Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [Local Constitutions], 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (13 July 1866)

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Date: 1866-07-13
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 45-47.
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FRIDAY, July 13th.


  • (p. 45)


The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock


After the transaction of routine business,


John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  stated that it was his intention to take up the question of the Local Governments, this evening at 8 o’clock.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said that since the last measures on the Confederation scheme was about to be submitted, it was time that the House should have a declaration from the government as to the promised measure on the education question of Lower Canada.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] stated that the measure would be submitted, but it would not take precedence of the resolution on the Local constitutions.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] stated that if a measure was to be introduced on the education question and Lower Canada, the same privileges ought to be extended to Upper Canada. He would, move a resolution to that effect himself, though personally he would have been satisfied to leave it in the hands of the majority of each Province. Since, however, they had not been asked to do that it was only fair that equal privileges should be extended to the minorities in both sections.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said in Lower Canada there were the Common Schools, which in […]


  • (p. 46)


[…] each municipality were the schools of the majority, whether Catholics or Protestants, and then Dissentient Schools, which were the schools of the minority, no matter to which religion they belonged. It had been complained that the minorities in Lower Canada had not the privileges which were enjoyed by the minority in Upper Canada, and it was to remedy the new bill was to be brought in.


Further discussion took place as to the time when the measure should be brought down, some contending that it ought to have taken precedence of the question of the Local constitutions.


George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] stated that the resolutions of the Local constitutions would not go to a third reading until after the education bill had been brought down. The Protestants might rely upon it that he would see they received every justice in that measure.

John Cameron [Peel] expressed his satisfaction with the explanation of the Attorney-General East [George E. Carter], and felt sure they would be satisfactory to the people of Upper Canada, who desired to see the same privileges extended to their Protestant minority of Lower Canada as those enjoyed by the Catholic minority of Upper Canada.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga], after referring to the educational question, proceeded to ask the government whether it was their intention to bring forward their promised bill to amend the election law.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  said the question was now receiving all the attention which the demands upon his time would permit. He hoped to be able to bring forward the measure at an early day, and would be happy to have the assistance of the hon. member of amending it, if it were found defective.

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


To amend Chapter 24, of the Consolidated Statutes of Canada, relating to Patents of Invention. —Hon. Mr. McGee.

Respecting the Court of Queen’s Bench for Lower Canada. —Atty.-Gen. Cartier.

To amend the Act incorporating the cure of the Parish of Notre Dame de Quebec—Hon. Mr. Langevin.

For indemnifying the members of the Executive Government and others, for unavoidable departure from the provisions of the Audit Act, occasioned by the necessity of maintaining a large Militia Force on active duty on the frontier in the years 1865 and 1866. —Hon. Mr. Galt.

To authorize William John Bickell to construct a Bridge over the River St. Charles (and amendments. —Mr. Huot.

To incorporate the Town of St. Ours. —Mr. Perrault.

To amend the Act 27-28 Vic., chap. 71, intituled “An Act to incorporate the Board of Trade of the City of Hamilton.” —Mr. Magill.

To incorporate the Canadian Rubber Company of Montreal. —Hon. Mr. Rose.

To amalgamate the Western Counties Permanent Building and Savings Society with the Huron and Erie Savings and Loan Society. —Hon. Mr. Carling.

To incorporate the Ottawa City Passenger Railway Company. —Mr. Currier.

To incorporate the Bothwell Tram Road and Bridge Company.

On motion of Hon. G.E. Cartier the House went into Committee to consider of the expediency of imposing a duty on each instrument or document registered in Lower Canada. The Committee reported the resolution, which was carried on division, and the bill founded thereon read a first time.

On motion of Attorney-General Macdonald the House went into Committee on the bill to amend certain acts respecting the College of Regiopolis, and to confer the powers and privileges of an university on the same.

Committee rose and reported the bill.

The following bills were read a second time:

To amend the Act respecting the Volunteer Military Force. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Macdonald.

To authorize the sale of the Peterborough and Chemong Lake Railway. —Hon. Mr. Cockburn.

To amend the Act incorporating the Bank of Northumberland. —Hon. Mr. Cockburn.

An Act respecting the Bar of Lower Canada. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Cartier.

To enable the Iroquois Indians of Caughnawaga to regulate the cutting of Wood in their Reserve. —Hon. Mr. Sol. Gen. Langevin.

To incorporate the Ecclesiastical Society of St. John of the Diocese of Kingston. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Macdonald.
Respecting the hearings of causes in the Court of Chancery for Upper Canada. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Macdonald.

Respecting Chapter 98 of the Consolidated Statutes, for Upper Canada. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Macdonald.

Respecting Chapter 2 of the Acts passed this Session. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Cartier.

