Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (25 July 1866)

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Date: 1866-07-25
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 58-59.
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Wednesday, July 25th, 1866

The Speaker took the chair at three o’clock.

After the transaction of routine business.

Mr. Rankin asked when and how it is intended to expend the $600,000 (with compound interest for upwards of ten years) set apart to be appropriated by Parliament to some local purpose or purposes in Upper Canada, under authority of 18th Vic., cap. 3, sec. 1, 1854, “An Act for the abolition of feudal rights and duties in Lower Canada” – a similar amount having been taken from the public exchequer, and expended for Lower Canada purposes under the above cited Act.

Hon. J. A. MacDonald replied that it was in the power of Parliament to set apart the amount now if it saw fit, otherwise it would be accounted as an asset belonging to Upper Canada in the general settlement of accounts.

Mr. Rankin said his chief object was to get an acknowledgement of the debt.

Mr. Jones (North Leeds) moved an address for a statement of the expenses to the country of the Civil Service Board of Examiners, since 1857.

Mr. Jones contended that the expenses of the Civil Government had increased enormously during past years, and now on the eve of Confederation it was proper that some steps should be taken to secure retrenchment. During the present year the expenses of the Crown Lands Department had exceeded the whole amount of lands sold by $126,000, and if that was not a case which should be dealt with it was a very strange thing to him. When we came to colonization roads we found that upon four of the leading roads, upon which [$[text missing]7,000 had been expended, not one now settled had located. The member for Cornwall had effected a certain degree of retrenchment when he was in office, and he regretted that it had now been followed up. Since 1841 the Crown Lands Department expenses had increased six times over.

The motion was carried.

Mr. Parker moved for an address to His Excellency the Governor-General, for a return shewing the unpaid amount on account for all sales of Crown lands in each of the Townships of the several Counties of Wellington, Grey, and Bruce, and the probably value of the unsold Crown Lands in the said Townships. – Carried.

Mr. Pope moved an address to His Excellency the Governor-General for a copy for all tenders, contracts and specifications, and all other papers and documents respecting the contracting or building the Sherbrooke Jail, – also report of the Inspector of the work (if there is any) as to the present state of the work. – Carried

Hon. Mr. Cameron moved that an humble address be presented to His excellency the Governor-General, conveying the congratulations of this House to His Excellency on his elevation of the Peerage of Great Britain.

Mr. Cameron in moving the address, paid a very high tribute to the administrative talent of His Excellency, and referred to the kind of friendly notice which had recently been taken of British North America in the Imperial Parliament by the leaders of both the great political parties.

Hon. A. A. Dorion seconded the motion and expressed his hearty concurrence with the [sic] so eloquently expressed by the member for Peel.

Hon. Mr. Brown – Though sure that only one opinion prevailed in this House, regarding the subject brought before the House, he might be [text missing] to add his own testimony, as one [text missing] had some experience in the Government of the country, to the high qualities which distinguished His Excellency, and rendered him so worthy the distinction which had just been conferred upon him.

Hon. J. S. MacDonald having had an experience of two years’ personal intercourse with His Excellency, could heartily endorse every word that had been said in his commendation by the members who had spoken.

The motion was carried.

Hon. J. H. Cameron moved for the appointment of a committee to draft the address. – Carried

The Committee reported the following.

“May it Please Your Excellency –

We, Her Majesty dutiful had loyal subjects, the Commerce of Canada, Provincial Parliament assembled, beg have to approach Your Excellency with the expression of our most sincere congratulations from the elevation of Your Excellency to the Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In this [text missing] act of our beloved Queen, we recognized, with the warmest satisfaction and gratitude Her Majesty’s appreciation and acknowledgement of the arrives of Your Excellency [text missing] administration […]

  • (p. 59)

[…] of the Government of this Province, and we hope and pray that by the blessing of divine providence, Your Excellency may enjoy for long years, the honor which has been so well and worthily conferred.”

On motion the Address was adopted and ordered to be engrossed, and presented to His Excellency, at such time as His Excellency should signify his pleasure to receive the same.

Mr. Magill moved for an address to His Excellency the Governor-General for copies of all correspondence, Orders in Council, and regulations generally in reference to the levying and collecting of tolls on the Burlington Bay Canal; also a statement of the aggregate receipts and expenditure on the same for the past ten years,

He complained of the injustice to the trade of Hamilton, which the maintenance of the tolls on the Burlington Bay Canal inflicted, and hoped that justice would be done to that city.

The motion was carried.

Mr. Pouliot moved an address for a statement of the amount to which each townships of Lower Canada is entitled, under the provisions of the Seignorial act. – Carried after a long discussion.

Mr. Wright moved for the reading of Journals of 17th of March, 1865, page 253, in so far as relates to the Petition of P. Aylen and others, of the District of Ottawa; praying for an investigation into the conduct and acts of the Hon. Aime Lafontaine, Judge of the Superior Court in and for the said District.

