Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [Constitutional Changes], 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (14 March 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 85-92.
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TUESDAY, March 14, 1864
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Hon. Mr. BROWN moved that it be resolved, that on the 2nd of February, 1859, the Hon. George E. Cartier, the Hon. A. T. Galt, and the Hon. John Ross, then members of the Executive council of this Province, while in London, and acting on behalf of the Government of which they were members, did address a Despatch to the Colonial Minister, in which they declared that “very grave difficulties now present themselves to the wishes of its numerous population;”—That “the progress of population has been more rapid in the western section, and claims are now made on behalf of its inhabitants for giving them representation in the Legislature in proportion to their numbers;”—That “the result is shown by an agitation fraught with great danger to the peaceful and harmonious working of our Constitutional system, and, consequently, detrimental to the progress of the Province;”—and that “the necessity of providing a remedy for a state of things that is yearly becoming worse, and of allaying feelings that are daily being aggregated by the contention of political parties, has impressed the advisers of Her Majesty’s Representative in Canada with the importance of seeking for such a mode of dealing with these difficulties as may forever remove them.” That a Select Committee of thirteen members be appointed to enquire and report on the important subjects embraced in the said Despatch, and the best means of remedying the evils therein set forth.
Mr. BROWN, in moving the above, said that during the debate on the Address, an hon. gentleman opposite made a remark in regard to the position which he held on the subject of Representation according to Population. He did not then make any reply because he did not think it of any great moment that he should justify his course of conduct. It mattered very little whether he was consistent or not, or whether other advocates of the principle were consistent or not. The great matter was the merit of the question itself, altogether apart from the position which individuals may hold upon it. With regard to himself he had very little fear of being misunderstood in the country, however much he might be misunderstood or maligned in the House. Another reason why he made no reply at that time was that he was about to bring forward this resolution, and he thought it would be exceedingly undesirable to call up any party feelings in relation to it. He would fain believe that they had reached that point when the question of the great difference between the population of Upper and Lower Canada could be approached without party feelings being excited—that political feeling upon it had so far subsided as to enable every hon. gentleman to see that it was absolutely necessary that we should have all causes of variance between the two sections removed—that the time had come when they could approach a question like this with a degree of harmony that they never could bring to its consideration in former times. He had sought to bring the subject before the House in the least objectionable form. He did not now bring forward a proposition of his own, but appeared as a defender of the policy that was enunciated by his friends on the opposite side of the House—the Hon. Mr. Cartier and the Hon. John Ross.
He determined that he would take ground that could not be assailed—that was perfectly indisputable—that both sides of the House had agreed to. He would ask his hon. friends opposite to take that course now that they considered it desirable to take five years ago. Hon. gentlemen would please observe the clear unmistakable and incontestable grounds on which his hon. friends based their appeal, and the comprehensive manner in which they approach the subject. He was sure there was no hon. gentleman on the floor of the House who would not subscribe to every one of the propositions. The hon. gentlemen composing the deputation spoke not for themselves only, but for the whole Cabinet and for the country. There never was wiser or more sound and patriotic advice given by Ministers of the Crown than was given by His Excellency’s advers upon this subject, in the words he had quoted.
Hon. Mr. CARTIER—That is the first time you ever said so—the first time you ever gave us credit for sound advice.
Hon. Mr. BROWN replied that he could on that account say it with the more force now. And he could say it was with all his heart. If he had been unable to give the hon. gentlemen’s late Government credit for what good actions they might have performed upon other subjects he had always given them credit for their bold and manly enunciations on this and he had been sorry that the Government of his hon. friend from Kingston had not carried the question to a practical result. He asked no more, at present, by his motion than that a committee should be appointed to consider the great propositions which the hon. gentlemen had laid down in 1859, when acting in the responsible position of sworn advisors of the crown. Some hon. gentlemen might be of opinion that there was not sufficient ground for the advice tendered to His Excellency at that period. Well, he was fully prepared to shew that the advice was not wise and that the positions take were perfectly indisputable. It must be observed that the advice referred to was given in 1859, when they had nothing later than the census of 1851-2 to guide them and substantiate their positions. But we now had the census of 1861, which showed the population of Upper Canada had gained very largely upon that of Lower Canada, and that if the statements alluded to were true in 1859, they were doubly true in 1864. They said that at that time there was a grave disparity between the population of the two sections respectively, and that the evils growing out of that disparity should be provided for by a fair representation on the floor of the House. By the census of 1861, the population of Upper Canada was shewn to be 1,111,566, making a majority in the Upper section of 284,525. Three years had elapsed since that census was taken at the same ratio of increase as that exhibited during the previous nine years—Upper Canada 4 ½ per cent, and Lower Canada 2 ½ per cent—the difference must now be 383,181.
But the ratio of the previous nine years was not a fair one, he thought, to apply to the past three years, for it was well known that the population of Upper Canada had increased at a much greater ratio during the past few years, in many of the western counties, than for many years before. Some hon. gentlemen had given it as their opinion that Lower Canada would eventually settle the question by such an increase of her population as would give a reasonable prospect of an equality, being eventually obtained.
No one would be more rejoiced if a solution were arrived at in that way than himself, and if Lower Canada obtained a preponderance, he would be quite willing to accord her a proportional increase of her representation. But there was no prospect whatever that the question would ever be settled in that way. At the time of the last appointment of members, the ratio was a member for every fifteen thousand of a population, and taking that basis Upper Canada was now entitled to twenty-six more members than Lower Canada; but at the present proportion the Western section would be entitled to a preponderance of twenty members. It was a proposition that could not be disputed, that 383,000 Upper Canadians ought to have some representation on the floor of the House. That large number of the people of his section of the Province was practically disenfranchised. The relative amount of taxation borne by the two sections, also, carried with it a very strong argument in favor of some change.
He might proceed to analyze the Public Account, page after page, and shew that a very large preponderance of the whole taxation was borne by the people of Upper Canada. Very fortunately, however, it was not necessary for him to do that. He could stand on the doctrines enunciated by honorable gentlemen opposite. The honorable member for Montreal East, when addressing his constituents in Vercheres, had alleged that Upper Canada paid two thirds of the entire taxation of the Province. That was in 1855, and nearly ten years had since passed, making a greater disparity than formerly, as he had shewn, in the population, and increasing the proportion of the the taxation.
He (the speaker) was not satisfied that, even at the time Upper Canada did not pay for more than two-thirds of the taxation, but he was willing to take that figure for argument’s sake. The hon. Member for Kingston had also declared that his section of the country paid two thirds of the taxation. He would put it to the people of Lower Canada whether, in case they had a preponderance of 383,000 of population, and paid two thirds of the taxation, they would quietly submit, without a murmur or an effort, to be deprived of the increased representation to which they would thereby be entitled.
Mr. PERRAULT.—The hon. Gentleman ought to remember that we were in that position once.
