Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (29 February 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 38-43.
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MONDAY, Feb. 29th, 1864
THE DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS
- (p. 39)
Hon. Mr. Cartier said that according to Mr. Clarke’s estimate it would be $12,000,000. Perhaps the hon. gentleman’s question was designed as a sort of tangent to ward off the attack which he (Mr. Cartier) was seen to be meditating upon the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands.
The hon. member for Grenville had estimated the cost of the canal at $24,000,000, but this contemplated larger locks, and perhaps a deeper channel than those embraced in Mr. Clarke’s estimate. But even though the cost of bringing Chicago 400 miles nearer Montreal than to New York should be $24,000,000, the improvement would be worth that. Supposing Canada deprived for a single winter of the bonding system of the United States, the additional cost of the goods imported to the people of the country, would reach not $24,000,000, but £100,000,000.
Canadians would have to buy in winter all their goods in the United States, and pay therefor not only more than their value, for a profit to the manufacturer and importer, but the high duty of 40 to 50 per cent., imposed under the Morrill tariff. That was his answer in regard to the cost of the great work contemplated.
Mr. Samuel B. Ruggles reported to the effect that from the facts set forth in his pamphlet, it was evident that the Ottawa Ship Canal, when contemplated, must become, in a commercial point of view, the most formidable rival in Canada of the Erie Canal, while its military importance enabling the Government to despatch squadrons of gunboats, with troops, directly from Montreal to the Straits of Makinaw, commanding the American shore, could not be over estimated. This noble route presenting the opn gate to the commerce of the West, was three miles wide here, pointing, it was said to the enlargement of the New York and Illinois Canals. The Americans stated that the number of locks in the Erie Canal was 74, while only 61 were required in the Ottawa Canal, and that the elevation of the water of this route would be 600 feet, while that of the former is 590 feet. This matter was thoroughly understood in the States, and the fact that the execution of the Ottawa Ship Canal project would be of the greatest benefit to the trade of this country.
When in the States, conversing with his American friends upon the present war, he had told them that had our system of government prevailed there, they would have been exempted from their present trouble; that their system brought the majority against the minority without any counterpoise to the dangerous action of the majority. He illustrated his meaning by referring to the position of the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands.
Formerly there was not a member from Upper Canada more in favor of Representation by Population; but he (Mr. Cartier) was glad to see, the other day, a report of his speech, in which he stated representation by population to be an impossibility.
Laughter and cheers.
Well, if the hon. gentleman had been obliged to make that avowal and to abandon all hope of carrying his former favorite measure, it was owing to the opposition from this side of the House.
When on a former occasion, in this House, the hon. member for South Simcoe made a motion in favor of Representation by Population, almost in the very words in which the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands himself couched the same motion at the preceding session, the hon. gentleman, on being twitted with abandoning the measure, made an elaborate speech to take his excuse.
He (Mr. Cartuer) remembered congratulating him on his conversion to his (Mr. Cartier’s) side on this question, in present of the present hon. Finance Minister, then in the Legislative Council. The latter said, in reply—“Cartier you are right; it was the best thing ever done in your line of policy.”
Hear, and laughter.
But the hon. gentleman expressed himself in a manner showing an immense amount of anger and dissatisfaction on his part at the way in which the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had expressed himself upon the subject.
Then again, the hon. gentleman had disavowed further adherence to Representation by Population, at the Ottawa dinner, knowing, doubtless, this doctrine was not in favor there. But what amused him most was, that the hon. Finance Minister, though belonging to Lower Canada, appeared highly displeased with the desertion of the above measure by the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands. The former hon. gentleman, though in favor of this doctrine dare not avow it.
One of the greatest proofs of the wisdom of our representative Government was the compromise come to on the representation question by the hon. gentlemen now on the Treasury benches.
This compromise had also been made by the supporters of the Government, including the hon. member for South Oxford, the most energetic and able man on that side of the House, who lacked nothing but accuracy with regard to the stating of figures and facts.
