Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (12 July 1866)

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Date: 1866-07-12
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 42-45.
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.


Thursday, July 12, 1866

 On the order of the day before called.

The House resumed the adjourned Debate upon the Amendment which was, on Tuesday last proposed to be made to the Question,

That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair (for the House again in Committee of Ways and Means),

and which amendment was,

That all the word after “That ”to the end of the Question, be left out, and the words, “This House, while prepared to make adequate provision for the Public Defence, for the maintenance of the Public Credit, and for the efficiency of the Public Service generally, deem it inexpedient, in view of the probable early consummation of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, an event which will render necessary a comprehensive revision of the Commercial Legislation of all the Provinces, now to adopt measures which will have the effect of unnecessarily disturbing the Trade, the Manufacturing industry, the Currency, and the Banking system of the Province,” inserted instead thereof.[1]

John Rose [Montreal Centre] recommenced the debate on the tariff. He said he should confine himself to the proposition submitted by the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt], and the motion of the hon. gentleman opposite. The Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] had estimated the expenditure of the current year at $12,370,000; the revenue at $11,420,000, leaving a deficit of $950,000. He proposes to raise the revenue $2,250,000 by increasing certain articles of customs and excise, and on other articles, to reduce it by $1,300,000, thus making a difference of $950,000, to supply the actual deficit. By thus changing the whole system of customs and excise he destroyed that sense of security which is the basis of sound commercial transactions. There was not an interest in the country that was not seriously affected by these changes, and he proposed speaking without special reference to any one in particular.

What confidence could a merchant have in entering on a great enterprise, if he is to be exposed to the risk of a change of tariff every year? With what security could he send for a cargo of ten from China, or of sugar from Cuba, if he was in danger of finding before its arrival an entire change of tariff, which would upset, all his calculations?

He mentioned that these continual changes did more than anything else to prevent the growth of large commercial undertakings in the country; and it such were the case with the merchant, simply it must be much more with regard to the manufacturer. The manufacturer was not to be blamed if he had taken advantage of a tariff, which he had been told, it was the policy of (of is repeated again in the debates) the country to maintain.  The hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] had said that the extraordinary militia expenditure had caused the deficit, and to make good this deficit it we had had now to consider whether, we should now adopt the protective system of the United States, or the free trade system of Europe.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said his hon. friend had misunderstood him. What he had said was that on account of the altered relations of the trade of the country with the United States, since the abolition of the Reciprocity Treaty[2], and the large demand on our revenue, had necessitated a revision of our system, either in the direction of the American or the European.

John Rose [Montreal Centre] had understood him differently. But the consideration ought not to be whether we should adopt the American or the European system, but whether we could devise one suited to the peculiar wants of our own country and in so far as his own views and feelings went, he had no hesitation in saying in favor of the system which removed every restriction which shackled the free action of commercial enterprise.

He contended that the free trade system of England had been gradually introduced, and that the interests which had grown up under our protective tariff should not be summarily extinguished, by at once withdrawing the whole extent of the protection under which they had been established. He read from Peel and Gladstone to show how gradually the leading men of England had changes the policy of the country. Sir Robert Peel had said in 1845, when he found it his duty to declare that the policy of the country was to be changed, that he did not remove all protection form the tariff on the contrary, he had retained many imposts of a purely protective nature.

He contended that if, by the European system was meant unrestricted free trade, it had not yet been very successful, for few countries had yet followed the policy which England had found it to her interests to pursue. He had always contended that no impost duties ought to be imposed to increase the cost of manufactures to the consumer, but by would not, through fear of being called a perfectionist, approve a policy which would have a large number of our population idle on our streets.

The Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] that said it was necessary to make their changes now, to propose the way but a further change in the same direction after confederation and to prevent the shock to trade bring new revenue. But for his choice he would prefer one great shock to a succession of small ones, especially when every one of those small cities ones deranged every interest from one end of the country to the other. The Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] had said he was assimilating our tariff to those of the Lower Provinces, but he contended that there were very great differences and went into a calculation of the rate per head of the population of customs duties raised in each Province.

With regard to specific duties he contented that instead of having two markets, the Upper Canada merchants would be confined to oneNew York. He asked his hon. friend the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt], whether he would not admit that the imposition of specific duties on sugar would injure our trade with foreign counties?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said the specific system had been recommended by a committee of the Board of Trade of Montreal[3], to whom the subject had been referred.

