Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Representation of the Province, 6th Parl, 1st Sess (9 June 1858)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), Montreal Herald
Citation: “Provincial Parliament” Montreal Herald (12 June 1858).
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WEDNESDAY, June 9, 1858
REPRESENTATION OF THE PROVINCE
Mr. M. CAMERON was now prepared to introduce a short bill on the representation question, laying down nothing more than the principle of the proprietary basing it on equitable grounds without reference to a dividing line between the Province. He contended that territory ought not to have any influence in representation. And he conceived that the measure he was about to bring forward would observe the interests of Upper and Lower Canada both. He did not intend to take up much of the time of the House, but he was sincere and earnest in bringing his bill forward, which the member for Toronto had not been in introducing his amendment on the subject at the time of moving the address. He (Mr. Cameron) proposed to leave to the places having under 15,000 of a population there present representative; to give to those having 30,000 people to representatives: to those having 15,000 people three, &c.
Mr. CHAPAIS considered that representation based on population was not only an injustice, as affairs now stood, but also an impossibility. And the Imperial Act as at first established, was expressly devised for the purpose of preventing the passage of such a measure as that of the hon. member for Lambton. equality of representation, as regards the two sections of the Providence, was the key to the Union, and the latter would only exist as long the former was in force. He did not like threats, but he would say that the dividing line between the Province was not easy to be a faced, and the men who had defended it against the Americans in 1812 would do so again, against whomsoever might come in. (Hear.) He was sure that all Lower Canadians would vote against the bill, and he hoped the ministry would see that it aimed a blow at the constitution of the Province, and oppose it accordingly. For his part he would certainly vote against the second reading when it came on. (Hear.)
Mr. LORANGER, like the member for Kamouraska, would reserve, until a second reading of the bill, all discussion upon it. He would content himself with affirming that, the moment the representative equality was broken, the Union would be broken too, and he thought it was for the interest both of Upper and Lower Canada to have the Union preserved. He did not regard the question is one to be determined by the excess of population in Upper or Lower Canada, but by the justice or injustice of the principles involved. And he knew that there were on both sides of the House friends of Lower Canada, of her social, religious and political institutions. [Hear.] Time had been when Lower Canadians had granted equality to the Upper Providence, and conscientiously carried it out, and now they would demand the same mode of action is regarded themselves. He disclaimed the language lately attributed to him by a certain newspaper, to the effect that Lower Canadians, having now the advantage, would preserve it, and said all he claimed was the sacred fundamental principle of the Union, viz.: Equality.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD regretted that a question of this important should come up at this late period, when it was impossible to discuss it in its various aspects, and deal with it satisfactorily. The vowel just made by the Prov. Secretary that he would oppose representation by population was most untimely. This must be taken as the sentiment of the administration mdar sentiments opposed in toto to the feelings of the people of Upper Canada. He agreed in many respects with what had fallen from the Provincial Secretary, but he had prematurely let the cat out of the bag. Representation by population would not accomplish what was expected of it period end it would be time enough to consider the course. The only object sought by it was to obtain for Upper Canada majority over Lower Canada. But Lower Canada would never consent to be ruled by Upper Canada. Such a state of things would give rise to a war, a real war between the two sections of the Province.
Mr. MALCOLM CAMERON said it was a very unusual thing to discuss a bill on the first reading. The lecture read to the Provincial Secretary by the member for Cornwall might be very well given to the hon. gentleman himself. For from the very commencement of the session his conduct had been most extraordinary. Not less extraordinary was it on the present occasion. He waxed warm in his censure of the Provincial Secretary for expressing his intention to oppose the bill, yet he told the House he was against representation by population, and that its adoption as a principle would give rise to war! And objection taken by the member for Cornwall to this bill was that it was premature. The hon. member overlook the fact that it was not intended to take effect until after the next census was taken. If the census showed that one section of the Province had a larger population than the other, that section would have one or two members more than the other. It was possible that Lower Canada might have the majority, though it was not probable. Yet he did not doubt that Lower Canada would ultimately have the largest population, if she became a manufacturing country as seemed to be her destiny. She would then of course have the advantage. The representation by population was a sound principle applied to every country.
