Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (14 August 1866)

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Date: 1866-08-14
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 90-92.
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Tuesday, August 14, 1866

The Speaker took the chair at 11 o’clock.

Hon. Mr. Cauchon moved that the employes of the House be paid monthly in advance.  He explained that a similar motion had been agreed to in the Upper House.  In the Departments, the clerks had received a month’s pay in compensation for expenses connected with the removal from Quebec.

The Speaker did not approve of the plan adopted in the Upper House.  If it was the intention to give the employes an allowance, let it be given at once, but do not make an arrangement which had practically the effect of giving them a month’s pay without the appearance of doing so.

Hon. J. S. MacDonald complained that the salaries of the House were most unevenly distributed — some of them too high and some of them too low.  Messengers, who had next to nothing to do, were paid more than two hundred pounds a year, when clerks, young men of education, only received six hundred dollars.  He protested against this system of bringing up the question on the very last day of the session, when there was no time to consider it.

Hon. Mr. Holton objected to the motion.  Let a proposition be fairly submitted, and he would be prepared to consider it.

The Speaker said there were six persons employed in the House at a salary of $600 per annum.  With the present cost of living, he did not consider that sum fit to maintain an officer of this House.  Unless the House expressed a wish to the contrary, it was his intention to raise their salaries to $800 a year, a sum which was hardly equal in keeping house to $600 several years ago.  Unless this was done, he should consider it his duty to dismiss these officers, as it was beneath the dignity of the House to keep them employed at such a rate.  (Hear, hear.)

He had recommended to the Government that in compensation for removal from Quebec, that those having claims of $1000 or over should be paid 5 per cent, on those under that amount 10 per cent, and he thought this a much better course.

Hon. Mr. Holton and others expressed their satisfaction with the Speaker’s views, and their willingness to leave the matter in his hands.

Hon. Mr. Cauchon withdrew the motion.

Hon. J. S. MacDonald said there were too many clerks about the House.  There was a host of people lounging about in every passage; they were in fact in the way.  He objected to the employes of the House receiving a gratuity as they had already received an allowance from the Board of Works’ contingencies for the expense of removal from Quebec.

Hon. Mr. MacDougall presented the report of the Commissioners appointed to investigate the losses caused by the Fenian Raid in Upper and Lower Canada.

Hon. Mr. Carling, seconded by Mr. Shanly, moved that 3,000 copies of the Municipal and Assessment acts, Upper Canada, in one volume, be printed to the use of members.

The Speaker doubted if there were funds […]

  • (p. 91)

[…] on hand to pay for them.

Mr. McKellar explained that this would only cost $341, as they were now in type, and that there would be money enough to pay for them.

Hon Mr. McDougall and Mr. Ross (Dundas), did not see the utility of printing so many copies.  They would be distributed in due time with the statutes.

The motion was carried.

Hon. J. S. MacDonald on the occasion of the last day of the session of the United Parliament of Canada, called the attention of the gentlemen opposite, to the vacant offices throughout the country, and the gentlemen who were anxiously waiting to fill them.  Ministers, he said, had kept these offices dangling before the eyes of hungry expectants for months and months.  He spoke for the gentlemen anxiously awaiting the Shrievalty of Quebec, and the Collectorship of Montreal; for the batch of expectants in the County of Renfrew and the County of Bruce; for the would be Registrar of Huron, and others well known to the occupants of the treasury benches.  These offices had been kept vacant because ministers feared that members in this House might turn Turk upon them, in case the distribution of the patronage might not be to their liking.  Ministers had managed not only to keep the great majority of this House at their back, but they commanded the support of almost every newspaper in the country.

The Provincial Secretary, by his circular to the press, telling them to expect no patronage if they did not support some wing of the coalition, had effectually done his work, so that there was only a few independent papers in the country which dared to find fault with any measure of the Government, no matter how outrageous it might be.  He then continued to remark upon the irresponsible position which ministers would occupy between the present time and the organisation of the Confederate Government.

Hon. Mr. McDougall had heard the remarks of the hon. member for Cornwall with pain.  At this particular time, on the last day of the Canadian Parliament, when our Constitution was about giving place to another, it might have been expected that the member for Cornwall, as the oldest member of this House, from the high position he held, having filled the Speaker’s chair, and occupied the distinguished position of Premier in the Government; it might have been expected that at this time of parting he would have conceived his words in a more kindly spirit.

