Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (22 June 1866)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 21-23.
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FRIDAY, June 22.
The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock, but the House sat with closed doors till 20 minutes past 4. It was understood that the question of the House from Thursday, 28th inst., till Tuesday 3rd July in connection with an invitation to members to proceed on an excursion to the Upper Ottawa. No final action on the subject was taken. The doors having been opened the following bills were introduced and read a first time.
Mr. Scatcherd— To amend the act respecting the registration of titles in Upper Canada.
Mr. Wood— To amend the practice of the Court of Chancery for Upper Caanada.
Mr. T.R. Ferguson— To incorporate the Simcoe County Bank.
Mr. Wood— To explain section 17 of the Act 27 Vic. respecting the Volunteer force.
Mr. Perrault— To incorporate the village of St. Ours.
Hon. Mr. Rose— To enable the Trustees of St. Paul’s street Presbyterian Church, Montreal, to sell certain real estate.
Mr. Cartier—To incorporate the village of New Edinburgh.
Mr. Currier—To establish the line extending and heretofore recognized as the line between the 4th and 5th ranges of the Township of Buckingham.
Mr. Dickson—To legalize a certain By-law of the County Council for Huron and Bruce, appropriating a certain sum for the construction of gravel roads and harbors, in the County of Bruce.
Mr. Scatcherd—To extend the jurisdiction of Division Courts in Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Rose—To amend the Act incorporating the Mercantile Library Association, Montreal.
Mr. Wood— To provide for more ffectually securing the liberty of the subject.
Mr. Morris— To incorporate the Ottawa Natural History Society.
Mr. McKellar—To incorporate the village of Bothwell as a town.
A message from His Excellency signed by himself was read, sending down the Code of Civil Procedure of Lower Canada, as prepared b the Commissioners appointed for that purpose.
Attorney General Cartier, moved that on Tuesday next the House go into Committee of the whole to consider the expediency of imposing a duty not exceeding (blank) on each instrument or document registered in Lower Canada. The said duty to be applied towards defraying the expenses of the inspection of the Registry Offices in that section of the Province, and of making the plans and books of reference required by chapter 37 of the Consolidated Statutes of Lower Canada—Carried.
A message was received from His Excellency transmitting the estimates of certain sums required for the service of the year ending the 30th of June, 1867.
Hon. Mr. Galt explained that only a portion of the estimates had been brought down, that of the expenses of the civil government and others, not likely to create much discussion. To enable him to open the committee of ways and means on Tuesday. He proposed, therefore, now to take the first items of those now brought down.
The House then, on motion of Mr. Galt, resolved itself into a Committee of Supply, Mr. Shanley in the chair, and adopted the above item—Governor General’s Secretary $1900.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Galt, the House went into Committee to consider the following resolution:
That it is expedient to indemnify the members of the Provincial Government, the Auditor, and all other persons concerned, for the unavoidable departure from the provisions of the Audit Act, 27-28 Vict., cap. 6, in the advance and expenditure of the sum of $707,339.49 not provided for in the Supply Bill of last session, and the application of the sum of $30,000 for appropriated for the ordinary expenditure for Militia clothing, to the expense of the Frontier Service; and the redistribution of the aggregate sum appropriated for the other branches of Militia expenditure, so as to meet the actual requirements of the service;—such advance, expenditure and redistribution being occasioned by the necessity of maintaining a large Militia Force on active duty on the Frontier, and detailed accounts of the sums so advanced and expended up to the ninth day of June instant, having been laid before the House; and also to provide that any further sums which it may have been or may be necessary to advance and expend for like purposes after the day last mentioned and before the passing of the Supply Bill in the present session, shall be held to have been lawfully advanced and expended, provided they be covered and made good by appropriations for that purpose in the said Bill.
Mr. Galt said, he thought it proper on behalf of the Government to state that they believed this inevitable departure from the provision of the existing Audit Act should prevent its being drawn into a precedent in future. He would not detain the House by any lengthened reference to the circumstances under which this departure had arisen. It was not supposed last Session that this Province would have been exposed to attacks of bands of maurauders from a foreign country, without any pretext or provocation as far as we were concerned. It was the duty of the Government to protect the lives and homes of the people when an attack was threatened. It would appear from papers submitted to Parliament that about the 9th of November last a small force of Volunteers were called out for the protection of our frontiers, and that force was confined to nine Companies.
