Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (11 July 1866)

Document Information

Date: 1866-07-11
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 41-42.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).

Click here to view the rest of the Province of Canada’s Confederation Debates for 1866.


Wednesday, July 11, 1866

On the orders of the day being called,

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] said he wished to make a personal explanation without reference to the non-appointment of a Registrar for Lambton. When the question of appointment was before the House a few days ago, the Attorney-General [John A. Macdonald] was reported to have referred to him for an explanation. Now, he had made a recommendation to the Hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] some time ago, and he had never yet heard what action the Government had taken the premises.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]   said as the Hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] was not in his place, it would be proper for the member for Lambton [Mr. Mackenzie] to defer his remarks. He might say, however, that in so far as he (Attorney-General McD.) was concerned, he had received from the member for Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie], notifying him of the death of the Registrar and stating that in the meantime the public interests would not suffer, as a deputy was thoroughly competent to discharge the duties of the office.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—That is quite correct.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] said he supposed it must have been an oversight on the part of the hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] that the recommendation of the hon. member for Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie] had not been sent to the Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald], to whose department the appointment properly belonged. He had no doubt that when the hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] was in the place he would be able to explain the matter.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] said he would defer the question until the hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] had taken his seat.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary], in resuming the debate on Mr. McGiverin’s motion, said the remarks made yesterday at the debate demanded some explanation from those who represent or claim to represent in the Cabinet the views and policy of the great Liberal party, in Upper Canada. He had never risen in the House with a deeper sense of responsibility. When the member for South Oxford [George Brown] opened negotiations with the gentlemen on the other side of the House, for the purpose of laying the foundations of a new empire, to be founded on this continent, thought he proposition startled the House, still he had felt it his duty to sacrifice whatever personal feeling he had against the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], and to support him in his undertaking.

They had met in convention at Quebec with representatives from the Lower Provinces, and he must say, in justice to his Conservative friends in the Government, that no convention could have worked more earnestly, or more laboriously, to work out a scheme satisfactory to  all the Provinces, and he believed that it had met with the approval not only of the Provinces, but of England. It had, however, met with a reverse by a change of Government in New Brunswick, and the government of this country found that if they desired to accomplish the great object for which it had been formed, it must continue to administer the affairs of the country for some months longer than they had anticipated. It had been deemed advisable to send commissioners to the West Indies, to ascertain whether channels of trade could not be opened up there, to compensate for those closed against us in the United States. His colleagues had done him the honor to appoint him one of these commissioners, along with other gentlemen of experience and standing in the country.

Again and again, the minister for South Oxford [George Brown], the Postmaster-General [William Howland], and himself had to consider questions submitted by the Government, questions of appointment to office, as well as questions of policy; and frequently they came to the point whether it was worth their while to leave office or allow certain measures to pass; and no one had been more positive than the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], in signing that they should not endanger the great measure of Confederation by resisting the policy of their colleagues on other points. He had seen with great surprise, on the morning he left for the West Indies a statement that the hon. Mr. Brown had resigned[1], but he received no explanation from that hon. gentleman; on his return he found that the hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] had not considered it his duty to follow the example of the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], and he also found that the hon. member for Brock division [A.J. Fergusson Blair] had seen fit to join the administration.

He also found that it was in contemplation to start a paper in Upper Canada, to defend the policy of the Hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] and those of the Liberal party who had adhered to him, and to his great surprise he learned that the Editor of the Globe, the brother of the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], was to have been the conductor of that paper. He (Mr. McD.) immediately proceeded to Toronto, and had a consultation with the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], and without revealing private conversation he would say that the hon. gentleman, when the question was put to him, did not say that he (Mr. McD.) should resign. He approved of his remaining in office.

George Brown [Oxford South]—The hon. gentleman is quite mistaken. I gave no advice either pro or con.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—At all events the hon. gentlemen did not advise him to leave his position in the government. He had pointed out to his hon. friend the great danger of disintegrating the great Liberal party, and he must say from that time until lately the organ of his hon. friend had ceased to pursue a course, calculated to destroy that party. Within the past few days, however, they had found that the policy of the government as announced by the hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt], had met with the earnest opposition of the member for South Oxford [George Brown], and yesterday they had heard him supporting a vote of want of confidence in the government. The hon. member had chosen his course, and it was not for him to say whether that was right or wrong, but he would say that the policy of the Government was just such as was well calculated to promote the interests of the Confederation scheme.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—He had a word or two to say on the charge made by the hon. member, as to the policy of the Government being contrary to the principals of the Liberal party. He would say nothing with regard to his remarks on the monetary question, which was not now before the House, and would defer any remarks upon it until the proper time.

