Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (3 August 1866)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 74-76.
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August 3, 1866
The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock.
A message was received from the Legislative Council stating that the joint message in reply to the telegram to the Governor-General has been agreed to by that House.
Mr. Bell, seconded by Mr. Currier, moved that leave be granted to introduce a bill to extend to the Roman Catholic minority of Upper Canada the like privileges as those extended to the Protestant minority of Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Brown asked the mover to explain the nature of the bill, as it was not right that it should be allowed to pass a single stage until the House understood it.
Mr. Bell said he would be most happy to have the bill discussed and well understood by the House, and the country, but it was quite impossible to do so if the House refused to allow it to be introduced. He assured the hon. member that it contained nothing prejudicial to the interests of the common school system of Upper Canada.
A discussion ensued as to the practice of the House in rejecting measures on their first introduction.
The bill was read a first time.
Mr. Bell moved that it be read a second time to-morrow.
Mr. Scatcherd raised a point of order. Due notice had not been given in accordance with the 39th rule.
The Speaker ruled against Mr. Scatcherd.
Mr. Scatcherd moved that the bill be read a second time this day six months.
Hon. Mr. Brown said if the discussion was to take place now, he would speak until six o’clock.
Hon. Mr. Galt said as there as Government business to be considered, he would move the adjournment of this debate until to-morrow.
Hon. Mr. McGee repeated that he had no personal responsibility in regard to the bill, and until a few minutes ago did not know its provisions. But he warned the hon. gentlemen opposite that if they were to raise technical objections at every stage upon this bill they would not do so with impunity. He asked them to discuss it on its merits. It was neither wise nor safe to take a course in this House that would be very irritating to a large class of the population in the present condition of the country. He could appeal to his hon. friend from South Simcoe whether he had not on a recent occasion exerted all the influence he possessed to preserve good feeling among all classes. It was not wise now to expose these feelings to excitement by appealing to technicalities upon a question which the House ought to discuss on its merits. If the bill were bad let it be defeated fairly, after discussion and the irritation would be far less.
Mr. McKenzie was prepared to discuss the question at any time.
Hon. Mr. McGee did not doubt of it. He once remembered having heard of a lecture being delivered on the subject of education to pay the lecturer’s school bill. He contended that the bill before the House should be considered fairly and impartially, and that the same privileges which were given to the minority in Lower Canada ought not to be withheld from the minority in Upper Canada. He would maintain the ground he had taken upon the general question, of equal rights to all classes, without special reference to this bill, which had only come into his hands but a few minutes before.
Hon. Mr. Brown—Said the hon. gentleman should not undertake to lecture members in the way he had just done the member for Lambton. It would be well for that hon. gentleman if he occupied the same position before the country as the member for Lambton (cries of “oh.”).
Hon. Mr. Brown—The member for London may cry “oh.”
Hon. Mr. Carling—I beg your pardon, I did not say a word (laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Brown contended that the Government was responsible for the bill in so far as the Minister of Agriculture had agreed to take the present law as a finality— unless new privileges were to be given to Lower Canada Protestants. Now the Government had given these new privileges to the Lower Canada Protestants, and here they were asked to give the Catholics the same.
Hon. Mr. Howland said the Hon. Minister of Agriculture had no personal responsibility for the bill, and was entitled to every credit for his efforts in allaying bad feeling between different classes of the community. With regard to the bill before the House, he was as much opposed to it as the member for South Oxford. It was generally understood by the House and the country that no change should take place in the Upper Canada school law, and he should oppose it at every stage. (Hear, hear.) He did not think its introduction at this time was in the interest of the peace of the country.
Mr. Fergusson (S. Simcoe) —As he had been alluded to, begged to hear testimony to the efforts of the Hon. Minister of Agriculture in keeping up good feeling between all classes, and for the body with which he (Mr. F) was connected, he would also say that during the exciting times through which the country had passed, they had done nothing that could be taken as a cause of offence to any party. With regard to this bill he was very sorry it had been introduced. There had not been a single complaint from Upper Canada, that any Roman Catholic child had been unfairly treated, or that the Catholics had any grievance in the matter of schools. He was opposed to separate schools, and regretted exceedingly that the hon. member for South Oxford had ever consented to make the separate school system a part of the Confederation scheme. Instead of its being a means of preserving harmony among all classes, it would prove to be the occasion of much ill feeling.