He referred at length to the manner in which the Fenians were publicly drilled in the United States, and of the manner in which threats were made that they would make Canada a base from which to attack other portions of the British Empire. He thought Government went as far as they ought to have gone on that occasion in regard to the force called out, and that they took precautions in regard to threatened assaults and to ensure defeats of hostile enterprises. A call was made for 10,000 men which force it was expected would be sufficient for the work expected. The Hon. gentleman referred to the patriotic manner in which the call was responded to, and that a force of 40 per cent larger than was called for turned into the field. (Loud Cheers.)
Events of the last few weeks had shown that the designs of the Fenians were really entertained, and they were ony checked in their designs by the measures which we took.—They attempted to carry out their plans and made a descent on this country. He thought the Government were fully justified by all past experience of Fenian organizations, in taking precaution against their enterprizes, and even if he had overrated the means and ability of these people to disturb our territory, still, events of the last few weeks firmly lead to the presumption that the precautions we had adopted were not greater than the occasion demanded.
The statements to be laid before theHouse would show distinctly the course the Government adopted throughout.—We could scarcely anticipate, under ordinary circumstances, having alongside of us a country professing to be on terms of Friendship with Great Britain, to be called upon to defend our shores from an army of invasion coming from that neighboring land. It was one of those contingencies we would scarcely have been justified in asking Parliament to provide for. We were threatened with invasion in March and subjected to it in June, and had the precautions taken in March not been adopted, threats then made would probably have been followed by such an attack as had just failed so ingloriously. (Loud cheers.)
We were responsible to the House for the course in the matter, and the country were judges to whether the Government should have suspected such an attack, and had taken the necessary measures for the defence of the Province. He hoped the House would show on this occasion that they regarded it as a paramount duty of the government not merely to administer affairs of the country by rules of parliament, but to defend the land from hostile invasion (Cheers.)
This was the first duty of the government and one that must be undertaken with all the resources of the country. (Hear, hear.)
They did not desire that any precedent should under ordinary circumstances be drawn from their course on this occasion. They had not trusted this departure from the provisions of the Audit Act, as a light matter, but as one of a most serious nature. They had kept reports from all ordinary accounts of the Government, every shilling paid on account of this service, which was set forth for the information of the House. At the same time it was his duty to state that the militia expenditures […]
- (p. 22)
[…] had been necessarily curtailed since the 8th of June, the date mentioned in the motion. It was impossible for the Government to avoid making unauthorized expenditures in addition to those incurred before that period, even since the meeting of the House. The force on the lines had to be maintained and paid day by day. Therefore it was proposed that those expenditures, not provided for last session, should be carried now by Parliamentary appropriation. The Government, therefore, asked the House to indemnify them for expenditures up to the time Parliament met, and that amounts be voted which should be considered as legalizing expenditures we are at from day to day. (Hear, hear.)
Hon. A.A. Dorion was glad to see that from the remarks of the Minister of Finance that he felt the importance of the Audit Act. He perfectly agreed with the Government for acting as they had done in the matter. (Hear, hear.)
After some remarks—
Mr. Galt said the pay of the volunteers had only been twenty-five cents a day, and he thought the sacrifices they had made in going when unexpectedly called upon to the frontier, fully entitled them to the additional allowance of fifty cents a day for rations. The average estimate of $1.25, for the whole force, included the officers.
Mr. McKenzie.— Does it include transportation?
Hon. Mr. Galt.—It was intended to include transportation also, the Militia Department being of opinion that taking the whole Province through, and the movements to be provided for, $1.25 per day would cover the whole. But he thought, as regards pay and allowances it would be more convenient to take up the discussion of that when the militia estimates were before the House.
Mr. Dunkin said he should not like it to go abroad that the rate of pay and all allowances which the volunteers considered inadequate was in the opinion of the House excessive.
Mr. Haultain looked forward to a possibility of hostilities with the United States.
Mr. Rose referred to the action of the County Councils and other bodies throughout the country in supplementing the Government allowances, to show that it was not the feeling of the country that the volunteers were paid at too high a rate. He did not think that any man who rose here and declared that the volunteers receiving 25 cents a day and 50 cents for rations and for transport was excessively said, that in doing so, he expressed the feeling of the country.
D.A. McDonald who was imperfectly heard in the gallery was understood to contend that while all thanks were due to our Volunteers, our main dependence should be our Militia. He thought a certain number of each Battalion should be thoroughly trained every year, so that gradually the whole Battalion and our whole Militia would be qualified efficiently to defend their country when their services were required. He regretted that more benefits had not been deribed from the servies of those who had been trained at the expense of the government in the Military Schools. Many of those after receiving their military education that way had gone away and had given their services to foreign governments.
