Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Double Majority, Globe Version (19 May 1858)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: “House of Assembly”, The Globe (22 May 1858).
THE DOUBLE MAJORITY.
The House then resumed consideration of Mr. Thibaudeau’s motion:—
“That in the opinion of this House any attempt at legislation which would affect one section of the Province in opposition to the [illegible] of the majority of the representatives of that section, would produce consequences which would be detrimental to the welfare of the Province, and give rise to great injustice.” And of Hon. Mr. CAUCHON’S in amendment—
“That the Imperial Parliament, by enacting the 12th section of the Act 3 and 4 Victoria, no. 35, that the parts of the Province of Canada, then constitution Upper and Lower Canada, should be represented in the Legislative Assembly by an equal number of representatives, whatever might be the respective populations of these two Provinces, asserted the Federal principle in the Union; that the Parliament of Canada admitted and sanctioned the same principle, when in increasing the number of [illegible] representatives, by the Act 16 Vic., cap. [illegible], after the census of 1851, it maintained a numerical equality between the two former Provinces; that the Canadian Parliament gave it [illegible] more decided and expressive sanction by sending it to the Legislative Council, by the provision in the Act 19 and 20 Vic., cap. 140, [illegible]: that the members elected should be forty-eight in number, twenty-four for Upper Canada and twenty-four for Lower Canada; that Her Majesty’s Representatives in selecting their Executive Councillors, as a rule, in equal numbers from Upper and Lower Canada, have also acknowledged this principle of the Union, and [illegible]ctioned in the administration the federal character of the Constitutional Act of 1840; [illegible] that the acknowledgment of this principle [illegible] the administration can only be substantial as long as the Executive Councillors taken [illegible] either section of the Province possess the confidence of that section expressed by the majority of its representatives.”
Mr. LANGEVIN was in favour of the Double Majority, but there were many ways of considering the subject, and for his own part, he considered it a question that had been long [illegible]—that had long been fought for, and which [illegible] at last triumphed. He did not think it would be advantageous for Lower Canada to change [illegible] basis of the political edifice without at least [illegible] most mature reflection. It was true that the [illegible] was very critical; for those who [illegible] against Lower Canadians for imposing [illegible] Upper Canada, ought not to act in such a way in their turn to impose their will on [illegible] Canada. They ought to show that their [illegible] were not a pretence. In the view [illegible] he took he might be deceived, but at any [illegible] he arrived at it after considerable reflection. Some persons who thought the principle [illegible] the Double Majority ought to prevail, [illegible] that it nevertheless ought not to be [illegible] in a written declaration. That was [illegible] reason for stating the thing in the general [illegible] which he had selected for the resolution [illegible] about to move. It declared that the principle of the Double Majority had been that [illegible] the Government of the country since the [illegible] 1848; and he supposed no one would deny [illegible] many Ministers had retired from office in [illegible] to the principle that the Government could only be carried on with the confidence of the majority of the representatives from [illegible] sections. It was not, however, an accidental majority which should make a ministry [illegible], whether they did so or not must depend [illegible] the nature of the measure upon which [illegible] took place, and if it were one of minor [illegible]trance, he should not conceive that it [illegible] to bring about a resignation. Looking [illegible] at history in connection with this question in would be found that from 1844 to 1846, [illegible] Government had been conducted in opposition to a Lower Canadian minority by a majority from Upper Canada. The immense majority of the people of Lower Canada cried out against the imposition on them of laws, made without their concurrence, and the principle of that Government must take place only in accordance with the will of the people of both sections of the Province, was affirmed at the next election. It had been said that the opinions of Mr. Lafontaine were not favourable to the Double Majority; but there was only the difference which existed between the compressing of one sentiment into a single phrase, and the expressing of the same sentiment in a more round-about form. (Here the hon. member in order to show what the opinions of Mr. Lafontaine really were, read one of that gentleman’s letters from the Caron correspondence of 1846, in which the present Chief Justice declared that the Upper Canadian section of the Ministry of the day was formed according to the wishes of the majority of the people of Upper Canada, and that the Lower Canadian section ought to be formed on a similar principle.) Now, coming to the application of the principle thus laid down, it had been said that it should only take place with respect to measure of general interest. But he thought it must apply alike to all acts of legislation, otherwise a constitutional opposition would naturally tend to degenerate into a factious one. The majority in that section which found its opinions unavailing, would say that if they could not have their fair share in the conduct of affairs they would obstruct everything. Such a state of things was by no means imaginary and might occur at a period by no means very distant from the present session. When it did occur, was it to be said that no attempt should be made to gain the support of the malcontents? He would not make any direct application of this theory, for such applications were always odious, but would leave each member of the House to make them for himself. He concluded by moving in amendment to Mr. Thibaudeau’s motion:—
That all the words after “that” in the said motion be struck out and the following substituted:
“This House is of opinion that the principle of the Double Majority which has been recognised and adopted in the Government and Legislature of this Province since 1848, ought to continue to be so recognised and adopted, to the manifest advantage of the two sections of the Province.”