John Rose [Montreal Centre] read the report to the committee[4], and said they had only recommended this in case the objections to the ad valorem were incompatible. There was nothing to prevent the Upper Canada merchant from importing by the St. Lawrence as well as the merchant of Montreal, and he contended that this change to specific duties would drive the foreign trade of the country by way of New York, instead of Montreal.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—That was a matter of indifference.

John Rose [Montreal Centre] entirely and most earnestly dissented from the proposition of the hon. gentleman. He considered it a matter of the very greatest importance that we should have a foreign trade of our own. If we are going to build up a great country, we must have commerce, and manufacturers; if we are to build up a great system of commercial enterprise, we must have a direct foreign trade of our own, and without it we were unworthy a place in the new nationality[5] which was about to be formed. Then instead of assimilating our tariff with the Lower Provinces we were putting 3 cents additional on tea, making our rate 12 cents per lb., when in New Brunswick it was only 4 cents on black tea and 3 cents on green.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] asked what difference could that addition make to the interests which the hon. gentleman was defending when it did not enter into competition with an article produced in the country?

John Rose [Montreal Centre] replied that if it were a matter of indifference whether our trade went by New York or Montreal, then he admitted the points was of little importance, but if we wished to build up a large foreign trade in this country, if a direct foreign trade was of some value to us, then it was a serious subject for consideration Mr. Rose continued to argue that the country did not desire any change in the tariff, until after Confederation. Even the dry-goods merchants, and the grocers throughout the country would have preferred that no change had been made at the present time, and were the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] and the Government now to announce that the reduction of the 30, 25 and 20 per cents to 15 was the policy they intended to advocate in the Confederate Parliament, the country would be satisfied to allow the old tariff with increased excise to stand until the whole system should be revised by the general Government of the Provinces. Referring again to the duties on sugar, he said that one party had just finished a refinery at Montreal at a cost of nearly half a million of dollars, which would now be ordered almost worthless by the policy of this Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt].

Mr. Rose continued until six o’clock, when the Speaker left the chair.

The Legislative Assembly adjourned for dinner recess.

Evening Sitting

John Rose [Montreal Centre] resumed his speech. He had before the recess discussed the question without reference to any special interest; he endeavored to show that a much less change would have answered all the requirements of the country that those sweeping changes had been introduced at a most inopportune time without having been asked for by any class in the country. He had endeavored to show that the imports upon certain agricultural products, would not benefit to any degree the agricultural ties of the country, and that the effect upon commercial enterprise would be to impede its action and injure our foreign importing trade.

The reductions to 15 per cent was a policy of which he entirely approved, and while he agreed that the present system of imposing duties on sugar was bad, he entirely dissented from the propriety of the new mode proposed by the hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt], and his great objection to the whole tariff was that it was again to be changed in a short time. The proposition of the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt], with regard to molasses, was to raise it from 5 cents per gallon and 10 per cent [text missing], equal to about 6  ½ cents per gallon, to [text missing] cents per gallon. This so far from taking in accordance with the English tariff was about 2 ½ cents per gallon higher. Is the Upper Provinces the duty on molasses was still lower. In New Brunswick it was 3 cents per gallon and 3 per cent ad val.; in Nova Scotia it was 5 cents per gallon, so that instead of assimilating that important article of daily use to the tariffs of the Lower Provinces he had more than doubled upon their rates.

He entirely approved of the Finance Minister’s policy in reducing the duty upon brandy and wines imported from France, but here again the policy of the Lower Provinces was adverse to ours and it was another proof of the impropriety of going into these changes at the present time. If the object of the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] was to encourage the importation of wine from France, there was no need of his having changed the mode of collection which would now have practically a very inconvenient effect upon trade. Agricultural imports in New Brunswick were subject to an imported duty of seventeen and a half percent and he asked whether they should come down to our rates, or were we to go up to theirs.

He approved of the gradual reductions of the tariff, but he condemned the sudden change, to which so seriously injured the manufacturing interest of the country, which had grown up under the operations of our old system. The Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] had stated his intention of abolishing the ten per cent on the ground that they were all raw materials which entered largely into our manufactures.

