Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (17 May 1864)

Document Information

Date: 1864-05-17
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 149-151.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

The Debate on Hon. Mr. Dorion’s Motion

The debate on Antoine-Aimé Dorion’s [Hochelaga] motion, condemning the policy of the Government on the canal tolls was then resumed.

Thomas Scatcherd [Middlesex West] was understood to say that the canal tolls should not have been reduced without some corresponding taxation having been resorted to to make up the deficiency. He condemned the finance scheme of the hon. member for Sherbrooke [Alexander Galt—particularly his policy in regard to the canal tolls, as a glaring injustice to Upper Canada, and went on to make statements and recite figures to establish his position.

Thomas Parker [Wellington North] proceeded to attack the general policy of the present Government, and pronounced a panegyric upon the late Government and its various measures. He contended this Government was not formed in accordance with the general sense of the House, and did not possess its confidence. The hon. gentleman proceeded to review the position of parties subsequent to the late Ministerial crisis, and to the formation of the present Government. He stated proposals were then made by hon. gentlemen now in Opposition, for the formation of a new coalition Government; that so conditions were imposed or insisted upon by those gentlemen, and that hon. gentleman on the Ministerial side rejected the proposals unconditionally. This showed the present Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] was determined set to admit the majority from Upper Canada to an equal position in the Government. If this were the case, the sooner the people of Upper Canada  understood it the better. Mr. Parker commented in hostile terms upon the course taken by Sir E. P. Taché during the late crisis, and especially upon his refusal to co-operate with the late Premier [John Sandfield Macdonald] in forming a strong Cabinet. The hon. gentleman declared his hostility to the present Government on the ground of the antecedents of its leading members, and denounced it as constituted upon a sectional majority with the design to rule Upper Canada against the wishes of the majority of its people, and

  • (p. 150)

this after the olive branch had been extended to the party opposite by the party on this side. For this, and other measures, he withheld his confidence from the present Administration. The hon. gentleman continued speaking on the general subject, and condemning the Governmental policy on the subject of the canal tolls.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington] congratulated the hon. gentlemen who had just sat down on his speech, which, from an electioneering point of view, was nearly perfect.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—His remarkable candour and straightforwardness were really refreshing. There was nothing of the tu quoque style about his remarks, no recrimination, no attempt to blacken the present Ministers in the attempt to defend the last.

Some Hon. MembersRenewed laughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—It did appear to hire that that hon. gentleman was too honest, too straightforward on this occasion, too like his leaders in this respect.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That is something which you don’t like at all.

Some Hon. Members—Oh, oh!

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington] did not like the exhibition of those qualities which the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] had made. He (Mr. O.) thought it was very unfair to have charged the hon. member (Mr. Parker) and his party generally with factiousness—very unfair and unreasonable to do so.

Some Hon. MembersRenewed merriment.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—Had not those hon. gentlemen now in opposition, smoothed for the party in power the way to office. They had acted in this matter in a manner truly praiseworthy. Hon. gentleman on the Treasury benches should return their opponents thanks for having removed, among other embarrassments the difficulty as to the school bill, and that as to Rep. by Pop., and the militia question.

