Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Representation by Population (Continued), 6th Parl, 1st Sess (9 June 1858)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: “Provincial Parliament” The Globe (11 June 1858).
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
(Reported for the Globe.)
WEDNESDAY, June 9.
REPRESENTATION BY POPULATION.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER spoke of the speech of the hon. gentleman for Toronto, as being devoid of argument. The subject had been referred to, as though it were a question affecting Upper Canada only; but, he wished to inform the house that it affected Lower Canada equally as much as Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.) he wished to discuss the proposition in the two fold aspect—theoretically and practically—and he maintained that, theoretically speaking, there was no such thing in the world is Representation by Population. If Representation by Population were conceded, it ought to be accompanied by such a plan as would secure the absolute majority system—the majority of the whole of the electors in the country. Then, coming to a practical part of the question, he maintained that in the United States the minority of the people ruled. The laws were made by the minority, because if they removed six states, they took off nearly one half the whole population of the United States. How was the election of President made in the States? There were 234 Presidential electors who were elected in the same manner as representatives of the people. It was necessary that there should be a majority in favor of the president, but if there was not such a majority, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives then elected the President by the vote of the States, the large States having no more votes than the smaller states.
Mr. MACKENZIE—In the United States the president is elected in some way or other; but here we cannot elect a President in any way. (Laughter.)
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—There was not a state in the Union called upon to elect its representatives by an absolute majority—a relative majority prevailed. If they went to Great Britain, they did not there find Representation by Population contended for, and a great disparity existed between the number of representatives in regard to Population, in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Then, if they took England alone, they found that Representation by Population was not acted upon. An argument might be raised in that country in favor of keeping the national power in the hands of the English, to the exclusion of the other people, because she might say she never intended to transfer her Protestant power into other hands. Had Upper Canada conquered Lower Canada? Then upon what principle could Upper Canada pretend to demand Representation by Population in order to govern Lower Canada? The Union of the two provinces, as everyone knew, was imposed upon Lower Canada; Every man there was opposed to it. But they had worked the Union loyally, sincerely in fairly, and were determined to continue to do so on the present basis. They would do all in their power to work it out honestly.
Mr. FOLEY—Yes, you do, all in your power to work it out, when you take the men from Lower Canada to rule Upper Canada, who are in a minority of their section. (Hear, hear.)
Atty. Gen. CARTIER said he was remarking that Lower Canada had worked out the Union with loyalty and sincerity, and yet Upper Canadians claimed Representation by Population with a view to domineering over Lower Canada.
Mr. FOLEY—That is what you are doing to Upper Canada now.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—I understood very well the purpose of the hon. member for Toronto in advocating Representation by Population. He wanted it because it would give him section number of supporters as would enable him to domineer over Lower Canada. At the Union Lower Canada was in the majority. An Upper Canadian, Mr. Boulton, introduced a Bill in 1849, giving Representation by Population, and Mr. Papineau, the leader of the Lower Canadians, supported it. But what did the majority of the Lower Canadians do? They oppose the Bill because they wanted to work out the Union with loyalty and sincerity. The hon. member for Toronto said we had no idea of the extent of the dissatisfaction which prevailed in his section of the province com with regard to this question. He (Atty. Gen. Cartier) would tell that hon. gentleman there was more agitation an excitement in Lower Canada when the Union was affected, then there was an Upper Canada on this question of Representation by Population. But what did the leaders of the Lower Canadians do? They subdued that discontent, and had succeeded in working the Union to the advantage of both sections of the country. (Ironical cheers from the opposition) and what was their remuneration? they were taunted and reproached with maintaining the Union in order to tyrannize over Upper Canada (“That’s true.”) the opposition taunted the leader of the government with legislating against the will of Upper Canada. Had there been any question before them on which the Upper Canadian section of the opposition had been united? There had not been.