No doubt the majority of the members on the other side supported the hon. premier, not because they approved of his political principles for he had none—none especially that would accord with those of the hon. member for South Oxford—but out of a love for the present and prospective sweets of office. Well, not perhaps having abandoned his own opinion on representation by population, he had resolved to swallow the conversion and recantation of the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands on this subject.
Laughter and cheers.
It made little difference whether he (Mr. Cartier) was in power or not so long as his party had a majority in the Houser and could compel, as at present, the Ministry to adopt their (the Opposition) policy in order to retain power, and declare publicly that their former political opinions and ideas were wrong.
Cheers and laughter.
Hon. George Brown—No, no; you mistake.
Hon. Mr. Cartier—He may not say it publicly, but we did not care whether these avowals or recantations were spoken or not, so long as they were uttered in deed. Did he not support the Government whose members avowed they had to abandon representation by population? When in the States, conversing with the Americans upon the nature of our Government, he instanced the compromise on the part of the members of our administration on the subject of representation by population, for the purpose of retaining office, to show the advantages of our system, and also referred to the course of the hon. member for South Oxford on the matter. No doubt that hon. gentleman, at the next elections in Upper Canada, would agitate the country from north to south with this cry; but the people would understand it was uttered for the purpose of humbug and for mere party objects.
The hon. gentleman went on to say that the member for South Oxford [George Brown] found himself now obliged to support the Government, and therefore could not say a word about his former principles. His immense news-sheet, at one time filled with eloquent appeals about the rights of Upper Canada, and the hard treatment it suffered at the hands of Lower Canada, was now taken up, throughout its whole extent, with details of the American war, or length explanations of the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, but not a line, not a word scarcely about these questions, which, in the eyes of the hon. member and his friends and supporters, were once the most important in the whole range of Canadian politics.
Laughter and cheers.
It was really humiliating to see such a leading Canadian politician as the hon. gentleman (Mr. Brown) reduced to such a position—supporting a Government and upholding its principles, but not daring to say a word about his own.
In fact, the hon. gentleman had, by his actions, given the strongest possible proof of his adherence to the doctrine enunciated by the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands.
He (Mr. Cartier) would here take occasion to say that, during the present debate, he had endeavored to be as polite and deferential to hon. members opposite as possible—in fact, he appealed to the House whether he had not followed this rule during the debate, the other evening, when he had occasion to arise to a matter of fact, in reply to the hon. member for Missisquoi; and afterwards, when he began to speak on the Address, he studiously forebore to say anything which was personally offensive, and if he had asked any questions in relation to the Reciprocity Treaty, it was with the sole desire of obtaining necessary information.
He (Mr. Cartier) at least thought he had endeavored to adhere to this rule; but he was told there was an appreciation of his remarks in the Globe somewhat to the effect that that ruffian Cartier had used very rude language.
Laughter and cheers.
He was sure his hon. friend from South Oxford was not personally a party to such an appreciation; but even if he was, he (Mr. Cartier) would feel disposed to forgive him, inasmuch as he could not say anything now about Representation by Population, and it was left for his newspaper to abuse “that confounded little Frenchman Cartier.”
He thought, however, it was somewhat hard, as he had tried, to be as courteous as he possibly could. The course the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] was now pursuing might be very satisfactory to himself; but the public would accept it as proof positive that Representation by population was burst up.
But he (Mr. Cartier) could not consent to pass over the hon. Postmaster-General without mention.
That hon. gentleman was an able lawyer and a first-class politician. However, his feelings were somewhat strong, and they now and then burst out. For instance, last session, when the hon. member for South Oxford had made his unfortunate motion about the Ottawa buildings, the hon. Postmaster-General who discovered some considerable discrepancy between the Government policy, as he understood it, and the Governmental policy as it was announced by the Attorney-General, resolved to take action upon it; and next day we had the explanations of the hon. member for South Ontario, that he had determined to sever connexion with the Government; but that if they would adduce sufficient satisfactory proof to show that the buildings would be ready at a certain date, all would yet be right.