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE said that the constitution in this country established in 1841 was modeled upon that of England, and under it the heads of Departments ought to remain in power only so long as they possessed the confidence of a Parliamentary majority. The essential thing then was a Parliamentary majority, and the term “Double Majority” implied a contradiction to that Parliamentary majority. Whenever any phrase formed in itself only a verbal and logical contradiction—it must be because the thing intended to be described by such phrase was itself destitute of form and consistency, and the friends of the Double Majority found themselves crushed by the impossibility of their theory. There was no such thing in point of fact as a Double Majority. The only majority that was possible in fact or in rational language was the Parliamentary majority of the entire House. That was the basis of the National Government, which was established on the idea of unity, while the theory of the Double Majority took its source from the idea of antagonism; so that the logical consequence and end of the adoption of the Double Majority must be a demand for the repeal of the Union. The hon. member for Kamouraska must see that no country could be thus formed into two hostile camps—that there could not be two countries either in politics or in law. The principle of the single majority interposed no obstacle to the regular progress of the Government, for, from the moment a majority was established the conduct of affairs naturally fell into its hands, while the Double Majority constantly created an antagonism. However the members for Montmorenci and Dorchester had declared that the Double Majority was not to be applied to questions of legislation, but only to those of administration.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—I said that the Ministry, as a Ministry must possess the confidence of both sections of the country, just as in England, it must possess the confidence of the Parliament as a whole.
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE—Exactly. It was upon questions of administration that the principle was to apply, so that on questions which most concerned the people—questions of legislation, the theory eluded the grasp of its advocates. He believed other gentlemen however thought the theory ought to be applied to legislation; but what then would be the result? Why, upon every question upon which the Ministry were opposed by a majority in either section of the country, the members of the Ministry representing that section must resign. In fact, if the words meant anything at all, it was that each part of the country should govern itself independently of the other. The contradictions and impossibilities of such a system were very easily seen. The member for Iberville, indeed, had complained that the hon. Provincial Secretary had answered the argument in favour of the Double Majority only by showing the ridiculous side of the scheme; but in his (Mr. S’s) opinion the best possible way of establishing that any given theory of Government was wrong, was to show that it naturally led to absurdity and nonsense. This was the case here. Two majorities would naturally produce nothing but an antagonism subsisting between two dualities. The British Islands consisted of three nationalities, and if there were any truth at all in the doctrine attempted to be enforced here, it must be worked out in the British Parliament by a triple majority; bit it was never yet heard of in any country, that sections of that country, each represented in the same Legislature, should have the right to legislate for themselves.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—Why have the two sections represented in the Ministry, then?
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE acknowledged that that question might present the views of the hon. member for Montmorenci in the manner most favourable to the support of his theory; but as he (Mr. Sicotte) had on a former occasion pointed out, the constitution rested on a basis composed of two elements, federal and national; and as the national element was represented in the Legislature, so the federal element must be represented in the Government. An equal number of ministers were chosen from each section of the country, although even this arrangement was not made imperative by any written instrument or declaration. The hon. member for Montmorenci had himself once made part of a Government where the equal representations of the two sections of the Province did not exist. But notwithstanding that the principle of the Double Majority could not be maintained as a theory, it must be obvious that no one more than a Ministry itself could desire to secure a majority in both sections of the Province. If both himself and his colleagues were opposed to the present motion, it was only because they did not wish to register on the records of the country a political idea, which was opposed altogether to any useful organization of political society—to all notions of unity and of morality. The force of all Government was in its unity; and this destroyed, morality was destroyed with it; for who would desire that in his country the only guide for the action of public men, should be a morality dependent upon interest and upon the chances of political situations. Under such a system, men would not be associated in the Government because they agreed, but because they represented the ideas of different sections of the country having opinions diametrically opposed to each other. To illustrate that, let the actual position of affairs be considered. On the question of Representation by Population, there was a near approach to unanimity of opinion, respectively in the two Provinces. It would result from this, that if the Double Majority prevailed, the Upper Canadian section of the Government should be formed from those favourable to representation according to population. But Lower Canadians were opposed to that measure, and yet their chiefs would be forced to unite with those who obtained power by being in favour of it. Would not this be an organization tending directly to strife? Such a Government might assume the direction of affairs for a short time; but upon what condition? Why, that each party should endeavour to advance its own views, in all the varying circumstances which might occur, and each would say to its peculiar friends that they only wanted time and that they would effect what was desired. He did not believe that such a system of fraud and concealment could be supported. Almost every one blamed coalition governments, and no one had ever, more than he, considered that they led to immorality.
A VOICE.—Yet you have joined one.
Mr. SICOTTE had from the first declared that no coalition was necessary to enable him to take office. The chief difference between public men in this country had been with respect to the very basis of the representative system. That system had now been conquered, and it was to be regretted that that having been done, the member for Kamouraska and others like him, should still believe that the only safe guard of their nationality was to be found in the double majority. For his own part, far from thinking the theory a safeguard, he held that it would prove destructive to the nationality of Lower Canada. In the present position of affairs would it not give to the party now in the majority in Upper Canada an opportunity of carrying our their views in direct opposition to those which these gentlemen he alluded to desired should prevail? Would not these very Upper Canadians, who it was now said should hold office by virtue of their majority, make use of the opportunity afforded them by their possession of power in order to give effect to their ideas? And let it be remembered that there would be no possibility of putting an end to their possession of official influence; for let this principle be once consecrated, and the Upper Canadian minority now allied with Lower Canada would be altogether powerless, all authority being placed in the hands of those who were directly opposed to Lower Canadian interests. He was much more afraid of ideas than of men, and he therefor protested against any action which would give a colour and consistence to ideas which were false. Moreover, the system if adopted, would place all power in the hands of a minority of intriguers, for it was not to be forgotten that its establishment involved the principle that the minority had a right to power. To prove this, let it be supposed that the Double Majority was accepted as a principle. The next thing would be, that on a motion of the member for Cornwall, a vote of non-confidence in the Upper Canadian part of the Ministry would be carried. That portion of the Ministry must then retire and a new Ministry would be formed. Now, the hon. member for Cornwall must himself admit, that though personally opposed to Representation according to Population, he could not, if called on, form a Ministry upon any other principle. If he would not do so, he must himself make the sacrifice he would have forced on the retiring members of the Ministry which he had ousted.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—No.