But there were many articles in that list which entered into direct competition with some branches of our own manufacturers. If men would drink whiskey, it might as well be made in this country as anywhere else, and he did not object to the to the excise duty in itself, but the system of collecting it was entirely defective; even before the increase of duty several large establishments in Montreal had been compelled to close, because they could not compete with fraudulent distillers. The honest distiller was not protected, and could not be protected under the old system and now when the excise have been doubled, and the duty raised to ten cents per gallon over the excise, the temptations to commit frauds have been doubled also, so that unless the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] had an efficient army excise men then was no hope for the honest distiller being able to maintain his business. Nothing less than uninterrupted personal inspections by an honest well paid officer could prevent the reoccurrence of these frauds and be pressed upon the attention of the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] the necessity of putting in force a more effective system of collection than the present.

He next referred to the reduction of duty on starch from 30 to 15 per cent, and the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent on the raw materialscorn,—as calculated to bring ruin upon the company who carried on as extensive starch factory at Edwardsburgh. He had been assured that they had invested upwards of $200,000 in the works on the faith of the protection afforded by the tariff, and surely it was a manifest injustice to them to take 15 per cent off their protection and put 20 on their raw material.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Is this hon. gentleman aware that in the revised resolutions brought down, starch was also put on the list of specific duties?

John Rose [Montreal Centre] was not aware. Had only seen it in the list of 15 per cent ad valorem. The hon. gentleman then referred to the motion of the member for Lincoln [William McGiverin]. He said that motion proposed that the House do not go it to committee, that they gave no consideration to the requirements of the country.

He wished to direct particular attention to this point, that it was a distinct proposition that so long as the present Ministry was in office, the House should give no consideration to the financial affairs of the country, though the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] had asked the House to provide for a deficiency of nearly a million dollars. The effect of the carrying of this motion, therefore would be the fall of the government, and the formation of a new one. Now, he wished it be distinctly understood that he had no intention of taking the responsibility of such a motion.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Rose [Montreal Centre]—He would at a proper time use his endeavors to secure such modifications in the tariff as he deemed advisable, but he could not refuse to approach the consideration of the requirements of the country, with the view of providing for the public service. We were on the eve of a very great political change, and he had entire confidence in the government.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John Rose [Montreal Centre]—That they would carry out that change in a manner satisfactory to the country, and he did not believe there was an Upper Canada Conservative [text missing] as Upper Canada Reformers who favored the great Confederation scheme, that would desire

  • (p. 44)

to bring on a crisis in the present condition of affairs.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] said he was one of those who had opposed the confederation scheme as it was first proposed, but he was not one who thought that everything should be postponed until that scheme had become a reality. He was disposed to take a good thing whenever it could be obtained, and being satisfied with the general features of the tariff, he would accept it, though he hoped that certain items would be changed. It was perhaps exceptionable in not protecting sufficiently some branches of manufacturers, and in not going far enough in protecting the agriculturalists.

An objection had been urged against it that it was not sufficiently low to correspond with the tariffs of the Lower Provinces. But were he an advocate of Confederation, he would take the reduction as far as it had gone as an argument in favor of it, for we had made an approach towards the tariff of these Provinces, or were he a factious opponent of Confederation he would oppose the tariff because its adoption by this House might be regarded as a step towards its accomplishment. He considered the course of those gentlemen who had opposed the going into Committee as partaking of the faction spirit of former times. Perhaps he should not be surprised at the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], for it did not appear that opposition was his natural element. So far had he gone in the party spirit which had been long dormant, that the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] was carried back for years to the party struggles they had witnessed before, and continued to refer to the hon. member for Oxford [George Brown] as the “hon. member for Toronto”

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—He asked whether the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] has not done that which is calculated to defeat the Confederation scheme by the course he has taken.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Having seen the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] take that position, they had seen recrimination from the other side of the House. They had heard the hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] reply to the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] and they had heard him praising to the highest degree his colleagues in the Government, whom he had formerly so bitterly denounced. He had said “he always found them acting honestly on all public questions, 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.”[6]

He (Mr. Cameron), thought these hon. gentlemen ought to feel themselves very highly flattered in getting such a compliment after two years of personal intercourse, and if the hon. members concerned, and the House generally, would pardon the expression, he begged to remind them that “when rogues fall out honest men get their own”.

Some Hon. Members—Oh! And laughter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—He had used it without any intention of personal application, but surely as applicable to the circumstances. The hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] had also referred to the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], as appearing in the House the other night with all his tail cut off but two joints

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—and he (Mr. C.) thought there was a spice of bitterness as well as ingratitude in that remark. He agreed especially with the compliments which the hon. gentleman had paid to the hon. Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier], though he regretted that that hon. gentleman had not taken a wider, broader, and more British view in the scheme of Confederation. Friends had been attacking friends all round and even the member for Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie] had assailed the Macdonald-Sicotte administration[7].