It was a painful duty, he said, to impeach the honesty of the most humble official, but when that official was one of the Superior Judges of the land, the duty was still mere painful. The charges which had been preferred against the Hon. Judge Lafontaine were of such a grave and flagrant character, that they ought to be investigated without delay. If true, he ought at once to be dismissed from his high position, and covered with the disgrace which belongs for such crimes; if false no time should be lost in proving them to be so.

The petition referred to in his motion, was signed by men of the highest respectability, who could no doubt prove the charges it contained, and he desired that the matter should not longer remain undisposed of. Before Mr. Lafontaine’s elevation to the Bench, he had been Crown Lands Agent, and it appeared that he sold the public property and kept the money. The department had apparently sustained him, for he had been raised to the Bench without being deprived of the office. He appealed to the House to sustain him I having these charges investigated as it was not right that the lives and property of 50,000 people should be at the mercy of such a man.

The motion was granted and the journals read accordingly.

Mr. Wright then moved that the petition be laid on the table of the House.

Mr. Scoble asked what would be the effect of that?

Mr. Wright said, he intended next to move that all the papers connected with the case be printed.

Hon. Mr. Dorion said it was an extraordinary case, and ought not to be in the hands of a private member. He wished to hear the views of the Government with regard to it.

Hon. Mr. Cartier said the government had not yet had time to take the case into consideration. It was only now by the revival of the petition, presented in March, 1865, that the matter was brought to their notice, as they might be presumed to have forgotten its contents since first presented. He did not hesitate to say, that the proceedings of the hon. member, except as to the reading of the journals, was quite irregular and ought not to be carried out. The charges brought against Judge Lafontaine were not so section as he pretended, even according to his own statements, for nothing very positive was made out. Judge Lafontaine had been an advocate in Montreal, a partner with the Hon. Mr. Drummond, and held as high a character for honor and honesty as any advocate in the city – (Hear, hear).

During that time she held the office of Clerk of the Peace and Prothonotary as well as Crown Land Agent, and no complaint had been made against him. When Judge McCord died, the whole district of Ottawa desired that they should have a Judge who had grown up with their District, and who know its history. Petitions had been sent to the Government for this object, and one of these petitions was signed by the same man Mr. Aylen, whose petition against the Judge was laid before the House in March last. Was it to be expected that the Government should go now into an investigation of charges against Judge Lafontaine, which referred to his conduct before he was appointed? He objected to the motion as being out of order, for want of the proper notice.

Hon. Mr. Cauchon said the House was not got at the facts of the case. The hon. member for Ottawa had made the accusation, and the Hon. Attorney-General East had defended him – those were only the lawyers in the case, but what were the facts? The House did not know them, and obstacles ought not to be put in the way of obtaining them. If the wrong way had been adopted in this case to source an investigation, it was the duty of the Government to point another way whereby the facts might be brought out.

Mr. Irvine said a discussion like this, which must end in nothing was very unfortunate, as it would go before the country in a way which would go before the country in administration of justice in the country. He very much regretted that the Attorney-General was not in a position either to grant an investigation or to repel the charges.

Hon. Mr. Brown said, though the question was a Lower Canada one, he wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that while the petition was only presented in 1865 it was dated 14th March 1864, and it brought accusations relating to Judge Lafontaine’s conduct before his appointment to the Bench in 1858. He did think that the Attorney-General East ought not to have allowed that petition to lie over for a year without investigating it.

Mr. Powell regretted that any discussion had taken place on the subject until the facts were brought out.

The speaker decided that Mr. Wright’s motion was out of order, as he had given no notice.

Mr. Wright gave notice of his motion for tomorrow, and it being six o’clock the speaker left the chair.

After Recess

The House went into committee on the Act respecting the assessment of property in Upper Canada. – Mr. Walsh in the chair.

On many of the clauses, more or less discussion of a conversational character took place. Several verbal amendments, but no change of consequence were made to the bill as reported from the Select Committee.

The Attorney-General West, Hon. J. S. MacDonald, and J. H. Cameron, and Messrs. M. C. Cameron, McKenzie, Street, Haultain, Ferguson, (Simcoe), and Gibbs took part in discussing the provisions of the bill.

The committee sat until 12:25, and reported the bill, which was entered to a third reading tomorrow.

Mr. Taschereau moved the third reading of the Act to amend the Lower Canada Game Laws.

The third reading was objected to by Dr. Beaubien, who had an amendment to propose.

Mr. Holton thought he unopposed third readings might be preceded with.

Mr. D. A. MacDonald submitted that it was not fair to proceed with the third readings when there was only a handful of members in the House. He moved that the House do now adjourn.

In reply to Hon. Mr. Holton

Hon. Mr. Cartier said he would proceed with the civil procedure set tomorrow.

Hon. J. A. MacDonald said the debate on the Local Constitutions would be resumed on Friday.

Hon. Mr. Holton – and the education bull will be introduced tomorrow.

Hon. J. A. hoped.

Hon. Mr. Holton – Both? (Laughter)

Hon. J. A. MacDonald was not prepared to say (Laughter).

The House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past 12 o’clock.

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