Mr. FOLEY—It is not our business to legislate. Every Upper Canadian measure you’ve brought in has been opposed by a majority of the representatives of Upper Canada.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER did to be interrupted. The hon. member then preceded to show from the example of Mr. Papineau that in his (Atty. Gen. Cartier’s) opinion, the hon. gentleman at the head of the government held this place justifiably; He had not only an efficient and sufficient support to carry on good legislation, but his legislation was so wise that every measure he had introduced he had been accused by the opposition of stealing from their platform. The leader of the government was the strongest man with regard to Upper Canadian measures in the house, stronger than the hon. member for Montreal, who could not get 15 members on that side to support him. The hon. gentleman then preceded at considerable length, to discuss the double majority principle, which having accomplished to his satisfaction, he returned to the question by the hon. member for Toronto, in favor of Representation by Population was because, as he asserted, Upper Canada had a far larger population than Lower Canada, and he expected were the principle adopted to gain ten members over the proportion which would belong to Lower Canada. This he (Atty. Gen. Cartier) denied. They had not had a census since 1851, but they had data by which they could gain a correct idea from the existing population. His hon. friend the solicitor general East had made an analysis of the number of electors who voted in both sections of the province during the last election, and from those who voted in Lower Canada, he deducted the 5,000 last votes from the Quebec poll-hooks. The votes pulled in Upper Canada were 138,000; Lower Canada 122,000. In Lower Canada there were ten elections carried by acclamation, in Upper Canada there were but four, making for the latter 156,000 voters and for the former 145,000. It was sheer nonsense to say that Upper Canada had a majority of 200,000, and was pretended. He found further confirmation of his position in the report of the adjutant general of militia. Lower Canada had 178 battalions containing 118,000 men. Upper Canada 248 battalions forming only 117,000. When in 1856, he (Atty. Gen. Cartier) introduced the school law, he inserted a clause to oblige school municipalities to make a census of children from 5 to 16 years of age. The children between these ages able to frequent these schools in Upper Canada, according to Dr. Ryerson’s return in 1856, was 227,000, while the number, as stated by Mr. Chaveau, and Lower Canada, was 247,000. These school returns were better than the census returns of 1851, upon which the hon. gentleman opposite based their calculations, so that with regard to electors, militia men and children, Lower Canada was in the majority.
Mr. FOLEY—If you are in a majority, take Representation by Population!
Atty. Gen. CARTIER did not want it; The Lower Canadians wish to carry out the Union originally agreed upon. The same person which induced him to oppose it in 1840, animated him now.
Mr. FOLEY said that the hon. gentleman had an opportunity of admiring the English at the battle of St. Charles.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER went on to say, that the whole of the members from Lower Canada were opposed to Representation by Population, except (Mr. McGee) who, the other night, took occasion to represent himself in favor of it. He left that hon. member to settle the matter with his constituents. It was not from any desire to do injustice to Upper Canada that he occupied this measure. It was because he wanted to carry out the provisions of the Union Act, which had conferred many benefits on both sections of the province. What would Upper Canada be without the Union? But for the Union, it would be a mere back country, and would find it impossible to collect customs duties. Upper Canada had reaped many benefit from the Union. Lower Canada had economized its public purse, and when the Union took place, it saved Upper Canada from a state of bankruptcy. (oh, oh.) it had often been said that Lower Canada contributed less to the revenue, but this was not proved. Besides the customs could be most economically collected in Lower Canada. Lower Canada collected half the revenue, at one- fourth or one- third the total expense of collecting it. The government were not afraid of this question. They were glad an opportunity had offered of discussing it. He could tell the hon. member for Toronto, in the name of all the members from Lower Canada, except one, that Lower Canada would adopt another political state of things, rather than given opportunity to such men as consented to be led by the member for Toronto, to govern Lower Canada. Observing that the member for Cornwall was now in his place, he concluded by repeated the remarks he had formerly made as to Lafontaine’s endeavouring to initiate useful legislation, while the leader in opposition of all the Lower Canada members with five or six exceptions, from 1844 to 1848; also as to Mr. Macdonald speaking in favour of Mr. Mackenzie’s motion to abolish the Court of Chancery, although Solicitor General of Mr. Baldwin’s Government. The hon. gentleman, though he spoke for the motion, voted against it, and did not resign, when Mr. Baldwin retired on account of the defeat.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD said he had never heard that two or three accidental majorities against a Government constituted a ground for resignation. The vote on the Chancery court he did not think was a sufficient ground of resignation, and that he was right in this, was proved by the fact that the confidence of both sections of the province was continued in the Government, after the vote on the Chancery question, and after Mr. Baldwin thought it his duty to resign.