Hon. Mr. BROWN replied that he never approved of that state of things, and if he had been in Parliament he would undoubtedly have been advocating Representation according to Population. He asked no more for Upper Canada than he was willing to concede to Lower Canada, if the tables were turned. But the lesser representation of Lower Canada after the Union, in proportion to population, was a matter of Imperial policy with which the colonists had nothing to do. But all the disadvantage that Lower Canada labored under at the time under at that time had been more than repaid under at that time had been more than repaid, long ago. In 1847 the population of Upper Canada passed that of Lower Canada. The latter had the disadvantage of an undue representation, to a slight extent, for seven years, but Upper Canada had now borne a greatly augmented injustice for seventeen years. For all that time Upper Canada had not only been deprived of proper representation, but had borne the heavy end of the taxation. Oh, but, it is said, the Union inherited a heavy debt from Upper Canada. But the surplus of taxation paid the interest of that debt, so that Lower Canada had not suffered in the slightest degree from the Union on that account. He did not complain of the paying of a larger amount than one-half of the taxes. On the contrary, the people of Upper Canada were quite willing to pay in proportion to their population and their wealth, but they could not be expected to endure being kept constantly in a position of disadvantage—deprived of the right to an equal representation, according to their population, or wealth, with Lower Canadians. He did not wish to base this great question on pounds, shillings and pence, but this consideration came up incidentally. There had been a measure recently to increase the revenue from excise duties, and the taxation apportioned to Upper Canada was $192,931. But although this disproportion was so great, the people of Upper Canada was $578,231; to Lower Canada 192,931. But although this disproportion was so great, the people of Upper Canada did not complain of that; they complained that they had no equitable representation in the parliament of this Province. Some remedy must be found for this state of things; for he was no statesman, no friend of the Province at large, no friend of Lower Canada who endeavored to avoid the settlement of this question. He might show that with regard to industry and exports Upper Canada was decidedly in advance of Lower Canada. In the matter of wheat for instance, he found that in 1861, the Upper Province was credited for twenty-four millions bushels, and the
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Lower Province for two millions six hundred and fifty-four thousand bushels—that was to say twenty four millions to two. The proportion in other agricultural products was largely in favour of the Upper Province. In the Upper Province there were nine million bushels of peas to show against two in Lower Canada; in oats, the Upper Province was the greatest producer, and in butter could show twenty-four millions against fourteen. Now, whether as regard population, taxation, or exports, he affirmed that the people of Upper Canada were far in advance of Lower Canada; and he would also Assert that the inhabitants of the Upper Province were placed in a most injurious and in a most unfair position, when they were asked to be content with the present number of representatives on the floor of this House. The people of Upper Province asked no more than Lower Canada on account of bearing heavier taxes, on account of larger industrial products, but on the ground of population they felt they were entitled to representation on a more extended scale. This was the sole reference on which he intended to make this a sectional question, and he regretted it was necessary to go to that length. He would now. Wish to call attention to the position of this question in a united point of view. There—for instance—was the hon. Member for Huron and Bruce, sitting as the representative of 79,458 should, while there were no fewer than ten members of this House sitting for the same population. His friends from Lower Canada thought they could go on with that system; but he would tell them that they laboured under a delusion. To look at it in another light, he would state that there were thirty-nine members sitting here for half the population and ninety-one for the other half. Could any one state that this was right? He could not conceive that any one would say so. He would recommend the hon. Members for Montreal East and Sherbrooke to ponder this matter well, to dismiss the question of politics, go into the Committee Room, and have the matter settled once and for all. If the present state of things were defended on the ground of territory; wealth, education, on family or hereditary grounds he could understand the matter, for there was common sense in all these claims to a certain extent, but there could be no argument for the absurd system we had in force here. Was it because there happened to be an absurd line drawn in 1701, that the present state of things was to continue. Were we to declare that no matter what happened we were to keep up that line, and always the same state of things exist on the other side? A more senseless proceeding he could not conceive, than to argue that a line drawn seventy years ago, was to exist for all time. If a man went to the United States, or to Europe, and if he were asked what sort of representation we had here, and if he replied that it was regulated by a line drawn in 1791, when the two Provinces were separate, and that they were brought into union on the same conditions, he would be laughed at. There could be no doubt that such a state of things would be laughed to scorn in any other country, where people knew any details of free institutions. Were any argument necessary to sustain his motion, it was the position in which parties were found at the present moment. Nothing could show more clearly the necessity for some change in our system of representation than the position of parties in the Province at the present time. It had been the case ever since the Union that Upper and Lower Canada had had a line drawn between them, and of late years, the question had specially come to this point, “which is to prevail?” It had come to be the question—Is Upper Canada to rule Lower Canada, or is the Lower to rule the Upper Province? This is the position we now occupied; and we had the spectacle of a Ministry, with a large majority from Upper Canada, and an Opposition with a large majority from Lower Canada. But it could not be said that this Administration was not supported by Lower Canada on account of its measures—there was no opposition on that account. He had listened attentively to the debate on the Address, and he had not heard any one object to the policy of Administration; he had heard objections to acts and to persons, but not to any public measure.
Hon. Mr. CARTIER. We will see when the time comes.
Hon. Mr. BROWN said that a large number of measures had been avowed in the Speech and it was very true that the Opposition might not agree in the details, but they had not dissented from policy enunciated. When the Coalition was in power the Upper Province returned its members triumphantly, but the hon. Member for Kingston with his small band was taken in hand by the hon. Member for Montreal East; and the Government of the Upper Province, gave that Province acts which it did not want,
Hon. Mr. CARTIER.—Now?
Hon. Mr. BROWN said he was not going to preach that he did not believe. He deeply regretted that we had the same thing now, but not to the same extent. He knew the Hon. Mr. Dorion, and he ought to know him well, as he had sat with that hon. Gentleman for years, and he could say that that gentleman was not the man to sit on the Ministerial Bench and do that which was unjust to his own portion of the Province.
(Oh, oh, from the Opposition.)
The speaker proceeded to say that hon. Gentlemen opposite might sneer, but he was well aware that the Hon. Mr. Dorion would be found true to his own section of the province, and would force no measure down the throats of his own countrymen.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON observed that the hon. Gentleman, in a speech he had once made, had enunciated sentiments different from those he now uttered.
Hon. Mr. BROWN replied that if the hon. Member would only take the trouble to look up the paper in which the speech was reported, he would find that what he had stated then and what he said now, were in perfect concord. What he had always contended for was this, that in his opinion it was not at all desirable that a Ministry should rule while in a majority in one section and a minority ought to govern the country until they had tried every effort to get a majority in both sections. He should not like to see imposed on Lower Canada that which had been suffered so long in Upper Canada. Here, upon one side, was the Hon. Mr. Cartier, and on the other, the Hon. John S. Macdonald; the one had a majority in Lower Canada, and the other had a majority in Upper Canada. Now, the question was, which of these two gentlemen should prevail? He thought that until every effort had been exhausted by the hon. Member for Cornwall to obtain a majority from both sections, that he would not be justified in governing the country. He never had any hesitation in enunciating this principle when his friends were on the other side of the House, and he had no hesitation now. The hon. Member for Cornwall had the responsibility of knowing whether he had exhausted every effort to obtain a majority in both sections.
(Applause and laughter.)
He was very glad that the hon. Gentlemen opposite enjoyed themselves so much; but the hon. Member for MontrealEast when he represented Vercheres, was not so jocular when he (Hon. Mr. Brown) told him that he ought not to rule Upper Canada by a Lower Canadian majority.
The hon. Member for Montreal East said he could not do otherwise, he was told to try it, but he never thought of doing so. He (Hon. Mr. Brown) Knew what he would do if he were in the position of the hon. Member for Cornwall. He would go to His Excellency and say—I am supported by a majority of this House; I am in a position to speak the views of the parliament of the country; but I do not think that on important measures to be submitted, I have a majority sufficient to carry me through.
He (Hon. Mr. Brown) would then ask his Excellency for power to go to the House and state his position freely, frankly and honestly, and would obtain the power to reconstruct. He would obtain the power to reconstruct. He would then go to the gentlemen opposite, and would appeal to their patriotism, and see whether in view of an Upper Canada majority on the Ministerial side of the House, they would not lend their assistance in forming a strong government. This would be a patriotic movement, and might prove effective. He hoped that his friends opposite were tired of crises; for a general election would surely come if this thing was not done.
He stood here as an independent member—as a thoroughly independent member—(hear, hear)—and did he consider that the interests of the country would be advanced that the principles he advocated would be advanced to-morrow by the removal of this Administration, he should give his vote for that purpose without hesitation. But when he compared this Ministry with their predecessors—when he reflected on their purity of purpose—on the absence of all corruption in their Government, and the measures they proposed, and he challenged the hon. Member for Kingston to put a finger on a single corrupt act.
