Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Double Majority, Globe Version (20 May 1858)

Document Information

Date: 1858-05-20
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: “House of Assembly,” The Globe (21 May 1858).
Other formats:


The debate on this subject was then resumed by

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON who in reference to the debate of the preceding evening, remarked that the Procincial Secretary had said he had never been against the Double Majority although of course he understood it in his own sense. But the hon. Commissioner of Public Works had declared the Double Majority to be an immorality and an impossibility. If so, how could the Procincial Secretary be favourable to the Double Majority. It was interesting to know whether this was in the Cabinet and open question—not indeed as to votes but as to opinions. He had been asked whether he had not voted against the motion of the hon. member for Cornwall in 1856 declaring the principle of the Double Majority. He said yes, but he was not inconsistent in doing so, and he would make out his justification by reading the speech of the present Attorney General West. This speech expressed the opinion of the Attorney General West, that the principle of responsible Government was not concerned with the resignation of Sir Allan Macnab; But that in this country composed of different races with different interests, it would be impossible for either section of the Province to be governed by a majority from the other period he however called on the host to vote against the motion of the member for Glengary, because being proposed at that moment it was emotion to stop the supplies. That was the ground on which he (Mr. C.) voted. The only question at this moment was one of the supplies. Nevertheless, the Secretary of the Province found himself so much embarrassed that he moved in amendment and this was it. “That this House in voting against this motion does not abandon the principle of the Double Majority, but only desires to proceed with the voting of the supplies.” That motion was ruled out of order by the Speaker; but the intention was there, in the amendment is still recorded on the journals. The Attorney General, for his part, while he voted against the motion of the member for Glengary understood to move a resolution declaring “That Wilder principle of the Double Majority was not found in the Constitution, yet that any systematic and continuous legislation affecting one section of the Province, against the expressed opinion of the people of that section would be attended with evil consequences.” That resolution was never put; but it was because the Government which was in a minority in Upper Canada when the promise was made, had regained its Double Majority before the time came. He had in the same volume the expressed opinion of Mr. Drummond, who said that (the man who would govern the whole Province with a majority of one section against him, was a tyrant at heart.” That in such a case, “a Ministry ought to attempt to strengthen itself in the section where they were in a Minority, or, failing to do so, should resign.” It appeared to him, too, that the Crown Lands Commissioner had shifted his ground. Last night, he had taken ground directly against the Double Majority, but in the first debate, he had appeared to be favourable to the Double Majority.

Hon. Mr. SICOTTE said that he had in the first debate declared that the Constitution of the country was federal and national, and was national, in as much as there was but a single majority. He had employed these words distinctly, as the hon. gentleman would see if he read the speech.

The SPEAKER said it was out of order to refer to previous debates of the present session.

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—Then instead of having a great deal more to say, would have nothing to say, since he was deprived of the opportunity of using a great many speeches which he had looked up for the purpose. However, the hon. Commissioner for Crown Lands had said the preceding night that there could not be two principles hostile to each other in the same Legislature; but in the United States this was done. There was the national principle in the one House, and the federal principle in the other—the latter being maintained by a mode of Representation in which every state was equally represented. He considered this a very important question, and thought that when it was examined to the bottom, the House ought to take a determination—and a determination which would not endanger the liberties of the other. He concluded by repeating the warning He had given already to the Upper Canadians. They often complained of being governed by Lower Canada, but they must cease to complain of that if they gave occasion for it, and by showing their determination to treat Lower Canada in the same way if they got power; made the politics of the country’s struggle for life, in which each Province must try to kill the other, in order to preserve itself. He denied the impossibility of the practical working of the Double Majority, and cited the example of Sweden and Norway, which were under the same Government, though possessing different laws, different Constitutions, and had the kings six months in one country and six months in the other period he did not believe that the motion of the hon. member for Dorchester went far enough; but he would vote for it because it went in the right direction, and because it was the expressed opinion of the Government to which he belonged. But the declaration should be put in plainer language, like that of the resolution of ‘41, which, though long opposed by the Government and by others, were now universally acknowledged by every man who hoped to be regarded as a man of influence. If there was a federal principle at all, it could not be in the Government; it was not in the president of the United States, but it must be in the legislation; and yet this principle had referenced not to legislative, but to administrative purposes. It was, in fact, the means by which the people retained an administrative check. There was no federalism otherwise. The meaning of having the Ministry formed from the two sections of the Province, was that they should represent the two section; but how could this be done unless they had the confidence of the people of the section which they were supposed to represent.