Mr. GOWAN regretted that a question of this kind was not discussed more calmly on both sides. The member for Kamouraska on the one side, and the member for Toronto on the other, had, he conceived, being too violent in advocating their respective views. The hon. member for Toronto had accused the member for Lambton of insecurity in advocating Representation by Population, because he supported a government who were opposed to a period had not the hon. gentleman himself supported the Baldwin-Lafontaine Government, although neither of those gentlemen supported Representation by Population. That government had authority to change the Representation by a majority vote, and they did not avail themselves of it. The charge of insincerity and inconsistency, therefore, came with a bad grace from the hon. member for Toronto. Then the hon. member appealed to the Lower Canadians whether they would shrink from a fair contest with the Anglo- Saxons. He thought it was the hon. gentleman himself who was shrinking from a fair contest with the French Canadians. Out of 130 members now in the house only 43 were French Canadians. He said, unless you grant this, we must have a dissolution of the Union. The hon. member would actually make the great majority of the house cry surrender to the 43 French Canadians. The hon. member further said that the member for Simcoe was elected in opposition to Mr. Robinson on account of the bad votes the latter gentleman had given. But he had not had the candour to state that a gentleman holding the same views as the member for Toronto, had stood as a candidate in that constituency, and was left at the foot of the pole. The hon. member attacked the attorney general, because he could not command a majority of Upper Canada members. He believed the attorney general possessed individually a larger share of the confidence of the people of Upper Canada than any other, and he could command more votes than the member for Toronto, whose own friends were constantly differing from him, the member for Cornwall, for example, being quite opposed to him on the question now before the house. Mr. Gowan went on to show from the journals about one of the fundamental conditions of the Union, which were acceded to buy the Upper Canada legislature, were equality of Representation. Had these conditions being adhered to up to this time, he would not propose to interfere with them now. But they had already been interfered with period one of the conditions, that the English language should alone be spoken in the United legislature, had been done away with, and the Imperial Parliament, which passed the Union Act, had given the provincial legislature power to change the conditions of the Union. He considered, therefore, that they were now legislating free from those conditions, and we’re prepared to consider the question on its own merits. Representation by Population did not exist in the United States. It was true that it existed, as regards the House of Representatives, but that body was controlled by the Senate, in reference to which it did not exist. Nor did it exist in any country in the world, enjoying free institutions, in reference to which he had had an opportunity of studying the facts, and Sardinia and Holland were the only two countries to whose institutions he had not referred. But even supposed that existed everywhere else, was Representation by Population of principle applicable to Canada in its present circumstances? He thought not. He was in favour of Representation by Population based upon Population and Territory combined, and he had stated so to his constituents. The member for north Ontario could testify that he had expressed the same sentiment in that constituency.
Mr. GOULD—You set in your Address, “As to the question of Representation by Population, I say Yes.”
Mr. GOWAN said, the words in his Address were “Population and Territory.” If Representation were based on Population alone, the front townships and cities and towns would monopolize the lion’s share of representation, to the injury of the back settlements, which most required the fostering protection and care of Parliament. He should, therefore, only support the bill now before the host with the view to improving it. Representation by Population alone was unjust to the farming community. it was not fair that the cities, much of whose population was made up of a shifting class, who paid no taxes, should be represented in the same proportion as the rural constituencies. The hon. member then diverged into a consideration of the blue-book, showing the number of votes pulled at the late election, and he attempted to prove that the Opposition, though they had a majority in the House, did not represent a majority of the people of Upper Canada. The total number of votes pulled in constituencies represented by Ministerial members, was 59,149, of which the Ministerial members pulled 35,102; The number pulled against them being 24,047. The votes polled in constituencies represented by opposition members with 72,307, the votes given for the Opposition being 42,229, leaving a balance of 30,078. Subtracting 35,102 from 42,229, the opposition members had an apparent majority of 7,127. (Hear, hear.) But it was only apparent. The honourable member then went on to analyze the votes given to the defeated candidates, from which, though contradicted at almost every step in his classification of the parties he named into Ministerialists and Opposition, he succeeded in drawing the inference that 3,000 more votes had been given to Ministerialists than to Opposition candidates, although the blue-book gave the latter an apparent majority of upwards of 7,000.
Mr. MACDOUGALL said it would be easy to show the incorrectness of the hon. gentleman’s figures, and one thing especially he had forgotten to stay, that there had scarcely been a Ministerial candidate in Upper Canada who did not go to the country on Opposition principles.
Mr. GOULD—to Mr. GOWAN—Did you come in as a Ministerialist?
Mr. GOWAN said he gave no pledge, but stated that if it came to be a question between Mr. George brown an Mr. J. A. MacDonald, he should give his vote for the latter. The hon. member then returned to the question before the house, and concluded by urging Mr. Cauchon to withdraw his amendment, as it was a most ungracious course to throw out a Bill on the first reading.
On motion of Mr. PERRES,
The House adjourned at 20 minutes past twelve.