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE—In order to have the slightest logic in his proposition, the hon. member for Cornwall must say no. Yet in spite of his denegation, it was against the opinion of every man in the House that any Ministry could be formed having the confidence of the majority of Upper Canada, unless it were based upon that idea. It was all very well to advocate anything theoretically, but to learn its real merits, it was necessary to see where it led in its practical working. It was strange, indeed, it see people who wanted to guard the federal interests of the country ask the Lower Canadian members of the Ministry to form an union with people who were opposed to those interests. It was to secure those federal interests more truly, that the Lower Canadian section of the Ministry demanded the protection not of a bastard, immoral system; of national unity, which would prevent them from being ruined. Farther, to indicate the absurdity of the Double Majority principle, he would point out to its friends, that if a vote for the double majority should bring into existence a new Ministry in two sections, each having the confidence of its own section of the country, that very Ministry which had thus arisen from the Double Majority would be left in a minority of the whole House, and then the Ministry being obliged to resign again, things would come round exactly to the point where they were before the principle of the Double Majority had been put into practice. In short, the double majorities would be in opposition to the national majority. Suppose the present Ministry destroyed for wanting the confidence of Upper Canada, Upper Canada would give its confidence only to those favourable to Representation according to Population, and upon that basis that part of the Administration would be found embracing of course the hon. members for Toronto and Haldimand. The majority in the entire House would no doubt at once declare that it had no confidence in the Ministry thus formed, and that Ministry must again disappear, and things would fall back into the same position as before, the two sectional majorities still remaining unchanged. There might be accidents which would bring about another result, but that would be the usual result—there would be nothing but a see-saw. You would have every government shaken by all sorts of prejudice, and he asked the member for Kamouraska, where in that confusion would be the interests he desired to guard? He asked the hon. members for Kamouraska and Dorchester if they would consent to make up a government by joining those who were the adversaries of their principles—if they would accept office on such conditions; and if they would not do so, he asked again why they would wish to implant on the politics of the country a principle which must lead to such results. He appealed to the conscience of the hon. member for Kamouraska, and he knew that that would make the hon. member foresee the evil consequence of his present views, for an enlightened conscience was a better judge than even wisdom. He denied that Mr. Lafontaine had been in favour of the Double Majority. He would not make allusions to the personal declarations of that gentleman; but he invoked his political conduct, and it would be found that at a time when the Lower Canadian majority was entirely removed from power, no idea like that of the Double Majority was entertained. Neither party had then conceived that it was to be made a political theory for the government of the country. The Government at that time addressed Mr. Lafontaine, as a man who had a certain influence, but in no respect as the chief of a political party. The correspondence was not addressed to Mr. Lafontaine, and its object was to make a replatrage by which Messrs. D. B. Viger and Papineau might be retained in office. Mr. Lafontaine at that time thought it better to stay with the Upper Canada minority rather than take office with those who were entirely opposed to the representative system of government, for at that time the Conservative party declared the representative system of government, for at that time the Conservative party declared the representative system to be a snare, a delusion, and a humbug. Mr. Lafontaine would not yield to any of their schemes, and if he and his friends had been asked to unite with men so decidedly opposed to them, they would have rejected the offer with contempt. He supposed the hon. member for Montmorenci would admit that all governments must be formed from men having some ideas in common, and desirous of proceeding onward towards the same point. If so, it was plain that the Double Majority was utterly impossible. He admitted that every Ministry ought to have as large a majority as possible, which of course supposed a majority in both sections; but there was one benefit which arose even from the present situation of affairs, which was that the balanced condition of parties forced the Ministry to rely for success on the good principles embodied in their legislative acts; and he asked any member to say whether it was possible that there could be any legislation more calculated to benefit Upper Canada, or more just and equitable than that which had been brought in this session for Upper Canada, and had received the support of the Upper Canadians themselves. In conclusion, he called on all, not for the sake of a present advantage, to bring the administration of affairs of the country into permanent difficulty. He knew that he had treated the argument very imperfectly, but he had nevertheless wished to express his views upon it as emphatically as he could.
Mr. DUFRESNE said, that the example of Mr. Hincks had been cited on behalf of the Double Majority principle. But Mr. Hincks resigned, not because he was left in a minority of his own section—although that was the case also—but because on the question of the Speakership he was left in a minority of the whole House, the vote against the Government candidate for the Speakership being 63 to 61. The Double Majority principle was unconstitutional. No one could say that it was at present within the limits of our constitution. He thought the principle should be left to a certain degree to the discretion of the hon. gentlemen on the Treasury Benches. It was for them to say when they should retire. (Laughter.)
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—Surely that is the correct principle.
Mr. DUFRESNE—Suppose that the majority of the House, including a majority from Lower Canada, were to affirm this principle, what would be the result? The hon. gentlemen, who formed the Upper Canada majority, would go into office—those gentlemen who had got their majority by a cry against Lower Canada, against its nationality, against its language (cries of No, no,) against its institutions, against its creed. It was this cry and nothing else which had brought here a majority from Upper Canada against the Government. Seeing this, were hon. members from Lower Canada, attached as they were to their nationality and their creed—were they by their votes to bring into office those who now commanded a majority in Upper Canada? It would be an act of suicide on the part of his countrymen to vote for that principle. He would rather have in power gentlemen who had shown no aversion to Lower Canadian institutions. But he was willing also to say broadly, that, if the gentlemen in this House, who commanded the majority from Upper Canada, would declare that they were not adverse to the principle laid down in the constitutional Act, that they would give over this cry about Representation by Population, that they would give over the cry of No Popery, and No French Canadian rule, if they would declare frankly and openly that they would abandon all those cries, then he would say he would cheerfully support them.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—They would be nothing at all without those cries.