Where was the additional evidence? What proof did the hon. gentleman receive after the statement he made which he could not have got before?
The office of Public Works was open to him—he could have ransacked it for all possible details, and there was, in reality, nothing to be established to his satisfaction afterwards, which he could not have had before.
The hon. gentleman from South Ontario (Mr. Mowat) was also silent on the Representation question. Just like so many of his colleagues and supporters—he had no grievance to complain of now that he had tasted the sweets of office. It was to be hoped that at the election time they would all be as candid as the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had been on a recent occasion, when he announced that the Representation principle had been abandoned.
At any rate, since hon. gentlemen on the Ministerial benches and their supporters had given up all the shams and humbugs out of which they once made capital, he hoped they would at once honestly and energetically set themselves to work for the purpose of attending to the urgent necessities of the country.
We were threatened, he need scarcely repeat, with the abrogation of two things which would do us great injury. No doubt, we could, to a great extent, remedy the loss by building the Intercolonial Railway; but that was not sufficient—we must have produce or trade sufficient to occupy and employ our new trade channels. Perhaps the produce of United Canada would be insufficient; and should this prove to be the case, we would have to look to the rich, great and growing West for the necessary trade. He might he remark that he had supported the Queen’s decision in the favor of Ottawa as the Seat of Government, because if a Lower Canadian city had been selected an outcry would have been raised in Upper Canada, whereas if a Western city had been chosen there would have been considerable dissatisfaction in Lower Canada; but, in fixing upon Ottawa, both parties, so to speak, effected a compromise and met upon neutral ground. There was, however, another consideration which entered his (Mr. Cartier’s) mind and it was this—he hoped that when the Legislature was at Ottawa their attention must be attracted to the immense forests of that district, and the desirability of doing everything we could to develope its resources and open it up to settlement; and that, at the same time, the necessity of improvements to the navigation of the Ottawa would be at once seen and their importance admitted. It was, he must admit, rather flattering to him to find that the hon. Attorney-General East was now so anxious to do justice to the rights of Ottawa, after having so frequently attacked him (Mr. Cartier) on the ground that he betrayed the cause of Lower Canada because he wished to carry out the Queen’s decision. Nor was this happy conversion confined to the to the Attorney-General East alone; the other members of the Government were equally desirous of keeping the Ottawa members under the pleasing delusion that they were their only staunch friends.
Even the Finance Minister had his particular word of advice for the Ottawa people. And here he would like to ask, apropos of the Finance Minister, where were those great financial measures which were, if we could believe the friends of the Government, about to place us in a sort of terrestrial paradise? Where were those great measures foreshadowed by the Montreal Herald, and by the small Government organ here, the Mercury?
We were almost told by them that there was an excess of revenue over the expenditure, but of course the Finance Minister knew this was mere humbug, and so he wisely held his tongue about them.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Holton[?])
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therefore takes the opportunity of the presence here of the Ottawa Deputation to inform us what would be the result if the Government were not supported. The country must regret such a course as this. Inasmuch as it undoubtedly tended to degrade and lower our system of Government.
The next paragraph of the Address to which, in regular order, he would refer, was that one relating to the Intercolonial Railway which was in these words—
“That while we regret to learn that unforeseen obstacles have retarded the survey of the route of the proposed Railway between this Province and the Slater Colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we are glad to know that arrangements are now in progress which, His Excellency trusts, will soon lead to the execution of this preliminary work, the result of which will enable all parties to form a more satisfactory estimate than is possible at present of the expense and practicability of the proposed undertaking.”
He was sorry to say that this clause was just as great a sham as that having reference to the Ottawa River improvements.
Of course they dare not back out of it entirely. They were forced at least to make mention of the Intercolonial Railway project in a prominent manner, because we were threatened with the abolition of the bonding system.
He recollected, last year, that the hon. member for North Hastings had argued in opposition to the view taken by him (Mr. Cartier) on the ground that it was altogether a local enterprise, one which concerned Lower Canada alone, and which should be constructed by Lower Canada alone.