He (Mr. McD.) was sure when that hon. gentleman would read the report of his closing remarks in this House, he would regret that they had not been characterised by a happier tone.  He had charged that members of this House had given a corrupt support to the Government in anticipation of being rewarded by certain vacant offices for themselves or their friends.  But the hon. gentleman must see that if this means anything, it means that the members alluded to, who belonged to the same political party as the hon. member for Cornwall and himself had betrayed their trust to their constituents; it was a gross reflection upon the members of this House to suppose they would be guilty of anything of the kind, and it was well known that the government had been supported throughout by a majority so large as to make a resort to such conduct altogether unnecessary, even if the hon. gentleman believed them capable of doing so.

Those members had given no such support to the government; they had honestly and warmly supported, before any of the vacancies to which the member for Cornwall alluded had occurred, and therefore it was perfectly consistent of them to have continued that support.  Had they taken a contrary course, they might have exposed themselves to the imputations cast upon them, or at all events to the charge of inconsistency.

Then as to the press — it was true that the government had the confidence and support of the great majority of the newspapers in the country, but previous to the formation of the government those papers had either supported one party of the other, and it was therefore to be expected that when the two political parties joined to form one government the newspaper press of the country belonging to both parties should also unite in the government’s support.  As to the amount expended in what was called government patronage to the press, he challenged the honorable member for Cornwall to show that Government had increased the amount of that patronage beyond what it was under the Government of which that hon. gentleman was the leader, though this Government has the support of nearly all the papers in the country, and his Government had barley one-half of them.

He (Mr. McD.) would only say that he begged to enter his indignant protest against these unjust reflections against members of this House, and against the press of this country.  He regretted that the member for Cornwall had not been inspired by more generous sentiments on this occasion.

He (Mr. McD.) believed that hon. member had been quite sincere in his opposition to the Government that he honestly believed their policy had not been the best for the country; that some other might have been devised which would have been productive of happier results.

He (Mr. McD.) was willing to give him credit for all this, and he would not take it upon himself to say whether or not the future would prove one side of the House of the other correct — time would tell.  But the member for Cornwall might have admitted that some other than improper motives had actuated the Government and those who had supported them; he might have said we were mistaken in our judgement; that we had failed in our appreciation of the wants of the country — anything rather that the casting of unjust suspicions upon conduct which fairly considered, was above reproach.  He thought, however, he detected in the hon. member for Cornwall’s manner, a disposition to indulge in banter, rather than to prefer these charges seriously as if he believed them.  If so, he regretted that he had not adopted a graver and more liberal tone.

Hon. Mr. Holton did not desire to make any reply to the remarks of the hon. Provincial Secretary regarding what he had said in reply to the member for Cornwall, but he did desire to press upon him the enquiry which had been suggested by the discussion of last night — that an important officer, the Registrarship of Huron, had been offered to, and was to be accepted by a member of this House, the member for that county, who had sat here day after day, assisting the Government to carry through their measures.  He also desired to know whether it was true that one of the members for Quebec, who had also sat here throughout the session, voting with the Government, had been promised the Shrievalty of Quebec.

Hon. Mr. MacDougall — That no other had been made either in the one case or the other, and that no promise had been made to his knowledge, either in the one case or the other.

Hon. Mr. Holton — It would be more satisfactory if the heads of the Departments of Justice, east and west, would give such an explicit denial.  He begged to ask the Attorney-General West if he would answer the question with reference to the Registrarship of Huron?

Hon. J. A. MacDonald — Why did not the hon. gentleman apply to me first? (Laughter.)

Hon. Mr. Holton apologised for having unwittingly addressed himself to the wrong quarter on the first occasion, but would be happy to tender his apology, and hoped the Attorney-General West would reply to the question as promptly and satisfactorily as the Provincial Secretary had done.

Mr. Powell – What about Judge Sicotte’s appointment?  (Laughter.)

Hon. Mr. Holton was glad of the opportunity of referring to the appoint of Judge Sicotte, for of all the appointments made by the Government, of which he had been a member, it was the only one which gentlemen opposite dared to assail, and whatever blame attached to it must be shared in by the Provincial Secretary and the Postmaster-General.

Mr. Powell — It was a Lower Canada appointment — they had nothing to do with it.  (Laughter.)

Hon. Mr. Holton — In that case the hon. member for Cornwall was no responsible.  (Laughter.)