(Loud and continued cheers from both sides.)
He must prefer this Administration. The Government had submitted measures of a practical kind, tending greatly to the advancement of the country, and if he had to choose between them and any administration created by the hon. Member for Montreal East, then he should not have the slightest hesitation in knowing what to do.
The Question for him was, how he might best do his duty to his country and carry out the principles he always professed, and he had no doubt he would justify his course to his conscience and his country by supporting the gentlemen on the treasury benches.
He would now call the attention of the House to the effect of the country that this system of carrying on the affairs of the country had produced. There had been constant jarring between Upper and Lower Canada, and numerous, occasions of crises in the successive Governments. There was a crisis in June, 1854, and another in September of 1854, in 1855, there were two, and also in 1857. In July 1858, there was a crisis when the Brown-Dorion Government was formed, and another in August, and another in December. Then there was the Robinson crisis, and the Carling crisis, and the Cauchon crisis. Then there was a great crisis in 1862, and another in 1863, and how many they should have in 1864 no one could tell.
Hon. Mr. CARTIER.—It is a chronic state.
Hon. Mr. BROWN replied that undoubtedly they had been in a chronic state of crisis for eleven years past. No hon. Gentleman would presume to say that that was a desirable state of things to have continued. It was of the utmost importance that they should find some means of going on without having a break up so very often.
Undoubtedly, most of those crises had grown out of the unsettled state of this question. The object of so many changes had been to satisfy public opinion on this and kindred subjects. The question that would be—What remedy ought to be applied? They had, on the floor of the House, gentlemen who were in favour of different schemes. The hon. Member for Montreal West was in favor of a Confederation of the Provinces, and of a Monarchical Government. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Sherbrooke was in favor of a Confederation of all the Provinces, or of the Canadas alone.
Hon. Mr. GALT.—Of all the Provinces.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Then there were some in favour of a dissolution pure and simple, and some favored a legislative union of all the Provinces, and others were in favor of the Toronto Convention.
Well, hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but there never was a fairer proposition broached, and he doubted if a more satisfactory one could ever be found. Then, there was another proposition, and that was to leave the constituencies precisely as they were at present, but to pass an act authorizing each to elect an additional representative if it possessed over, say, forty thousand of a population, and three when it attained to sixty thousand. For himself, though he had his preference, he was prepared to accept any remedy which on a fair consideration by the House, should be found to be an advance, or an approach to a settlement, or which would be any considerable instalment justice to Upper Canada. He had no doubt but that the Committee would be able to discover some basis upon which the Legislature could agree. His hon. Friend from Richelieu had presented an amendment, proposing to go to England, but if the people of Lower Canada went there, the people of Upper Canada would go too.
In conclusion, he (Mr. Brown) named the following Committee, via Hon. Messrs. Cameron, Cartier, Cauchon, J.S. Macdonald, Macdougall, McGee, Holton, Foley, Galt, Turcotte, and Dorion and Messrs. Chapais, Dickson, Dunkin, Joly, McKellar, Seeble, Street and the mover.
Mr. Perrault moved a lengthy amendment, which, after reciting the circumstances attending the repeal of the 28th section of the Imperial Act 17 and 18 Vic., Cap. 118, by which a two-third vote of the Legislature had been required to bring about constitutional changes, proceeded to affirm that it is “expedient that an humble Address should be presented to her Most Gracious Majesty, praying that she would be pleased to sanction the introduction into the Imperial Parliament of a Bill to remove all doubts as to the intent and meaning of the Legislature in respect to the said clause; and further to provide that the principle of equality in the representation of the two sections of this Province in the Legislative Assembly, established by the Union Act, may be unimpaired and inviolate. The hon. Gentlemen said that in moving the amendment he felt somewhat embarrassed in following the able speaker who had just addressed the House. He repudiated the charge of retrogression which had been made against him by the hon. Member for South Oxford. The question before the House was emphatically that of Representation by Population. No one would deny the necessity which existed of readjusting the representation of Upper Canada—that the small constituency of Niagara should have the same voice in Parliament as the Counties of Huron and Bruce, but he was not prepared to assert that Upper Canada
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should have fifteen additional members more than Lower Canada, as the effect would be to rule Lower Canada with a rod of iron for all time to come. Lower Canada would never submit to such an arrangement. The hon. Gentleman did not approve of giving the superiority so much to one section over the other. He was in favor of a broad commercial policy, without distinction of sectional limits. If Representation by Population was thus thrust upon the people of Lower Canada, the battalions which were now forming for the defense of the country, might probably find work before them within our own lines. He would regret to see such an occurrence, but he was aware of the feeling of a great many Lower Canadians in reference to this question. For his part, he was not certain if the constitution of the country was well understood. The hon. Gentleman then quoted from a debate in the English House of Lords, in reference to the change of the representation in Canada, which he said referred to the Legislative Council, and was a grave mistake, caused by a clerical error. The present law guaranteed to Lower Canadians, their rights and privileges, and he, for one, would resist strongly any change in the number of representatives from each section of the Province.
At six o’clock the Speaker left the Chair.
After the recess,—
Mr. PERRAULT continued to speak in support of his amendment, and contended that a two third vote was required instead of a bare majority of both Houses to rearrange the existing system of representation. He was satisfied that Great Britain would give justice to Lower Canada, notwithstanding the assertion of the hon. member for South Oxford, that Upper Canada would be in England before Lower Canada.
Hon. Mr. Brown rose to explain that he had said that if representations were made in England it would be found that Upper Canada would not be remiss in making such representations as would be necessary to maintain their own rights and privileges.
Mr. PERRAULT was prepared to find that active steps would be taken by Upper Canada to secure the advantage, but he maintained that the principle of representation by population would never be conceded by Lower Canada while it was in Lower Canada.
The amendment having been read at length by the speaker, the yeas and nays were called for, and the amendment was lost 25 to 82, as follows:—
Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska)
Bell (North Lanark)
Dorion Atty. General
Ferguson (South Simcoe)
Macdonald (Toronto West)
Macdonald Atty. Gen
Mackenzie (N. Oxford)
Ross (Prince Edward)
Smith (Toronto E.)
Smith (East Durham)
Wallbridge (North Hastings)
Wright (East York)—82.
The question having been put on the main motion—
Hon. Mr. Galt said that the fact of the House being willing to go to the vote upon this important subject, after the speech of the hon. Member for South Oxford, without anything be said on it by any of the members of the Government was surprising to him (Mr. Galt). When he recollected the animated discussions we had heard in this House on the difficulties between the two sections of the country, he confessed he was not prepared to see the House go to a division on this subject without a single word as to the views of the Government upon it. It was not as if this question were brought forward by an undistinguished member of this House; but introduced as it was, by one who held the first place in Upper Canada for years, especially in connexion with this subject, the House had a right to expect from the Government some expressions of opinion as to whether they did or did not believe the motion before the Speaker would afford some relief to those whom it was intended to effect. He felt that the House would be approaching this subject blindfold if we did not obtain from the Government some expression of opinion on this important question. (Hear, hear) Their silence on this matter must either be taken as an evidence that the Ministry considered the country was so pleased and benefitted by their accession to office as to absolve them from their many promises of legislation on this subject, or as an evidence that they had no policy at all on the subject.
He (Mr. G.) believed the House would arrive at the latter conclusion. He was surprised that the hon. Member for South Oxford should have expressed himself willing to accept any remedy whatever, and to leave to a committee of members elected broadcast from the House, the duty of saying what should be done. The Government itself should take the responsibility of dealing with this matter, and not leave it to a Committee to suggest what should be done.
He for one would oppose the appointment of a Committee for this purpose.