Mr. DUFRESNE said he knew it, and that they had acquired their popularity by those cries. What position, then, ought the Lower Canadians to take? They ought to resist any principle which would be an encroachment on their rights. It had been stated by that portion of the Press of Upper Canada which commanded a majority of the suffrages of the people of the Western Province, and stated particularly by a journal which had been said to possess more subscribers that any other newspaper in Canada, that Lower Canadians were ignorant and priest-ridden; and so long as these assertions were persisted in, so long would there be bitter and acrimonious feeling on the part of the inhabitants of the two sections of the Province. He looked upon the originators of these statements as enemies to their country. With regard to the resolutions before the House, he looked upon them as having been brought forward for making out of them political capital, or “bunkum;” and, therefore, he should vote against the whole of them. Until he saw a party in the Western section command a majority larger than five or six votes, he should support the present Government.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD said that, two years ago, he had introduced resolutions setting forth what were his views on the question of a Double Majority. He had seen that principle in full force for years and years, and he had only seen it violated when the party now sitting on the Treasury Benches had lost the confidence of either section of the country. And when he found it was a mere plaything in the hands of those hon. gentlemen, to be used at one time and repudiated at another, he thought the time had come to have a definite decision on the question, and introduced his resolutions. On his own side of the House, they met with little favour; and he was still more surprised to find that gentlemen from Lower Canada, supporting the Government, also repudiated the principle, which had been declared their safeguard and their protection. Yet, so strong was the pressure brought to bear on the Government that they had to bring forward resolutions which affirmed the very principle that he desired to see established, except that they themselves were to be the judges of how long the patience of Upper Canada would submit to dictation from Lower Canada. The reason which induced him to bring forward these resolutions was his seeing the way in which the Double Majority principle had been made use of by the Government—how it was invoked when it suited their purpose to do so, and now when it was no longer desired, they went back to the single majority. He therefore brought forward his resolutions to get the House to declare distinctly one way or the other, the principle on which the administration of the country should be conducted. The Government, to get rid of the question, promised to bring forward resolutions of their own, but they never did so. The humbugged their friends and the House, and from that day to this had never taken up the question. In their present perplexed condition he was not at all surprised that they desired to-night to have the Double Majority repudiated, that their licence to sit on the Treasury Benches might be prolonged. He could quite well bear with this, so far as he was personally concerned. He had no particular love for office. He had been on the Opposition side for 14 years, and supposed he should remain there till the end of time. He was not one of those who was always found on the stormy side—like his hon. friend from Montcalm (Mr. Dufresne,) who, notwithstanding his strong disposition towards those who favoured Lower Canada, would yet, he was satisfied, be ready to support any other party, the moment he saw them on the Treasury Benches. It would be remembered that in the last Parliament, Sir Allan Macnab, while Premier, was laid up for a considerable time with serious illness. His colleagues, desiring his resignation, faithful to their usual policy, began through their organs to attack Sir Allan declaring him to be unfit to carry on the affairs of the country. But the old knight would not take the hint. The Government up to that period, except on one or two occasions had managed to retain the support of a Double Majority. But, when it was found necessary that Sir Allan should retire, what was done? The Reform members supporting the Government, who followed Mr. Spence as their leader, resolved that some day they would be found voting with the Opposition, and would leave the Government in an Upper Canada minority. This they did, and the Liberal members of the Government finding it convenient to accomplish a purpose, to invoke the Double Majority principle, resigned their offices, on the ground that they had lost the confidence of Upper Canada. Sir Allan had no other alternative than to retire with the rest. He was asked if he could supply from the House the places of his colleagues who had resigned. He said he could not; and the Governor General told him he was not prepared to accede to a Dissolution of the House. In that dilemma, Sir Allan had to tender his resignation. What followed? The moment Sir Allan retired, Col. Tache was sent for, and the Attorney General and his colleagues immediately went back, and continued to carry on the Government. When he thus saw how the Double Majority principle was used to-day and repudiated to-morrow, as suited the purpose of those hon. gentlemen, he determined to bring up the resolutions to which he had referred. The only difference between the members of the administration and his own party at that time was that the latter declared the Double Majority to be indispensable, whilst the Government declared that it was indispensable only when they could command a majority of both sections of the Province; so that they were to be the judges whether it was indispensable or not. Ever since there had been Responsible Government, there had been equal representation in the Cabinet, and so long as it was an acknowledged principle that one section of the Cabinet should not interfere with the appointments made by the other section—although the Cabinet was equally responsible for their acts—so long ought the Double Majority principle to be acted upon in Parliament. The Double Majority system had been acted upon since 1841. It was true that the principle was violated when Mr. Mackenzie brought forward his motion on the Chancery Bill, and Mr. Baldwin retired, considering it as a blow aimed at himself. The Government regarded it as an accidental vote, and they afterwards, until the end of the session, commanded sweeping majorities. When Mr. Baldwin resigned, Mr. Hincks formed a Government; but although the Lower Canadians were with him almost to a man, yet he found that he could not command a reliable majority from Upper Canada; and when he made the discovery that he could not carry on the affairs of the Province with an Upper Canadian majority against him, he made a proposition to him (Mr. Macdonald) by the acceptance of which Mr. Hincks was then able to command a Double Majority. And when at length he resigned it was solely because he could no longer command a majority from Upper Canada. Just before Mr. Hincks retired from public life, he alluded to the indispensable necessity of the Double Majority principle being maintained, and stated that because he could not command that majority he had retired. Upon that principle Mr. Hincks had gone out, and upon that principle the Attorney General came in, and never repudiated it until he found he was losing ground, when he took up the single majority. Mr. Hincks, in a speech which he made to the House just before retiring from public life, said that he felt he should not be justified in remaining in the Cabinet with the remainder of his colleagues when he could not command a majority of Upper Canada members. (Hear, hear.) What words could be stronger than these? Having said thus much he would refer to the