Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (7 August 1866)

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Date: 1866-08-07
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 79-81.
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Tuesday, Aug. 7th, 1866.


Withdrawal of the Education Bills —Resignation of Mr. Galt.


The SPEAKER took the chair at three o’clock.


After routine proceedings,


Sol.-Gen. LANGEVIN moved the Lower Canada education bill be now read a second time.


Hon. J. A. MACDONALD said his hon. friend moved the second reading of this bill for the purpose of giving him the opportunity of making the statement to the House, which he was now about to do, with regard to their changed position upon this bill. The government felt that there would have been no difficulty in carrying this bill had it been allowed to stand alone. They were fully convinced of the liberality of sentiment of the Lower Canada majority; there was no doubt as to the course of that majority upon the bill; they were quite willing to concede to their Lower Canada fellow subjects of British origin the privileges which it was designed to give them. But a similar bill had been introduced by the member for Russell for Upper Canada, giving to the Catholic minority of Upper Canada profound beyond doubt that there would have been a very large majority from Upper Canada against that bill. All the members from Upper Canada, but himself, were prepared cite against it.


The government had also found that there was a strong feeling, and a very natural feeling, among the Catholic majority of Lower Canada, that their co-religionists in the west ought to enjoy the same privileges as they were willing to give the Lower Canada minority, therefore made a difficulty in the way of carrying the Government bill, which by itself would have passed with a large majority. Had this bill been pushed, the other bill would have been pushed also, and the singular spectacle of a bill for Upper Canada being scarred by Lower Canada votes, and a bill for Lower Canada by Upper Canada votes would have been presented. This would have been a most unfortunate occurrence. These were not like ordinary bills: if passed they would have been a fundamental part of the constitution of the country.


It was not desirable, therefore, in the present position of affairs that such a result should have been produced. Canada, instead of starting in harmony under Confederation would enter it with the worst feelings of division aroused, presenting minority, instead of a double majority. It was seen that the most unfortunate consequences which the government felt bound to avert. The government, therefore, with the deepest regret had come to the conclusion to abandon this bill. The minority in each section would have to throw themselves on the justice and generosity of the majority. He had no fears that any injustice would be done to the Lower Canada minority; the majority in that section had given too many proofs of their liberality to doubt of it. But in Upper Canada the liberality of the majority had not yet been tried.


He hoped, however, that the majority there, feeling strong and powerful, would act in a spirit of generosity. Though he very much regretted that circumstances had compelled the Government to abandon the bill, the most painful part of his announcement had yet to be made. The hon. Minster of Finance, who had taken a very particular interest in this bill had felt it to be his duty to tender his resignation, when his colleagues had come to the conclusion to drop the bill, and his resignation was now in the hands of His Excellency. His hon. friend had been in an especial manner the guardian of the rights of the Lower Canada minority.


He had felt, therefore, that in view of the abandonment of this bill, which was considered of so much importance by them, that he should withdraw from the Government the only consolation to him (the Attorney-General) was that he had withdrawn with every feeling of intimacy and friendship. He also begged to say that the late Minister of Finance had kindly consented, at the solicitation of the Government, to continue to take charge of those measures still before the House, appertaining to that department. The abandonment of the School Bills enabled the Government to state their expectation of being able to close the business of the session on Saturday.


Hon. Mr. GALT felt bound to say, in all candour, that the course of the Government was what demanded by the circumstances of the country, but it was not a course which he could sanction. It was not because he thought the interests of the Protestants of Lower Canada would be jeopardized, in the […]


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[…] hands of the Lower Canada majority, that he had taken the course, for he was bound to sat that he had every confidence in the liberality of that majority. He said this in justice to his friend the Attorney-General East, but the Government had found that they must merge their duty of protecting the minority, in the greater duties of protecting the peace and harmony of the whole country. It was not a light thing for him that he should have to retire from the Government at this time, and to part with colleagues who he had been associated with so long a time. With regard to the Roman Catholic minority of Upper Canada, he felt bound to say that it would be dangerous to give them anything like a just cause of complaint. He begged also to say that his Lower Canada colleagues had shown no disposition to recede from the ground which the government had taken until circumstances had rendered it necessary.


Hon. J. S. MACDONALD was very glad to learn that these bills had been withdrawn. He had predicted these dangerous consequences, which had already manifested themselves upon this question, when the Quebec Scheme was first submitted. He had pointed out that the placing of special privileges beyond the reach of the majority would lead to consequences such as those which the United States had suffered on account of slavery.