While he and the hon. member for East Montreal were in office they did not shrink from dealing with this question, as was evidenced by the very motion now in the Speaker’s hands. They had suggested a remedy of which all might judge, and which he still believed was the right one. The present Government were bound to take up, the subject and suggest some remedy for the evil, or deny its existence. The granting of the motion before the House would be a practical reference of the most important functions of the Government to a private Committee, and therefore the former ought not allow this question to come to the vote without telling us what their opinion upon it was. They should tell as plainly whether they intended abdicating their functions and leaving to a Committee of this House, appointed at the instance of Hon. Mr. Brown, who was to be its Chairman, important duties which the Administration themselves ought to be ready to discharge.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald said he was not a little surprised at the remarks that had just fallen from the lips of the hon. member for Sherbrooke. Of all the hon. members in the House, he was the last that anybody, who knew what his course had been, would have expected to denounce any Government for not having a policy on this subject.
He had been a prominent member of a Government, and what policy had he upon it? Who that heard it could forget the speech that he delivered when sitting on the cross benches, just before he was taken into the Government, and who could put his finger upon any practical thing the hon. Gentleman had done, after getting into office, towards carrying out the views he enunciated while in opposition, on the question. If he was as much wedded to the scheme of federation as he pretended to be, before and since his possession of power, why did he not carry it out when in office? If he was in earnest in 1858, what became of his earnestness when he got upon the Treasury benches, and in a position where it was to be supposed he could do something towards carrying out his principles?
Hon. Mr. Galt said that when he joined the Government in 1858, the question was made a part of the policy of that Administration.
Mr. Macfarlane—And carried out, was it?
Hon. J.S. Macdonald said that was the question. But no; after he got office he contented himself with drawing up a document which, as his hon. friend from South Oxford had said, was replete with good sense, and depicted the exact condition of the Province at the time. There it ended. He sat upon the Treasury benches for three or four years, after having proclaimed to the world that there was an urgent necessity for a change, and did nothing towards securing the change. Where was his policy?
Hon. Mr. Galt—In that despatch.
Hon. J.S. Macdonald observed that the hon. Member for Sherbrooke had acknowledged the difficulties that surrounded this question, but had never proposed any remedy; yet that gentleman had risen to-night and asked if the Government had a policy. When the Government to which that hon. Gentleman belonged had a strong majority at their back, they never attempted to make a move towards the settlement of that question. He (the speaker) had never seen a more bare-faced attempt to raise a false issue than that made by the hon. Member for Sherbrooke.
(Applause and laughter.)
Any other member of the Opposition might be forgiven for such an attempt, but pardon could not be extended to the hon. gentleman who had just sat down. The idea of that hon. gentleman clamouring for a policy on a matter on which he never pretended to have a policy—he who was always protesting against the agitation of the question, saying that the time had not arrived.
The present Government declared that this was an open question, and in this they had only followed the practice of the former occupants of the Treasury benches. Every one had his opinion in regard to this matter, and so had he (the speaker). It was well known that he had entertained opinions on this matter for a number of years; and though some gentlemen changed their opinions a number of times, he never changed his. The opinions he might have formed on a question might remain in abeyance till he had an opportunity of enforcing them; but show him the time he could enforce them, and he would soon do so.
(Applause and laughter.)
The great questions which agitated the mother country, such as the Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Bill, and the Corn laws, were uppermost in the public mind for a long time. Men kept these questions in abeyance till the proper time came, and then they were successfully solved. But as far as the hon. member for Sherbrooke was concerned, the time for his action had not arrived, for he was afraid he should be led blindfold into this matter, and could not vote till he found out how the hon. member for Chateauguay would vote.
The hon. member for Sherbrooke would find that the Government would vote according to their conscience. That hon. gentleman was not going to force the Government to declare a policy that the party to which he belonged never had. He must say that the hon. member for Sherbrooke had given the House the benefit of a lecture which, considering his antecedents, he should have withheld.
Hon. Mr. Galt asked permission to say a few words partly in his explanation and partly in reply. He (Mr. Galt) was quite ready to admit the hardihood of the hon. Premier and his readiness of reply; but, certainly, considering the fact that the motion now in the hands of the Speaker, contained an extract from a despatch setting forth his (Mr. Galt’s) opinion on the question now under discussion, he was hardly prepared to hear himself taunted by the hon. gentleman (Mr. J.S. Macdonald) with having no policy upon it.
He would remind the hon. Premier that, when the Government of which he (Mr. Galt) was a member, announced a policy they exerted themselves to carry it out, unlike the conduct of hon. gentlemen opposite who announced questions they never intended to take up—as, for instance, the re-adjustment of the representation, which was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, and yet was allowed to slumber in oblivion.
The Government of which he (Mr. Galt) was a member had announced their intention on the subject of the Confederation of the Provinces, and this announcement was followed up—not only by the despatch in question; but by a mission of delegates on the subject, and if their policy had not been carried out it was not the fault of the Canadian Government of the day, for their policy was a progressive policy.
(Hear, hear and cheers.)
Hon. gentlemen opposite might ask for the fruits of that policy. In reply he would refer them to the correspondence on the subject with the Lower Provinces, and to the fact that the question of a union between two of these Provinces was now being mooted.
He (Mr. Galt) would allude just to one more point before sitting down. The hon. Premier had boasted that he did not change his opinions. Well, if he did not change his opinions, he certainly changed his colleagues; and the strange feature of the case was that, while he managed to get rid of those colleagues who were favorable to his permanent opinions, he associated himself with others who were opposed to those opinions.
(Cheers and laughter.)
What was the House to think of his course? It was for him to select one or the other horn of the dilemma in which his conduct placed him. The hon. Premier appeared to be very strongly inclined to leave certain subjects and opinions in abeyance.
This might be a very convenient and agreeable way of getting rid of a disagreeable question; but it was hardly creditable in the conduct of the leader of a Government.
Mr. Scoble thought that the hon. member for Sherbrooke had not acted candidly or wisely in the manner in which he had addressed the House. He would recommend in connection with his speech the extract from his important despatch which was embodied in the motion of the hon. member for South Oxford. From this it would be seen that the hon. member for South Oxford was just carrying out the very idea he (Mr. Scoble) premised the Hon. Mr. Galt was a party to, and desired to carry out. The hon. member for South Oxford wished that constitutional principles should be fully discussed before a Committee. It did not appear to him that a full representation of the country had anything to do with the creeds of
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various denominations. The question was not one of nationality. He maintained that there was only one nationality in this country, and that was a British nationality. If we went into the origin of peoples the case would be very different. Although he was willing to give all due praise to those who were of French descent, yet this was not a French Province, but a British Province. Although he was willing to give all due praise to those who were of French descent, yet this was not a French Province, but a British Province. And it was well known that only about one-third of the inhabitants of this Province only were of French descent. Could it be expected then, that two-thirds of the population would bend their necks in political servitude to so small a minority. In this House, he contended that they had nothing to do with creeds or origin or nationality or language, but their duty was to legislate for the whole Province, irrespective of all creeds or nationality, and to merge the whole in one Canadian nationality. He was willing to respect Lower Canadian rights and institutions. If Lower Canada had been wronged by the Act of Union, that was no reason why Upper Canada should be deprived of her rights and privileges. He believed that the principle of ruling Upper and Lower Canada by a double majority was unconstitutional. His view was that it was sufficient for any Administration to have a majority of the representatives of the whole Province. He was opposed to a Federation of the British North American Provinces, but would desire to see a unification of those Provinces, with one Legislature, and governed as nearly as possible with one set of laws. He hoped to see the diving line between Upper and Lower Canada abolished, and the whole people of every creed and origin and language united in harmony to promote the best interests of Canada.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD expressed pleasure at hearing the speech of the hon. member for West Elgin, with whom he perfectly agreed that it was in accordance with whom he perfectly agreed that it was in accordance with British constitutional practice for any Ministry having a majority of the whole House, without regard to sections, to remain in office. He also agreed with him that our best policy was to form a union with the Lower Provinces. But if we wished to avoid the dangers and troubles which had befallen the United States, we must form not a Federal Union, but a union in fact.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Is that the policy of the hon. member for Montreal East?