The question at present before the House was the tariff, and so that he would confine himself. He had been very much surprised to hear the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] oppose the changes now proposed in the tariff, since these changes now proposed in the tariff, since these changes were made in a great degree on the very points for which the hon. gentleman and the Liberal party had opposed in in 1859. Mr. McDougall read from Mr. Brown’s speech on the occasion to establish his conclusions, and continued, he did not see in what particular the people of England could object to the duty corn, the duty on butter, the duty on cheeseall of them being articles which the country produced in excess of its wants, and which were imposed only to protect the producer, in the particular circumstances in which he was placed by our present relations with the neighboring Republic.

With regard to his action as a representative of the Liberal party, he did not see that he should leave this government without any just cause, that he must resist the policy of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt], which he fully endorsed, and follow the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] in whatever conduct he may be pleased to suggest. He believed that this government had administered the affairs of the country in a most satisfactory manner; it was true that charges of extravagance had been made against it; but the same charge had been preferred against the government of the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], of which he (Mr. McD.) was a member, and it did seem to him a singular thing that the hon. member of South Oxford [George Brown], who spoke so much now of economyit seemed strange that he who had been for a  year and a half a prominent and active member of the Government, had never proposed any scheme of retrenchment, such as that on a former occasion submitted by the late Hon. Mr. Merritt.

(A reference to a payment of $4,000, made by Mr. McDougall gave rise to some conversation between him the Hon. Geo. Brown, and the Hon. J. A. MacDonald).

Mr. McD continuedHe and his friends, the Postmaster-General [William Howland] and the President of the Council [A.J. Fergusson Blair], had made up their minds that they would stand their ground; that they would adhere to the Government to carry out the policy for which they had joined it that they would fire gun for gun with hon. gentlemen opposite. To speak from a party point of view, it had been with great regret that he had said what he had felt compelled to say today, but the fault was not his, he had followed the hon. member into the Government, he had adhered to him fairly and honourably; and he would say that if the system of terrorism was to be followed forwards the members of the Liberal Party that had again been revived, he would say it was time that party in Upper Canada should have an organ of its own, which would fairly represent its views.

In regard to his colleagues, Mr. McD. said that he had always found the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] and the Hon. Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald], acting fairly, honestly and honourably upon every question, executive or otherwise, that had come before them.

He would further say that on every measure which had come up, he had found the Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald] as progressive, as patriotic as economical, and as liberal as the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] himself.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—He (Mr. McD.) had not been aware of any difference of views between the member for South Oxford [George Brown] and his colleagues until his return form the West Indies, and if any one was to blame for what had taken place, it was the hon. member himself, who ought to have submitted  his views for discussion. The responsibility of the division in the ranks of the liberal party, would rest with the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], and if he continued in his course, he would find himself very much in the position in which he found himself last night, with only two supporters.

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

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—He sympathised very much with the hon. member for it was indeed a pitiful spectacle,—

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

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—but he hon. gentleman’s paper, which professed to give all the men, had carefully suppressed his division.

Mr. McDougall was loudly cheered to sitting down. He spoke upwards of an hour and a half.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] said at the opening of the session at the request of the Postmaster-General [William Howland], he had confined his remarks on the Ministerial explanations to a merely personal narrative, and he now logged to add, that from what he had learned, he was fully convinced that the Reform members of the Cabinet held their seats there at the sacrifice of the principles they had formally entertained.This was the reason which had deterred him from taking a seat in the Cabinet. He did not access the hon. Postmaster-General [William Howland] and the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] of any desire to favor annexation, but he did think that when they had been told at Washington, ‘Oh, these are questions we will discuss when you come here as representatives,’ it would have been proper for them to heave said that such remarks were altogether out of place.

Mr. McK. referred to his course as a supporter of this and the provisions administration and then addressed himself to the speech of the provisional secretary, who, he said, being no longer afraid of the terrorism of the Globe, was about to establish another organ of terror in Toronto, and in between the two the Liberals of Upper Canada would be well looked after. On the present occasion several great questions had been brought down; the tariff had been introduced without, so far as he knew, a single consultation with any member of the House. With regard to the merits of the question before the House, he did not believe in building up manufacturers by a protective tariff, but at the same time if the United States had adopted a policy whereby we lose them as a market we are bound to adopt such means as will make a market for ourselves, under the policy of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt], manufacturers had grown up in the country, and it was most unjust to those who had embarked their capital in there, that the protection absorbed now he withdrawn without a moment’s warning.