To amend the Acts relating to the Corporation of the City of Montreal, and for other purposes. —Hon. Mr. Atty.-Gen. Cartier.

To incorporate the “Institut des Artisans Canadiens of Montreal.” —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Cartier.

To declare and settle the construction of the marriage settlement of Hariet Marguerette Gage, and confirming assurances made thereunder. —Hon. Atty.-Gen. Macdonald.

To incorporate certain persons under the name of “The St. Lawrence Navigation Company” (from Legislative Council.) —Hon. Mr. Sol. Gen. Langevin.

To extend and define the powers of the Savings Bank, known under the name of “La Caisse of d’Economie de Notre Dame de Quebec” (from Legislative Council.) —Hon. Mr. Sol. Gen. Langevin.

The following bills passed through committee:

To confirm the settlemen made by Charlotte Henderson, deceased, of an undivided mojety of lands in Bytown, otherwise Ottawa City in Upper Canada, and to invest the entirety of the same lands in Trustees, with power of sale and management. —M. Powell.

To amend the City of Hamilton Debentures Act of 1864, by giving to the city additional powers in selling lands for arrears of taxes, and for more clearly defining the rights and libailities of purchasers of land sold under the Act, and for other purposes (and amendments) —Mr. Magill.

To incorporate the Rossin House Hotel Company. —Mr. Macdonald (Toronto.)

To incorporate the Pierreville Steam Mills Company. —Mr. Geoffrion.

To incorporate the Ottawa Natural History Society. —Mr. Morris.

To incorporate the Waterloo, Magog, and Stanstead Railway Company. —Mr. Knight.

To incorporate the South Eastern Counties Junction Railway Company (and amendments). —Mr. Dunkin.

To revive the Act 26th Vic., Cap. 16, and to extend the time for the completion of the Hamilton and Port Dover Railroad (and amendments.) —Mr. Wood.

To amend the Act incorporating the Massawippi Valley Railway Company (Reported.) —Mr. Knight.

To amend the extend the provisions of the Act incorporating the Port Hope, Lindsay, and Beaverton Railway Company, and the Acts amending the same. —Mr. J. Shuter Smith.

To confirm certain By-laws of the Municipal Council of the Corporation of the County of Oxford, and to confirm sales of land for taxes imposed under and by virtue of the said By-laws. —Hon. Mr. Brown.

To incorporate the St. Patrick’s Asylum of Ottawa. —Mr. Currier.

To incorporate the Steel, Iron, and Railway Works Company (Limited.) —(and amendments.) —Hon. Mr. Brown.

The following bills were read a second time.

To amend the Charter of the British and Canadian School Society of Montreal. —Mr. Dunkin.

To amend and consolidate the Act incorporating the Mayor and Councillors of the Town of Sorel. —Mr. Perrault.

To erect the township of Clifton into two separate Municipalities. —Mr. J.B.E. Dorion.

To authorize the Hartford Oil Company to hold and convey certain lands. —Mr. Mackenzie.

To incorporate the St. Hyacinthe New Paessenger Bridge Company. —Hon. Mr. Laframboise.

To erect the County of Peel into a separate County for Judicial purposes. —Hon. Mr. Cameron.

To amend the Act of Incorporation of the City of Three Rivers. —Mr. DeNiverville.

To vest the Protestant Burial Ground at Hudson, in the Incumbent and Church Wardens of St. James Church, Vaudreuil. —Hon. Mr. Abbott.

To resolve the terms on which the Great Western Railway Company was authorized to complete the Railway from Galt to Guelph. —Mr. Street.

To incorporate the Napanee River Improvement Company. —Mr. Cartwright.

To naturalize John Rogers. —Mr. Irvine.

To amend the Act 23rd Vic., cap. 123, to incorporate the Pilots for and below the Harbor of Quebec. —Hon. Mr. Cauchon.


The Speaker left the chair at six o’clock.

Evening Sitting.


The Speaker took the chair out of quarter past 8 o’clock.


John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  did not propose to occupy the time of the House very long and submitting the resolutions for the Local constitutions of Upper and Lower Canada. Before speaking to the resolutions he would say a word as to the charge against the Government of delay.

The Quebec resolutions had been carried without amendment, but the Government of the Lower Provinces have not been so successful, on account of the hostility the scheme add met with. the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] approved of the delay. It would have answered no good purpose. It would not have expedited Confederation to enter on this subject at an earlier day.

On the contrary, discussions would have taken place in this House which might have had an injurious effect. The hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] had on a former occasion, put some question relative to the Intercolonial Railway, and there are marks made on that occasion were posted up at every polling place in New Brunswick to defeat the cause of Confederation, and he doubted not that had the debate been brought on in this House before the principle of Confederation was affirmed in the other Provinces, that something would have been said on one side or the other which would have been taken advantage of by the opponents of this scheme in other places. And had they laid the subject before the House on the first day of the session it would not have expedited the business of the session.