Mr. GALT Said he could not understand what special cause the member for Montmorenci Had to bring up the Double Majority from his point of view. Certainly he could not complain of the state of things which existed just now.

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—I want justice to Upper Canada.

Mr. GALT said it was singular that justice to Upper Canada should be the foremost idea in the hon. gentleman’s mind. Any one who had listened to his speech would rather imagine that it was justice to Lower Canada that was the foremost idea in his mind. And when the hon. gentleman was in the Government, when there was an Upper Canada majority against the Government, then the hon. gentleman’s ideas of justice to Upper Canada were held in abeyance. He could understand why the member for Cornwall, as an Upper Canadian, should advocate the Double Majority. Being a member of the Upper Canada Opposition, who were a majority of the Upper Canada Representation, he might be justified in asserting the principle. Between his position and out of the member for Montmorenci there was a very wide difference. In the remarks he (Mr. Galt) was about to make, he did not propose to follow the course pursued by previous speakers, inciting the opinions which had been expressed by individuals—by Mr. Hincks, by the Attorney General West, by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, or the Procincial Secretary. It was of no consequence what opinions have been expressed by individuals. The question was, whether the principle be in itself correct—and, if correct, whether the circumstances of this country will admit of its being carried out. The principle of the Double Majority must mean one of two things—either that the Government shall not legislate without the confidence of the section affected by that legislation, or that it shall not legislate without the confidence of both sections. Now it was very plain, that, in order to enable the Government to legislate at all, it must possess the majority of the whole House. It could not carry its measures without the majority of the whole House. There were certain subjects which were common to the whole Province—such as the preservation of law and order, the revenue, the tariff, the trade of the country, &c. In reference to such subjects it was impossible to draw any line of distinction between the two Provinces, and it was plain that on those subjects the Government must possess the confidence of the majority of the House, irrespective of section, to enable them to legislate constitutionally on such matters. If then they could legislate on the subjects which interest the whole, without a single majority, a fortiori they could do so on those which affected the interests of a part. No doubt the Government in the House were bound to consider how any measure would affect the feelings and prejudices of all sections before they legislated. But, if they had power to legislate on the great subjects which affected the whole country, a fortiori they must have power to legislate on those subjects which affected only one section. The majority must include the minor. If the Government, or the House under the direction of the Government, could not be held to legislate without possessing the confidence of a majority from both sections, there would be introduced a new, and, what he conceived to be, a mischievous change in the system—it would be assuming that the ideas which obtained prevalence in one section of the Province should govern the members of that section, whether those ideas were consonant with the views of the majority of the whole people of the country or not. The enforcement of this principle would destroy the unity of the Government, and the Commissioner of Crown Lands had argued very conclusively period two different sets of opinions would then require to be represented at the council board; and more than that, he contended that it would be impossible for the gentlemen who were bound by their oaths to give advice to His Excellency at the Council Board, to advance the best interests of the country, seeing that the most irreconcilable differences would exist between them. The advocates of the Double Majority assumed that there would be no difference of opinion in the country upon general questions. The hon. member for Montmorenci (Mr. Cauchon) felt this, though he was afraid to say that the Province was united upon subjects of general policy, and he evaded the great question, to which he (Mr. Galt) should presently refer. And why did he do so? Because he felt that if he were to maintain upon any other ground then that the country was united upon great questions, he would have been obliged to have admitted that the Double Majority was an immoral principle and could not be carried into practice period he would ask whether the policy upon which Upper Canada was united at this moment was not opposed to that of a majority of this House? There was no doubt that a majority of the House were opposed to that particular view of the Upper Canada majority, and therefore Upper Canada, which was in a minority of the whole House, demanded a constitutional change period but they differed in toto with the hon. member for Montmorenci with regard to the basis upon which the future Constitution should rest period therefore it could not be said that he was sound in his argument in saying that the country was not divided on the great questions which affected the Province as a whole period he would ask the members for Lower Canada whether the question of Representation by Population affected them or not? (Hear, hear.) Was the hon. member for Montmorenci in favour of Representation by Population?