Mr. C continued in the same strain for some time, and concluded by saying that when parties again took their legitimate shape, he would be ready, as he had been before, to work with the party to which he had always adhered; and in the meantime, he could not but again express his regret at the course of the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown].

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said the hon. member for Montreal centre [John Rose], had delivered a four hours long speech, in which he had made some very good points against the policy of his friend, the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt]. But he had concluded by assuring the House that he intended to vote against the motion of the member for Lincoln [William McGiverin].

He (Mr. H.) did not expect that the hon. member for Montreal [John Rose] would give a liberal vote, he was under the necessity of making an opposition speech to please his constituents, but he would vote with the Government.

Mr. Holton then read and commented on a series of resolutions adopted at a public meeting in Montreal, setting forth that changes in the tariff ought not to be made now, that such changes ought never to be made, except gradually, and after mature consideration. The members for Montreal [George E. Cartier, John Rose, Thomas D’Arcy McGee] had been returned on protectionist principles, and he thought it wrong for those of them who sat in the Cabinet [George E. Cartier & Thomas D’Arcy McGee], to sacrifice the interests of those who had placed them there. Though he was a free trader, he should not consider it his duty to bring about violent and sudden changes, dealing ruin to the very interest which he himself had represented; yet that was precisely the position of the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] at the present time. At that late hour he would not go into the question at such length as he might have done, had he risen at an earlier hour, but the able speech is already made from his side of the House remained yet unanswered, and therefore lengthened remarks were now unnecessary.

He would merely refer to a few points which presented themselves to him and a somewhat different view to that in which they appear to others. Referring to the inopportuneness of the changes, Mr. H. said the reasons which had led to differing the consideration of the tariff two years ago, and one year ago, if sound then, were unanswerable now. Then the assertion that the new tariff would disarm opposition to the Confederation scheme in the Lower Provinces, was absurd, as that scheme had already been endorsed in these provinces. The argument against the propriety of making these changes at the present time had never been met, and the House had not yet heard a reason for them.

He (Mr. H.) would tell the House the reasons which in his opinions had induced that hon. gentleman to make these changes. He was now Finance Minister of Canada [Alexander Galt], we were soon to have Confederation, and perhaps he might be the Finance Minister of British North America, when the nationality was formed. He would create a sensation and attract attention in England, and perhaps let the Yankees see what he had told him at Washington was now being brought about.

Mr. H. continued to argue that the new tariff was unnecessary, unexpected by the country, an injurious too many important interests; that it had been brought down in a very incomplete an unsatisfactory state, several important changes having been made since the subject was first broached to the House. He enumerated these changes which called forth several remarks of an explanatory character from Messrs. Galt, Brown, and Rose.

Mr. H. then maintained that the Hon. Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] has shown a great want of courtesy to the House, and not first submitting his resolutions to his consideration before he had allowed them to be discussed in the counting houses of Montreal, and even accepted suggestions for their amendment from amputations of shoemakers and others, directly and personally interested in particular articles.

The tariff had been shown to be wrong in time, and still considered, but it could also be shewn to be bad in principle. It was neither free trade nor protection, and he should like to know upon what theory of free trade the Honorable Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] could justify the high duty of fifteen per cent. upon many articles that were manufactured in the country. The very essence of free trade was that if import duties must be imposed at all it should only be upon those articles which are not produced in the country, the object being to impose duties where they would not add to the cost of the articles more than the amount of the impost, whereas, by putting a duty on articles manufactured in the country the consumer not only pays the duty on the imported article, but he pays an equivalent in the shape of enhanced costs up on the home manufactured article. Then with regard to certain kinds of iron, admitted free on the ground of its being a raw material, the speaker contended that it was no more raw material to the nail-maker then was a broad-cloth through the tailor.

Mr. H said that the resolution moved by the hon. member for Lincoln [William McGiverin] did not even condemn the policy of the government in any one particular it merely affirmed the in expediency of dealing with these subjects at this particular time, and could not have been taken as a vote of want of confidence, but hon. gentleman opposite had chosen to accept it as such, and he would take the opportunity of receiving the expression of his want of confidence in them. If honorable members voted confidence in the government, they voted to give them the irresponsible control of the affairs of the country for eighteen months.