views of the hon. gentlemen opposite, when Sir Allan MacNab was got rid of by them, and Colonel Tache was called upon to form a Ministry. On the 26th of May, 1856, Col. Tache rose in his place in the Legislative Council and made a ministerial explanation. He said: “At noon, on Wednesday last, there was a Cabinet Council held at the residence of Sir Allan MacNab. The members of the Executive Council having arrived, the Hon. J. A. Macdonald, addressing Sir Allan MacNab, said that in consequence of the adverse vote against the Administration given by the Upper Canada members, he did not think he could with propriety towards himself or with benefit to the public, continue any longer to occupy a seat in the Cabinet. (Hear, hear.) The vote, he said, weakened the Government, although they had a constitutional majority; for a similar vote might be again and again repeated.” So that after finding his popularity gone in Upper Canada, he declared that he could not with propriety maintain his seat; but now though a similar majority had been given against him over and over again, he still retained his seat. Colonel Tache on the occasion alluded to, went on to say of Mr. Macdonald:—“He protested against the Double Majority system. But under all the circumstances, he felt it his duty to resign his seat.” No doubt he did repudiate it, because both himself and those of his colleagues who followed, probably knew full well that the Governor General would not accept their resignations. Col. Tache continued:—“The Hon. Mr. Spence then followed, in explanation. He said he had come to the conclusion that a resignation on his part was also necessary. But the reasons on which he based his resignation were different from those of his hon. colleagues. He explained that he entered into the Administration at the time the Coalition was formed, and that he was followed by a certain number of friends who supported him and gave strength to the Administration. But since that time those gentlemen had dropped off one after another, and almost totally abandoned him. Hence, he found that he was no longer able to give to the Government that support which he was bound in honour to give. For that reason he expressed a hope that Sir Allan MacNab would tender his (Mr. Spence’s) resignation to His Excellency the Governor General. The Hon. Mr. Morrison gave reasons much to the same effect. If his friends were disposed to go out of the Administration, he said, he would feel bound to follow them, although he held no office in the Administration.” Hon. Mr. Cayley on the same occasion said if Government were to be subject to such votes, he did not see how they could get through the session, and that if he retained office “in the face of such circumstances, it would be considered that he merely held it for the sake of keeping office.” [Hear, hear.] How much stronger were the reasons now for his giving up office, when there was a majority from Upper Canada systematically against the Government, than on that occasion! And would it not be considered that the hon. gentleman now held office merely for the sake of keeping office? Colonel Tache proceeded to remark that a quarter of an hour afterwards the Governor General entered the room and read a paper which he held in his hand, to the effect that Messrs. Spence, Macdonald and Morrison having intimated their intention of resigning office [although before that meeting it must be remembered they did not appear to have made any intimation of the kind]. His Excellency was compelled to state that under existing circumstances it would be impossible to replace the gentlemen thus proposing to retire; that he considered the mere part of an adverse vote of one section of the Province as no constitutional reason for resigning office; and that assuming these three gentlemen persisted in resigning, His Excellency felt bound to say that he could not dissolve Parliament with the view of testing the confidence of the country in the remaining portion of the Government, or in any modification of it to be made on the spur of the moment. Why, no one asked that Parliament might be dissolved. Col. Tache proceeded to say that Sir Allan MacNab declared that he at all events could not form another Cabinet; but that he (Col. Tache) declared that the Lower Canadians were strong, and that they could not consent to a dissolution. At the time when this explanation was made, Hon. Mr. Belieau said he thought the Double Majority principle was a necessity of our system, and conceived that the members of the late Government had no other course to pursue than that pursued by them. On that occasion Col. Tache said it would be quite impossible for any length of time to govern either section against the wishes of the majority of its representatives, and that in that view the Double Majority principle could not be totally abandoned. He wished to know if that time had not now arrived, the present Government having now for months been governing Upper Canada against the wishes of the majority of its representatives? Col. Tache said the Double Majority could not be wholly abandoned. Yet to-night they had heard the Commissioner of Crown Lands declaring that the principle was one that was immoral in the highest degree. He wished to know why it was that the people of Upper Canada should be victimized, by the violation of the Double Majority principle—why, because, adhering to principle, they had sent a majority of representatives opposed to the Government, they should have legislation forced upon them by Lower Canada. He regretted that there were members from Upper Canada, who were aiding and abetting in this degradation of Upper Canada, by helping Lower Canada to enforce laws upon us which he did not want. It might be said by gentlemen on the other side, that they had not yet forced any legislation on them, because none of the Government measure had yet been passed. Even were there any force in that argument, it should be remembered that the Government had administrative as well as legislative functions to discharge. They held the purse-strings, and had the distribution of all the important offices, and a precious exercise they had made of their patronage? How long could the people of Upper Canada be expected to submit to have the whole of their public affairs thus managed by a Government, which only maintained its existence by the votes of Lower Canadians? If the day should come, when, carrying out the same single majority principle, the Upper Canadians should legislate on the tithes in Lower Canada, on the civil law of Lower Canada, on the most cherished institutions of Lower Canadians, he asked how would they like it? How did they like it before, when Viger and Papineau alone represented Lower Canada? If the Lower Canadians were determined not to work with any administration that could be formed from his side of the House, let them tell his Excellency so, and let the difficulty be constitutionally solved—instead of their having recourse to this single majority principle which they had repudiated before, and which was now operating against Upper Canada in a way that would not be long submitted to. If the Legislature now repudiated the Double Majority principle, their friends from Lower Canada might find ere long find that they had made a mistake. The township members and others of English origin would unite with the Upper Canada members, and hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada might find that the Metcalf reign was not so far distant as they might imagine. The hon. member for Montcalm said that in that event they would appeal to arms. They had done so in former times, and what was the result. They were put down and many of them expatriated. But the people of Upper Canada were now the stronger, and, if the present system continued, there was more probability of a rebellion bursting out in Upper Canada. They would not submit much longer to Lower Canada making laws for them.
