Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly [Local Constitutions, Montreal Gazette Version] (11 August 1866)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Montreal Gazette
Citation: “Provincial Parliament”, Montreal Gazette (13 August 1866).
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LATEST FROM OTTAWA
(Reported for and telegraphed to the Montreal Gazette.)
OTTAWA, Aug. 11
On the Orders being called, the Atty Gen East proposed proceeding with bills in the hands of Ministers.
Messrs. Brown and Holton protested against delay in proceeding with the local constitution, for the dis-cussion of which this session had been specially called; yet that discussion was postponed till the last hours of the session. It was not treating the House fairly.
In committee on the bill to amend the act respecting elections of members of the Legislature.
Mr. Dorion moved to have the polling at each election completed on one day. He contended strongly on this provision, and referred to the great excitement and riotous proceedings resulting from protracting the period for recording votes.
Hon. Mr. Cartier said that such provision would, in many instances, prevent expression of opinion; elec-tors, for instance, in large counties, when the weather was stormy and the roads blocked up with snow. It would be impossible for electors to record their votes in one day. It had been found impossible to do so in two days, in some cases. He would strenuously oppose any such amendment, both here and in the Upper House.
Mr. Brown—Order, order. Surely the hon. gentleman does not pretend he is to carry opposition to an-other chamber.
Hon. Mr. Cartier—Yes, he would speak to every member of the Upper House. Such an amendment would make of this bill a new measure.
Mr. Dorion contended that the amendment was very simple, and would require little other machinery than was already provided in the bill. He was somewhat surprised to hear the Provincial Secretary cheering the Attorney-Gen. East. When in a former session he (Mr. Dorion) brought this bill before the House, no one assisted him in urging the bill more than the Provincial Secretary.
If the Attorney-General East could influence the Upper House to subject this clause, why, let this House at least express their opinion. This clause had been carried in this House before, and he hoped it would be again.
Mr. Francis Jones held that one day was not sufficient to enable the people to give their votes.
Mr. Cartwright was personally in favor of one day, but there were practical objections to it. There were chances of a surprise vote being taken if only one day, and that arrangement would multiply the poll-ing places and increase expenses.
Mr. MacDougall said when he heard the practical objections urged by the Attorney-General East he was not going to impose such a provision on the country. He was willing to get as much as he could, and this bill would contain some improvements on the existing law.
Mr. M. Cameron said the arguments of the Provincial Secretary and Attorney-General East were not convincing as to the necessity of two days. If the elements had to be considered then the same objection could be urged to two days. All the voters would not come on first day, and storm might prevent them on the second. He was in favor of the amendment.
Mr. Carling was strongly in favor of the amendment. Yesterday members voted to disfranchise a large portion of the voters in the Upper Canada municipal bill, and now the House was asked to deprive many electors of the opportunity of recording their votes.
Mr. Gibbs was strongly in favor of the amendment, and would vote for it unless Government took the same position they did the other night and accepted it as a want of confidence motion.
Mr. Mackenzie said this provision had been fully discussed in committee on a former occasion and all the evidence showed that one day was preferable.
Mr. Dunkin had not changed his mind as to the necessity of this provision.
The amendment being put it was declared lost.
For 21; against 32.
On the 11th clause, Messrs. Dunkin, Brown and other suggested a change in the form of the oath. Many were now turned away in consequence of having to swear that they were the persons mentioned on the list when his same might have been misspelled in copying that list.
Mr. John A. Macdonald differed, there must be some list of which persons were to be known, the list was revised and could be examined by votes.
Mr. Brown pointed out that mistakes might be made in copying.
Mr. John A. Macdonald held that this change was very small compared to the risk of not having that assurances of identity.
Mr. Dorion suggested to alter the form of the oath as follows: That you are the person entered on the list of votes under the name of A B; that you are justly entitled, as owner or tenant, to have your name in-serted in such list and have in good faith the property qualification mentioned in the list.
After further discussion the bill was reported with one trifling amendment.
On motion for the third reading,
Mr. Dorion again moved a motion for day’s polling.
Lost. Ayes, 31; nays, 38.
Other amendments were disposed of, and the bill was read a third time, and passed without further amendment.
In moving the adoption of the schedule apportioning the representation for Upper Canada under the new local constitution,
Attorney-General Macdonald explained that, in stating that certain municipalities were to be included in a constituency, the bill of course had no reference to further changes for municipal purposes, but merely gave the present voters lines of those municipalities as external boundaries of the constituencies.
Mr. Brown said the people would be glad to escape from what was first understood to be the arrange-ment; that he received this better scheme with comparative satisfaction. No doubt there were great diffi-culties in the arrangement of constituencies, but still this was more faulty than necessary. There were some constituencies as small as about 4000 inhabitants, and some over 25,000. He proceeded to argue at some over 25,000. He proceeded to argue at some length that justice required greater equality of popu-lation in constituencies.
Mr. Mackenzie pointed out the unfairness of the measure to Lambton, and moved an amendment to grant Lambton another member.
Mr. McKellar thought Kent and Lambton, according to the basis admitted by the Attorney-General him-self, were each entitled to an additional member.
Mr. Ranking said no one in Essex asked for another member. They found it difficult enough to get in one member. He was glad that the representation was not to be according to population in this respect.
Mr. Jones, of North Leeds, concurred in the opinion of the member for Essex.