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—That is a general question.

Mr. GALT—Precisely so. It was a general question. And if he could not advocate it, how could the hon. member reconcile it with the Double Majority. The effect of the Double Majority would be to place the minority dash those demanding a constitutional change—in power, because if the resolution of the hon. member for Montmorenci were carried a resignation of Ministers must follow. And should the Double Majority principle be decided upon, one of two things must follow:—either the Upper Canada majority must modify their views so far as to get the support of the hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada who were now supporting the Ministry, or the members of Lower Canada who were now contending for principles which they held dear, must be prepared to concede all that for which they had struggled. He did not believe the minority of the House would in any way compromise their principles, for the best of all reasons, that it was his firm conviction that those very principles had been the means of placing them in a majority of the Upper section of the Province. (Hear, hear.) He contended, moreover, that if they were to take office at the price of abandoning their principles, they would not hold office three weeks. (Hear, hear.) The country would cry shame on them, and they would be driven from power covered with that obloquy which they would deserve. (Hear, hear.) And how was it with the members from Lower Canada? Were those gentlemen to sacrifice their principles? Would the hon. member for Montmorenci himself abandon his convictions in order to take office with the Upper Canada majority? No! He did not believe it. (Hear, hear.) Having thus far followed the Commissioner of Crown Lands and other members who have expressed their opinions upon this important subject, he desired to take another line of argument in reference thereto, and one which had not yet been entered upon. He would assume that this Double Majority motion should be carried. He then wished to see how far it could be applied to remedy the evils at president pressing upon the country—whether it would remove the cause of Opposition which was unfortunately beginning to grow up between the two sections of the Province. If it would really remedy those evils, perhaps he might be induced to vote in favour of it; but he strongly apprehended that it would do no such thing period what were our present evils? As the hon. member for Montmorenci had stated, they were animosities (he was obliged to use plain terms) arising out of questions of race, religion, and law, and there was no doubt whatever that these differences were at the bottom of the existing evils. And what were the consequences? A denial of justice in both sections of the Province, so that crime went unpunished, was one of the evils, and another evil arising out of these differences was to be found in the extravagant expenditure of the country, for every one know that when any sum of money was wanted for one section of the country, a similar expenditure must be made for the other section. There was the question of the Seigniorial Tenure which was exactly in point; all parties admitted that that tenure ought to be abolished, and the seigniors must be indemnified; but because money was granted for that purpose, acclaim was immediately made up for a similar some to be given to the Upper Canadian municipalities—no object specified, and no reason given. If this were the fruit to be expected from the Double Majority, it seemed to be a very bad one period it had been said that the principle had always been acted upon as a rule, and if so, this had been its product in the future; but without asking whether it had been acted upon or not, he was sure that a principle that would have that result in the future, must be a bad one. But if, on the other hand, if the present position of affairs were continued, the contest between the two sections of the country must lead to a cessation of all useful legislation. Every thing will be debated not on account of its effect upon the laws; but solely with reference to the attainment of power. He contended also that the consequences of the attention of the Legislature being drawn away from proper to improper objects must damage the prospects of the country in other ways. It was impossible that those who looked at the unity of the Province as a means of security for the advance of money, could fall to doubt the stability of the people who were constantly tearing one another to pieces. And how was it possible to expect emigration to flow in this direction, if those who desire to fly from their troubles in other countries so nothing to expect but new troubles in this? When gentleman rose up in their seats and talked of civil war was it likely that new settlers would be tempted to come amongst us? Such were the evils of the present system. With the Double Majority cure them? First, let them look at its effects in Lower Canada. Gentlemen said that Lower Canada was almost unanimous in favour of the Double Majority; but as one representative of a section of Lower Canada he dissented entirely from that view. Whatever the idea prevalent in the district of Quebec, there were other districts where they were not popular. He told the hon. member for Montmorenci that if he spoke only from a French Canadian view, he would be met. The British inhabitants of Lower Canada were satisfied at present with the justice and fairness of the Lower Canadian majority; but they repudiate the views of the hon. member for Montmorenci, which tended to establish for ever the supremacy of his own race at the cost of the other period the British in Lower Canada thoroughly understood the hon. member for Montmorenci and unless they believed that there were in Lower Canada men much more liberal than he, they would speedily find other alliances.

