Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Morning Chronicle Version (1 March 1865)

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Date: 1865-03-01
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Morning Chronicle
Citation: “Provincial Parliament”, [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (2 March 1865).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).

The Order of the Day being read, for resuming the adjourned Debate upon the Question which was, on Friday the 3rd instant proposed,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She may be graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island in one Government, with provisions based on certain Resolutions which were adopted at a Conference of Delegates from the said Colonies, held at the City of Quebec, on the 10th October, 1864.[1]

Joseph Rymal [Wentworth South] said he did not see why the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Cauchon) should decline to go on with his speech this evening.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] was understood to say going on at this hour, inasmuch as he would be unable to conclude to-night. He had not yet had any refreshment. Moreover, his notes and authorities were not here, and he (Mr. Cauchon) would be compelled to send for them.

In answer to some remark made across the House by an hon. member, which was inaudible in the gallery—

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said—I think my speech will be the shortest of the long speeches.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William Powell [Carleton] moved

 The adjournment.

Some Hon. MembersCries of no, no, yes, and adjourn.

After some conversation, the motion for the adjournment was understood to be withdrawn.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]I move

The adjournment of the debate.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]I move, in amendment,

That the debate be adjourned until to-morrow at half-past three.[2]

Some Hon. MembersCries of hear, hear and oh, oh.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] raised the question of order. In the first place, he was of opinion that an amendment to a motion for adjournment of the debate could not be moved; and, in the next place, even if it could, as it would have the effect of suspending a rule of the House about the order of the debate, there must be notice.

George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council] spoke on the question of order, arguing that the objection raised by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] was groundless.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] proceeded to contend that under cover of a motion to adjourn, the orders of the House could not be attacked, and that the present motion would supersede the standing orders for to-morrow. It could not, therefore, he put without previous notice.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] contended that, without giving notice, the Government could not change the standing orders of the House. It could not do so by a side-wind of this kind. Otherwise there could be no protection for the minority.

The Speaker decided he had not the slightest doubt the motion was in order.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] would protest against the conduct of the Government, as regards the minority, in this matter. The Government themselves, settled the manner in which the debate was to be conducted, and the arrangement made by them was assented to by the Opposition. But scarcely had it been in operation 10 days, the major part of which was taken up by the members of the Cabinet in speaking upon the scheme before us, when a supporter of theirs proceeded to feel the House and obtain the consent of members to a “round robin” with a view to abandoning the agreement existing, and carrying on the debate in the forenoon also. The Government, spite of their own management, and the wishes of many hon. members, endorsed the action of their supporter in this matter, and now pressed the motion originally proposed by him.

Now that the member for Montmorency, (Hon. Mr. Cauchon), one of their supporters, had asked to be excused from speaking to-night, the attempt of the Government, at this hour, to cut short the debate involved, in the first place, a breach of faith with the minority, and an attempt to press a vote upon Confederation, lest, perchance, any accident should betide to retard the adoption of the scheme.

The object of the Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] and colleagues was to avoid the performance of their pledge that, in case Confederation should not be carried, they would endeavor by a federal union of the two Canadas, or some other measure to settle the present constitutional difficulties.

Now, he (Mr. Dorion) wished to know what the Government proposed doing, with this object, if the Lower Provinces rejected Confederation, as it was not unlikely the majority would do? The House was entitled to some information on the point.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The Parliament of Nova Scotia could not meet for a month, and why this haste on the part of our Government to carry the measure without the fullest discussion? Why not wait a month to see what the Lower Provinces were going to do in the matter? Our Government had been asked by a motion to submit to the House some despatches on Confederation, to which the Governor of Nova Scotia had referred in his speech, and which they had had in their possession for some time. We would, probably, not have known of those documents had it not been for the reference in question. When was the Hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] going to submit them to the House?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—As soon as the despatches, which are in the Provincial Secretary’s [William McDougall] charge, have been copied, they will be brought down.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said the despatches ought to have been in the possession of the House weeks ago, or at any rate before we were forced into this debate.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Did the Government think that the minority were going to allow this amendment to be forced upon them, spite of the arrangement originally come to? We could speak every afternoon till six, and so confine the discussion on Confederation to the evening sittings. The Government would be responsible for delaying the business and the discussion in their attempts to stifle it. He proceeded to condemn the Cabinet for attempting to hurry through the measure without full and fair debate. They would gain the condemnation of the country from one end to the other. The adoption of the amendment before us would be a breach of faith and an outrage upon the rules of the House.