He was glad that the Government had made this concession to the option of Upper Canada. — He was not afraid that the Catholics of Upper Canada would not receive full justice from the Protestants of Upper Canada; and was sure that as the Protestants of Lower Canada had never had occasion to complain in the past, they would be equally justly treated in the future. He would think it a great misfortune it the carrying out of Confederation was taken out of the hands of those who had forced it upon the country. He considered it a foregone conclusion, but looked to its condemnation in the future, though it would take years to remedy its detects.


Hon. Mr. CAUCHON.—By the position of members on the school question he expected a crisis, but not to the extent which had occurred. He exceedingly regretted the resignation of the Minister of Finance, and hoped the country might soon again haver the benefit of his services. At the time of the adoption of the Confederation scheme, it was understood that the separate school law of Upper Canada was not to be interfered with, and that the Lower Canada law was to be changed in some particulars, but the Protestants of Lower Canada now claimed privileges whisk they should not have asked. Though he was not opposed to these privileges, yet he looked upon it as an unjust suspicion upon the conduct of the majority in the future, which their conduct had not deserved in the past. He regretted that government had not confined the bill to the points upon which they were originally pledged, then they would not have excited the jealousy of the Catholics of Upper Canada, nor would they have met with opposition from any part of the country.


Mr. POPE said the Protestants of Lower Canada had never yet complained of injustice from the Superintendent of Education, but the representatives of the minority could not convince those who had sent them here that everything would be right and secure for them, they could not quiet those who went round the country agitating the minds of the people setting class against class, without those guarantees which they had asked, and they (the British members from Lower Canada) had pressed upon the Minister of Finance, as their, representative, to secure them these guarantees. They had given up much in consenting to go into Confederation, and surely the concession of these guarantees would forever prevent the re-opening of agitation upon this subject. He was glad that the Minister of Finance had left the Government, it was the only honorable course to him, and the country would respect him for having stood to his pledge.


Mr. DUNKIN bore testimony to the fair and impartial conduct of Lower Canada Superintendent of Education. He then replied to the remarks of the hon. member for Montmorency. He read from the debates on Confederation, to show that the Protestants of Lower Canada would receive such privileges “as would satisfy them in the management of their schools.” He would not say now whether the bill could have been carried or not, though he firmly believed that had ministers seen their way to carry it without great injury to the country, they would have done so. But with regard to the part of the bill which the member for Montmorency regretted that it had not been taken up, he decidedly preferred the course that had been followed. It was more manly, more honorable. They had tried, they had failed, and they had abandoned it. He also contended that the two system of Upper and Lower Canada, with regard to education, were totally different. As the case now stood the Protestants of Lower Canada would now have to take their chance, and that chance, he firmly believed, would be a good one.


Hon. A. A. DORION regretted that the member for Compton and the other township members, and not always felt the same confidence in the Lower Canada majority which they now expressed. Had they done so, they would not have driven the member for Sherbrooke from his present position. These gentleman had been caught in their own trap. They had sold their constituencies to the Confederation scheme, for this pledge upon the school question, and now they lost their guarantees. He thought the honorable Minister of Finance had taken an exceedingly honorable course, and he believed that ministers had done everything in their power to carry that bill, but they found it impossible.


He had no doubt of the justice of the majority in Lower Canada, they would give the Protestants every privilege that might be deemed necessary, while he should have contended that the Catholic minority in Upper Canada should have received equal privileges with the Protestant minority of Lower Canada, and the majority of Upper Canada would have only shown themselves more illiberal, more bigoted, by refusing this, still he believed it was better for the minorities in each section, to trust to the justice of their claims and the impartiality of the majority.

He believed several provisions of the bill, which was now withdrawn, exceedingly objectionable, in trying the hands of the legislature of the country, as to the future appropriations of the money, no matter what might occur.


Hon. Mr. BROWN congratulated the Lower Canadians the they ere to be relived from the obnoxious school law which the government designed to impose upon them. He was glad, too, that legislation was not to be disturbed upon this question, and particularly glad the session was to close so soon and hoped that ministers would hasten to England, and get Confederation accomplished as quickly as possible. He contended that the rights of the minority would always be better protected when left to the justice of the majority. He thought that the Catholics of Upper Canada would be very glad to learn the they had been relived of a bill which would have entailed upon them very great additional expenses. He would not be expected to express his regret at the Minister of Finance’s resignation on public grounds. He was glad upon them grounds that his hon. friend had resigned, and it was exceedingly creditable to the hon. gentleman that he had acted from a high conscientious principle.