Mr. McDougall replied at length, pointing out the difficulties, and earnest attempt made in spite of con-flicting views in the Government itself, to do justice to the several districts and interests of the country.
The question was put and lost on a division.
Several portions of the schedule were put and carried. The new county formed out of the Townships, taken into Kent and Lambton, was named Bothwell; that taken out of Haldimand, Welland and Lincoln was named Monck; that taken from Peel and Simcoe was named Cardwell; Mount Forest was added to North Wellington; Langborough and Bedford were taken from Frontenac, and added to Addington.
In proposing the last two names,
Attorney General Macdonald paid a compliment to Lord Monck for the impartially and excellence of his administration of the Province, and it was received with applaise. He also stated regret at losing the services of Mr. Cardwell as Colonial Secretary—one of the truest friends these Provinces ever had.
Mr. Brown concurred to Mr. Dorion’s motion for an appeal to the people before the new constitution should go into effect.
Mr. Dunkin said, as one who had opposed the scheme of Confederation, he was perfectly satisfied that an appeal to the people would be perfectly useless in so far as it might cause any change in their opin-ion on that question.
The House divided on the amendment, which was lost on a vote of 13 to 52.
Mr. Dorion then submitted an amendment requiring the constitution to be again submitted to this House, in case of a change by the Imperial Parliament.
Mr. Cauchon pointed out that the Attorney General declared, in his speech on Confederation, that no change would be made in the Quebec resolutions. Accepting this statement, he would vote against the motion; if it were otherwise he would vote for it.
Hon JA Macdonald said Government had no intention of departing from the resolutions of the Quebec Conference. When they were brought down to the House Government stated that they must be accept-ed as a whole. The Government would adhere to that scheme in every sense as fully as possible; but they could not accept this resolution, because it was tantamount to say that the Crown could be bound by a resolution of the House. He had no doubt the Imperial Government would carry out to the letter the scheme as adopted here, and that those members of the Government who might be deputed to go to England on the subject would insist, in the strongest terms, that the propositions made by the Quebec conference and accepted by the House, should be carried out in their integrity.
Mr Cauchon believed the Government bound in its honor to carry out the scheme as adopted, and be-lieving, too, that the Imperial Parliament would abide by the resolutions of the Quebec conference would vote against the motion. Of course, if the Imperial Parliament made changes it had power to do so, but if the Canadian Government accepted them, and thereby betrayed the trust reposed in them by this House, they would be held to account by the House and the public, and properly punished.
Mr. Brown regarded the discussion as unfortunate, because it suggested the probability of the Govern-ment departing from the resolutions of the Quebec Conference. He held that they could not in the na-ture of things depart from them. The effect of the motion would simply be to declare that the act of the Imperial Parliament should not be regarded as law if it so pleased this House.
Mr. Dorion urged the motion upon the members from Lower Canada as necessary to prevent the Gov-ernment departing from the terms of the resolutions adopted at Quebec.
Mr. S. Macdonald contended that there was danger of Government yielding to the representations of the Imperial authorities, and consenting to changes in the constitutions as they had passed this House. He thought, therefore, the motion should be adopted, in order to protect the house and country against the possibility of alteration.
Hon. Mr. Cartier said he would repeat the declaration he had made on a former occasion that Govern-ment would consent to no change in the resolutions ad adopted at Quebec.
Mr. M.C. Cameron would vote against the amendment, because he believed Government knew that they could not with safety to themselves accept any important change in the resolutions.
Mr. Cowan would vote in the same way, but for a different reason—namely, because he hoped the Im-perial Parliament would make changes in the general constitution. He trusted, for instance, that it would strike out the clause providing for a nominative Legislative Council, which was an anomly in the last half of the 19th century, and especially on this side of the Atlantic.
The House divided—3 to 55. The addresses were then adopted on a division.
Mr. Brown asked the intention of the Government with regard to the business of the House. A large number of members were anxious to leave for their homes by special train at half-past 10 to-night, and perhaps the House by sitting an hour or two longer would get through all the important business to-day, leaving nothing but formal business to be proceeded with on Monday.
Hon. J.A. Macdonald said Government could not undertake in any way to limit the discussions of Par-liament, and until the guns were fired for prorogation, Government could not say what would or would not be done by Parliament. If the hon. member was determined to go to-night it could not be helped. The Government would learn the fact with weeping and sorrow but nevertheless they would have to put up with the loss.
They would submit, yet they would deplore the absence of their bosom friend.
Hon. John A. Macdonald then moved the second reading of the supply bill.
Mr. Holton objected.
Mr. Brown—Let it stand till Monday and we will have a debate upon it as Government is determined upon keeping us here.
Hon. John A. Macdonald said that would be breach of faith, because it was the understanding the de-bate should be taken on the resolutions and not upon the bill.
Mr. Holton denied any such understanding had been entered into, and said he was willing the second reading should take place to-day and the third reading on Monday.
Mr.Taschereau—Well let us sit another week.
Mr. Howland said the understanding as he understood it was simply that the second reading should take place to-day, and as far as he learned there was no further understanding in the matter.
Hon. John A. Macdonald said under these circumstances he owed an apology to hon. member for Cha-teauguay for charging him with a breach of faith, and he trusted the hon. gentleman would accept it.
The bill was then read a second time and, it being 5 o’clock, the House adjourned.