Mr. DORION said that ever since the Union, the right of the British to a share in the Government of Lower Canada had always been acknowledged.

Mr. GALT acknowledge the liberality of the member for Montreal, and believe that if he did not hold office at that day, it was because of his desire to see the British population of Lower Canada have their share in the Government. The Lower Canadian British, however, had every confidence in the fairness of the French majority, and there never was a time when there was less reason to apprehend troubles there between the two races. He now asked whether such a principle would satisfy Upper Canada. Did the hon. member for Montmorenci suppose that the members for Toronto in Waterloo would accept it in exchange for their crushed idea of Representation according to Population?

Mr. BUCHANAN thought the people of Upper Canada had been so drugged, that they would say no.

Mr. HOWLAND would vote for the principle to meet the president necessity, and until the time came when gentlemen representing the British of Lower Canada would sustain Upper Canadians and demanding their just rights,

Mr. GALT never found any loss from permitting the interruption of opponents in the House, and thought that nothing could be said more strongly in favour of the views which he had enunciated, than that which fell from the hon. member who just rose. Would the hon. member for Montmorenci be satisfied with that mode of working the Double Majority? He would find it as elastic as any unwritten Constitution. Had they (the supporters of the Double Majority) consider the opinion of Upper Canada; had they given any attention to the views of her people spoken through the elections in the press?—if so, they must know they were deceiving themselves. No one could look at the increase of Upper Canada in population and in wealth, could conceal from themselves that Representation by Population must be granted at some future day. (Hear, hear) It was perfectly well known to the House that have sixty-five of the representatives of Upper Canada, over fifty of them would say that the country required them to go for Representation by Population. The hon. member for Montmorenci might endeavour to satisfy his own countrymen that Upper Canada would be satisfied with the Double Majority principle, but he must know that that was not so. He would not find any leading man from Upper Canada, with the exception of the hon. member from Cornwall, who would say that that part of the Province was going to remain for ever content with an equal share of the Representation. The hon. gentleman set until that came, let us have Double Majority. Well, now he (Mr. Galt) did not think the Double Majority would last until they got that.

Hon. J. S. MACDONALD said it had lasted.