Now he (Mr. Cartier) gave the hon. member (Mr. Wallbridge) the credit of being candid and sincere in his discussion of the question; and perhaps the hon. member would recollect that, in his (Mr. Cartier’s) reply, he had urged as a reason in favor of the railway, the probable abolition of the bonding system.
Mr. T.C. Wallbridge begged to correct the hon. member. He (Mr. Wallbridge) had objected to the scheme as a whole, and not on sectional grounds.
Hon. Mr. Cartier said he spoke from memory, and might perhaps be mistaken. At any rate, he (Mr. Cartier) recollected having contended, in reply, that the project ought not to be considered as exclusively Lower Canadian, inasmuch as it concerned Upper Canada more, because the latter section of the country had a more numerous population, and in case of the eventuality to which he had referred occurring, they would feel the privation of being cut off from access with the seaboard more than we would in Lower Canada, because our wants were less.
Mr. T.C. Wallbridge recollected the line of argument the hon. gentleman had followed. He might add that he (Mr. Wallbridge) had not opposed the project on its own merits, but in consideration of the expense.
Hon. Mr. Cartier complimented the hon. gentleman for his sincerity in treating this question. However, he (Mr. Cartier) had endeavored to bring the hon. gentleman (Mr. Wallbridge) to his views, for he (Mr. Cartier) was a supporter of the scheme, and would be in favor of any grant to carry it out. Even if the bonding system were continued undisturbed—even if no change were made in our commercial arrangements with the United States, this was no reason a great country like Canada should be dependant on any other country for access to the sea-board.
And if he (Mr. Cartier) recollected the circumstances aright, the hon. member for North Hastings had come across the House to him (Mr. Cartier) after his speech, and said that he had not considered the bonding system. The Government was highly blameable for the vagueness of this paragraph, and for still talking about preliminaries, forsooth.
What they should be able to do was to come down with a proper measure to provide means for the carrying out the project. Look at what we were threatened with. Nothing less than the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, and the abolition of the bonding system; but these evils, great as they were, were not all. There was the feeling excited against us in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—the Governments and populations of both Provinces being strongly opposed to us, because of the bad faith which had characterized the conduct of our Government in reference to this matter. So strong was the feeling against us in the sister provinces, that they were now considering the desirability of a railway, not in our direction at all, but in the direction of the State of Maine.
Well, the Attorney General East was certainly in a rather difficult, and by no means consistent position with regard to this measure. The project was so unsavory in the nostrils of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Dorion) that he had resigned his seat in the Government, and caused them no small amount of trouble. No doubt, the Government were speaking as vaguely as possible, and their pretended action in favor of the Railway was all a sham and a humbug. It should be borne in mind that it would not require a very long line of railroad to place Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in connection with the sea-shore railroad of Maine, which, he believed, extended as far north as Bangor, and through which they would connect with Boston. It would also be recollected that it was with great difficulty the Lower Provinces were induced to assent to the Fishery privileges, without which we would not have had the Reciprocity Treaty.
Suppose either of these Lower Provinces required an advance of money to enable them, to build their railroad towards Maine, might they not enter into some new arrangement, now, in connexion with the fisheries, for which they would obtain the necessary aid? What an injurious result it would have if the duplicity and bad faith of our Government drove the sister Provinces to this course. We should eventually have to build the Intercolonial Railway altogether at our own cost, although they had desired to become parties to a fair arrangement with us long ago. We might be told that great expense would be incurred by the construction of the railway, but it should be recollected it would save us the subsidy for ocean steam service, inasmuch as by means of this railway we would be in constant connection with Halifax, where steamers are sailing almost daily for England.
He (Mr. Cartier) did not think, with some, that as a commercial undertaking the proposed railway would not pay. It should not be forgotten that New Brunswick, with its small population consumed 600,000 barrels of flour annually—all of which now came via Boston. The sister Province of Nova Scotia had also a very creditable amount of shipping belonging to the Province; and altogether he believed the railway, if constructed, would give a very fair return. We were told that unforeseen obstacle had arisen to its construction. What were they?