Hon. Mr. CARTIER—No, no.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD said the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had been reviled and abused by that hon. gentleman for his course in this House in regard to this question, notwithstanding which we saw him giving a free, independent and unswerving support to the Government, including gentlemen whom he had repeatedly thus denounced for their abandonment of this important question. It now appeared that the hon. member for South Oxford had himself given up the whole question. Ever since he (Mr. J. A. Macdonald) had entered Parliament that hon. gentleman had made this question a stalking-horse to power. Ever since 1854 he had attacked every Government previous to the present one, for not taking the course which he practically abandoned in making the present resolution. If he (Mr. J. A. Macdonald) had not a majority from Upper Canada while in the Government, it was because the hon. member for South Oxford had published all over the country that he had basely betrayed the interests and rights of that section, and had governed it by means of a Lower Canada majority; and that the only way Representation by Population could be carried was by the people sending to Parliament men who would not only vote for the measure, but oppose an Government which would not take it up.
He had said, again and again, that the only way to carry this measure was to render Government impossible—to oppose every administration—till the question were taken up and disposed of. Had the hon. gentlemen been true to this policy? Did he not give the present Government, which had abandoned the measure, a free, independent and unswerving support, and was he not amenable to the very charge of want of good faith and consistency, in regard to this subject, brought against the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands?
Not only was he supporting the Government, but declaring by this motion that he abandoned the whole question. The hon. gentleman embodied in his motion the very views set forth in the despatch of three hon. gentlemen who belonged to the Cartier-Macdonald Government, which stated in effect that the principle of Representation by Population was impossible—that it could not be granted; and that in order to settle the question there must be a Federation of the Provinces—that this was the only remedy. In that despatch it was laid down that the principle of equality was adopted at the Union of the Provinces; that Upper Canada was now opposed to the principle to which Lower Canada had adhered and would adhere, and that Confederation was the only remedy. And this was the principle which the hon. member for South Oxford, who had roared so loud and so long about the rights of Upper Canada to increased representation, was prepared to adopt.
He moved for the appointment of a committee to be partly composed of men whom he knew well were pledged against Representation by Population, and now declared himself willing to take anything he could get, spite of the fact of his former asseverations that Upper Canada would rise in arms if the measure were not granted.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—I never said so in my life.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD contended that his paper the, Globe, printed in 1860, informing the Duke of Newcastle that we had reached a crisis in this country which must end either in a change of the Union Act, with the aid and assent of the Imperial Parliament, to secure equal rights and immunities to the people of Upper Canada in proportion to their numbers, or in the violent disruption of the relations of the two Provinces.
This was the language of the hon. gentleman through the columns of his paper. What did this “violent disruption” mean?
Hon. Mr. BROWN—I never said so—never.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD—And yet after such threats the hon. gentleman came before the House and in moving for a Committee to consider the question of representation, said he would accept Confederation of the Provinces, if the Committee should select that remedy—in fact that he would take everything or anything.
If he believed that Upper Canada suffered an injustice in this matter why not come boldly forward and propose a definite remedy—why propose men for his Committee who always voted against representation by population? Why, but for the purpose of betraying the confidence of his followers and abandoning the principles formerly entertained and advocated in relation to Representation by Population. The hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands had now reason to feel that he had got his revenge of the hon. member for South Oxford.
(Cheers and laughter)
It was strange he should move for a Committee to inquire and find out some remedy for evils which did not appear to be pressing hard upon the country at present. We did not find a single paper in Upper Canada agitating this question, or the indication of any ferment fraught with danger to the country. The hon. member for South Oxford knew the question of Representation by Population was as dead as Julius Caesar
(Cheers and laughter.)
Yet the hon. gentleman was obliged to make a show on this question—his move was a mere show, without any reality.—Hon. J. A. Macdonald went on to read a motion proposed by the Hon. J. A. Macdonald went on to read a motion proposed by the Hon. Mr. McDougall in 1862, declaring any Government which kept the question of Representation by Population in [text ineligible] was censurable—that, in fact, any Government which did not take it up was censurable. Why did the hon. member for South Oxford not meet the question now as directly? The truth was his resolution appeared to be drawn up for the purpose of sending the question to the Committee-room down stairs, never to rise again.
He also read extracts from the papers, showing Mr. Brown’s sentiments during the debate, in 1858, setting forth the opinion that this principle would never be carried till [text ineligible] was taken up by a Government committed to the principle, and promising him opposition to any Administration refusing to take up this question and deal with it. Speaking of the acceptance of office by an hon. member formerly an advocate of Representation by Population, the hon. member of South Oxford, stated he was bound before doing so, to get a clear declaration from the Ministry in favor of the measure, or leave them to carry it. These were his sentiments in June 1858. In July 1858, he had an opportunity of forming an Administration to carry out this principle; but, instead of doing so, he formed a Cabinet that would not grapple with it without “checks and guarantees,” all of which were of a nature to render it a nullity. We afterwards found out what those “checks and guarantees” were, when an hon. member of that Cabinet (Hon. Mr. Thibadeau) came to Quebec and stated he had three reasons for accepting office not that occasion. First, that there were more Roman Catholics than Protestants in the Cabinet; second, that there were 1 to 5 against representation by population and the third, he (Mr. Macdonald) believed referred to the prospects of the Upper Canada Separate School Bill.
Mr. J. A. Macdonald proceeded to read extracts from an article in the Globe, expressing “holy horror” and great regret at the acceptance by Hon. Messrs. McDougall, Wilson, Howland and Foley of office in the Macdonald-Sicotte Government under the circumstances attending that proceeding. It was like Rachel weeping for her children because they were not.
(Cheers and laughter.)
The article proceeded thus; “In going into an Administration pledged against Representation by Population, the first reflection that must strike the mind of every one is the shocking inconsistency of their course.”
The article went on to condemn those hon. gentlemen for accepting office at such a compromise, to this effect—“They were doing the very thing which they so strongly condemned in the Macdonald-Cartier Government, only their conduct was worse than that of the latter. The late Government left the matter (Representation by Population) open for discussion at any moment. Their crime consisted in stating that, as a Government, they would not introduce any measure upon the subject. But how much worse is the position of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government in abandoning the matter altogether.”
(Cheers and laughter.)
This article also declared that Government had by their action in this matter, inflicted a serious blow on the cause of Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Hear, hear, hear.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD continued the reading of the article, commenting upon it in a manner that elicited roars of laughter. It went on—“Better a thousand fold that the Cartier-Macdonald Government, with all its wickedness, could have been recalled rather than that so many leading men of the Liberal Opposition should have sacrificed their principles and destroyed the influence that they formerly possessed.”