Mr. GALT Did not agree with his hon. friend. If it had done so, he did not see the necessity for attempting its establishment now. He was not aware that there had been at anytime associated in the same Government gentleman who did not advocate the same views and principles. He was not going into the question as to whether, before they went into the Government, they advocated the same principles. But suppose the Double Majority to be carried, what prospect was there of it lasting? He was perfectly satisfied, and he believed the House was satisfied, that it could only be maintained by the Opposition abandoning their dearest Anne most cherished principles, or by the members from Lower Canada abandoning principles equally dear to them. He would not, even for the sake of argument, assume that such a thing could take place. The Double Majority, it was perfectly plain, could only be maintained unless a majority of the whole how supported it. For instance, if the hon. member for Toronto and the hon. Attorney General East were sitting upon the same side, he did not suppose the House would leave them in a minority upon some mere matter of form. but let some hon. gentleman bring up emotion of want of confidence in such a Government, let the hon. member for Montmorenci remember the feelings of his own countrymen, and where would the Double Majority be then? One or the other party must sacrifice their principles, or it would not last a single day. No Government could be formed on the principle, it would be impossible for gentleman holding such different views to unite together for the formation of a Government. Suppose the hon. member from Montmorenci and Cornwall replaced in power to-morrow; if the hon. gentleman from Upper Canada could not procure the ascent of the hon. gentleman from Lower Canada to carry out those views which he thought necessary for the honor and welfare of his country, did he (Mr. Cauchon) Suppose that that hon. gentleman would abandon those views, because he could not get a majority from Lower Canada to support him? Did he not know that if the hon. gentleman had fifty-five votes from Upper Canada, it would enable him to set aside the peculiar views advocated by the hon. member for Montmorenci? No, he knew he would not. The hon. member for Toronto himself would do the same as the Attorney General was now doing, and remain in power so long as he got a majority of the House to support him. He (Mr. Galt) thought the hon. gentleman would not deny that?

Mr. BROWN—If the hon. gentleman appeals to me, I certainly would never remain one single day in office where I had not a majority of my own section of the Province.

Mr. GALT—The hon. member for Toronto must have a leaning towards the flesh-pots of Egypt, when he declared that those principles, which he had stated he would leave this House in public life if his doing so, would carry them—that those principles he would be willing to give up, that the carrying of them he would abandoned, provided he was obliged to find the support of them from the other section of the Province. Would that make the principles wrong? The hon. gentleman should be determined to carry his principles, no matter from which section of the Province the support of them came. The hon. gentleman’s declaration that he would not keep office if he had nodded majority from his own section, shewed that he had a leaning towards the Double Majority principle. But he wished to ask members from Lower Canada whether they were prepared to accept the Double Majority, whether they were prepared to accept the argument of the hon. member for Montmorenci—whether they were prepared to vote out of office the friends whom they now supported, because they had not a majority from each section of the country, and to try the experiment whether they could not form an alliance with the hon. gentlemen now on the Opposition Benches? They ought to remember that the position of the hon. gentlemen from Upper Canada who sat on the Treasury Benches, and who had law store had not got the supportive a majority from Upper Canada, was perhaps owing to the way in which they had supported the peculiar views and protected the peculiar interests in which the gentlemen from Lower Canada held dear. (Hear, hear.) He would ask those hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada if they were not conscious that those hon. gentlemen from Upper Canada who now sat on the Treasury Benches, supported by minority from their own section, could not, if they chose, get support from the other side of the House, by adopting the principles of the Opposition. If these circumstances he would further ask them, if they felt sufficient confidence in themselves to dissolve this Government, for the purpose of seeing whether they were strong enough to meet a Government formed by the member for Toronto period now, if they looked at those difficult questions which now embarrassed them, they would find that they were entirely sectional and local questions, that they were not questions common to the whole country. Even Representation by Population was a sectional question, since those who advocated it did so, merely from a desire to acquire a greater control over the affairs of this particular part of the country. So the School question of Upper Canada was one that was particularly local—it being a hardship by the people of Upper Canada that the votes of Lower Canada should impose upon them a system which they felt not to be right. Now if it was a question of that nature which were disturbing us at this moment, which were damaging or credit, and causing a feeling of apprehension in the mind of everyman as to what the result of this constitutional crisis might be—if that was the case, why should they not endeavour to take a course which would sever those questions from those which were admitted to be national? Why, instead of allowing these questions to involve them in internal dissensions, why should they not remedy the evil by having recourse to a policy which would enable each section to dispose of those questions which concerned itself alone, and would at the same time keep them united on those questions which were common to them all?

Mr. DORION—Is not that the Double Majority?