Mr. McKenzie justified the use of technical points in defeating a measure which had been introduced at the end of the session, for the purpose of destroying the school system of Upper Canada. He denied that he had any hostile feeling towards the Roman Catholics, who he did not believe wanted this measure.
Hon. Mr. MacDougall regretted that at this early stage of the debate, there should have been so much heat displayed. Though he had only time to glance at the bill but a few moments, he had seen enough to convince him that it was not a desirable one, and he should avail himself of every privilege which Parliament allowed, to oppose it. If this bill were passed, there would be a large Upper Canada majority against it, and he warned the promoters of this bill that if it was their intention to impose it upon Upper Canada they were engaged in a hazardous enterprise. The Reform members of the government would be found opposing this bill as earnestly at every stage as hon. gentlemen opposite, who had spoken so loudly at this stage.
Hon. Mr. Brown replied briefly.
Hon. Mr. Alleyn suggested that the bill ought to be dropped. It did not appear to him that it would be possible to pass it in this session, and the discussion of it on the temper displayed in this House would be productive of injurious effects. He thought its introduction most unfortunate.
Mr. Powell said he regretted that the Minister of Finance’s motion had not been carried without debate, as the object of defeating the bill would have been gained without giving so much cause of angry feeling. He strongly opposed the bill and said it if were read over clause by clause it would be seen that it deserved to be condemned.
Mr. Bell said the bill was a question of equal right, and he thought when members had had time to read it over their apprehensions of danger would disappear.
Hon. Mr. Dorion said on a former occasion the Attorney-General East had declared that the Lower Canada Education Bill would provide for assimilating the privileges of the Protestants of Lower Canada with those of the Catholics of Upper Canada. Now there was a bill before the House giving new and extraordinary privileges to the Protestants of Lower Canada, which the Catholics in the other section had never enjoyed. He did not wish to discuss that bill now, but he contended that equal privileges should be extended to both minorities. He would vote against the adjournment of the debate, and endeavor to secure the discussion of both the bills together. The government ought to have had the courage to have introduced both bills.
The Protestant minority of L. Canada was grouped together and formed a majority of the population of a large part of the country, while the Catholics in Upper Canada were everywhere in the minority, and if any one was more entitled to protection than another, it ought to be that minority, which had the least power to defend itself. If the Government, or the members of this House, should put through a bill giving such great privileges to one minority without doing equal justice to the other, it would be a most unfair proceeding. He hoped that members would allow both bills to be considered together, as they ought to be.
Hon. Mr. McGee repeated his views on the question, referring to certain clauses of the bill which he deemed objectionable, and others which he thought it just should become law. He would maintain the principle of equal rights and privileges at all stages of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Cameron deeply regretted the introduction of the bill, to which he could not give the slightest degree of continuance of support. He and many others of his friends had endured a great deal of obloquy in former times for their willingness to concede to Catholics the management of their own school affairs, and raising their taxes in their own way, and they thought that on the agreement come to upon the question with reference to Confederation, it was now considered settled for ever. But this bill re-opened the subject in a way that he could not support, and in a way which would not be acceptable to the people of Upper Canada.
Mr. Perrault said there were 168,000 Protestants in Lower Canada, and they had 14 Protestant members in the House, while in Upper Canada there were 258,000 Catholics and only two members of that faith. These figures showed where the liberality was. It was all very well for Upper Canada members to pat them on the shoulders, praise them for their liberality, and get privileges out of them for their co-religionists in Lower Canada, and then turn round and refuse the same privileges to the Catholics of Upper Canada. These gentlemen boasted of being liberal, but when a Catholic put himself forward for election in Upper Canada they hounded him from the polls. He had no objection to the Lower Canada Education Bill; it might be a very good one, but every Catholic member of that House should test the liberality of gentlemen from Upper Canada, and insist that the one should not pass without the other.