The supplies they were going to vote would not be accounted for to this Parliament; hon. gentlemen opposite would have full control of the affairs of the country, they would in fact, place the control of Upper Canada in the hands of the Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald], and those of Lower Canada in the hands of the Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier]. The gentleman would even have more power in Lower Canada than his colleagues in the western section, for he could not only make some old fossil Tory the Governor of the country, but he would have the appointment of members for life, or practically for life, of one branch of the legislature. If hon. members voted that amount of confidence in the government, upon their heads be their responsibility.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics], said the hon. gentleman appeared not to have known at the commencement of his two hours speech, at what point he would arrive at its conclusion. He had undertaken to lecture the hon. member for Montreal East [George-Étienne Cartier], the hon. member for Montreal Centre [John Rose], and himself (Mr. McG.) upon their duty to their constituents; but he would say for himself, that if Montreal and the interests of Montreal, were to be the exclusive objects of consideration in this House, then he was not a representative of Montreal.

The hon. gentleman had said that they were returned on protectionist principles, and should have followed the instructions of those who sent them, but they were here not as delegates to act by instruction, but as members, not merely of Montreal, but as members for the Canadian House of Commons, to do their duty by the whole community. The hon. gentleman evidently forgot that he was talking to gentleman as independent as himself, when he asked them to follow the course dictated by a great public meeting in Montreal.

He (Mr. McG.) was not afraid of a popular meeting in Montreal. He had faced a public meeting there before and would do so again; he had acted with that gentleman, he had acted without him, and he had acted against him, and he could tell that hon. gentleman that he scorned his dictation. He had felt a considerable degree of indignation, at the hon. member should have assumed to teach him his duty towards his constituents. When he entered parliament, nine years ago, he voted for the tariff of 1858[8]; he voted for the tariff of 1859[9] because he believed the policy of the country was taking the right direction. He remembered that in 1858 the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], who was then the farmer’s member par excellence, declaring that the agricultural interest was being sacrificed for the benefit of Montreal. When he had supported the raising of a revenue, by giving encouragement to certain branches of artificial industry, the member for South Oxford [George Brown] was hostile to that policy, and now when these enterprises had been fairly stated, he came in at the eleventh hour to declare himself their defender.

The hon. gentleman who had just inflicted himself for two hours and a half on the House, had declared the creation of these interests by artificial means, yet he accused them for discerning them now, and he came forward in the day of their strength to help them. He said you cherished them when they were weak, you helped them to stand alone, and now you desert them, but he came in to give them support at a time when they did not need it, he had tried to destroy them when they needed help, would help them now when they required not his assistance.

He had tried to show that the motion was not necessarily one of want of confidence, but it could not be considered in any other light. If that motion carried, the government of the day must go out, and the country would be left to the chapter of accidents as to who should succeed them. He would not say who might have been the author of the resolution. But from the zeal and the energy with which the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had spoken in its favour, it was not difficult and judge of its parentage. The member for Chateaugay [Luther Holton], the member for Lincoln [William McGiverin], and the member for South Oxford [George Brown] had the responsibility between them.

If the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] believes himself to be beyond correction, then he was a man of less judgement then he gave him credit for. When he makes a schedule covering all the interests of the country, if he expects to carry it without modification or change in any particular, then he expects to do what no other Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] had yet accomplished. It had been asserted that nobody had yet made out a case against the objection as to the time of introducing this tariff, and in reply to that, he would nearly say that in March, 1866, $45,000,000 worth, or two thirds of the whole trade of the country, had suffered a revolution by the abolition of the Reciprocity Treaty[10], and he did say that no government true to the interests of the country could have met Parliament without proposing some measure to meet the altered circumstances of trade.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—He did not say they should have had to propose the same measure as were now submitted, but some measures to provide for the exigencies of the situation were absolutely essential.

Referring to the Lower Provinces, Mr. McGee said, from his knowledge of these provinces, the Finance Minister had brought our tariff into a condition in which it would be far easier to assimilate it with the tariff of these provinces. The tariff of Nova Scotia was 22 ½; our maximum had been 30 per cent, and it would be easier to assimilate a 15 and a 12 ½ per cent tariff then a 25 or a 30 with 12 ½ per cent. He also said the parliament of the Confederation would for years to come have questions enough to deal with without our bequeathing to them any subject, by dealing with which we could smooth their path and pave the way for the real union

  • (p. 45)

of the people of the different provinces. He valued the measures of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] because he regarded them as taking away a stumbling block from the working of Confederation, and thought it the duty of every man who wished well to the future of these Provinces to do nothing that would imperil their union, for they could not long stand alone.