Some Hon. MembersCheers and laughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—By the militia bill the country obtained the minimum of efficiency as regards the militia for the maximum of expense. Now, the removal of those difficulties on the part  of the present Opposition, for the benefit of the Ministerial party, was an act of very great self-denial indeed. It was also no small self-denial on the part of the late Finance Minister [Luther Holton] to have risked his own reputation as a financial statesmen, and, after doing so much to rescue the country from the sad state in which it was plunged, to retire on behalf of the present Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] and leave him so many valuable ideas.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—Perhaps this was one of those “weak sacrifices” on the part of the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] dictated by that strong friendship said to exist between him and the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt]—a sacrifice made to give the latter an opportunity of restoring the balance between income and expenditure, which had been done too in a way that nobody as yet raised any valid objection to.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—As to the canal tolls, he knew this much, that as long as the policy of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] in regard to the abolition of this duty had existed, trade continued to increase with rapid strides, while it began to diminish the moment the tolls were reimposed.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—This was the main figures before him, but understood that even under the present system there would not be a great diminution of the revenue from canal tolls, but that there would be enough collected to cover the expenses of the canals and yield $20,000 or $30,000.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—No; no.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke] said that the alteration, as regards the revenue, by the exemptions in question would be very trifling indeed; that the falling off in trade obliged him to make reductions in the estimates for the item of Public Works.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington] said that if any class would be benefitted by the reduction of the tolls it was the Western farmers who sent their goods to market.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—He was prepared to vote for the policy of the Government, in this respect, knowing it would benefit his constituents. The temper of the Western States towards us could not but be affected by the reduction of those tolls. They had a great interest in seeing the Canadian canals being made the highway for the trade of the West. It was believed that, but for this war, the Western people would have taken steps to increase the facilities of our inland navigation for the advantage of their trade. It was inexpedient at this time, when the Reciprocity Treaty was expiring, in the teeth of the Chicago and other Western Boards of Trade to shut up the St. Lawrence route to the Western people in the way in which hit was done by the hon. gentleman opposite.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

It being six o’clock, the Speaker left the Chair.

After the recess—

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington] went on to say that one very good reason why he would refrain from indulging in any very lengthy remarks was the fact that he had already had an opportunity of meeting his constituents, and did not, therefore, require to make an election speech.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—There was still another cause why he would be brief, and that was for sanitary reasons at this hour on this kind of night.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—It would be well that hon. gentleman opposite should understand the real question at issue, as involved in the motion now before the House. That motion could have but one intention, and that was to drive the Government into asking for a dissolution.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—He (Mr. Cartwright) disputed the position which had been assumed by the hon. member for North Wellington (Mr. Parker) to the effect that we should consider the mere motion itself, and not the issue which it involved. Such a limited view might be taken by a delegate at a convention, but ought not to be held by the representative of a constituency not he floor of this House.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—He (Mr. Cartwright) repeated that he had stated the true issue, and contended that, should a dissolution result from  the vote to be taken to-night, the responsibility would rest with the leaders of the Opposition, with the hon. gentlemen who had introduced this motion, and with these hon. members who supported it.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—He, therefore, charged all these hon. gentlemen with improperly and factiously attempting to drive the country into a dissolution which we did not want, and which would entail a far greater outlay than the amount which it was urged we would lose by the reduction in the canal tolls.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—The professed object which the late Government had in view was to reduce the expenditure and equalize it with the revenue, and their attempt to force a dissolution, now that they were in opposition, was in direct contradiction with these promises. Now he had taken the opportunity of drawing up a species of balance-sheet shewing the relative results of the success of the course sought to be pursued by the opposition, and that followed by the Government; and he found, in sound numbers, a sum of nearly three million in favor of the Government. And what, after all, would be the position of the hon. members on the Opposition side of the House if, contrary to their own expectations, they carried this vote? Would they derive any gain from it? If they had carried a certain number of Upper Canadian constituencies with the Governmental influence of the day in their favor, did they think they would be likely to gain any more with the influence of the Government them?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—Them hon. gentleman in opposition really feared was that they would have to undergo some seven or eight years’ banishment from office. He (Mr. Cartwright) was not prepared to say that their fears were not well grounded.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—They might be afraid of extravagance; but they were far more afraid that the hon. gentleman now in power would practice economy and reform.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—They saw with terror that the hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] had done, in two weeks, what it had taken the former Government two years to promise.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Richard Cartwright [Lennox & Addington]—They feared that the Finance Minster [Alexander Galt] would have a surplus instead of a deficit, and that he would gain the confidence and support of this House and the country.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Fitzwilliam Chambers [Brockville] now proceeded to give his reasons for non-confidence in the Government, charging several of its members with corruption, extravagant expenditure and political inconsistency. His remarks occasioned much merriment, and occasionally elicited Opposition cheers.