Mr. Rankin had no apprehension of any serious danger to the country, from allowing any religious body the control of their own affairs, and with reference to the subject before the House he would support the granting of equal rights and privileges to the minorities in both sections of the Province.
Hon. Mr. Cartier —The Protestants of Lower Canada were complaining last year that the privileges enjoyed by the Catholics of Upper Canada, in regards to the common school, were not enjoyed by them, and the government had promised to bring in a bill to give them these privileges with regard to the common schools, but there was no question of normal schools or superior education at that time. The answer he had given to the question of which the member for Hochelaqa referred had just been similar to the answer given by Sir Narcisse Belleau in the other House, and he wished to be particular on this point, because some parties had told him that Sir Narcisse had said that a bill would be introduced regarding the Catholics of Upper Canada, when in fact it was a bill to give the Protestants of Lower Canada the privileges enjoyed by the Catholics of Upper Canada that had been promised.
The Government had redeemed that pledge. When they came to consider the question they included also the superior education and normal school system. In Lower Canada there was property set apart for superior education, but in Upper Canada there was no such property set apart for the Catholics, and the only grants they got for superior education were those voted by Parliament. In Upper Canada there were superior schools endowed for Protestants, but their Catholic friends in that part of the country, would not expect them, by legislation, to give them any portion of the funds or endowments of Protestant institutions. They had redeemed the pledge to the Protestants of Lower Canada in the bill with regard to common schools, and they had gone further; they had made a permanent provision of superior education and normal schools, but the Catholics should not expect any equivalent for that in Upper Canada because they had no normal school, and the only money for superior education was that voted by Parliament.
He then referred to server privileges as to common schools granted to the Protestant minority of Lower Canada, which the minority in Upper Canada did not enjoy. As to the position of the Government towards the Catholics of Upper Canada, the government had promised nothing at all to the Catholics of Upper Canada, but it comes up that in the bill promised to the Protestants there were two privileges given to the Protestants of Lower Canada which the Catholics of […]
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[…] Upper Canada do not enjoy; there was the appointment of a Deputy Superintendent over their own schools, and the permission, if they should see fit, to establish a superintendent for the distribution of their share of the school fund. He was desirous that any privileges as to common schools given to the minority of Lower Canada, should be given also to the minority of Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Dorion said as it was almost six o’clock, he hoped the Attorney-General West would allow the vote to be taken so as not to put the question at the foot of the orders, and thereby run the risk of losing the opportunity of reaching it again.
Some discussion took place as to the effect of rising before the vote, when six o’clock was called and the House rose.
The Speaker took the chair at half-past seven o’clock.
Mr. Scatcherd moved for leave to introduce a bill to amend the Registry law of Upper Canada.
The motion was opposed.
Mr. McKellar entered into explanations.
On motion of Mr. McKenzie the debate was adjourned.
Hon. Mr. Cartier moved in accordance with notice previously given, that during the remainder of the session the House sit on Saturdays from 11 a.m., to 5 p.m., with the view of advancing, first, Government orders; second, Public bills; and thirdly, Private bills.—Carried.
Mr. Geoffrion asked leave to move for a return notice of which he had given for Monday for an address to His Excellency the Governor-General, for copies of all Petitions or Memorials addressed to His Excellency in favor of, or in relation to any changes to be made in the laws respecting Education, either in Upper or in Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Cartier refused to allow the motion to be put now. He said the papers would be down in good time.
Hon. Mr. Dorion said it was an extraordinary thing that the government should refuse the papers connected with this subject, after what had taken place in the House, and when two bills were now before it, one for Upper Canada and the other for Lower Canada.
Hon. J. S. MacDonald reminded the Attorney-General East that the minority in this House had rights, and they were not going to be put down. He was afraid to present these papers, and therefore he refused to grant the motion. It had been reported that a memorial from the Roman Catholic Bishops assembled at St. Hyacinthe had been sent to the hon. gentleman, praying that the same privileges should be given to the Catholics of Upper Canada as to the Protestants of Lower Canada and the House had a right to see that document.