Speaking in reply to Mr. Holton’s objections to the tariff, he (Mr. McGee) promised to improve from the leading features of the tariff proposed by that hon. gentleman in 1863 that were he now in the place of his hon. colleague he would come down with a scheme substantially the same as that now before the House. It was well known that this was a coalition government, and logically this was a coalition tariff. The hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had said that it had something of free trade, and something of protection in it, but that need not have surprised him as coming from a government constituted like the present it must of necessity partake of the nature of a compromise.

After touching upon several other points, Mr. McGee referred to the question of representation by population, which had so long agitated the western country, on which the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had built up his reputation, and which was now proposed to be settled definitely by the government. He said he had desired the hon. member to remain in the government and take his share in the settlement of that and other great questions and he should be glad to see him in the front rank in the march of progress. But he warned that hon. member that the era of personal politics in Canada was past. If any man thought himself a necessity he was mistaken; if he thought that he could stop the onward march of the great project of Confederation, he would find himself deceived. He might march with that great project; if he attempted to stop it, he would find that it would march over him, and leave him a shapeless ruin behind.

Some Hon. MembersLoud cheers.

Lucius Huntington [Shefford] rose at a quarter past one to address the House, confining himself chiefly to reply to Mr. McGee. His remarks were sarcastic, or meant to be so, but our columns are too crowded to give place to them.

George Brown [Oxford South] asked for an adjournment, as he was very unable to address the House at that hour.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] said the arrangement had been made yesterday that the vote should be taken tonight, but the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] could make his reply to the hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], on some of the items, when the House went into Committee.

After some further remarks between the hon. members,

George Brown [Oxford South] rose to reply at twenty minutes to ten, and spoken till 3:15 o’clock, going over the several points in the speech of the Hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall].

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] replied, speaking for about twenty minutes.[11]

The members were then called in and the vote taken on William McGiverin’s [Lincoln] motion,

That all after the word ‘that’ be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof: This House, while prepared to make adequate provisions for the public defence for the maintenance of the public credit, and for the efficiency of the public service generally deem it inexpedient in view of the probable early consummation of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, an event which will render necessary a comprehensive revision of the Commercial Legislation of all the Provinces, now to adopt measures which will have the effect of unnecessarily disturbing the Trade, the manufacturing Industry, the currency, and the Banking system of the Province.[12]

which was lost. Yeas, 28; nays, 83.



Dorion (Hochelaga)
Dufresne (Iberville)
Macdonald (Cornwall)
Macdonald (Glengarry)
Mackenzie (Lambton)
and Thibaudeau.—28. 


Cameron (Ontario North)
Cameron (Peel)
Cartier (Attorney-General)
De Boucherville
De Niverville
Dufresne (Montcalm)
Ferguson (Frontenac)
Ferguson (Simcoe South)
Jones (Leeds South)
Le Boutillier
Macdonald (Attorney-General)
Ross (Dundas)
Ross (Prince Edward)
Smith (Toronto East)
Wallbridge (Hastings North)
Wright (Ottawa County)
Wright (York East)—83.

The House went formally into Committee, rose and reported, and the House adjourned at ten minutes to four.


[1]      Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada (1866), p. 132. The Scrapbook version begins with “On the order of the day before called,” followed by Rose’s speech. Added for completeness. This debate is a continuation from a debate on Jul. 10, pp. 38-39.

[2]      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.

[3]      William Patterson, Report of the Trade and Commerce of Montreal for 1864 (1865), pp. 30-40.

[4]      ibid.

[5]      Lord Monck, Legislative Council, Speech from the Throne (Jan. 19, 1865), p. A:1.

[6]      William McDougall, Legislative Assembly (Jul. 11, 1866), p. 41. Quote is almost verbatim.

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

[8]      An Act to amend the Law relative to Duties of Customs and of Excise, and to impose new Duties; and a duty on Tavern-keepers (Province of Canada, 1858).

[9]      An Act to amend the Act relating to Duties of Customs (Province of Canada, 1859).

[10]    Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. Supra footnote 2.

[11]    No other reports were found on Brown and McDougall’s speech.

[12]    William McGiverin’s motion was presented to the Legislative Assembly on Jul 10, 1866, p. 38. Reinserted for clarity.

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