Mr. CAUCHON Set that Lower Canada had, at a former time, considered it hard to be united to the Upper Province against its will, but also unjust that, with a larger population, it should only have an equal representation. But how had Lower Canada be met? With the declaration of the justice of the principle of equality. He applauded the member for Kamouraska, who had said that Lower Canadians would, if necessary, fight for their own institutions within their own boundaries. Such a state of things, he thought, would never happen, but it was well, under certain circumstances, to make a bold declaration. He preceded to remark that the result of the recognition of the principle of Representation based on population would be to deprive not only a part of Lower Canada, but apart of Upper Canada too, of representation, and to concentrate political power around Montreal, Toronto, and in the West of the Province. In amendment to the motion for the introduction of the bill, he would move that the bill be read a second time that day six months.
Mr. BROWN Apprehended that the hon. member who had just sat down had taken a proper course, holding the opinion he did, and the vote ought to be given, not for or against the principle of representation by population, but on the question whether or not it was a subject for the consideration of parliament. He then preceded to find fault with the measure of the member for Lambton, which, he said, would double the number of members of the House. And, in answer to the member for Lambton, he said representation by population could never be carried while the Administration was hostile to it If he thought it was a minor matter, he was right in supporting a Government, a member of which uttered sentiment supposed to it, but if not, then he was manifestly wrong. In that case he ought to leave the administration, together with those of his friends who also supported that measure, and in one week from the time he would have an administration formed, pledged to representation by population. (Oh, oh.) At the time of the Union, Lower Canada had said it was unjust for Representation by Population to have been ignored.
Mr. CARTIER Said—No; Lower Canada had submitted silently.
Mr. BROWN Said that the whole question was whether Canada was to be considered two countries or one period did hon. gentlemen think that the people of Upper Canada would allow themselves to be ruled by Lower Canada. All they asked was that the two peoples should stand on inequality, and that the dividing line between the two Provinces should be swept away. He had, he would say, not the slightest doubt but that this was a mere question of time period no country could progress and refuse such a principle.
Mr. J. S. MACDONALD Remark that, if representation by population were carried, it would dissatisfy Lower Canada in proportion as it satisfied the Upper Province. What he considered the best means of settling the disputes now prevalent was a territorial readjustment.
Mr. Brown could not comprehend what is hon. friend meant by territorial readjustment. He did not see the force of such arguments. The hon. member for Kamouraska had even gone so far as to speak of war on this question—war and bloodshed as in 1814.
Mr. CHAPAIS explained that his meaning was that the people of Lower Canada would oppose this measure with all constitutional Opposition.
Mr. BROWN wished to put before the House the fact that on these constitutional questions there was a constant division between Upper and Lower Canada; and until this great constitutional question were settled this strife would continue. Upper and Lower Canada would be persistently ranged in Opposition to each other. There was not a member of the House who would not admit that if the Province was to go on and prosper, it must be by some solution being found of those difficulties which are constantly taking place. The Union of the Province had only existed some 17 years and out of a [illegible] The administration formed, and public men of other parliaments, few if any, are now in public life. Some 44 gentlemen had been called to the council of the Governor General during that period, and of these but three are now in public life exclusive of the present Administration. What is the reason? Either that while on the treasury benches they were compelled to do that which that was contrary to the views of their constituents—or because they were anxious to retire from this constant wrangling between Upper and Lower Canada. No such state of things was found in England, France or the United States as their public men retiring, after having been two, three or five years in office. He would hope that a strong expression of support would be given to the principle of representation by population that evening. And were they to be told, forsooth, that the carrying out of such a principle would cause war and bloodshed? Was such a threat to be hinted at to the representatives of Upper Canada with impunity? Were they to reject such a principle at the bidding of men such as the hon. member for Renfrew, and the hon. member for Northumberland, leaders without personal followers? The latter hon. member got himself made an Orangeman for the purpose of being returned to the House And now that he had been returned the very first time the Representation by Population measure was introduced he takes occasion to elude it. He is willing to sell his country for the paltry privilege of keeping office. (Ironical cries of hear, hear.) He came to that House a mere unit to fill up a vacant office for the Attorney General. Again, had the hon. Mr. Ross a single supporter in the country? Not one period yet he was installed into the office of Receiver General. Would such a state of things be permitted to continue? Would any one say that the Attorney General WM dash who is the only one of standing in the country—held through principle? That hon. member once had principle, but now he was devoid of it. Where was the morality or