The mover and seconder of the Address had not, in this instance, supplied the want of information in the Speech. We were left utterly in the dark as to the nature of the unforeseen circumstances, and, in fact, we would have heard nothing at all about the project, if it were not for the threat of abolishing the bonding system. It was only when the difficulty was upon us that these gentlemen commenced to act. And how did they act? They told us very naively that there would be an explanation as to the practibility of the road, when we had all the necessary information already, and all the facts before us. If the Government really understood the wants of the country, they would have gone further; but, doubtless, they had a very good excuse. They knew that they did not posses the confidence of the House—that they could not carry their measures—that, in fact, they would not last long, and so they only used the Speech as a sort of programme to which they could refer when they fell. It was for their own personal gratification, no doubt, because when they fell they would soon be forgotten.
When the leaders of the present Opposition were in power—although the necessity of the Intercolonial Railway was by no means so great as at present—yet they took the question in a bold, straight-forward manner. Did they content themselves with talking about the survey and the preliminaries?
No, they went at once into the question on its merits; they proceeded at once to consider the means by which the project should be carried out. Delegates were sent to England about it, and everything in the power of the Government was done. In 1858, after the fall of the Brown-Dorion Government, three delegates went to England and urged the consideration of the scheme on the Imperial Government, and again, in 1861, one of his (Mr. Cartier’s) colleagues and another gentleman, were sent to bring it prominently under the notice of the Government of the mother-country once more; and the result was that, by the efforts of the Government of the day, they succeeded in interesting the Imperial Government in the measure, and His Grace the Duke of Newcastle took it up, although some of his colleagues were hostile to it. This was immediately followed by the scheme of the Imperial guarantee on the loan, and the project was in the best possible way for success.
The conduct of hon. gentlemen on the Ministerial benches, with regard to it had, however, been unwise and unworthy in every respect—not only so far as our commercial relations with the United States were concerned, but also in so far, it was in bad faith towards Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and also in bad faith towards the Duke of Newcastle. In fact, the conduct of the Government had brought disgrace on the whole of Canada. If it had only been on hon. gentlemen on the Treasury Benches that this imputation of bad faith descended it would be no great harm; but unfortunately in England and elsewhere, they did not know sufficiently to discriminate—they were no ware of the difference—they did not know by what unheard of means the Government of the day retained the reins of power; by coercing a member here, and purchasing a member there—
Mr. Macfarlane—Can you be purchased over there?
Hon. Mr. Cartier—No, the hon. member for Missisquoi was the last.
Hon. Mr. Holton would like to know whether the hon. gentleman really pretended to say that the hon. member for Missisquoi had received a consideration form the Government? The hon. gentleman was very wrong in using such language.
Hon. Mr. Cartier said he had only repeated the general opinion of the country. He spoke of a political purchase, and he did not day there had been a money consideration. He had not, therefore, any expression to recall.
Hon. Mr. Holton said that a very small portion of the country would believe the hon. gentleman. It was wholly and totally false.
Cries of Hear, hear, and Oh, oh.
Hon. Mr. Cartier went on to say that we could not afford any more delay about the Intercolonial Railway. It should be taken up by the House, since neither the House nor the country had confidence in the Government. It was our duty to take up this project, and construct this railway at the joint expense of the three Provinces. One thing, at any rate, was quite certain; and that was—if the Reciprocity Treaty and the bonding system were not abolished this year, they would be abolished so soon as the Lower Provinces had become involved in the scheme for the construction of the sea-shore line through Maine,
While alluding to the Reciprocity Treaty, he (Mr. Cartier) was glad to perceive, by the line of argument recently adopted in his newspaper, that the hon. member for South Oxford was becoming a convert to his (Mr. Cartier’s) views; and he hoped he would shew equal good judgment with reference to the Intercolonial Railway; but he hoped, too, that the hon. member—considering the great advantage of having access to the sea-board through our own territory, and other desirable benefits—would do something more material for it than he had done for Representation by Population.