Hon. Mr. McGee. — It was not extraordinary that the minority East and West had desired to protect themselves in their fundamental rights. It would have been very extraordinary if they had not. Had not the people of Scotland stipulated for their own laws in the Union with England? Had not Ireland made stipulations as to its rights? Had not guarantees been given to minorities in every Federal Union of States that had ever taken place. He was not afraid himself to trust to the Upper Canada majority, and would not say a word to alarm the feelings of the Catholics, but it came with bad grace from the member for South Oxford to speak for the Roman Catholic feeling, unless from the experiments tried on it. If any man had experimented upon that feeling for upwards of twenty years he had done so, and he might well venture to speak for the Catholics of Upper Canada.


He (Mr. McG.) said it would have been far more for the donor of this House, far better for the peace of the country, had they agreed honestly to take up the case of the two minorities and settled them fairly. We were sending the minorities East and West adrift with feelings of insecurity as to their future, which this House could have removed by frankly dealing with the case. Since that cannot be done, the best that could be was too leave to work out their own case in each section. He referred ti the security which the minorities in each section had felt under the United Parliment, which would now be taken away.


Hon. Mr. BROWN contended that the cases cited by Mr. McGee bore no analogy to that of the minorities of Upper and Lower Canada.


Mr. M. C. CAMERON did not regret that the bill had been withdrawn. He believed the Lower Canada Protestants, and the Upper Canada Catholics, would be perfectly safe in the hands of the majority. If their rights were to be invaded once it would be followed with such an entire change of circumstances as would make its repetition impossible. He did regret, however, that the hon. Minister of Finance had been compelled to resign upon a question which did not concern his department, but one of the Government at large while his colleagues had not gone out of offie with him. He dissented front the top of the remarks made by the Attorney-General West and the late Minister of Finance, regarding the Catholics of Upper Canada, one of which might bear a construction that there was a time when they could be treated unjustly, and the other that their loyalty might be suspected. He contended that the Catholics of Upper Canada could have no cause of complaint that a bill which had been promised to the Lower Canada minority had been granted them. He concluded by again expressing his regret that the hon. Minister of Finance had been compelled to retire from the Cabinet.


On motion of Sol.-Gen. LANGEVIN, the order for the second reading of the Lower Canada eduction bill was then discharged.


On motion of Hon. Mr. GALT, the House went into Committee of supply, Mr. Shanly in the chaos.


In reply to Hon. Mr. BROWN,


Hon. Mr. GALT explained that the was desired to say by the Government, that it had been resolved that modification should take place upon two points. The first with reference to the currency, and the second with regard to the Debentures. In the matter of the currency it was proposed to limit the issue of $8,000,000. With reference to the other point, the debentures were to be issued for two years instead of three, and at a rate of seven instead of six percent, (Hear, hear,) the interest to be payable half yearly. The Government will sell as many of these debentures as possible, up to the amount required, but they would not pay the Banks one per cent commission for negotiating them. The Government would undertake their sale. The Government will only avail themselves of the issue to the extent required but not to exceed the limit he had mentioned of $8,000,000.


Mr. CARTWRIGHT — Would the arrangement be made with one Bank?


Hon. Mr. GALT — The Government would probably make the arrangement with the Bank of Montreal, if not, then with some two other of the largest Banks.


Hon. Mr. BROWN expressed is great satisfaction with the modifications which had been announced, but still the discussion would have to go on; he desired to finish his remarks and thought it useless to go on now until the second sitting. He suggested that some other business be taken up until six.


The Committee then rose.


On the suggestion of the hon. Attorney-General West, the “public bills and orders,” were gone over, and a very large number of them struck off the paper.


The following bills were read a third time and passed:—


To adjust the Boundary Lines and settle the titles in certain Ranges of the Township of Grenville—Hon. Mr. Abbott.


To incorporate the Bank of London (from Legislative Council—Hon. Mr. Carling.


And Act to enable Joseph Robinson Bawden to be examined by the Law Society of Upper Canada, for admission to practice as an Attorney and Solicitor—Mr. Cartwright.


An Act to incorporate the Society called La Caisse d’Epargne de la Section St. Joseph de la Society de Temperance de Montreal—Mr. Denis.


An Act to repeal the Act to legalize certain assessment ion the City of Toronto, and to enable the said City to to recover the Taxes rated and charged (from Legislative Council) —Mr. Macdonald (Toronto West.)