Mr. GALT said that this was the first time he had heard that the proposition of a Federal Union was the proposition of the Double Majority. In fact the great advocate of the Double Majority had written a series of pamphlets to show that a Federal Union was the worst thing that could happen,—that it was almost as bad as annexation to the United States. He hoped he would not again, when advocating a Federal Union, be said to be advocating the Double Majority. There were certain great common interests in regard to which Upper and Lower Canada could not be severed. Our interests are common in reference to the St. Lawrence the great highway of our trade. It was a like of importance to Lower Canada to bring down the produce of the West to be shipped from its seaports, as it was the interest of Upper Canada that that produce should be brought down in the quickest and cheapest way. No sectional difference could arise on that question. So, with regard to the trade policy of the country, what was good for one part of the country was good for another,—what could promote the industry in manufacturers of one section of Canada, could not be injurious to the other section. So our interests are common in regard to tariff and fiscal regulations—in regard to the Post Office, and in regard to other subjects which he should have occasion to deal with more largely on another occasion, particularly the important claims which this country had on the North West Territory. If the claims of Canada on the vast territories of the Red River and the Saskatchewan were conceded, we could not govern them by your Crown Lands Department, which, with all respect for its present head, he must say was inadequate to the management of even the present lands of the Province. It was clear they must find some other mode of Government, and that mode was only to be found in the federal plan, unless they were prepared to abandon their claims altogether, and to allow the Crown to constitute them distinct colonies by themselves. He had been LED somewhat away from the question before the House to the resolutions which he intended to submit himself. Such add not being his intention, and he must apologize to the House for having taken that course, but the consideration of the federal Union necessarily flowed from a consideration of the views which had been presented by hon. gentlemen on the Double Majority, which they urged upon the House as the remedy for existing evils. He contended that it was no remedy for the evils, but would rather increase them, and that the only remedy was to be found in the adoption of the federal system. He believed they would not find any solution to the difficulties which now oppress the country, except in the change of our present legislative Union into a federal Union. He hoped to have an early opportunity of stating more fully his views on that matter, but at present he would say to the hon. gentlemen on the Treasury Benches, that their duty to the country required that they should state what policy they were going to pursue in reference to those constitutional questions now before the country. (Hear, hear.) He contended that it was not sufficient for those hon. gentlemen to say that they were opposed to the Double Majority—that it was not sufficient for them to say they were opposed to Representation by Population. It was perfectly plain that there was a forward movement taking place, which, if some remedy was not speedily found, would unquestionably overwhelmed the present Administration. They ought therefore to devote the best of their judgment to consider what remedy could be provided for the difficult position in which the country now was. It was plain that our present system was not working well comma and not some change must take place comma and he held that the Government were bound to do something else than to meet the House with negatives period if they did not approve of the Double Majority comma if they did not approve of Representation by Population, if they did not approve of a federal Union, then let them inform the House and the country what remedy they were going to offer, suitable for our present position, which, it was plain, was one of great an increasing danger. He believed that if those hon. gentlemen were to say that they would accept a federal Union as a remedy for the present evils, they would be able at once to meet the cry from Upper Canada that they were legislating against the wishes of Upper Canada, they would be able at once to say that they were endeavoring to carry out the only system by which Upper Canada could have her rights, and by which the feeling and rights of Lower Canada could be preserved. Under the present system it was evidently the general feeling that both were in jeopardy—that in the case of the people of Upper Canada injustice was done them, that in the case of the people of Lower Canada the rights they most cherish were in jeopardy. In these circumstances he thought it was the duty of the Government, and he would impress upon them the importance of discharging that duty, that they should satisfy the country that the evils which were apprehended could be obviated—that there was a remedy for them—and that they were prepared to put that remedy before the country If they took this course, he for one should be perfectly satisfied.

Hon. Mr. LORANGER declared that he had been perfectly unable to understand the meaning of the hon. member for Montmorenci. He had heaped up the views of others but had been unable to express any view of his own. On the Surrogate Bill, he had said that the Double Majority did not apply to local, but only to general subjects.