Laughter and cheers.
It being six o’clock, the Speaker left the chair.
After the recess—
Hon. Mr. Cartier resumed his discourse and referred to but did not read an article in a recent issue of a New Brunswick paper, the St. John’s Morning News, denouncing in the strongest terms the shameless and faithless conduct of the Canadian Government in the negotiations affecting the Intercolonial Railway. He would now take up the next paragraph of the Address, relating to the great Territories lying to the north-west of this Province. He recollected that in 1858, the present Ministerial party and prominent among them the hon. member for South Oxford, had found fault with the then Government on the ground that their proceedings were too weak and wishy-washy, and would produce no result. But what did the Government of that day do? They adopted an address to Her Majesty couched in the most energetic but respectful language placing the whole subject under Her gracious consideration; and these proceedings were attacked by the then Opposition as not being strong enough. They advised the Government of the day to declare themselves at once masters of the Red River settlement; and the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] urged that, by this means, in the case of an arrest or some proceeding of that kind, involving the right of jurisdiction, the legal question could be tried.
When the House and the country recollected the noise and bluster vented years ago by the party then in opposition on this territorial question and compared it with the paragraph, he was now discussing which mildly spoke of a “definition of boundary” the result must excite at once disgust and astonishment. A definition of the geographical boundaries forsooth!
Why the Government were dealing ever in preliminaries, always in preliminaries, they appeared unable to get beyond preliminaries.
Hear, hear, and cheers.
The hon. gentleman then proceeded to read the Address presented to Her Majesty in 1858, contrasting its force, energy and explicitness with the wishy-washy proceedings of 1864. What was the great difficulty to the Address in question being carried, although it was carried as the journals shewed? The difficulty was raised by the Opposition—the present Ministerial party—on the ground that the proceeding was not proper and did not assert our territorial rights in a definite manner.
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Well, as he had already said, the Address was carried, and the subject was urged by delegates upon the Imperial Government. But so far as the action of the present Government was concerned, what good was there to be derived? If the Address containing the vague and unsatisfactory paragraph he had read were adopted, the Government would tell us that they were not pledged to anything—that the allusion to the “definition of our boundaries” amounted just to nothing at all.
Hon. gentleman opposite might, however, feel assured that they would be held responsible by this House and the country, not only for the contents of the Address, but for these great great questions which were omitted from it.
Was it not absurd—was it not ridiculous in the extreme to make His Excellency say that he had considered it advisable to open a correspondence with the Imperial Government, when that Government had already been approached in the most solemn and direct manner in which it could be approached, and even urged upon them by delegates. It was thus patent to the country, to the discredit of the Government, that not only did they content themselves with alluding in a vague and indefinite manner to the leading questions of the day, but that nearly all these questions had already been fully entered into by a previous Government. The paragraph in question was only placed there for the purpose of extending the Address—merely to spin out the printed matter.
He (Mr. Cartier) now came to the next paragraph, which was the most sensitive and tender of the whole lot—in fact, it was the touch alone of the Address.
He alluded to the paragraph about the speedy completion of the buildings at Ottawa, and the intended early removal of the seat of Government to that city. No doubt hon. gentlemen on the Ministerial benches would like to be congratulated about their advocacy of Ottawa interests.
He (Mr. Cartier) recollected, a session or two ago, when going over the different clauses of the Address, having been pointed out that there was not a word about Ottawa; and he then told the Government that they would finally be compelled to adopt every line of the Cartier-Macdonald policy. It was natural that it should be so, for this Government in question had taken up and maintained every truly liberal and beneficial public question.
He (Mr. Cartier) and his colleagues had secured the success of Ottawa in the face of the determined opposition offered by honorable gentlemen now on the Ministerial side of the House. The antecedents of these hon. gentlemen should be taken into consideration, on this question, but particularly the antecedents of the Hon. Attorney General East, for he it was who had most strongly opposed it in 1858 and 1859. He need not refer to the first proceedings in 1858, for it was well-known to the country that the Macdonald-Cartier Government and fallen on the Seat of Government question. After that vote, of course it became necessary for Her Majesty’s decision should be affirmed by the House. The question was therefore brought up on the session of 1859, and who was the most determined and pressing antagonist of Ottawa, if not the Hon. Attorney General East?