Hon. S. SMITH, as one of the members who went into opposition at the time of the resignation of Sir Allan MacNab, was glad of the opportunity the speech of the member for Cornwall afforded him, of making an explanation on the subject. He had supported the Government formed by Sir Allan MacNab, and he did not regret having done so, since that Government had settled the Clergy Reserves, Seignorial Tenure, Legislative Council, and other great questions. But, in reference to the charge brought by the member for Cornwall, he begged to say that any one who charged the Attorney General West with having had the slightest part in his (Mr. Smith’s) going into opposition, for the purpose of getting rid of Sir Allan MacNab, made an accusation that had not the slightest foundation in fact. So far from that being the case, the Attorney General, so soon as he found that he (Mr. Smith) had gone into opposition, took the first opportunity of going to him and reproaching him bitterly. He did not think the extracts read by the hon. member for Cornwall placed the Attorney General or any other member of the Government in a position different from what they had always occupied. He believed it was desirable that the Government should have a majority from both sections, when that was practicable or possible, without too great a sacrifice of principle and other things. But, if the present Government were to resign, would they not have to be called back very soon? It was impossible for hon. gentlemen on that side to form a Government. Could they expect that hon. members, now supporting this Government, would be so far forgetful of principle, as to support gentlemen on the other side, if they got office.
Mr. FOLEY—Is not that what you did?
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—And what has been done before may be done again.
Hon. S. SMITH—Did not the hon. member for Montmorenci remember that he himself held office against the votes of an Upper Canada majority for weeks, and that he voted against the Double Majority resolutions of the member for Cornwall? But he occupied a different position now. And why? Because there was all the difference in the world between in and out. If hon. members from Lower Canada wanted the member for Cornwall and the member for Toronto to come into office, and the present Government to go out, let them vote for this resolution. But, if they desired to see the Government sustained, let them vote against it. For his own part, when resolutions of this kind were brought up, he never had any hesitation as to how he should meet them, whatever might be his views of the abstract principle which they enunciated.
Hon. M. CAMERON expected to hear this question discussed on constitutional grounds, and to have it traced up to its origin, so as to make it plain that it would, if carried, promote the harmony between Upper and Lower Canada. Instead of that, the hon. member for Cornwall had done nothing but quote debates to show that the Double Majority had been always acted upon, and, especially, had been recognized by ministries of which he (Mr. C.) had formed part. Instead of that, it was contrary to every doctrine of any ministry to which he had ever belonged. In fact, he had never heard such a doctrine broached, till within about eighteen months. It was also contrary to all historical fact. In 1841, there were seven Ministers from Upper Canada, and only three from Lower Canada. In 1845, there were six members of the Ministry from Lower and four from Upper Canada; and at another period, a state of thinks would have occurred which would have been again repeated, but for the factious individuals who had prevented it by embroiling the two Provinces. He spoke of a time when Mr. Baldwin was returned for one of the most eastern constituencies of Upper Canada—a compliment which was shortly after reciprocated by the return of Mr. Lafontaine for one of the Ridings of York.
Mr. WHITE—What was Mr. Hincks’ opinion?
Hon. M. CAMERON—At that time he thought it an absurdity.
Mr. BROWN—You say you never heard of the Double Majority till eighteen months ago. Did you never hear of the Caron correspondence in 1846?
Hon. M. CAMERON had not forgotten that; but he spoke of ministries of which he had been a member, and he said they had never recognized such a doctrine. The question was discussed in both parts of the Province when the Caron correspondence appeared, and it was universally condemned. Indeed its effect would be to bring into the Ministry gentlemen having the most opposite political characters, in order that they should try to work together. The hon. member for Cornwall had spoken of a speech by Mr. Hincks, but that speech had a sense quite opposite from the one imported to it. The ministry at the time it was pronounced was not in a minority in Upper Canada alone, but in the whole House. The hon. member for Sherbrooke knew all that took place, and was aware that if Mr. Hincks had had a minority of one, he was the last man to have resigned. Mr. Hincks spoke of Mr. Morin having still the confidence of his friends, and he did so to point out that Mr. Morin might properly remain in power so as to take charge of and carry the measures which had been agreed upon.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—Mr. Hincks said he resigned because he had lost the majority of the members of Upper Canada. He did not accept the defeat on the Speakership as a vote of want of confidence.