George Jackson [Grey] said that though the member for North Wellington (Mr. Parker) asked for delay last night before going to a vote on the question, in order to hear the arguments of the Ministry, he rose to-day, and, without having heard a word from them, made a violent speech against the Government and declared his opposition to them.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Jackson [Grey]—He deprecated the attempts made by hon. gentlemen opposite, to raise sectional feeling, believing that the aim of all parties should be to carry on the Government of the country in a spirit of harmony. He did not see how any other Government could have been formed at the time it came into power.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Jackson [Grey]—The House should consider that the defeat of the Government must leaf to all the expense and trouble of a general election. The Government had shown already a great visor and a desire to grapple with the difficulties of the country. The hon. gentleman went on to defend the Government in general terms and express his confidence in it, and his intention to oppose the amendment.

Pierre Huot [Quebec East] addressed the House at some length, from an opposition point of view. He would vote for the motion.

John Scoble [Elgin West] proceeded to criticize the financial policy of the Government, arguing that if we were to lose nothing by the reduction of the tolls, as hon. gentleman opposite had claimed, there was no call for the imposition of a stamp duty. He believed it would be wise to continue the policy of the late Government with respect to the canal tolls.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South] said the question before the House was one of no slight magnitude—one which affected the great interests of the country. It was a question which should not be regarded in a narrow, sectional spirit, but in a broad and comprehensive view. It was evident the canals were not intended for Canadian purposes exclusively, but were designed to accommodate the Western trade. This country was, no doubt, one which might become a great carrying country, and the canals could be made largely available for this object. The hon. gentleman read an extract from a publication of Mr. T.C. Keefer, pointing out the importance of the St. Lawrence route, and the practicability of increasing our revenue from canal tolls by attracting hither a larger portion of the Western trade. The question was whether we should adopt such a policy as would ensure to ocean vessels frequenting our ports abundant freight homewards, and thus cheapen freight outwards for the benefit of the consumers in this country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—He was perfectly convinced that the object of the Government, in reducing those tolls, was to effect this desirable result, and that such would be the effect of their action in the matter. The object of the Government should be first to equalize revenue and expenditure, and then to adopt such steps as would attract to our waters a larger portion of the great volume of the Western trade. The hon. gentleman went on to show that the Opposition, in bringing forward this motion, were acting factiously—doing the very thing with which they charged their opponents while the latter were in opposition. The Opposition charged their opponents with bringing forward three motions of non-confidence last session; but there were at this moment as many similar motions, as regards this Government on the papers.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Morris [Lanark South]—He did believe that the defeat of the Government and the bringing about of a general election, which would have the effect of regarding public business, prolonging our present political difficulties, would have a most disastrous effect, and would be highly injurious and unsatisfactory to the country. He could not be a party to a course which would entail such an undesirable result, and would oppose the amendment.

John Cameron [Peel] could not understand how the Independent members could justify themselves in opposing the Government at present. Did those members believe that if the Ministry were defeated the Opposition would be able to form a Government? Would that party be competent to do so at present—one that had lately abandoned office from sheer inability longer to carry on the Government?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Cameron [Peel]—There was no motion carried against the late Government, which actually died of inanition.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter and cheers.

John Cameron [Peel]—They had said that their Administrative policy could not be attacked. Way, their conduct in regard to the Intercolonial Railway was of a character which had caused the name of Canada to be more strongly thought of and reflected upon than anything that ever occurred. The present Government had been denounced as the corrupt Cartier-Macdonald Government; but he was not ashamed to follow the lead of those at the head of this Administration, as he had every confidence in it and every desire to give it a fair trial believing that there was no more able financier in the country than the present talented Finance Minister [Alexander Galt].

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John Cameron [Peel]—The result of the elections, as regards the Liberal Conservative party, whose members had been opposed with all the ability and energy of the members of the party opposite, including Hon. Mr. Brown and the Globe, had been highly satisfactory, 10 out of 11 of the gentleman who went to the country having been returned, many by a large majority. Then, with what reason could the Opposition come forward and contend they were capable of carrying on the Government, and that Ministers had not the confidence of the country. Had he (Mr. C.) been here during the late crisis he would have resisted strenuously, either in the House of caucus, any attempt at a fusion of opposite parties. He would never approve of men of different political principles meeting together and swallowing those principles to unite in taking office.