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Hear, hear, hear.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD—Yet the hon. gentleman supported the Government, of which some of them were members and followers, spite of the recreancy so sadly deplored. Then in 1863 the hon. gentleman stated in his journal that the Government had no right to the support of the Liberal party of Upper Canada, and that it was not consistent with the honor of any of them to remain in the Cabinet—that to do so was an abandonment of their principles. Yet there was not a man of them who was not prepared to give the Government a strong and hearty support. The hon. gentleman had stated in Upper Canada that he had the word of the Premier for it that Representation by Population would be brought in by the Government by-and-bye—as soon as convenient.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—He reads from the Ingersoll Chronicle. There is no truth in the report; and on my statement to that effect, that paper had withdrawn it.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD contended that the report bore intrinsic evidence of truth. The report appeared to be a short-hand one, taken in the first person, and, no doubt, revised by the hon. gentleman himself.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—No, no.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD went on to read extracts from this report of Mr. Brown’s speech to the farmers, which occasioned much merriment, especially the passage describing an interview that gentleman had with the premier, pending the issue of a want of confidence motion, on which occasion the former told the latter that he might expect to be in a minority as regards Lower Canada, whose members the Cartier-Macdonald Government had been in the habit of buying up, and that he would be similarly situated in reference to Upper Canadian support, etc. The hon. member for South Oxford was reported to have said on that occasion the Premier had consented to give up the Intercolonial Railroad scheme, and that he himself was heartily desirous it should be given up; that the postal subsidy, etc., were abandoned, and that the Premier had assured him that he would favor Representation by Population.
That we never before had such a chance of carrying the measure, which the Hon. Mr. Dorion, when in the Brown-Dorion Government, was prepared to support.
Hon. Mr. Macdonald went on to read from the speech at Ingersoll a series of question put to Hon. Mr. Brown, and his answers there [text ineligible]. The third was—“In what do the professions of the present Government with regard to Representation by Population differ from those of the Cartier-Macdonald.” Answer of Mr. Brown—“There are five members in the present Administration pledged to vote for it, and the Hon. J. S. Macdonald has stated that should there be any prospect of its success he
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would not stand in the way.”
(Cheers and laughter.)
Mr. T. FERGUSON—Is that so?
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Yes; that is so.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD—Well the hon. Premier must be playing at cross purposes with this House, in order to please the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Brown); he tells him he would not stand in the way of such a measure, while he tells others he always has and will oppose it.
(Hear, hear and cheers.)
The hon. gentleman then alluded to the course of the Hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Mowat), and said that not one stood in such an unenviable position as that hon. gentleman. He, it was, who although supporting the Macdonald Sicotte Government, and desiring to be ranked and considered as one of their supporters, yet voted against that Government, and declared it unworthy of confidence, because it was not in favor of that principle to which he owed his election and which he was resolved never basely to abandon.
[Hear, hear and cheers.]
The hon. gentleman [Mr. Mowat] wished to keep the Macdonald-Sicotte Government in office, and to keep the Cartier-Macdonald Government out of office, yet he ran the risk of defeating the former and driving them from the Ministerial benches, because he was true to Representation by Population; because, come what might he was determined to wrap himself up in his virtue, to abide by his principles, and to vindicate himself by his adherence to principle. But what did we behold, a short time after this stern act of virtue? Why, a few months afterwards the hon. gentleman accepted office in the Government and voted against the very principle of which he had been such an earnest advocate, after having censured his best political friends for their course upon it.
The House and the country would appreciate the hon. gentleman’s conduct. Either he had changed his opinion—either he had given up Representation by Population, or he had sacrificed his principles for the purpose of taking office, although he could not have been elected but for his adherence to them. The reason, however, was easily explained:
“What makes all doctrines plain and clear—
’Tis just twelve hundred pounds a year,
And prove that false was true before
The answer plain—twelve hundred more.”
The hon. gentleman then sat down amid loud cheers.
Hon. Mr. MOWAT said he had been accused by the last speaker of having either abandoned or voted against the principle of Representation by Population. He denied altogether that he had abandoned any opinion on this subject. He thought originally, and still thought, that the representation of the various constituencies in this country should be based on population. He thought when he was elected, and still through that that principle was a just one; and that we never would have such a government as we ought to have, and such as we might have, till no portion of the people of Canada could complain that they were not adequately represented. The hon. member for Kingston said that he (Hon. Mr. Mowat) had declared that the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration were not fit to govern the country. For from that, he had made many observations to express his strong conviction that not only were the fit to govern, but that it was necessary for the best interests of the country that they should be sustained. Everybody knew, as far as regarded Representation by Population, that the Government was formed with the distinct understanding that a vote should be taken on the question. That was no unexpected thing on the part of the Government; it was, in fact, the very course they expected. The hon. member for Kingston had not acted fairly or candidly when he spoke of the vote on the question as one which a friend of Representation by Population had no right to give. The hon. gentleman knew, from his long Parliamentary experience, that it was quite impossible for any member of a government to vote on an amendment to the Address. Suppose that a Government were in favor of Representation by Population, and that it did not happen to form one of the paragraphs of the Address, as a matter of course every member of the Government would vote against it, if brought forward as an amendment to the Address. A motion of that kind was not indicative, as far as members of the Government were concerned, of the policy in regard to it. The hon. member for Kingston knew this fact quite well; he had often impressed it on his followers, and induced them to act upon it. Nobody knew better than that hon. member that there was no other course left open to him (Hon. Mr. Mowat) as long as he was a member of a Government to which that was a local question. It might be said that the Government ought not to leave this an open question. But when the present Government was formed, it was not the act of the individual members of the Government, it was the act of the whole Liberal party with whom he was in the habit of acting; and all thought the time had come to take that course and adopt that policy. There was no advantage to be gained by pursuing former recognition of that principle. The policy the Opposition had pursued, of refusing for years to aid in settling this matter rendered it impossible that Representation by Population could be carried by the old tactics. The friends of the measure might be right or wrong in adopting these tactics; he thought they were right. The hon. member for Kingston had said that but for his support of Representation by Population, he could not be elected recently. The same constituency which did him the honor to elect him in 1857, had elected him when he took office with a Government which left Representation by Population an open question; and he had a more vigorous contest in 1857 than he had in 1862. His constituents believed that the course taken by the Macdonald-Sicotte Government was the one which the interests of the country required; and he was one with his party and his constituents on the interests of the country.
It amazed him to find gentlemen opposite charge the Government with acting improperly in not adopting a united policy on this subject. But the reason why this Government was constituted as it was, was just because the gentlemen opposite never would adopt a decisive policy in regard to this matter. The hon. member for Sherbrooke had said that the policy of the Government to which he belonged was a confederation of the Provinces. But he (Hon. Mr. Mowat) never heard the hon. member for Kingston say that was his policy; why, he had denounced that very policy tonight.
He could not remember that the idea by a federal union had been put forward at the elections of 1860 and 1862, by any member of the Cartier-Macdonald Ministry, except the hon. member for Sherbrooke. He could not recollect that any of them put forward federal union as a remedy for the evils complained of—evils which all admitted to exist. He had heard the Hon. Mr. Cauchon say he was no friend of a federal union. Nobody supposed that this union could be carried for ten or fifteen years. The gentlemen opposite had declared to Her Majesty’s Government that the matter was a pressing one, yet they proposed a remedy it was impossible to carry out in less than ten or fifteen years. Why did they address this strongly expressed yet purposeless despatch to the Imperial Government? A measure of this sort might form part of a policy of a Government, yet not be introduced in the first session after that policy was adopted—that was easily understood. But it was utterly unintelligible that the gentlemen opposite should pretend to have a policy on this matter and allow year after year to pass without pretending to carry it into effect.
He hoped that House would agree to this Committee; no member who had spoken on the other side had suggested any possible evil that would arise from the appointment of this Committee.
It quite agreed with experience that a Committee of the ablest men in the House, meeting to find the best remedy for acknowledged evils, would bear valuable fruit. He hoped this resolution would be carried by a respectable majority.
Hon. Mr. CARTIER explained and defended the course taken by the Government of which he (Mr. Cartier) was a member in treating of constitutional difficulties. In the most open and sincere manner, that Government had suggested to the Imperial Government as a remedy, the federation of the Provinces, although without entering into details. Commenting upon the arguments of the hon. member for South Oxford in favor of Representation by Population, he pointed out that, for a long time it was the custom, in treating this question, to exaggerate and misrepresent the excess of the population of Upper Canada over that of Lower Canada, and to make it appear greater than it really was. He desired to remind these gentlemen that, for ten years after the Union, Lower Canada had an excess of population over Upper Canada, yet when a motion in favor of the principle of Representation by Population was made by the Hon. Mr. Papineau, only two hon. members voted for it, for the Lower Canadians had always sincerely tried to work out the Act of Union.