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE—But the Brodeur case.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—Well, if that were decisive, Ministers ought to have resigned when they were beaten on questions of privilege this session.
Hon. M. CAMERON repeated that the difficulty arose from Ministers being in a minority in the whole House.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD read an extract from Mr. Hincks’ speech, in which he said that he felt that he should not be in a majority of more than two or three on the Address, and that he would be in a minority in Upper Canada. It was that which made him resign.
Hon. M. CAMERON—Mr. Hincks was contending in favour of the combination which afterwards took place—(cries of “Oh, oh, and laughter)—and was trying to keep his friends in the Government to carry out their measures. He would not have risen on this occasion except to defend the character of Mr. Hincks from the attack of the hon. member for Cornwall, who said that Mr. Hincks had taken up railway matters and had deserted the Clergy Reserves, and all the other measures of his party. Now there was no truth whatever in that charge. There never had been any delay, nor any division in the Cabinet on those measures, and a Clergy Reserve Bill had been before the country, and was ready for submission to the House with the assent of the head of the Government. Yet it was on account of the conduct of Mr. Hincks and his colleague, at that time the member for Cornwall accused them of unfaithfulness and corruption.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—Why, the Premier accused you all of it. [Laughter.]
Hon. M. CAMERON—But he would not do so now. [Renewed laughter.] That hon. gentleman had spoken on the faith of statements made by men who had deserted their friends and tried to break up their own party for no other purpose than to get office. They knew that in a very few weeks these questions would be settled, and that it would be too late if they did not get office in a few weeks. Their conduct is marked with a stain which can never be washed out—the facts history has rendered patent to the world. The course which had been taken in England to get a Bill through the House of Lords, and place the settlement in the hands of the people of this country, had made proof of a very high degree of statesmanship, and history would prove that the whole thing would have shortly been settled. He had never been a great friend of Mr. Hincks; but he must say for him that he had never deserted a colleague, nor never stated his desire to carry the measure for abolishing the Clergy Reserves. He went on to say that he did not conceive this proposed declaration at all adapted to overcome difficulties which were excited by demagogues who got up religious animosities, and who could not bear trifling difficulties such as must always arise when people of different habits come together. It would be better to dissolve the Union at once, or adopt as he thought ought to be done, the propositions of his hon. friend the member for Sherbrooke, than to take such an unstatesmanlike course as this. In a country like this they ought to do all in their power to keep down the demon of religious discord. But they could never hope to do this, if they adopted a principle like that now proposed. He would rather go for a dissolution of the Union at once, or for the proposition of the member for Sherbrooke for a Federal Union.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON said that the principles laid down on this question by the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had astonished him, and he was confident they would equally astonish the whole of Lower Canada. The feeling in Lower Canada was strong upon that question, and had always been so. Nearly every man in Lower Canada was in favour of the Double Majority. And if members voted against it, on the principle stated by the Commissioner of Crown Lands that it was dangerous and immoral, when they returned to their constituents in Lower Canada, they would meet with a reception which perhaps they did not now expect. The hon. gentleman had professed to be very philosophical in the view he took of the question. But many of the remarks which he had made, he (Mr. Cauchon) could not understand. He said there were not two legalities in the country. What could that mean? Again—“The advantage of the majority was a necessity.” He (Mr. Cauchon) was satisfied of that. The necessity which the Government took advantage of, was the fear which their supporters had of the member for Toronto coming into power. That hon. member was the great bugbear. If they had some means of making the member for Toronto disappear, everything would go on smoothly.
Mr. BROWN—I will make a bargain with the hon. gentleman. If he will give Upper Canada Representation by Population, I will leave the House to-morrow and never come back.
Cries of “Carried! Carried!” and “We can’t spare you” from the Lower Canada members.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON said he believed the hon. member was in earnest when he made that offer, but he could not calculate on what would be his feeling—he could not help being in this House to propound the great Protestant principles which he was born to defend. Even though he got Representation by Population he could not forsake these. The member for Toronto was against the Double Majority principle, because he knew he never could get a majority of Lower Canadians to back him.
Mr. BROWN—I know nothing of the kind.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—If he did not know it Lower Canada did. For his own part, however, he did not believe the hon. member was so bad as some would make him But the hon. member was in earnest, and sometimes went too far, and he thought if we would make use of more rational means, and endeavour to introduce good measures instead of propounding Protestant principles, he would be of more use to the country. Mr. Cauchon then returned to the notes he had taken of Mr. Sicotte’s speech, and commended on some more of the apothegems uttered by that gentleman, as—“the Double Majority is an immorality”—“a principle must be elastic enough to suit all circumstances”—(laughter)—“to organize interest and the moralities of interest,” &c. None but a German, he said, could understand some of the cloudy remarks of the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands. The hon. gentleman admitted that Federalism existed in the constitution. He said it existed in the Administration. Surely that was not sufficient. If Federalism existed in the constitution at all, it should be recognized in allowing the Double Majority principle. Mr. Cauchon then read passages from Mr. Lafontaine’s letter, which had been referred to by Mr. Sicotte, in favour of the Double Majority principle, and stating that to govern one section of the Province by a majority from the other was unjust and oppressive. Such was the opinion of Mr. Lafontaine, the all-powerful leader of Lower Canada for many years. Mr. Caron, who had also occupied a very influential position, was of the same opinion and stated that those whom he had consulted on the subject were of the same opinion with himself, that the Government should be formed of the two dominant parties in the two sections of the Province. Such a principle was not unknown outside of Canada. The various countries under the rule of Austria for example, were governed on that principle. The populations of those counties were different in feeling, in institutions, in habits, &c., and therefore they were governed differently. And so Upper and Lower Canada could not be governed on the same principles. They were not more closely united than they were ten years ago. The difficulties were not in the least degree fading away. The antagonism was in fact getting stronger. As feeling grew strong in one section, the other feeling grew stronger in the other section. As Protestant feeling increased in Upper Canada, Catholic feeling increased in Lower Canada.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—The fanatics are fading away in both sections.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON said he would be happy to believe it, and that they would grow up a great harmonious nation along the St. Lawrence and the Lakes. But he was afraid this was a dream, not a fact. The wearing out was the wearing out of tolerance not of fanaticism. Every man who went to a constituency in Upper Canada had to declare that he was against the Separate clause of the School law. Was that a proof that fanaticism was fading away?