George Brown [Oxford South]—Hear, hear.

John Cameron [Peel]—He (Mr. C.) was more in favor of carrying on honest party government.

George Brown [Oxford South]—Hear, hear.

John Cameron [Peel]—Such desertions of principle were condemned in single instances, and how could they be justified in the case of several parties. It was simply impossible. It was unjust and calculated to bring politics and politicians into contempt. The hon. gentleman proceeded to answer the arguments of the member for North Wellington [Thomas Parker], contending that it was altogether wrong in any member to complain of one section of the Province being governed by the others; that the majority as a whole must be regarded as that on which Government should justify rely, and

  • (p. 151)

that the Double Majority was not a judicious principle, or one on which the country should be governed. The hon. gentleman concluded by declaring his conference in the canal policy of the Government, and his belief that the men who so recently retired from office, having utterly failed to conduct the affairs of the country, were not in a position of success, or with any likelihood of carrying on the Government as well as the hon. gentleman now on the Treasury benches.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Lucius Huntington [Shefford] complimented the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Cameron) on his able and eloquent speech, and contended that he had admitted that the new Government was nothing more or less than the old Cartier-Macdonald Government back again. He went on at considerable length to argue that, by voting confidence in this Administration, the House would therefore be declaring its confidence in the Cartier-Macdonald Government. He charged the Government with holding out a threat of dissolution, and condemned their policy both generally and in detail.

John Pope [Compton] believed that the Cartier-Macdonald Government were not without their sins, and that the same remark would apply to the Government which preceded and succeeded it. Although there were three members of the Cartier-Macdonald Government in the present Administration, there were nine other hon. gentlemen for their colleagues who had a certain standing and reputation to support—men who would not remain in the Cabinet if they believed their leaders did not intend to carry out honestly the professions made to the country.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John Pope [Compton]—He believed that the policy of the Government on the question of the canal tolls was a wise one, and calculated to advance the interests of the country.

Arthur Rankin [Essex] said it appeared to him, from what he had seen in the newspapers, there had been recently a most lamentable exhibition of total want of principle on the part of the leaders of both parties. When the crisis arrived that led to the resignation of the late Ministry, there was a desire manifested on both sides for a coalition. From the admission made on both sides, he was of opinion that no principle separated the one side of the House from the other. The words “Conservative” and “Reformer” had been much used of late. A Conservative was one who desires to perpetuate British influence on this continent. Was there anybody here who admitted a desire to weaken that influence? Was there any one who desired to establish republican institutions? If there was, surely the events of the last two or three years must effectually cure any such desire. Under the present circumstances, he saw no great principle separating gentleman on either side. When a coalition took place between opposing political parties, it was found that there was an abandonment of principle. In the event of a coalition now, what principle would be abandoned? What violation of principle would there be were gentleman on either side to enter into a consultation as to how a Government could be established that would command the support of a majority of the House? The late Government escaped defeat by flying from the field. When last in the House, he did his best to overthrow the Cartier-Macdonald Government, and extended a generous and unconditional support to their successors. But another Government succeeded, and he was in no way committed to them. He could not see how the country would be benefitted by his lending his assistance to bring about a state of confusion. He did not choose to lend his assistance to bring about or perpetuate a succession of cries. If ever there was a time when men true to their country should desire to establish a strong Government, now was the time. Recent successors of the Federal Government brought the truth home to the heart of every loyal men. While he did not pretend to express any special confidence in the present Government, he thought, he would be discharging his duty by declining to vote for the motion of the hon. member for Hochelaga.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Arthur Rankin [Essex]—He wished it to be distinctly understood that in giving this vote he did not pledge himself to support either party in this House, but intended to occupy a thoroughly independent position. He owed neither party anything, both having deeply wronged him in regard to excluding him from the House for two years. The hon. gentleman then proceeded to relate the circumstances connected with the Essex election, commenting upon the frauds committed by his opponents to his serious injury, and stating that nothing had been done to being the offenders to justice.