Mr. McK. then discussed the import duties on coarse grains, cheese, &c. contending that buckwheat, corn and cheese, being the only articles in which the imports exceeded the exports, the protection to the farmers on them would amount to $155,364 while the increase of the duty of our tea, according to the quantity entered last year for consumption, amounted to $190,019.28. He did not think a tariff which took off $1,000,000 and put $2,500,000, could be for the general interests of the country.

It being six o’clock, the Speaker left the chair. Mr. Mackenzie having the floor.

The Legislative Assembly adjourned for dinner recess.

  • (p. 42)

Evening Sitting

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] resumed the debate. They had been told that the five per cent taken off the woollen goods would be of great benefit to the farmers, but the benefit, in his judgement, would be infinitesimally small, for almost the whole of the woollen goods consumed by the agricultural population was manufactured in the country. He admitted that the policy of the Government had not been in harmony with the tendency of the public mind, which was towards free trade, but larger interests had grown up under our system of incidental protection, which he considered should not be destroyed. Our labor market being controlled in a certain degree by the labor market of the United States, it was unfair to assume that labor could be cheap here when it was high there. Then, our market being necessarily limited to our own Province, the field was comparatively small, whereas those of the United States had an immense territory, and a large population.

(In reply to a question) he admitted he was favoring the protective system, which had been the policy of the country for some years, under which interests had been created which the House should respect. He believed the proper way to proceed with a reduction of the tariff would have been to have given timely notice, and then reduce them by slow degrees, so that our manufacturing interests might be preserved intact.

Mr. McK. Then replied to some remarks made by the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall]. He had not been dragged by the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] to vote on the rectory question, but had done so from his own convictions. He was not accustomed to be dragged as the hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] might have known from experience. The Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] had said that all who supported this motion were endeavoring to make a split in the Reform party, it was the hon. gentleman himself, when he accepted office with the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], and bound himself to support the double majority[2], and vote for Separate Schools.

Though he (Mr. McK.) refused to agree to this proposition. He had given that government a general support, believing it had gone to work with an honest intention to economise, but it was a government without principal from first to last.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—He congratulated the country that the opposition to the government policy had been so far successful as to force ministers into an abandonment of their financial policy. The Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] had threatened the House with the establishment of another organ in Upper Canada, to kill the influence of the Globe, and he was very severe upon that paper for endeavoring to exercise influence over elections, but the fact was, that when the hon. gentleman was editor of the Globe, every public man who differed form him was held up in the Globe in big black letters and when he withdrew from the editorial, the black letters were withdrawn too.

Mr. McK. then went over various items in the estimates to which he objected.

Arthur Rankin [Essex], as an independent member of the House, acknowledging no leader, and following no party, would enter into the debates without professing to answer the arguments of one party or the other. He must say, however that he admired the pluck displayed by the hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], in defending himself this afternoon,—

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Arthur Rankin [Essex]—and he liked especially the way in which the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had opened the ball last night.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Arthur Rankin [Essex]—Col. R. then went into a history of the formation of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government[3], stating what took place at the census, and contending the hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] was no more morally or politically guilty in joining the government on the condition he did, than was the member for Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie] in promising to support it. The Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] was not even so guilty as those who had put him forward, and then meanly endeavored to sneak out of the responsibility.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome], after reading over the member for Lincoln’s [Mr. McGiverin] resolution, said it was merely a motion for delay, a mere assertion that it is inexpedient to enter upon the question at the present time. It pledged its supporters to nothing, either as regards Confederation, or as regards to the questions before the House; any men might vote for it provided he could reconcile his mind that delay would be proper, and he for one would not vote for such a motion.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome]—He would be prepared to discuss the question of the tariff, the question of the currency, and the question of the estimates at the proper time, when they were brought before the House, but the issue now before them was not one of detail, it was the general proposition whether they should deal with the resolution already submitted, and he had not heard one reason of any weight why their consideration ought to be delayed. As so much had been said upon Confederation he might be permitted to say a few words regarding it. He had entertained very grave doubts whether it would ever be matured or accepted by the Lower Provinces. But it had been accepted by the Lower Provinces. New Brunswick, after much delay, had emphatically pronounced in favor of it, and the scheme was evidently rapidly approaching maturity. In that case, he had no hesitation in saying that honestly and loyally, as an Englishman, he would do his best to falsify all the predictions he had uttered against its successful working.