principle of the man who unblushingly announces that the highest offices in the country may be bought and sold? Where was the principle of supporting in his seat a member who had obtained that seat through the grossest violence and fraud? The Double Majority principle—a principle which had been so largely contended for by Lower Canadians was a mere will o’ the wisp—a demoralizing thing which could not be carried into effect. It was, in his opinion, far better they should remain as one people, united am dash and the only way of accomplishing that object was to carry out the principle of Representation by Population. Let every one support his own religious views, and let them not be brought into the legislature. That was what they asked. There was one remedy, suggested, he believed, by a friend from Montreal (Mr. Dorian). If Canada could not be governed as at present, it was said that it might be divided into several parts, with the central Government, each part to hold jurisdiction in local affairs. Such a schemas this he was prepared to consider. There was one other means, viz: dissolution of the Union, and he was [illegible] large proportion of the members on both sides of the House, and a yet larger proportion of the yeomanry of the country were in favor of such repeal. He hoped that the House would look at the important question in all its bearings. This he would say, that if the bill under consideration were thrown out by the assistance of Upper Canadians call mom a most intense feeling of dissatisfaction would be developed throughout the country. The reason he and his friends spoke thus was not because they desired office, far from it. They might easily have obtained office had they sought it, for the way to it was clearly chalked out. They brought their views forward with a sincere desire for the benefit of the country. If all Upper Canadians did the same, and voted against the Government when it opposed representation by population, they would secure that to-morrow there would be a Government which would support the principle. (Hear and laughter).
Mr. CARITER said this question was a “hobby” of the hon. gentleman who had last spoken. Considering how often he had spoken and written on the subject, he must say that he was disappointed with the speech he had just made. It contained not a single argument. The whole burden of his song was that we must have representation by population. Now he would discuss the question in its theoretical and practical aspects. Such a principle of itself was unknown in every country. It was unknown in the United States period to have it in full action, it must be accompanied by the absolute majority system. Take for illustration the Haldimand election the member for that county was elected by the minority, there having been several candidates. In the United states that minority ruled, even in the election of president and the representatives of the people. Then in England, a country to which they might well go for an example, such a principle did not obtain; they never heard of its being mooted. Scotland and Ireland, with a population together of almost 10,000,000, did not return more than 200 members; while England, with a population of about 20,000,000, return the remainder of the 658 members of which the House of Commons was composed Scotland and Ireland had been conquered by England. When was Lower Canada [illegible] to govern Lower Canada? She never was conquered, and therefore would never consent to be domineered over by Upper Canada. The Union had been forced upon her against her wish; she then had a larger population then Upper Canada. But they had been willing to work the Union loyally and in all sincerity. When there was a greater agitation amongst her people then there is now, or ever had been in Upper Canada, the leaders instead of encouraging it use their utmost endeavors to allay it, and succeeded in doing so. Different was the course of hon. gentlemen on the opposite side But despite all that was said by the member for Toronto, the Government had the confidence of the majority of Upper Canadian members in that House. Let the hon. gentleman test the question by submitting, not some abstract proposition, but some actual measure of legislation, and he would find whether he or the leader of the Government or the stronger man The idea of hon. gentlemen opposite it was that Lower Canada had a smaller population than Upper Canada this, however, was a false impression, as had been shown by the Solicitor General in his speech on the Address The number of votes pulled in Upper Canada was 138,000; in Lower Canada 122,000 period from the latter figure was deducted the 5,000 votes, which were said to have been added to the poll-book at Quebec In Lower Canada, ten elections were made by acclamation, while and Upper Canada only forward so carried. Adding to the figure given the proportion of electors in each section who did not vote, the number of votes in Upper Canada was 146,000 and in Lower Canada 145,000. (Hear, hear.) But there were other means of information besides these; there were the militia reports. The number of militia men enumerated in Lower Canada, was 78 battalions, with 118,000 men. In Upper Canada there were 238 battalions, with only 117,000 men. Then there were two superintendents of education—one for Lower Canada. In 1856 he (Atty. General Cartier) add introduced a law compelling a census of children between 5 and to 16 to be made, as had been the law for sometime in Upper Canada. Dr. Ryerson reported that there were 227,000 children between those ages, and Mr. Cheaveau said there were at the same time 247,000 children, sieve of those in the municipalities were the school sections were not yet organized. It was asked why then Lower Canada would not accept a Representation by population? It was because the basis of the Union was to be preserved, for the two countries were not the same in race or religion. Even the English did not agree with those of Upper Canada.