The hon. member for South Oxford could never succeed in making this House or the country believe that he was sincere in making his motion for a Committee. The idea of referring such a question to a Committee was, to use the language of the hon. gentleman himself, “perfectly absurd.”
The position the hon. member had taken up was indeed absurd; for it tended to have no other effect than that of smothering the question entirely.
If the Government supported this reference of the question to a Committee they would be degrading the proceedings of this House, and he hoped that all who looked upon the matter alluded to in the despatch quoted by the hon. gentleman in his motion, in the light of a large and important constitutional question, would oppose the attempt to send it to a Committee as a mean, puny and unworthy step.
Mr. DICKSON deemed it his duty to say a few words before the vote was taken. It had been said that the Representation by Population question was as dead as “Julius Caesar,” but it would be found that the populous countries in Western Canada must sooner or later be heard. He stated that the Counties of Huron and Bruce, which he represented, contained a population of over 80,000, equal to about one-fourteenth of the population of all Lower Canada, and it could not be expected that such a state of things would be permitted to continue. A federation of the British North American Provinces had been suggested but what would hon. members think when they were told that Huron and Bruce were nearly the same size as the Island of Prince Edward, and contained about the same population, and yet Prince Edward Island had an Executive Council, a Governor and a Legislature. He hoped a remedy would be suggested, and he was satisfied that the Committee would do their duty.
Mr. MACKENZIE (Lambton) said he had listened during the evening with no small interest to the speech of the hon. member for Kingston, with the expectation of hearing from that hon. gentleman his views on the Representation question, but he had failed to obtain the slightest information in reference to the policy he would pursue. Surely it was not too much to expect from a statesman of the hon. gentleman’s standing that he should have given to the House the benefit of statesmanship on the subject.
But no remedy had been proposed by him. For his own part he would vote for any Government—Tory or any other—that would settle the question. He was not particular as to what that remedy was, but would accept any reasonable plan of settlement; but until some settlement was made it would be impossible to expect the agitation to cease.
An hon. member had said he did not recognize any nationality but British nationality. He would not go so far. He recognized a French nationality, and he would not wish to coerce so large a body of his fellow subjects. It was not at all surprising that the descendants of Frenchmen clung to their national feelings, and he considered it a good trait of character. He doubted not but that they were as loyal as any of Her Majesty’s subjects. He would be in favor of securing to them all their rights and privileges, and would desire to see all the inhabitants of Canada merged in one harmonious whole. In reference to the attacks which had been made on his hon. friend the member for North Ontario, he would say that he had urged that hon. gentleman, as well as the hon. member for South Ontario, to adopt the corse he had taken. The party had also urged those hon. gentlemen to accept office and he believed they had done what was best for the interest of the country under the circumstances.
Mr. JOLY said he could not allow this debate to terminate without making a remark which was uppermost in the minds of others as well as his own. The Opposition had accused the Ministry and their supporters of forsaking the interests of Lower Canada on the question of Representation by Population. This was a most serious accusation on the part of the Opposition, and which had a great weight in Lower Canada, principally among the French Canadians, who saw, in the success of this measure the destruction of their nationality, and of all they held most dear. During this session each time that the question of Representation by Population had been introduced, it had been by members of the Opposition, the hon. members for Montreal East, Montmorency, Sherbrooke, for example, who had reproached members from Upper Canada of having betrayed their principles in abandoning Representation by Population. If the Opposition were in good faith when they spoke of the interests of Lower Canada, how was it they wished to force the Upper Canadian members in spite of themselves, to re-open this question so dangerous to Lower Canada?
Ought it not to be a fact on which all the true friends of Lower Canada should congratulate themselves that the most violent champions of Representation by Population had abandoned the measure.
Did not the hon.
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member for South Oxford begin his speech to-day by these words, which he (Mr. Joly) took down?—“Some gentleman, on the other side brought a charge of inconsistency against me in relation to the question of Representation by Population.” He (Mr. Joly) would ask, why should Lower Canada force Upper Canada to take up that question again; why should Lower Canadians force Upper Canadian by their taunts to renew those attacks so detrimental to the Lower Province?
The Opposition wished to return to power, and they hoped to do so by sowing disunion among the Ministerial members from Upper Canada; the only way to do so was to reproach them with having ceased their attacks against Lower Canada. This was calculated to force those members, in spite of themselves, to renew those attacks. The House understood all those manoeuvres, and it was well that the country should understand them also.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON remarked that the hon. member for South Oxford knew very well that his motion would not succeed—that, in fact, it was a mere piece of Parliamentary tactics, and not intended to carry. The hon. gentlemen (Mr. Brown) must indeed feel his position strongly, when he saw his once staunch supporters thinning off around him.
If this was to be considered a really important question—if it was deserving of serious treatment, it should be dealt with by governments and not by committees. Nothing could be arrived at by the method proposed.
If this was to be considered a really important question—if it was deserving of serious treatment, it should be dealt with by governments and not by committees. Nothing could be arrived at by the method proposed.
Mr. McKELLAR said the subject had been debated so often and so well that it was not worth his while saying anything upon it. He must remark, however, that he had confidently supposed the hon. members for Montreal East and for Sherbrooke would both support and vote for the motion before the House. It was admitted on all hands that difficulties existed in the working of Governmental affairs, and that evils arose out of the want of a fair representation of the different portions of the country upon the floor of the House. The resolution of the hon. member for South Oxford embraced the means of discovering some remedy for the evils, and he thought every hon. gentleman who admitted that there were evils arose out of the want of a fair representation of the different portions of the country upon the floor of the House. The resolution of the hon. member for South Oxford embraced the means of discovering some remedy for the evils, and he thought every hon. gentleman who admitted that there were evils to be remedied should support it. He had been not a little amused at seeing the member for Kingston—a man who was once a political leader—take up and discuss the hon. member for South Oxford, instead of seriously discussing the important resolution he had submitted to the House. Despite his disparaging remarks of this evening, that hon. gentleman, not two years ago, had held up the hon. member for South Oxford as the best statesman in Upper Canada.
He (Hon. J. A. Macdonald) had told the people of Canada West that the Provincial credit had failed 12 per cent owing to the incoming of the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration. Hon. gentlemen of the Opposition delighted to charge the present Government with bad faith upon the Intercolonial Railway question, but what did the hon. member for Kingston say about it, when it served his purpose. He said that the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration, in order to extricate themselves from the difficulties of their position, had agreed to adopt a scheme for a railway that would be ruinous to the country; (hear, hear,) and his only hope was in the Globe, and the Hon. George Brown, who he said, had the head and the heart to lead a great party.
The hon. gentleman had been taunting them (the Ministerialists) with having abandoned the representation question, but time and again challenged their opponents, who seemed so very solicitous, about it, to help them to carry it, independent of governments, but not a man of them could they induce to move. There must be a Government in the country, and every member was obliged, when on the floor, to vote on one side or another. He had no sympathy with gentlemen professing such perfect independence that they had no preference for or against a Government. It was the duty of every legislator to support that Government which promised the greatest amount of good to the country by its continuance. He had no fear but that the present Government would prove themselves able to meet the reasonable expectation of the country, only allow them time to develop their measures.
Hon. J. A. MACDONALD.—Well, why don’t they go ahead with representation according to population.