Hon. J. A. MacDonald stated that on account of the progress of business in the other branch of the Legislature, it would not be convenient to prologue Parliament this afternoon.  His Excellency would, therefore, be in attendance at the Council Chamber to-morrow (i.e. to-day) at 11 o’clock

Mr. Jones (North Leeds) said, as this was the last occasion on which he would have the opportunity of addressing the Canadian Parliament, he desired to express his very great satisfaction that, during the whole session, not a single imputation had been cast upon the party to which he belonged — the Conservative party — in connection with office-seeking, for themselves or friends.  Whatever charges of the kind had been made, were all against members of the party to which the hon. member for Cornwall belonged, and against the very gentlemen who had helped to keep him in office.  He did not, however, approve of the censure cast upon the member for Cornwall with reference to the late representative of Ottawa County; that gentleman had only done his duty to his constituents, by trying to secure for them an appropriation for public improvements to which they were entitled.

Mr. Dickson took the opportunity to refer to the charges made in the House by the member for South Oxford on the previous night — that he had been offered office by the Government and that his votes had been influenced by that consideration.

He (Mr. D.) begged to say that the statement was entirely untrue.  The facts of the case were that the Hon. Mr. Brown desired to get him (Mr. D.) to recommend the Deputy Registrar to the office of Registrar, or to get his salary raised.  Mr. Brown came to him one day with a letter from the Deputy marked “private” containing the statement referred to, and said “Dickson, what shall I answer?”

He (Mr. D.) replied “Mr. Brown, I have been offered that office by a gentleman high in authority, not a member of the government) Mr. Brown said, “Oh you rascal” (Laughter)!  What are you going to do — surely you won’t accept?”  He (Mr. D.) replied — “Mr. Brown, I have taken the whole matter under consideration”.  (Laughter).  “This was what took place and he (Mr. D.) had not been influenced in his votes, either on government questions or the Grand Trunk bill by that consideration.  He had voted for the Grand Trunk bill because he was convinced his constituents make four cents a bushel by the arrangement.  In conclusion he gave it as his opinion before the House, that the hon. member for South Oxford did not always speak the truth.  (Laughter.)

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] desired to ask the government regarding the deputation to England to negotiate with the Imperial authority for the great constitutional change to which they all look forward. He did not expect the government to tell him or the country what they intended to do in the future, but merely whether anything had as yet been done—whether any decision had been arrived at—whether in deputation was to be sent, and at what time; if all these points had been already determined upon.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  desired him to put his questions separately, and he would answer him.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Well—Has the question been taken into consideration, and has a decision been arrived at?

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] —The matter has been considered, and a decision has been arrived at.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Has it been agreed to send a deputation to England?

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] —It has been decided that a deputation shall be sent to England, headed by His Excellency the Governor-General [Viscount Monck].

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Has the time of the departure of the deputation been fixed?

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] —The time of the departure of the deputation was a matter of arrangement between the Imperial and Canadian Governments. Correspondence was now going upon the subject.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] expressed his entire satisfaction with the full, prompt and satisfactory replies which had been given by the Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald], to these important questions.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] desired to make a few remarks upon some points which had been charged against the government. He regretted the absence of the member for South Oxford [George Brown], as otherwise he might have taken the opportunity of going more fully into some matters of public interest; but on this occasion he would merely refer to the charges made in the house, and through the press, that the government had been remiss in calling the House together, that they had failed in their duty, in not dispatching the delegation to England to secure the passage of the Confederation Act at the present session of the Imperial Parliament.

In the first place the calling of Parliament was delayed by several important considerations, among others the Fenian movement which had engaged a great share of attention during the early part of the year period with reference to the delay in sending a delegation to England, he might inform the House that before the Right Hon. Mr. Cardwell left the Colonial office[1], he had communicated his opinion to this government, that the measure could not be carried through the Imperial Parliament during the present session, and since the new Colonial Secretary [Right Hon. Earl of Carnarvon] had come into office[2], the Government had received a similar declaration from him. It would therefore be seen that the delay in regard to the passing of the Confederation Act, was not chargeable upon the government, as he had said. There were other remarks which he intended to have made but in the absence of the member for South Oxford [George Brown], he would refrain from saying anything more upon this occasion.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] thought that perhaps Mr. Cardwell’s despatch was in the nature of your approach to this Government for not having been ready sooner.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] — No! No! Not at all.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay], at all events, would like to see the despatch. It ought to be laid before the House.

  • (p. 92)

At intervals during the foregoing debate, the House was in receipt of messages from the Legislative Council, relative to the passage of bills concurrence in amendments, etc.

The House adjourned at a few minutes past one, to meet at 11 o’clock on Wednesday.

[1] Despatch from Edward Cardwell. Unconfirmed reference.

[2] Despatch from the Earl of Carnarvon. Unconfirmed reference.

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