Hon. Mr. Cartier said he was not aware that the member for Vercheres had given notice of his motion. On looking to the paper he found the notice was for Monday, and as the Government only prepared itself for the business of the day, it was not to be expected he would be prepared to-night for a motion he did not expect till Monday. The member might depend upon it that the Government would not oppose his motion on Monday. The document referred to had been addressed to His Excellency the Governor-General, and it was proper that the Government should consider it before accepting a motion for its production to the House. It would be considered on to-morrow, and on Monday the hon. member would find no opposition to his motion from the Government.
Sol.-Gen. Cockburn moved the third reading of the bill to authorize the incorporation of the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway and Mining Company, and for other purposes.—Carried.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Cartier, the House went into Committee, on the bill respecting the Bar of Lower Canada. Committee rose and reported the bill.
On motion of the Hon. Mr. Galt, the House went into Committee to consider the following:
Resolutions on the Currency.
- It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council to authorize the issue of Provincial notes payable on demand, of such denominations as may be determined upon, to an amount not exceeding five millions of dollars, and to re-issue the same. Such notes shall be a legal tender, and shall be redeemable in specie on presentation at offices to be established at Montreal and Toronto, according as the said notes may be made payable.
- It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council to enter into arrangements with any or all of the Chartered Banks of this Province, for the surrender of their power to issue notes, on or before 1st January, 1868; and in compensation for such surrender an annual sum not exceeding five per cent, upon the amount of their circulation, is established by the monthly return, upon the 30th April last, shall be payable to each Bank so surrendering its power, and redeeming the circulation, until the expiration of its charter. And the Receiver-General shall exchange the Provincial debentures now held by each bank in accordance with the provisions of their respective charters, for Provincial notes. The Receiver-General shall moreover pay to such Banks the half of the estimated cost of their unissued notes.
- It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council in entering into any such Bank, to provide either for the immediate or gradual surrender of its power to issue notes, extending in the latter case over a period not exceeding twelve months. But in case of such, gradual surrender the exchange of Provincial notes or Provincial Debentures, held under its existing charter, shall be made to such Bank only in equal proportion to the amount of notes actually redeemed, as shown by the monthly returns.
- From the date of any such agreement with any Bank, it shall not be required to hold any Provincial Debentures as now provided by law.
- Every Bank surrendering its power to issue notes shall make a weekly return of its notes redeemed and of those still outstanding. The compensation above authorised shall be paid half-yearly upon the amount redeemed, computing the same from the average of the weekly returns for the half year, until the amount so redeemed shall equal 9-10ths of its circulation as at 30th April last, when it shall be entitled to receive compensation upon the full amount.
- It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council, over and above the five millions hereinbefore authorized, and the amount necessary to redeem the Debentures held by the Banks surrendering their circulation, to cause Provincial notes to be issued to any Chartered Bank in this Province, from time to time, upon its requisition, and upon payment for the same.
- The sum in specie to be held for the redemption of the Provincial notes, shall be twenty per cent, upon the amount outstanding, so long as the whole amount in circulation does not exceed five millions. For any additional amount of notes in circulation beyond five millions, so long as the whole amount shall not exceed ten millions, twenty-five per cent shall be held in specie; and for any excess over ten millions, but not exceeding fifteen millions, thirty-three and one third per cent, and for any excess over fifteen millions, fifty per cent on such excess shall be held in specie. But Provincial debentures shall be issued against the Provincial notes to the full extent by which the specie held in reserve fails to cover the whole amount of notes in circulation.
- A return of the whole amount of Provincial notes in circulation, and of the specie held for their redemption, shall be made to the Audit Office, on each alternate Wednesday, which shall be published by the Auditor in the Canada Gazette.
- It shall be lawful for the Governor-General to establish branches for the Receiver-General’s Department in Montreal and Toronto, for the issue and redemption of the Provincial notes; or he may make arrangements with any Chartered Bank or Banks for the issue and redemption of the notes, allowing a commission net exceeding one quarter per cent upon the average circulation of every three months.