Mr. McKELLAR asked if the hon. gentleman would support them in it? One would suppose so, to hear him talk. It was a sufficient testimony to the correctness of his and his colleagues views with reference to the support of the present Government, that the had made a better sweep of the country at the polls than ever before, and if they were to go again the present year, he had no doubt their majority would be increased.
Mr. T. FERGUSON.—How about Leeds and Grenville back again, and probably increase their majority in Toronto. He and his friends were doing the best possible service to the country in keeping the hon. gentlemen from Kingston and Montreal East on the Opposition benches, and he would be glad to see them remain there a long while. For himself, in reference to the resolution, he intended voting for it, and he could not conceive how any hon. gentleman who wished well to his country could refrain from doing so too.
Mr. COCKBURN said that owing to the importance of the question, and the lateness of the hour, it would be better to adjourn the debate. He moved, seconded by Mr. Dunkin, that the debate be adjourned.
Hon. Mr. BROWN thought it would be advisable to finish up the question at once, unless several hon. gentlemen desired to speak upon it. For himself, he would like to say a few words in reply to the hon. member for Kingston. It was most singular that that hon. gentleman, in the course of his somewhat lengthy speech, never dropped a single statesman like idea upon the subject before the House, but contended himself with endeavouring to excise the mirthfulness of the House by what he called his (Hon. Mr. Brown’s) inconsistencies. He could not see what right he had to talk to anybody of consistency; but what was con-consistency after all, compared with the question. It was a grave and important state question which was at stake—one which would would have to be dealt with before long, no matter if every hon. gentleman on the floor of the House could be proved to have acted inconsistency with regard to it. It will become him to talk of the hon. member for North Ontario being bribed and bought off by twelve hundred a year. If there had ever been an obsequious; pains taking paid agent of Lower Canada, it was the member for Kingston during the time he held office—especially during the latter portion of his official career. He had stood there in the Cabinet as the puppet of the member for Montreal East, and had spoken and voted, and bobbed up and down as directed by that hon. gentleman. The time was when the honourable member for Kingston stood upon the floor of the House with some credit to himself, to his constituents, and so his country; but that was before he had anything to do with twelve hundred a year. Getting a chance of that, he had held on to it by one trick and another, until his followers in his own section were reduced to a mere handful. The Double Shuffle was only a fair specimen of a whole serious of disgraceful expedients to retain office at the sacrifice of principle, of honor, and of the respect of his fellow men. It must have been pleasant for the hon. member for Welland, who once refused office because this question was not taken up, to hear his leader treat it as a mere personal matter between a few members of the House. What did the hon. member for East Northumberland think of it? He was sure there could have been but few hon. gentlemen on that side of the House who approved the manner in which the hon. member for Kingston had made light of the question, and passed it over. For himself, nothing that any Government could give him could induce him to abandon his principles. The change that had been made by the Reform party in the method of advocating the representation principle, had not been made without his being a party to it, until it had been accomplished, for he was absent from the country at the time, and had not a seat in the House. But the party having adopted that policy, he at once expressed his willingness to work for the principle along with them, and he was sent to the House by nearly 1,000 of a majority. If he had been in the House at the time he would have opposed the formation of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government on the basis on which it was formed. But on coming home from Europe he found that Government in power, and even though they were greater opponents of his views on representation than their predecessors; he could not to otherwise than support them in their other measures, temporarily, for he would have cut a sorry figure, indeed, upon the other side of the house. The new Government was a great improvement on their predecessors, who, during their time had doubted the debt of the Province, and whose last act was a proposition which in one year would have added five millions more to that debt; and be was glad to see their places taken by any set of men who promised to change the system on which public affairs had been so badly managed. The country was glad to see it too, for it returned forty-eight out of the sixty-five in Upper Canada, as supporters of the present Government. Instead of attacking him for being willing to except any instalment of justice, honorable gentlemen opposite ought to give him credit for moderation in approaching the subject, and meet him in the same spirit. In concluding, he referred to the resolutions passed at the Toronto Convention as embodying what he considered the best mode of settling the difficulty, but said he was not so wedded to that scheme that he would not be willing to unite with the majority of the Committee in reporting something which would be a step in the right direction. He had apprehended that the policy of the hon. member for Kingston was in favor of federation, yet the hon. gentleman had repudiated federation in his speech this evening.
Hon. Mr. GALT remarked that the hon. member for Kingston had not repudiated federation of the Provinces. Federation might be legislative or otherwise.
Hon. Mr. BROWN was not to be taken advantage of by the specious phrases of the hon. member for Sherbrooke. The hon. gentleman continued to make explanations in reference to the changes of opinion and practice of the hon. member for Kingston, and after a discussion of some length in reference to the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. McGEE asked where the debate would stand on the orders in case the motion of the hon. member for West Northumberland were carried?
The motion was put and carried.
Hon. Mr. McGEE went on to say that the adjournment of the debate would have the effect of placing this question very low on the Orders on Wednesday, while a simple adjournment would leave it in a prominent place on the Orders.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD moved the adjournment of the House.
Hon. Mr. BROWN really hoped the hon. Premier would withdraw his motion. If hon. gentlemen desired to see this question discussed, he hoped a course would not be pursued which would have the effect of placing the adjourned debates so low on the orders that it would never be reached during the remainder of the session. He therefore trusted the motion for adjournment would be withdrawn so that a motion could be made to the effect that it should be taken up as the first order on Wednesday.
Mr. POWELL—I object to the withdrawal of the motion of adjournment.
Hon. Mr. BROWN said he would most decidedly object to this telegraphing of the hon. member for Kingston to the hon. member for Carleton, so as to prevent the withdrawal of the motion of adjournment.
Mr. POWELL begged the hon. member’s pardon. He (Mr. Powell) had taken the hint from the hon. Attorney General West and not from the member for Kingston.
(Cheers and laughter.)
Hon. Mr. BROWN said he was sure the hon. member for West Northumberland did not intend by his motion to send over the continuation of this debate to the bottom of the list.
Mr. COCKBURN was understood to explain that such was not at all his intention.
Hon. Mr. BROWN hoped the hon. member for Carleton would consent to withdraw his objection to the withdrawal of the Premier’s motion of adjournment.
Mr. POWELL said he was sorry he could not oblige the hon. gentleman, but there were one or two matters of interest he (Mr. Powell) desired to press upon the consideration of the House, and he therefore did object that the whole time of the House should be takes up with the discussion of the hon. gentleman’s motion. Let it come up in its proper order.
Hon. Mr. BROWN—Very well, if the motion of adjournment is persisted in, I shall call for the “yeas” and “nays.”
Hon. Mr. GALT pointed out that the adjournment of the debate was carried already, and that it could not be affected by the adjournment or non adjournment of the House.
Mr. DUNKIN explained that neither he (Mr. Dunkin) as seconder, nor the hon. gentleman (Mr. Cockburn) who had moved the adjournment of this debate, desired in any way to prevent the debate from going on, or to shirk the responsibility which the questions involved, or to place it low upon the Orders. It was a mistake on their part in making the motion, and he hoped it would not be taken advantage of to prevent the debate.
Mr. COCKBURN expressed himself in the same sense, and said it was very far from his desire indeed, to suppress the discussion. He hoped the hon. member for Carleton would withdraw his objection to the Hon. Premier’s motion.
Mr. POWELL said that he would do so since requested in this manner by the hon. member for West Northumberland.
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Hon. J. S. MACDONALD therefore withdrew his motion of adjournment, whereupon—
Mr. DUNKIN moved that the adjourned debate on the Hon.
Mr. Brown’s motion stand first on the Orders of the Day for Wednesday next.
Mr. COCKBURN seconded the motion.
A question arose as to whether this proceeding was in strict accordance with the proper form; but, after some conversation, it dropped and the motion was carried.
The House then—as half-past twelve—adjourned on motion of Hon. J. S. MACDONALD.