Reverting to the subject of the tariff, Mr. Dunkin contended that the tariffs introduced bother Mr. Howland and Mr. Holton were in the same direction as the one now before the House, and nothing but want of strength of the latter had prevented him from carrying it through. Even last year it was well known that the hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] would have amended the tariff, but for the expected early completion of the confederation scheme; and everybody knew that after the abolition of Reciprocity[4] the tariff must be changes to meet the circumstances of the country. The changes now proposed were assimilating our system, which he believed would ultimately prevail in the United States. The step was one in the direction which the country was bound to go, and he argued that it was the wisest policy to bring our system as near as possible to that of the Lower Provinces, and in harmony with that of the Empire.

Mr. D then referred to the Banking system he had always held that one of the most legitimate sources of revenue to the country, would be a Provincial Bank. Our present system had been eulogised as the perfection of human wisdom, but he considered our banking laws were a disgrace to the Statute book. The banks were held down by restrictions that compelled them to keep their business in a very unsatisfactory manner, and he thought it would be well for the House to take up this question too, before Confederation.

On the subject of estimates, he would reserve to himself the right of voting yea or nay on every item as it came up, but he did say that he could not see the propriety of expending another dollar upon this House, which they were about to hand over to a different government. They had already done their share, and might leave the rest to the Confederate Parliament. He thought the item for the Militia Service of $1,500,000 might perhaps, be found too small, and would have been satisfied to have seen the government asking larger amount, in case occasion might arise to need it.

Frederick Haultain [Peterborough], spoke at some length on the question, explaining that after mature consideration, he had come to the conclusion that the policy of the Government was in accord with the interests of the country. He should reserve to himself, however, the privilege of voting against certain items of it, to which he did object, but with regard to the reasons urged for delay he did not think them of serious consequence.

John Rose [Montreal Centre] wished to know whether it was the intention of the Government to bring on the vote tonight, as otherwise, he desired to defer his remarks until tomorrow.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]   was most anxious that the vote should be taken tonight, but on further conversation, members urging that it was impossible to hear all who wished to speak at this siting, he consented to an understanding that the vote should be taken tomorrow (Thursday).

Francis Jones [Leeds & Grenville North] said, whether the Government desired to force on the vote or not, he was determined to review the conduct of this government and of past governments, too.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] said that he had had the benefit of sitting side by side, not only with the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] and the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], but also for many years with Hon. J. Young, a gentleman who, perhaps knew nearly as much on financial questions as the others he had mentioned, and after many conversations  with these gentlemen, after endeavoring to understand to the best of his ability what would best for the country, he had come to the conclusion that free trade was our true policy.

He then assailed the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] for making frequent changes in the tariff, and quoted the saying of a great French statesman, who in a time of commotion had advised the King to let the people alone. This was what the people of Canada requiredto be let alone and not to be disturbed year after year by ‘unexpected’ and sudden changes. The hon. gentleman then referred to the tariff of ’39, and the amendment which had been moved thereto; after which he attacked the provisions of the new tariff, for sweeping away the protection under which me had been induced to establish large manufacturing interests in the country.

The hon. gentleman spoke up till midnight, and the House adjourned.


[1]      Brown resigned his cabinet post in late December 1865, citing internal cabinet disputes with Finance Minister, A.T. Galt for attempting to negotiate a “Reciprocity treaty” with American counterparts without consulting the Lower Provinces and the Confederate Council. For more details, see J.M.S. Careless’ Brown of the Globe (MacMillan Company of Canada, 1963). And the “Latest from Montreal. Hon. Mr. Brown’s Resignation,” The Globe (Dec. 21, 1865). Brown was replaced as President of the Executive Council by A.J. Fergusson Blair. A debate on his resignation took place in the Legislative Assembly on Jun. 15, 1866, pp. 12-15.

[2]      The “double majority” principle advocated that the Ministry should be supported by two sectional majorities, one for upper and another for lower Canada, in the legislature. J.S. Macdonald believed this principle was not only necessary but already inherent in the sectional nature of the united Canadas. The Macdonald-Sicotte ministry in 1862 in fact practiced the principle. See Bruce W. Hodgins, John Sandfield Macdonald, 1812-1872 (University of Toronto Press, 1971).

[3]      Led by John Sandfield Macdonald and Louis-Victor Sicotte (1862-1863).

[4]      Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The United States passed a Joint Resolution abrogating the treaty in Jan. 1865. It was formally terminated on Mar. 17, 1866.

Leave a Reply