Mr. FOLEY—Oh, yes, where’s the difference?
Mr. CARTIER—I like the English of Lower Canada better period (Laughter.)
Mr. CARTIER—because, as a rule, they are better men. (Laughter.) He continued to say that he respected the English, but did not like the infusion of the Yankee element Hence he passed on to observe that Upper Canada desired the chief advantage from the Union. Upper Canada would have to maintain an army of customs officers, if this united from the Lower Providence, and would have great difficulty in collecting a revenue from customs. At the Union Lower Canada had her treasury fold, and had saved Upper Canada from bankruptcy. And even now it had been by no means proved that Upper Canada contributed more to the customs revenue than Lower Canada. It had indeed sixty or seventy ports, while far more than half the dues were collected at the twenty-two ports, while far more than half the expense was incurred at the sixty or seventy. (Hear.) It was unfair to say that the Government were not ready and willing to discuss the subject am dash they were anxious to do so. And he had no hesitation in saying that when the population was several 100,000 in excess in the West as compared with the east, the Government would be prepared to take up and discuss the whole subject of the Union. (Her, hear.)
Mr. GOWAN said this was a subject which ought to be very carefully and very calmly considered, as there was a good deal of agitation out of doors in regard to it. Such had not been the manner in which some hon. gentlemen had treated it The member for Toronto had accused the member for Lambton of inconsistency in bringing forward a measure of this kind, and continuing his support to a Government which was opposed to it. Were not Mr. Lafontaine and Mr. Baldwin opposed to the principle now advocated, and yet did not the member for Toronto support those gentlemen went in office. If the member for Lambton could be justly accused of inconsistency, this censure which would fall on him would fall with ten-fold force on the member for Toronto. It was urged, that French Canadians were ruling the House. How could this be when, out of 130 members there were bout 43 French Canadians.
Mr. DUNKIN—There are but 41.
Mr. GOWAN I thought it was correct in saying 43; but if there were only 41 that gives more point to his assertions. It was asked whether the Government could command a majority of Upper Canadian representatives. He would not say, but he would observe that the Attorney General West could control a larger party than any other, and more people in the country looked up to him than anybody else. (Hear, hear.)
He then read an extract from the journals of the House, at the time of the Union, when he asserted equality of representation as regards the two Provinces, was the chief stipulation. But some of the other conditions of the Union had been changed—Huawei then should not this one to be altered? But he said representation should not be based solely on population but on property it likewise. For a proposition of this kind the member for Toronto would have his hearty support, irrespective of the manner in which it might affect the ministry. In supporting the measure of the member for Lantern, which he should do, he did so with A view to have it improved in accordance with this idea. Representation by population would give an unfair advantage to the inhabitants of the larger cities and towns, over those settled in the back woods. Hear, hear. What would gentlemen of the Opposition say if it were shown that the majority of Upper Canada votes were cast, at the late election, for minisrerialits [sic]? This he started was the case.
Mr. FOLEY—If you can show that then I will submit.
Mr. GOWAN read a table showing that in constituencies represented by Opposition members, those members had pulled 42,229, votes while the Ministerialists received 35,102 and if the votes given for the Ministerialists where there had being more than one in the field were added, it would be shown that there were some 10,000 more votes cast for Ministerialists then for Opposition men. Mr. Gowan preceded to say that he regretted Mr. Cauchon had made his motion in amendment. By doing so he threw down the gauntlet Two Upper Canada, or at least the West of it, for east of Kingston and north of the Rideau the people thought with those of Lower Canada on the subject.
The House adjourned at 20 minutes past twelve.