The Attorney-General East [George-Étienne Cartier] would address the House in explanation of the resolutions referring particularly to that section of the Province. In Upper Canada it had been concluded after mature consideration to have only one Legislative Chamber. The executive in both Provinces would be the same; a governor appointed by the general government, holding office during pleasure, which should not except for good reasons be exercised until after the expiration of five years.

With respect to the Local Legislature of Upper Canada, there were several reasons inducing the choice of one chamber. For a subordinate Legislature acting under authority of a general government, having in fact something of the character of a Municipal body, one chamber had been considered sufficient. It was however an experiment, and if it did not work well it would be easy to provide two, but on the other hand it would be exceedingly difficult to begin with two and then reduce it to one.

Another reason was the very great difficulty in finding the requisite number of men able and willing to undertake the charge of the duties of legislation. Even in Canada, as a whole, it must be admitted that there is a difficulty in finding a sufficient number of men qualified by habit and fitness for the duties of Legislation.

Another consideration that had suggested itself was that the present number of representatives, 65, might have been sufficient for the Local Legislature, but I was surrounded with difficulties. One of the principle questions with which it would have to deal, would be the redistribution of seats for the Confederate Legislature. It had therefore been considered expedient that the same limits of constituency should apply to both the Local and the General Legislatures.

The second resolution provides for the administration of the local governments according to the well understood principles of the British Constitution. Some hon. gentleman might remember how in Upper Canada, before the union, the system of log rolling had been carried on until the statute book was loaded with appropriations which, the revenue could not meet. This state of affairs was happily swept away by the union, which establish the principle of responsible government, and provided against the appropriation of a single dollar without a message from the Crown. The duration of local parliaments was to be four years.

George Brown [South Oxford]—Did not understand that such was the case. The point was discussed but not decided on.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  had an impression that such, at all events, was the understanding. As a representation, it’s principal basis was to be population, but territory was also to be taken into account in the redistribution of new seats for Upper Canada. In some few instances it will be seen, that from the difficulties of adjusting the population they had departed from that rule, but generally it had been adhered to. As the basis of the representation of Upper Canada was settled by the Quebec resolutions, to be re-distributed after each decennial census, they had deemed it proper to adopt, as a basis, for the first distribution, the census of 1861. By the system in Canada the people had every opportunity of electing men whom they knew—men who had been trained in the municipal system, who are capable and qualified for the high duties of a representative.

It seemed to him, that in an old country, the periodical re-distribution of seats would be undesirable, but in a new country like this, or the United States, it was necessary, on account of the rapid increase in population. In concluding, he said he had hoped that all the old party lines would be swept away by the Confederation of British America.


He moved the adjournment of the debate, which was carried.


In reply to a question from the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]


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John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  said he intended that the resolution should be preceded with, with the Speaker in the chair; but as in the case of the Quebec resolutions, it was the desire of the Government of the same freedom of debate should be allowed as if the House were in Committee.

George Brown [South Oxford] asked whether any mode of settling the liabilities between Upper and Lower Canada, and whether it was intended to submit a measure on the subject to this Parliament.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  said that was a mere question of appraisal and settlement of account, with which the Local Constitutions had nothing to do. It was, however, the intention of the Government to submit a mode of arrangement to this Parliament, but his honourable friend would see that the giving effect in this, as to the Confederate and Local Legislatures, must be by act of the Imperial Parliament.

George Brown [South Oxford] was very glad to have heard at the Attorney-General’s [John A. Macdonald] views on the subject.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] wish to know the course the government intended to pursue towards providing for the first meeting of the Upper Canada Parliament.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  said the functions of this Government when cease the moment the Confederate Constitution came in force.

George Brown [South Oxford] wished to urge on the Attorney-General the importance of the point put by the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]. It would be necessary for this Parliament to arrange the way in which the Local Constitutions where do we put in force, and he hoped the Government would at once bring down resolutions upon the subject before the debate on the Local Constitutions was resumed.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]  hoped his hon. friend with see that they should first determine the principle before they went into details. The principle of the Lower Constitutions was now before them, and when that was affirmed, the means of organising them would be duly considered. The organization of the General Government, with the approbation of the people as expressed by a general election, should precede the organization of the Local Governments.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] addressed the House in French explaining at considerable length the provisions of the Local Constitution for Lower Canada.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] followed, stating that he designed to propose an amendment in favour of a single chamber in Lower Canada, the same as in Upper Canada.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] replied to Mr. Dorion, speaking until a quarter to twelve o’clock.


The resolutions were then read the first time, and the House adjourned.

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