Laughter and cheers.
He brought forward resolution after resolution. In order to set aside the selection of Her Majesty. It was not necessary for him (Mr. Cartier) to read these divisions; but he would particularly commend them to the attention of hon. gentlemen from the Ottawa District.
He (Mr. Cartier) was then accused by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Dorion) with betraying the interests of Montreal, because he supported the Queen’s decision; but notwithstanding the efforts of the hon. gentleman and his Rouge clique of the city of Montreal, together with their newspaper organs in that city, he (Mr. Cartier) had beaten them twice before the country. He only referred to these facts to undeceive the people of Ottawa as to the question of who were the real friends of their city and District.
If we were not in Ottawa at the present moment to whom did we owe it? Was it not due to the celebrated Commission by whose labors the works had been delayed for a year, with an additional expenditure of $100,000. And now the Government sought credit for adopting a certain course when in reality they could not do otherwise. They deserved no congratulation whatever on this question—they had omitted it entirely last year; and even recently their friends were intriguing, if possible, to effect their object of setting aside Ottawa, and naming Montreal. Even a resolution was moved in the Legislative Council about it, and the Mayor of Montreal was approached; but that gentleman’s sound sense enabled him at once to understand and appreciate the whole affair. If, however, it had been allowed to mature—if the committee asked for by the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had been granted, where would the rights of Ottawa be to-day?
The Seat of Government question was referred to in this way, simply of political mendicancy.
Well, recently—in the month of January, he believed—they managed to get up a dinner in the city of Ottawa. At first it appeared the thing was next to impossible, but finally they managed to get up the dinner, and it seemed that several hon. gentlemen opposite condescended to honor it with their presence. Among these was the hon. Attorney-General West and his colleague, the hon. Attorney-General East, both of whom had made great speeches, which he (Mr. Cartier) had perused while travelling in the United States; and he found in the remarks of the hon. Attorney-General—and here he would express his regret that the hon. gentleman was asleep, as he had something to say to him on a question of fact—well, he (Mr. Cartier) found that the hon. gentleman had talked all the evil he could about the previous Government, was particularly severe on their Grand Trunk policy, and told his hearers that they should be grateful to the present Ministry for stopping the arbitration for postal services, inasmuch as the arbitrator appointed by the Company was willing to pay $300 a mile, and the other arbitrator, appointed by the Government, was in favor of $200 per mile. Well, what were the facts?
The Hon. Geo. Moffatt—an honest, intelligent, upright gentleman—the umpire named by Government, at once took exception to this statement, as any man of honor and character would, if placed in similar circumstances, and wrote a letter to the Montreal Herald, which was the paper in which the report of the speech appeared, saying that, either there must be a mistake in the report, or else the memory of the hon. Premier had failed him, and Mr. Moffatt then placed in juxta-position with the extract from the speech, an extract from his official letter to the then Secretary, Mr. Dorion, in which he said he was of opinion $145 per mile, including side service, should be paid.
It was for the newspaper to state that the report was incorrect, or that the Attorney General West had made a serious error. A thing of this kind should be either acknowledged or rectified. He (Mr. Cartier) did not accuse the hon. gentleman of falsehood—the error might perhaps have arisen from an excess of zeal on the part of the organ in question—the Herald.
Hon. Mr. Holton was understood to remark that the Herald had no report of the dinner.
Hon. Mr. Cartier went on to say, in such case, the report was doubtless copied into the Herald from some Ottawa organ which was quite as veracious.
With regard to the other arbitrator, Judge Draper, he (Mr. Cartier) did not speak so positively, but he believed he was only in favor of $250 per mile, and not $300 as the Premier stated. The charge of contradictory statements against members of the Government did not end here. For instance, the hon. Attorney General East was reported to have said—with regard to the selection of Ottawa as the Seat of Government—that he had opposed it until it was affirmed by the House; but that as soon as it was so affirmed, he always abided by it.