- It shall be lawful for any Bank, which may have surrendered its power to issue notes, to resume the same according to the provisions of its charter, upon giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the Receiver-General, and publishing such notice in the Official Gazette. Provided always that such Bank so resuming its power to issue notes, shall cease from the expiration of such notice to receive compensation, and shall be bound to repay to the Receiver-General the Provincial notes received by it in exchange for Provincial Debentures. Such Debentures to be again delivered to and held by such Bank as provided in its charger, before it shall be lawful for such Bank to resume the issue of notes.
- The proceeds of the held Provincial notes shall form part of the Consolidated Fund of this Province, and the expenses lawfully incurred under the foregoing provisions shall be charged upon and paid out of the said fund.
Hon Mr. Galt said in moving these resolutions remarked that a great deal of discussion had taken place on the propriety of the government supplying the country with a currency. The project he was about to submit need not excite alarm. It was not calculated to expose the interests of the country. He was aware that he had to make out a case; to prove the necessity for the amount to be raised and the expediency of the mode of raising. As to the question of necessity, he had already informed the House, and it could be easily established, Parliament had to provide for upwards of $5,000,000 before it rises to meet the liabilities of the country. It might be argued that the several sums making up that amount might be met by borrowing or renewing, but the securities of the Province had suffered a very serious depression in England, on account of the renewing from time to time of the balance in arrears. He had applied to the monied institutions of the country, and submitted his proposals to the consideration of a meeting of which the President of the Bank of British North America was chairman, and read the letter which he received from that gentleman.
It appeared (continued Mr. Galt), that the money to meet the engagements of the country could not be raised from the monied institutions of the country. The Government had therefore considered that the easiest mode of obtaining it was to get the banks to transfer to the Government a certain portion of their circulation, which could be done without difficulty and without inconvenience.
These resolutions left it optional with the banks to enter on the arrangements or not, as they should see fit. In case the Government did not arrange with the banks to take its notes, it would be driven to a forcible issue of them, which could only be done in two ways — 1st, by paying the notes of the Government, and 2nd, by only receiving those notes back in payment. But such a course would not be advisable. To refuse the notes of the banks would bring an amount of discredit on the circulation which would be very injurious to the interests of the country.
Mr. Galt then read the resolutions, as published above, and commented on their several provisions. He contained, if the banks did not accept these terms, they were at liberty to do so, or they might make a trial of the system and abandon it if it did not meet their expectations. The Government intended if possible to complete the arrangement for the amount required with the Bank of Montreal, which he thought would be advantageous to the country. He was not to-night in a position to say whether they could make such arrangement, but he hoped they would be enabled to do so and on terms within the limits set forth in these resolutions. By completing that arrangement the Government would effect a saving of $130,000 per annum, after paying the Bank the extreme amount to which it would be entitled.
As to the effect of the arrangement upon the other banks of the country it would not by any means prevent them from expanding their circulation. There would be a saving on the specie held by the government for the redemption of the Provincial notes, because the banks would not be compelled to hold the same amount as now. The plan would not require any larger amount of specie to be held in the country than now, for the $1,600,000 which would be held by the government to meet Provincial notes would represent so much less to be held by the banks. [Text missing] could be no injury to reduce the circulation of the Banks, if he gave them another equally safe currency, and he held that the amount of specie to be held by the government would just be so much released from the Banks. Other modes might be adopted for raising money. It had been said that money was plenty in the country, and that the Government could have it at a fair rate on good security. It was intended to test the accuracy of this statement; the government are prepared to offer the public $2,000,000 of Provincial Debentures, bearing six per cent for three years, interest payable half yearly.
The debentures to be issued in sums of $100, $200, $500 and $1000. And the government were prepared to place these debentures in the hands of agents through the country, and to allow one per cent on their negociation. The plan would be announced in the Gazette in a few days, and it would be seen whether the statement that the Government could get money upon such terms was correct. After referring in very complimentary terms to the Bank of Montreal, Mr. Galt proceeded to say, that they merely proposed to authorise the Receiver-General to issue a new king of debentures, a different class of securities to that formerly issued. They did not wish to control the banks, not to be lenders or traders in money, but to use the machinery of one bank, to effect a loan with our own people. They were but resuming the power which had been conferred upon the chartered banks, a power which the Government undoubtedly had the right to resume when the interest of the country required it, and it was right that the people should enjoy the profits of their circulation.