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON and that he had been refused permission to refer to previous debates. He had no objection, but he wanted to have the same right.

The SPEAKER said he had not heard the member read debates though he had referred to what had taken place.

Hon. Mr. LORANGER, turning to the French Canadian members, said that Mr. Cauchon in English had attempted to obtain protection from a quotation of his own speeches. He continued to say that it was impossible in a country like Canada, with two such different races, to have a Double Majority upon general questions period he now asked the hon. member whether it was necessary to have a Double Majority on local questions—such for example as the Bill of Sœur Grises? Why, no partizan of the Double Majority could hope for such a result. This proved the impossibility of the rigorous application of the principle. What was demanded now was that the Lower Canadians should yield up their majority to the minority. If the Upper Canadians were sincere in their outcries against legislation imposed on them by Lower Canadians, they must be ready to reciprocate the same forbearance. Yet, when a question of a purely local character came up, a question that related to one of the dearest institutions of Lower Canada am bash to a question relating to one of the dearest religious societies—on that question Upper Canada voted almost as a man against Lower Canada. Was it then reasonable to believe that Upper Canada would hesitate to govern Lower Canada by an Upper Canada majority? He acknowledged the conscientious convictions of the member for Dorchester; but he doubted the convictions of the member for Montmorenci, and regarded the question in his hands merely as an engine of war against the Ministry. He would soon show that the member for Montmorenci was an entire contradiction to himself. The hon. member had spent a fortnight in seeking for matter to prove the contradictions of other; but he had only made a short visit to the Library and had found at once the materials for establishing his own contradictions. He had found these contradictions nodded in speeches, not in vote; button articles which had appeared in his own journal. As for him (Mr. L.) in 1856, he had expressed an opinion in favour of the Double Majority neither more nor less than that which he had expressed a few weeks ago, and that he had expressed that day. He found it necessary to make this denial, as a man who held his political character as valuable—as important as his character of an honest man. What was the position of affairs in 1856? The Ministry had been beaten in Upper Canada by a majority of six. The Ministry accepted that as an expression of want of confidence, and resigned They regarded it as a mark of disapprobation of the Coalition. Almost the next day they re-formed to the Ministry, and it was then that he said that a Ministry who went out of office for any reason whatever, and came back again immediately without any change of the circumstances which gave rise to that reason, was doing that which ought not to be done. That well the reason for the resignation remained the same the addition of another colleague from the same duty as themselves did not justify a resumption of office. (The hon. member then quoted his speeches as read by Mr. Cauchon and contended that they did not justify the meaning which Mr. Cauchon imputed to them He then read a very strong expression of opinion from Mr. Cauchon in the same debate in which he said expressly that he was not in favour of the Double Majority—that it could not be taken as a constitutional doctrine, but only as an accidental expedient.) He would now show the same sentiment entertained by the member for Montmorenci, and expressed in his journal. (the hon. member then read an extract from the Journal de Quebec on the subject of the Ministerial crisis of 1856.)

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON asked who wrote that.