At least, language to this effect was attributed to him. The hon. gentleman if he used such language, should not have been so forgetful of his votes in 1860 and 1861. Again he felt bound to say that the organ was very loose in its statements or else the hon. gentleman (Mr. Dorion) must have been singularly oblivious of the facts. In 1859, as he had already said, the hon. gentleman had been extremely hostile to Ottawa; and on reference to the Journals for 1860, Mr. Piche’s motion to suspend the construction of the Ottawa buildings until the people should have had an opportunity of pronouncing upon the question of a confederation of the Provinces, was made. The motion was rejected by a vote of 24 against 58, and the name of the hon. Attorney General East appeared among the yeas, with the minority who supported that motion. Was this vote which, if successful, would have had for its real effect to do away with the Queen’s decision, favorable to Ottawa?
Did it not show how hostile he was to Ottawa? He had always done so, however, in order to make capital for the Montreal election. Again, in 1861, in the session just preceding the general election of that year the hon. gentleman (Mr. Dorion) did not fail to shew his antipathy and hostility to Ottawa. A motion was made by Mr. Thibaudeau, the then member for Portneuf, seconded by Mr. Piche, condemning the excessive outlay on the Ottawa buildings—a motion condemning the Government for their course on this question. It was the purport, the intent, the object of the motion to prevent any further proceedings.
Did we find the hon. Attorney General East voting against that motion, in accordance with his statement that, since the Queen’s selection had been affirmed be abided by the decision of the House? No, on the contrary, we found his name recorded on the other side, on referring to the decision as it appeared in the journals. Look at this division, and the hon. gentleman from the Ottawa district would find out who were their friends.
There was still another point, in connexion with this Seat of Government question to which he would briefly refer. In fact, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited this country in order lay the corner stone of the Parliament Buildings at Ottawa and to open the Victoria Bridge; and the members of both Houses were invited to meet Him in the first instance here at Quebec, for the purpose of the reception; in the second place at Montreal in order to be present at the opening of the Victoria Bridge; and in the last place at Ottawa to attend the ceremonial of the laying of the corner stone of our public buildings.
Now, it was well understood thing that every hon. gentleman who was a supporter of the Queen’s decision should have graced this occasion with his presence; and he (Mr. Cartier) would like therefore to know if the hon. gentleman (Mr. Dorion) had present at the ceremony of laying the corner stone at Ottawa. He put the question in a direct manner. Would the hon. gentleman answer?
Hon. Mr. Dorion was understood to decline an answer.
Hon. Mr. Cartier went on to say that the hon. gentleman might have been present in the crowd; but he (Mr. Cartier) did not see him there, and he acted, it was to supposed, as certain other Rouge members had acted who were preparing for the general election of the following year.
Well, he (Mr. Cartier) would also remark that certain monies had been placed at the disposal of the members of the Legislature to meet their expenses, to Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa; and be found the name of the hon. member (Mr. Dorion) among the list of those who had received money for their expenses, that hon. gentleman having had $96 or at the rate of $6 per day for sixteen days. Now if the Hon. Attorney General was unable to state that he was present, he had obtained money which he had no right to get; and he hoped therefore that he would show that he had been to Ottawa and could rightly claim the money.
He (Mr. Cartier) did not say that, in fact, the hon. gentleman was not present; but he called upon him to say himself whether he was or not. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Cartier) concluded this portion of his subject by commenting on the expensive and useless nature of the celebrated Ottawa Commission. Not a single charge, of those which had been so freely bandied about, was proven either by this report or by the Report of the Financial Commission. They had not substantiated a single charge of a dishonorable or dishonest nature either against himself (Mr. Cartier) his hon. colleague from Kingston or any other of his former colleagues. On the contrary they had utterly failed in every particular, and they could not do else but fail, inasmuch as his party was always characterized by political honesty and purity.