Mr. Cartwright agreed with much that had been said by the hon. Minister of Finance. He agreed as to the necessity of raising the amount of money required to meet the liabilities of the country —he agreed that the people […]
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[…] had a right to the profits of the circulation, and that the scheme might be advantageous to the larger banks whose circulation represented but a small amount of their capital, but its effect on the younger institutions might not be so favorable. The point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee was, that if all the banks of the country went into the arrangement, the Minister of Finance would incur a very heavy loss. He did not see how the other banks could long keep out of it after the bank of Montreal had entered into it, because the legal tender notes would drive the others out of circulation.
He also contended that the government was entering into competition with the commercial community of the country and practically drawing upon what might be called the fund reserved to meet the temporary wants of trade. He approved of the issue of debentures, but thought the rate of interest should be fixed at seven per cent, and hoped the committee would not authorise such a sweeping interference with the currency as that proposed by the resolutions. Better leave the banks to work on the principles which had been found to work so well for forty years.
His chief opposition to this scheme was that it was merely preparatory to the introduction of a bank of issue, a proposal to which he (Mr. C.) was very much opposed. He contended that it was a very wrong policy to change the whole system of the currency of the country, merely to meet a temporary demand for a few millions of dollars, which he was sure the Finance Minister could have readily devised some other means of raising from his well known fertility of resources.
Mr. Street regretted that the Minister of Finance had deemed it necessary to introduce these resolutions. He regretted it because he believed it would involve the most serious consequences to the country. The Minister of Finance did not propose to stop when he obtained the amount of money to meet his present necessities, but he provided in these resolutions that the system should be carried out until the whole currency of the country was changed. The banks had never failed in their duty to accommodate the public, and he did not think it fair that they should be thus interfered with. He was glad to hear that $2,000,000 of debentures were to be issued, and believed they would be taken up very quickly, even at 6 per cent, though he (Mr. S.) thought as the Finance Minister was now paying eight per cent. In London for $3,000,000, he should issue $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 worth in this country at 7 or 8 per cent, and he would find a ready-sale for them.
Hon. Mr. Holton asked the Finance Minister to adjourn the debate.
Hon. Mr. Galt would be very glad to meet the views of the hon. gentleman, but he thought the feeling of the House was in favor of going on with the resolutions. The hon. gentleman might choose another time for the discussion, and allow a stage to be taken on the resolution now.
Hon. Mr. Holton had no wish to delay the progress of business, but desired the opportunity of a full and fair discussion of the whole questions, which was one of too much importance to be disposed of hurriedly.
Hon. Mr. Cameron urged that the government should take at least another week to dispose of the business now before the House. The question of changing the whole Banking and Currency systems of the country was one of very great importance, and time should be given to place these resolutions before the country, so that they might be thoroughly understood. He (Mr. C.) did not think it proper that this question should be hurried through the House, before even the members had an opportunity of considering it. He strongly urged the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Brown agreed with the members for Chateauguay and Peel that this question should not be hurriedly disposed of.
After a conversational discussion between the Hon. Messrs. Brown and Galt, as in the working of the scheme, the latter said that he should consent that the committee rise, with the distinct understanding that the resolutions should come up the first thing to-morrow.
Hon. J. S. MacDonald said a scheme of this kind had been broached some five years ago, and though withdrawn at that time, he confessed had had always had something of a leaning towards it. He did not see why they should go on in the old hum-drum way with our banking system; when we were getting a new Constitution, we might as well have a new currency with it. (Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. Galt then moved that the Committee rise and report progress. —Carried.
The act to amend the act respecting the election of members of the Legislature was read a second time.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Galt the House went into Committee on the bill to amend the acts relating to the duties of excise, and to alter the duties thereby imposed on spirits.
The bill was reported and read a third time and the House adjourned at ten minutes past twelve.