Hon. Mr. LORANGER said, he supposed that the hon. member who had made his political fortune would not deny his own child. However, if he had not written the article, it was written by some one who had most happily imitated his peculiar style. The hon. member then read another article from the same journal on the motion of Mr. J. S. MacDonald, in which it was stated that it was impossible for [illegible] Ministry having the majority of the entire House to resign on account of a sectional majority. That would only be a breach, which would very shortly widen and ruin the edifice. Mr. Loranger continued to read other extracts from the Journal de Quebec in the same terms, all repudiating the Double Majority in a very formal manner, and declaring that the parliamentary majority was a “simple and collective fact” and so on throughout a considerable number of articles. the opinion of the hon. member then expressed by his speeches and votes comma and made public through his journal being thus hostile to the Double Majority comma could be now pretend to favour that principle without being in contradiction with himself. Yet forgetting his own conduct had occupied the whole time of his speeches in casting insults on others. But let us leave on one side the conduct of the member for Montmorenci, and let us consider only the question itself. If he had made personal allusions to the hon. member, it was only in self-defence; and it was no he who had taken the aggressive. He said then that he was not for the Double Majority in all cases; but he was not opposed to the principle. He regarded it as a Conservative principle; but he objected to legislate on hypothesis and contingencies. It was said now that the Upper Canadian Ministry were in the minority. Then the question was, weather that fact should cause the withdrawal of confidence in the Ministry. In 1856 the member for Montreal had moved a vote of non-confidence in the Ministry, and the discussion had then turned upon the fact that the Ministry were in a minority in Upper Canada. Well, that was right. All legislative action should be on the past, not on the future. The Constitution was not written, and it was not written in order that it should not embarrass the free action of the Government in the circumstances which might occur. He said further, that it was impossible to describe the Double Majority in any words that would be consistent with the idea of the whole of the collective majority. Could the Ministry be forced to resign because the Upper Canadian portion of it were in a minority on the question of Representation by Population and Separate Schools?

Mr. CHAPAIS.—No. In cases that were possible; not in those which were impossible and absurd.

Hon. Mr. LORANGER—the principle was then not general; but of local and special application. Yet the House had heard this defined as a general and abstract principle; and there must, therefore, be a great variety of opinions upon the same principle. But how write down an idea upon the true bearing of which no two persons agreed? He again referred to the Sœurs Grises Bill, and asked whether Mr. Hartman’s motion to restrict the ladies from purchasing land in Upper Canada was not a local question? If it were, then would the member for Kamouraska wish the Ministry to resign, because it were in a minority, and that, perhaps, only once on that question?

Mr. CHAPAIS—No, only when the minority was continuous and systematic.

Mr. LORANGER—But what number of defeats amount to a systematic and continuous minority? It was impossible to define it. If a man were to rise in the House and Amanda vote declaring that the Ministry must resign if in a, would it be worth while to pass such an affirmation? No. The Constitution was not written; but if it were proper to write it let it be written entire; anything else was dangerous as restricting the free section of the House according to the circumstances which occurred. Far from the system being calculated to conserve the interests of the French Canadian nationality, its effect would be to give power to a small minority in the country, kept together by hatreds, and hostile to everything dear to Lower Canada. It might readily lead to Lower Canada being governed by Upper Canada, instead of Upper Canada being covered by Lower Canada. People talked of Union with the Upper Canadian majority; but Union was impossible with persons who wrote on their banner nothing but words of outrage and who menaced Lower Canada in return for the imposition of the right granted to the Søurs Gruses, to deprive Lower Canada of her institutions altogether. But it was useless to talk of a minority when no such minority existed. What made the majority in politics was its moral force—its unity of opinion—its compactness of principle. Any body not held together by such ties did not deserve the name of a party; and he appealed to the House to say whether a minority which proposed every measure was stronger than a majority that proposed nothing and dare not even opposed the measures proposed by the other side. Tools as they were of the population, they dare not oppose the measure of the Ministry lest the unpopularity of such a step should overthrow them from their pedestal.

Mr. DORION said the only local measure which had passed without Opposition, was the Municipal Bill.

Hon. Mr. LORANGER Again declared that there was no Bill proposed by the Ministry, which the Opposition had dared to resist. The Upper Canadian Ministerial party therefore was the strongest. These were his conscientious convictions and if he had spoken with some warmth it was because he had a strong sentiment of the importance of the subject. Upper Canada had long been in Opposition to the interests of Lower Canada. It was rather that noble and patriotic struggle which had been handed down to the French Canadians from their fathers, in which they should maintain, in order to conserve their rights for their children. The time had at last come when Lower Canadians had achieved their rights. They had inequality and they had something more—they had the advantage. Let them secure the prophet which belonged to it.

The House then adjourned.

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply