Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Defeat and Resignation of the Ministry, 6th Parl, 1st Sess (29 July 1858)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Montreal Herald
Citation: “Provincial Parliament. Defeat and Resignation of the Ministry” Montreal Herald (30 July 1858).
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Defeat and Resignation of the Ministry.
Toronto, July 29.
The Seat of Government Question again came up last night, on a motion of Mr. Thibaudeau, expressive of regret that Her Majesty had selected Ottawa as the future Capital; that city being unacceptable to a large majority of the Canadian people.
The motion was, however, ruled out of order, upon which Mr. Dunking moved an Address to the Queen asking Her Majesty to re-consider the decision formerly named, and to name Montreal in lieu of Ottawa.
Mr. Brown moved in amendment that an humble Address be presented to His Excellency praying that no action be taken towards the erection of public buildings in Ottawa for the permanent accommodation of the Executive Government and Legislature, and for the removal of the Public Departments to that City.
Mr. Piché then moved another amendment, “That it is the opinion of this House that the City of Ottawa ought not to be the permanent Seat of Government for the Province.”
At the termination of a long debate the vote was taken on the last amendment, with the following result:—
YEAS:—Messrs. Aiken, Baby, Beaubien, Biggar, Bourassa, Brown, Bureau, Burwell, Cauchon, Chapais, Christie, Cimon, Clarke, Connor, Coutlee, Desaulniers, Dionne, Dorion, Dorland, Dubord, Foley, Fortier, Fournier, Gaudet, Gauvreau, Gould, Harwood, Hebert, Hogan, Howland, Jobin, Labelle, Laberge, Langevin Lemieux, Donald A. Macdonald, John S. Macdonald, Mackenzie, Mattice, MacDougall, McGee, McKellar, Morin, Mowatt, Munro, Notman, Ouimet, Panet, Piche, Walker, Powell, Price, Robinson, Ross, Rymall, Short, Simard, Somerville, Stirton, Tasse, Thibaudeau, Turcotte, Wallbridge, White, and Wright,—64.
NAYS—Messrs. Alleyn, Archambault, Bell, Bellingham, Benjamin, Buchanan, Burton, John Cameron, Campbell, Carling, Cayley, Attorney General Cartier, Cook, Daly, Dawson, Drummond, Dufresne, Dunkin, Fellows, Fergusson, Ferres, Gill, Gowan, Heath, Holmes, Lacoste, Laports, LeBouthillier, Loranger, McBeth, At.-General Macdonald, McCann, Morrison, Papineau, Patrick, Playfair, Pope, W. F. Powell, Roblin, Sol.-General Rose, R. W. Scott, W. Scott, Sherwood, Sicotte, Simpson, Sincennes, Sidney Smith, Talbot, Terrill, Tett.—50
Upon the decision being announced, Mr. Brown rose and claimed the results as an express declaration, on the part of the House, of its dissatisfaction with the whole policy of the Government, and he would, therefore, move that the House do now adjourn, with the understanding that all who voted for the adjournment were to be considered as recording their opinions against the Government, and these in favour of non-adjournment as expressing their confidence in the Administration.
Hon. J. A. Macdonald rose, and on the part of himself and his colleagues, accepted Mr. Brown’s challenge.
Several members expressed their determination to vote solely on the question that the House do adjourn.
On a division the motion was lost—yeas 50 nays 61.
YEAS—Aikins, Bell, Biggar, Bourassa, Brown, Bureau, Burwell, Cauchon, Christie, Clark, Connor, Cook, Coutlee, Dorion, Dorland, Dubord, Foley, Gould, Hebert, Hogan, Howland, Jobin, Laberge, Lemieux, D. A. Macdonald, J. S. Macdonald, Mackenzie, Mattice, McDougall, McGee, McKellar, Morin, Mowatt, Munro, Notman, Ouimet, Papineau, Patrick, Piche, Powell, Walker, Ross, Rymall, Short, Somerville, Stirton, Tasse, Thibaudeau, Wallbridge, White, and Wright—50,
NAYS.—Messrs. Alleyn, Archambault, Baby, Beaubien, Bellingham, Benjamin, Buchanan, Burton, J. Cameron, Campbell, Carling, Cayley, Atty. Gen. Cartier, Chapais, Cimon, Daly, Dawson, Desaulniers, Dionne, Drummond, Defresne, Dunkin, Fellowes, Ferguson, Ferres, Fortier, Fournier, Gaudet, Gauvreau, Gill, Gowan, Harwood, Heath, Labelle, Lacoste, Langevin, Laporte, Leboutillier, Loranger, Macbeth, Atty. Gen. Macdonald, McCann, Morrison, Panet, Playfair, Sol. Gen. Rose, R. W. Scott, Sicotte, Simard, Simpson, Sincennes, Sydney, Smith, Talbot, Terrill, Tett, and Turcotte—61.
To-day, immediately after the House of Assembly meeting, Attorney General Macdonald rose in his place and said that, in consequence of the action of the House on the previous night, the Government deeming it their duty to tender their resignation to His Excellency. Those resignations had been accepted, and the members of the administration now only held office until their successors were appointed. The Government considered that with respect to the Seat of Government, the law of the land was that, Her Majesty having exercised her prerogative at the request of the Colonial Legislature, the Government had but one course to take, namely, to carry out the law as it stood. No Government in a similar position could avoid taking a like course.
The vote of the House on the motion of the hon. member for Berthier was, that the law should not be carried out. It was, moreover, a bare statement that the prerogative of Her Majesty, exercised at the request of the Legislature, had been erroneously exercised; that, in short, she had chosen the wrong place. It did not even ask her to reconsider her choice; it did not so much as assign a reason why that choice was erroneous. It simply said, in a manner which was an act of discourtesy and rudeness towards Her Majesty—that Her Majesty was wrong. Besides, there was another consideration, The House had declared that the decision should not be carried out, so that their future course should be guided by that vote. The law had declared that Ottawa was to be the Seat of Government. The House declared differently. They should then either commit a breach of the law or go against the unmistakable majority of the House—14 he believed. They considered the usefulness of the Government would have being much impaired by this. They were the more inclined to take this course, because many honourable members who usually supported the Government, acted differently and took of you strongly in opposition to Her Majesty’s selection, although no other place more fit to be the Seat of Government was in any way pointed out. There had, therefore, no other course left but to resign, altho’ there was a subsequent motion which, by the action of the hon. member for Toronto, who leads the Opposition, was made as one of non-confidence, and on which the Government had a majority, yet some hon. gentlemen had voted against them on whom they had previously relied, and therefore, and view of the circumstances, the Government had done what they thought was do to themselves. With these explanations, he moved that the House adjourn until three o’clock to-morrow.
Mr. Brown was not present.
Mr. J. S. Macdonald approved of the course which had been taken by the Attorney-General West.
Mr. Dorion began to discuss the question, saying that the motion of Mr. Piche was not an insult to Her Majesty.
Atty.-Gen. Macdonald said it would be the proper time to discuss that question when the new Administration came into power.
The House then adjourned.
Mr. Brown was sent for by His Excellency at 11 o’clock, and is making some progress in forming an administration.