Hon. Mr. Galt, very few have done so.
Mr. Dunkin advocated a permanent volunteer system, not only to guard against raids, but also to be ready to offer resistance in case of war with the neighboring republic. Expense he considered necessary in such a matter.
Mr. Powell said he thought there is not a man in the country who will not approve of the course pursued by the Administration in promptly taking the responsibilities of the provision for defraying the expense of the recent military demonstrations on the frontier. He did not consider it an argument against paying the volunteers or providing for their maintenance, that they would leave the country when educated. No, the people who are its guardians and who compose the volunteers, do not go to the neighboring States when they are educated. The compensation received by the volunteers is utterly unworthy of the compensation they ought to have resolved. The defence of the country should be liberally paid for. It is the duty of those who remain at home to divide the pecuniary loss with the volunteers. If Kings and rich people had to share the evils of war equally with the volunteers, we would have loss of war.
Mr. Chambers said that he considered it necessary on an occasion like the present, to make a suitable appropriation. He desired to know if the advocates of a permanent volunteer force wished for a standing army. Our position, in the face of 30,000,000 of people, in defense would be ridiculous. That would be different from marauders and driving them back. (Hisses and noise.)
If other gentlemen are afraid of the truth he was not. If a permanent military force greater than that which has been raised should be necessary, it is time to give the country to understand, that this country is undefensible in war with the United States. He believed in discharging his duty faithfully to the country. (Great noise and disorder.)
Mr. Chambers continued his remarks at considerable length, but the interuptions [sic] were so frequent that he could not be heard distinctly in the gallery. He believed in complaining independently of the military imbecility which directed the movements of the army during the recent trouble. Let us not be afraid to tell these things because they may be reported to a foreign paper.
Mr. Rymal, I rise to question of order. I ask if a speech about military movements that have taken place in all part of the world is German to this question. If you agree with me Mr. Chairman you will put a stop to this.
The decision of the Chairman could not be heard in the gallery.
Mr. Chambers went on to make some further remarks supporting the appropriation asked for saying that it should not be a precedent for the future.
Mr. T.R. Ferguson referred to the remarks of the member for Brockville who had just resumed his seat. As regards the pay of the Volunteers he (Mr. Ferguson) thought it inadequate instead of being excessive. He did not consider 25 cents sufficient allowance at all for a married man. He regretted the government had not doubled it, as it was the general opinion they should do so.
The Fenian bands had no organization, no means of support and must, even if a Volunteer had not been sent against them, have become demoralized and broken up in a few days. They were just capable of giving us annoyance but that was all. He advocated putting the militia on a most efficient footing, and expressed his belief that the Government had ably done their duty. (Cheers.)
Mr. McGee agreed with the previous speakers that this House was not the best place to try the merits or demerits of officers either of militia or regular forces, and therefore it was not for us to pronounce an opinion.—(Hear, hear.)
He did not think the member for Glengarry could have really meant to say that the majority of the volunteers were merely the floating population, here to-day and away to-morrow. That remark was incorrect, and at any rate did not apply to the volunteers from Montreal. He knew instances of 30 respectable artizans leaving one establishment in Montreal for service on the frontier. He knew many instances of men serving for 25 cents per day to neglect their work on the wharves of Montreal, which yielded $2, $3, and sometimes $4 per day.—These men were among the flower of our population, and it was a pity they had not been pitted against worthy foes instead of outcasts and offscourings of great cities of the United States. (Cheers.)
Sacrifice of life of those medal men of Toronto College, one of those heroic youths of the Queen’s Own or the Thirteenth Hamilton, was worth the sacrifice of a dozen of some of those fighting against them. Loud (Cheers.)
The general character of the volunteer force as far as he had been able to learn was that both officers and men were the flower of our population and not the floating element described. Since called out they had been popular wherever quartered. There was nothing more magnificent than the spontaneous rush to arms not only of our young, but middle aged, and the readiness of men who had never smelt powder to — into the battle as at Ridgeway. In answer to persons finding fault with officers for not doing this and that, he must observe that they forgot mentioning what had been done. (Hear, hear.)
But this must be noticed, that wherever the Canadians saw the enemy they attacked with a a gallantry that was highly creditable and encouraging in regard to the future of the country. (Hear, hear.)
We must be their faults a little blind, and to their virtues very kind. (Cheers.)
This force was a plant of recent growth, it having been the fashion five years after to regard them with something like contem. The growth of Military spirit in the last five years was remarkable, and should banish discouraging thoughts or disparaging reflections respecting the mass of military materials in the country, and the magnificent spirit that animates them. (Cheers.)
