could not be made a government measure. But did the hon. gentleman forget, that when it was a mere local question, and the Clergy Reserves were not regulated by Act of Parliament, it was then made an open question by a former Administration; and the members of government were found voting against each other, just as he presumed would be the case during the present Session in this case. An allusion had been made to the removal of the Collector of Customs at Toronto, and it was stated he had been succeeded by his accuser and judge. He was not in the House when the allusion was [illegible] who made the statement was entirely mistaken. He [Mr. H.] had investigated the case, and upon his report and responsibility the government acted. Mr. Meudell, it was true, examined persons as to the amount of money which they had paid in, and for which no credit had been given or entry made in the Custom-House books; but he [Mr. H.] added up the cash book himself, which he requested Mr. Stanton to examine, and see if he had made the additions correctly, when there appeared to be a deficiency of £700, which he [Mr. S.] had not paid over. With that branch of the enquiry therefore, Mr. M. had nothing to do. There was one particular fact, to which he would call the attention of the House, one form in Toronto, Ross, Mitchell & Co., made four payments in one day, amounting to £1100, by a check on the Bank for £1000, and notes and debentures for the remainder; on that day, but three entries were made on the books, and the other amounted to some three hundred and odd pounds. In every case where deficiencies had occurred before, there was no proof to fix it on Mr. Stanton, as Mr. Roy very improperly was allowed to receive monies also. But in this case Mr. Stanton deposited the check himself, and should have had all the entries made. His explanation was most unsatisfactory, and must everywhere create an unfavourable impression. He (Mr. H.) wished to state distinctly, that up to the time when this occurrence took place, he had entertained the highest opinion of Mr. Stanton. As to the charges that were brought against that gentleman, with them Mr. Meudell had nothing to do. Parties had stated to him (Mr. H.) facts which rendered an inquiry necessary, and Mr. Meudell happening to be in Toronto, he was requested to conduct it, as to monies that had been paid, from which he endeavoured to be excused, but which he (Mr. H.) insisted upon, as essential to the public service; and Mr. Meudell ought not to have suffered for so doing. He was a most efficient officer, and subsequently received the appointment. In reply to a question from the opposition benches, which we did not distinctly hear, Mr. Hincks stated, that he had not intended to introduce the subject alluded to, as he supposed Mr. Stanton would put the House in possession of such explanation as he could afford. But with reference to the payments made by Messrs. Ross, Mitchell, and Co., his mind had become completely confused, as he said, he thought they should not have paid so large an amount of duty; he therefore made the three entries, supposing the fourth would not be required. But allowing this statement to be correct, as extraordinary as it might appear, it was natural to suppose, that a collector receiving money under such circumstances, would have immediately made the necessary investigation. Instead of which, he kept quiet for weeks; and it was not till the result of the investigation had been arrived at, that he said it had been a mistake, and he never had had time to make the necessary enquiries. If, however, Mr. Stanton had entertained any doubt in the first instance, as to the amount of duties that was paid being correct, he should have entered the money in the custom-house books, and then instituted the necessary enquiry. It must be remarked, that the parties who had paid the money, never made any complaint on the subject; and in conclusion he would ask those gentlemen, who were so desirous of bolstering up the conduct of Mr. Stanton, what other course the Government could have pursued than they did?