Some Hon. MembersOpposition cheers.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] felt that the Government, by this course of proceeding, was not keeping good faith with those in the Opposition. He would like to know if the member for Montmorency, in case the amendment was carried, would take the floor of the House to-morrow afternoon at half-past three instead of at half-past seven in the evening.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—He is not there. I suppose he will take the floor at half-past three.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] thought it would be hardly fair to fix the opening of the debate, in his absence, at half-past three, not knowing but that he might—as he desired to speak first—prefer commencing at half-past seven.

Thomas Parker [Wellington North] said that if anything was calculated to shake his confidence in the gentlemen on the Treasury benches, it would be persisting in their present course.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Parker [Wellington North]—If anything was calculated to excite suspicion in the country it was the means taken by the Government to rush this matter through the House with such haste. They would not allow the matter to go to the country, or to be fully discussed according to the rule they themselves laid down. They had given no explanations why they wished to rush this scheme through the Legislature at the cost of setting aside the ordinary business of the House.

Archibald McKellar [Kent] said the Government’s intention, far from being to cut short the debate, was to extend its duration by giving us the afternoon as well as the evening. The question of Confederation discussed in the same way as in Committee of the whole, every member could speak as long and as often as he pleased. As to the feeling of the country relative to the scheme, there had been no spontaneous petitions yet presented against it. The petitions sent in were, doubtless, concocted at the desks of the leaders of the Opposition, and afterwards signed by some parties out of doors, through the influence of those gentlemen.

Some Hon. Members—Hear and laughter.

Archibald McKellar [Kent]—There was a very strong reason why we should go on with this measure, without delay.

Several Opposition Members—What is the reason? Why more reason to press it here than in the Lower Provinces?

Archibald McKellar [Kent]—In those Provinces they had no Constitutional difficulties, and the propose changes had not then been previously discussed as they had in Canadas. The people here were quite prepared for any measure that would relieve us from the dissensions and heartburnings which existed between both sections of Canada. The people of Canada East and West said—let us have the Constitutional change proposed. The Government were acting in the interest of the country in urging the measure, for which the people were quite prepared. The Opposition, who pretended to be watching over the interests of the country were, wasting its time and preventing the scheme from being proceeded with promptly and carried.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Jean-Baptiste-Éric Dorion [Drummond & Arthabaska] protested against the course proposed to be adopted by the Government in this matter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] followed on the same side, condemning strongly the conduct of the Government in reference to the management of this debate.

In answer to Christopher Dunkin [Brome]

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] was understood to state that, supposing the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] was unable to take the floor at half-past three to-morrow, no advantage would be taken of the Opposition.

The motion in amendment was then put,—

That the words “and be taken up as the First Order of the Day to-morrow, after Routine Business,” be added at the end thereof.[3]

—and carried on a division: yeas, 63; nays, 26.

The main motion, as amended,—

That the debate be adjourned and be taken up as the First Order of the Day to-morrow, after Routine Businesses.[4]

—was also carried.

The House then, at quarter to 11 p.m., adjourned.


[1]      Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada (1865), p. 164. Inserted for completeness. The Morning Chronicle version begins with Rymal’s speech.

[2]      The amendment reads in full, “That the debate be adjourned and be taken up as the First Order of the Day to-morrow, after Routine Businesses.” Journals, p. 164.

[3]      Cartier’s amendment was on Cauchon’s motion to adjourn the debate. Journals, p. 164.

[4]      This motion (as amended) has been reconstructed by the editors (2022) with use of the Journals, p. 164.

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