An Act to enable the Honorable Phillip H. Moore to obtain a patent for the invention of a new method of manufacturing peat into coal by process of steam (from Legislative Council) —Mr. Shanly.


To enable the Canadian Loan and Investment Company, incorporated under the Imperial Companies’ Act of 1862 (25 and 26 Vic., cap 89,) to sell and dispose of certain lands, tenements and mortgage securities held by them in Upper Canada—Mr. Morrison.


To incorporate the Long Point Company—Mr. McGivern.


To amend the Acts incorporating the Canada Central Railway Company.—Mr. Powell.


The amendments made in Legislative Council to several bills were read a second time.


The bill to continue for a limited time the certain Acts therein mentioned was read a second time.


The following bills were read a second time:


To amend the Act incorporating Belleville Seminary, and to confer on the same University powers, in so far as regards degrees in Arts (from Legislative Council.—Mr. Macdougall.


To amend the 29th Vic., Chap. 7, respecting works connected with the defence of the Province. —Hon. Mr. Atty.-Gen. Cartier.


To conform the title of lands held in trust for certain of the Indians resident in this Province (from Legislative Council).—Hon. Mr. Sol.-Gen. Cockburn.


To amend the Charter of the Bank of Canada […]



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[…] (from Legislative Council).—Hon. Mr. Sol.- Gen. Cockburn.


The House rose at six o’clock.


Second Sitting.


After routine business.


The House again went into Committee on the currency resolutions.


After some conversational discussion with regard to the proposed modifications of the scheme.


Hon. J. S. MACDONALD argued in favor of a Provincial currency, as more to the interest of the Province, than to be borrowing money from England.


Hon. Mr. BROWN contended that the first portion had not yet been made out, the necessity for this particular scheme. The modifications, so far as they went, were satisfactory, but it appeared to him there was still a determination to go on with the establishment of a Bank of Issue. He went over the arguments used on Saturday, arguing that the carrying out of the scheme would bring incalculable ruin upon the country. Th system did not provide for the expansion of the currency top meet the requirements of the country, in moving priced to market. Then these notes might at once come back upon the Government, so that it was really equivalent to giving the Bank or Montreal just so many millions of specie.


Hon. Mr. GALT said the question was not whether the Bank of Montreal was to make a profit, but whether the arrangement proposed was to be to the advantage of the country.—the hon. member for South Oxford had never yet met the calculation which he had submitted, that the country, by entering into this arrangement with the Bank of Montreal, would just save $130,000 per annum, and if the bank found it profitable two them, that ought not to be an objection. He contended that the people of this country had a perfect right to issue their own currency. He would not enter on the question of expansion, because under the limitation to $8,000,000 the question could not be raised. It must be remembered that every dollar missed over the amount held for redemption is a source of profit to the country.


He did not shrink from declaring his conviction that the general interests of the country would be promoted by a sound currency. He held that the currency was the property of the country, and that it would be to the interest of the people that the Government should assume it. He objected to the term Bank of Issue being applied to the proposition before the House. The mere issuing of notes was no necessary part of banking, while the introduction of Provincial circulation on a specie basis, instead of being an encouragement to an issue of greenbacks, such as that which had taken place in the United States, and captivated many of our own people, would be a positive barrier in the way. The hon. gentleman had endeavored to show that the country would have made a loss, had all the banks gone into the scheme, but even supposing that loss had been incurred, it would only be until 1870, when after that time according to his own showing, the country would save 5 per cent upon all the circulation in excess of the specie held for redemption.


Mr. CARTWRIGHT admitted that the profits of the circulation ought to belong to the country, but before the government assumed the currency int should remove the restrictions with which banking operations were now surrounded in this country. He said the negotiation of the whole issue of $8,000,000 with the Bank of Montreal would be an act of gross injustice to the Banks of Upper Canada, whose circulation would we curtailed to the extent of $5,000,000, and he thought the arrangement might have been started among all the banks. He believed it was a sound policy to secure the profits of the currency to the country at large, and that the banks would not have much objection to it were they allowed unrestricted use of their capital.


Mr. GIBBS believed that the proposed limitation of the issue was a mistake. Id there was to be a Provincial currency at all, there ought to be equal facilities offered to all the banks, to avail themselves of it. He would prefer to see these resolutions withdrawn, and the money raised on the proposed 7 per cent debentures. He then proceeded to argue that the Government notes would displace those of the banks.


Further discussion ensued, and the Committee rose and reported the resolutions as amended by the Government.


The House adjourned at 11:20.

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