In maintaining here the integrity of our Volunteers, members of the house were always one man. (Cheers.)
The first day of the session, Parliament gave government all powers wanted for the preservation of peace, and protection of life and property of the country, and as cheerfully as it did so, would it also vote all expenditures incurred in the defence of the Province. (Hear.)
Government had to contend with evils of great magnitude. The danger that menaced us was not to be despised. Correct information was hard to be got, and when we come to pass judgement on the conduct of officers, either of civil or military power, we ought to remember that in days of action it was often very difficulty indeed to ascertain precisely at a given point, either against quantity of danger against which we had to provide, or harder still, the intention of the enemy. The peculiar nature of the Fenian organization had rendered it, extremely difficult to obtain authentic information on those points.
He felt that if it had not been for the prompt interference of the American authorities, when they did move, though we might all have our opinions as to h ether [sic] action might not better have been taken a few days earlier, we should have had a much more serious account to face, both as to expenditure of money and loss of life. He had never had any apprehensions, however, that the Fenians could give us more than temporary invonvenience.—(Cheers.)
If they had really advanced one day’s march into our country their punishment would have been much more severe than it was, while our loss might also have borne the same proportion thereto. One of the elements of danger from such an organization, is its being a secret society. This House knew his horror of secret societies, even where their ends were laudable. He believed, no matter what the end of the means was, per se wrong in itself; but how much more infamous when their secrecy was employed to further the ends of this joint stock murder and plunder association that came in upon us. It was not a nation, and no right to arrogate to itself power of making war which belonged to nations only. The fraternity was an aggregate of individuals murderers banded together for the wholesale murder. On sea they would be hanged like dogs—treated as men recognising no law and entitled to no recognition by law, but to be dealt with as common enemies of all mankind. (Cheers.)
Another element of danger from the organization was the patronage and assistance it received from a portion of the American press and people. While men like Gen. Meade did their duty in dealing with Fenian marauders, subaltern officers did not scruple to violate orders to aid and encourage them.
No doubt the American Government had rendered us important service in this matter— though not as early as many people though they could have done, but the boasting of a portion of the citizens of the United States of what their government has done detracts largely from the merit of the action. They were wrong in their taunts of our not being able to protect ourselves, which we had shown ourselves fully capable of. We must make them understand we do not live here by their forbearance and have not been brought to seek protection under their aegis. (Cheers.)
Fenianism, quite insignificant in 1861, had grown of its present gigantic proportions by the influence of the American Civil War, and the promises freely made to the Irish to help them in a war with England for their assistance in suppressing the Southern Rebellion. Two-thirds of these Fenian prisoners were remnants of the late Civil War, and as the majority of this body were soldiers in the American armies, they were more formidable than ordinary marauders. The conduct of our people throughout the crisis added greatly to our credit and reputation with our neighbors. Americans could hardly believe, on learning of the Government calling out 10,000 men in March last, that such an act was possible, or that this force could be obtained. The demeanor of the Canadians on this occasion would also add materially to our credit in England. Our strongest defence in this country must consist in an unanimity of our population. Three millions of people, united in their own defence, could defy any power on earth, to injure or insult them. (Hear, hear.)
If, from any cause whatever, unjust comparisons or uncharitable rivalries, or religious discords should now be raised among us, the offender would be the worst Fenian in existence, and likely to do more harm than all the efforts of external foes. Yet, all stand united, heart and hand, in bonds of good citizenship and for the defence of our country. (Cheers.)
He thought that though considerable expense and inconvenience had been entailed by the efforts necessary in the suppression of the late Fenian undertaking, the experience of service obtained by our volunteers would be highly beneficial to them now and in the future. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. McGee concluded by congratulating the House on the excellent spirit that had characterized the whole debate. (Cheers.)
The resolution was then adopted by the committee and reported to the House, and Tuesday was fixed for the reception of the report.
- (p. 23)
In reply to Hon. Mr. Holton,
Hon. Mr. Galt said it was the intention of the Government to bring down this session a bill with respect to education in Lower Canada, and an opportunity would be afforeded the House for a full discussion of its provisions.—He trusted it would prove satisfactory both to Protestants and Roman Catholics of Lower Canada.
Mr. Scoble inquired if the Government intended introducing any bill relative to education in Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Cartier requested the postponement of the inquiry till the Hon. Attorney General West was present.
The House adjourned at a quarter past ten P.M.