William Howland [York West] spoke at considerable length on the question of canal tolls, contending that the policy pursued, by the Government of which he was member was most calculated to advance the material interests of the country. He quoted a number of statistics from the Trade and Navigation Returns; was the greater portion of his remarks were inaudible in the gallery.

No other hon. gentlemen rising to speak, the order was given to “Call in the members,” amid loud cheers from the Ministerial side.

At a quarter or twenty minutes past one a. m., the division was taken, with the following results:—



Bell (Lanark)
Dorion (Hochelaga)
Dorion (Drummond & Arthabaska)
Dufresne (Iberville)
Macdonald (Glengarry)
Macdonald (Toronto West)
Macdonald (Cornwall)
Mackenzie (Lambton)
Mackenzie (Oxford North)
Ross (Prince Edward)
Smith (Toronto East)
Smith (Durham East)
Wallbridge (Hastings North)
and Wright (York East)—62.



Bell (Russell)
Cartier (Attorney-General)
De Boucherville
Dufresne (Montcalm)
Ferguson (Simcoe South)
Ferguson (Frontenac)
Jones (Leeds South)
Jones (Leeds & Grenville North)
Le Boutillier
Macdonald (Attorney-General)
Ross (Champlain)
Ross (Dundas)
and Wright (Ottawa County)—64.

The number having been announced by the Clerk—

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] rose and said—I wish to enquire of the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], before the House adjourns, if the results which have taken place to-night put the Government in a position to have a commanding majority?

Some Hon. MembersMinisterial cheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The Attorney General West declared, the other day, that nothing would induce him to continue to remain in the Government unless he possessed a controlling and commanding majority of the House.

Some Hon. MembersMinisterial cheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—We are entitled to know whether the results of to-night are entirely satisfactory to him. We are entitled to know this; for it is not improbable that, at a very early day, we shall have something to say as to the mode resorted to to obtain this majority of two.

Some Hon. MembersMinisterial cheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I think we shall have something to say in connection with that majority, about tampering with an Election Committee.

Some Hon. MembersCries of “Order, order,” and Ministerial cheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—We are entitled, before we are asked to adjourn, to an explicit statement from the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], as to who here he considers the majority with which he has defeated me, as one that justifies him in carrying on the business of the country.

Some Hon. MembersLoud Ministerial cheers.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I think it is generally the custom on occasions of this kind for the leader of the Opposition to apply to the Government, but I have yet to learn that the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] has assumed the position of leader of that party. I do not see why the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] allows himself to be put aside in this manner. There is a wide difference between the two honorable members. The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] has on more than one occasion shown a disregard for office; but the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], on this as on other occasions has exhibited a lamentable desire to hold or gain office.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I am sure he has his portfolio prepared, and is quite ready with all his magnificent ideas, a small stock of which he left to the hon. member for Sherbrooke [Alexander Galt].

Some Hon. MembersApplause and laughter.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—He is already overcome by excitement. He could not suppress his rage at the defeat his party has sustained. He asked what the Government are going to do. I think we had better take example from men greater and better then ourselves. There was once an Administration in Canada composed of men of some talent. He was a member of that Administration. That Government commenced with a majority of 2 on a vote of want of confidence on the Address. They did not resign next day and did not appeal to the country. A fortnight afterwards, this majority had increased to three. At the end of the session they had another majority of three. They held office for a whole session. They came down with a speech promising everything. At the beginning of the session they knew right well the exact figure of their majority. They had no right to suppose, unless they were going about improperly inveigling members, that they were stronger at the beginning of the session than they were at the end of the last. The course the Government will take is to go on with the business of the country.

Some Hon. MembersLoud cheers.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] said it was now clearly evident that that professions of hon. gentleman opposites were hollow and unreal.

The House then, at 20 minutes to two a.m., adjourned.

Leave a Reply