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—And yet you would like Lower Canada to be governed by such men.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON repudiated the charge, but said that that feeling of intolerance was the characteristic of Upper Canada members, even on the Government side of the House. Let them ask Mr. Ferguson, for example, how he felt on the School question, and the Representation by Population question. Let them ask any Upper Canadian member how he felt on those questions—and they would find he took up the same ground as the member for Toronto. The whole of Upper Canada was on the one said, and the whole of Lower Canada on the other. The only difference was that the member for Toronto had the reputation in Lower Canada of being a greater fanatic than the other members from Upper Canada. The hon. member for Lambton (Hon. Mr. Cameron) had given a wrong interpretation to the views of Mr. Hincks, whose testimony he considered a link in the chain which proved that the Double Majority had even been acted upon. First came the testimony of the great leader of Lower Canada in favour of the principle of Double Majority; then followed Mr. Caron; and then came Mr. Hincks, whose opinions must be respected and have great weight, seeing that in 1854 he resigned his office of Prime Minister because he could not command a majority from Upper Canada. The hon. member quoted several passages from the speech of Mr. Hincks, and said it was impossible to have a stronger opinion in favour of the Double Majority. Mr. Hincks could have governed—as those men who succeeded him had governed the Province, but he held that a great constitutional principle was involved, and he resolved that he would no longer continue to hold office when he could not command an Upper Canada majority. The hon. member then went on to read extracts from the Caron correspondence, and to relate what took place at a conference of the Lower Canadian members, when the present Inspector General offered to them two or three places. At that time he said there was no offer of the Double Majority. The Ministry would not consent to sacrifice their colleagues of British origin, and it was upon that difficulty that the negotiation broke off. It was not that the Lower Canadians objected to having British colleagues; but they contended that they ought to bring the majority to choose their own ministers as the majority in Upper Canada did their. Having thus traced the question down to that point he called upon themselves the responsibility of breaking the thread of his beautiful tradition. They might soon be judges or other great men in the country—they will soon be politically dead; but let them at any rate take the responsibility. He came then to the resignation of Sir Allan MacNab, and showed that then Mr. Spence declared himself to be obliged to resign because the opinion of Upper Canada was against the ministry, though there was a majority in their favour in the whole House, but at the same time, Mr. Morrison, though apparently not very certain of the propriety of the step, still admitted that he was obliged to follow his leader and act upon the same principles as he—and that the present Premier had moved the very same motion as that now moved by Mr. Thibaudeau with the single exception of the word systematic. Now it was no secret that that motion was made as the consequence of a meeting of the French Canadian members. The Premier did not wish to act upon that principle; but the feelings among the Lower Canadian members were so strong that he was compelled to do so. He farther read and commented on the explanations of Col. Tache, on the same occasion, showing that the late Premier was fully committed to the Double Majority principle. Mr. Belleau was now another minister, and on these explanations he stated distinctly that the “Double Majority principle was necessity of our political position.” The hon. Crown Lands Commissioner was unfortunately surrounded by persons who had been guilty of immorality at one time or another. The Provincial Secretary was another minister who had made the same statement of opinion; and as to the Attorney General, he had opinions so various that they were fitted for all emergencies. He then read the most distinct assertion of Mr. Loranger in favour of the Double Majority principle, in several speeches, among the rest—one in which he alleged that a minority in one section of the country, was, in respect to the ministry of that section, the same thing as the minority of the whole House to the entire ministry; and that to act otherwise was to endanger the liberties of Lower Canada, for if the principle were not acted upon, an Upper Canadian majority might sometime rule Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—What newspaper is that?
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—The Leader. (Cries of “Hear, hear,” from the Opposition.)
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—I spoke in French and was not understood.
Mr. CAUCHON—But it was the chance the hon. member to have have spoken that day in French and English, and it was also his chance to have expressed the same sentiments in both languages.
Mr. LORANGER denied that he had said what was imputed to him, but asserted that all he had said was that the Ministry having accepted the vote of Upper Canada as a vote of want of confidence, were bound to resign upon it. He moreover asserted that Mr. Cauchon had himself changed his opinion three times.
Mr. CAUCHON remarked that he had never changed his opinion on this subject; while he had read the opinions of Mr. Loranger written, printed, and not contradicted, and spoken in the same sense upon six different occasions. The hon. member proceeded to read a number of other passages from Mr. Loranger’s speeches ten years ago, strongly in favour of the Double Majority principle, that it was the safeguard of the liberties of the Province, and that the Government could not be carried on without it.
Mr. PICHE moved that the debate be adjourned.—Carried.
The House rose at half-past twelve.