Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [Local Constitutions], 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (27 July 1866)

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Date: 1866-07-27
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 61-62.
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FRIDAY, July 27th, 1866. 

Afternoon Sitting.

The Speaker took the chair at half-past three o’clock.

Mr. McKenzie moved that the returns respecting leaves of absence granted to the Judges of Lower Canada, and the report and papers connected with the case of Mr. Justice Coursol, be referred back to the Printing Committee for reconsideration. He said he found several members very anxious to have these documents printed, and he desired them to be referred back with that end in view.

A long discussion took place, and the motion was carried.

Hon. W. MacDougall presented the report of the Chief Superintendent of Upper Canada for the past year.

The same was ordered to be printed.

Hon. J.A. Macdonald that it be resolved that the Governor in Council may appoint a Registrar of Deeds, in the Judicial District of Nipissing, who shall register all Deeds and other conveyances and agreements relating to lands situate in any part of the said Judicial District and laid out and surveyed by the Crown; that his fees shall be the same as those appointed by the Consolidated Statutes for Upper Canada respecting the registration of Instruments; or the Governor in Council may order an annual salary, not exceeding eight hundred dollars, to be paid to the Registrar out of the Consolidated Fund, in lieu of such fees, which fees in such case shall be paid into such revenue. —Carried.

Hon. Mr. Galt moved the reception of the Report of the Committee of Ways and Means, on the resolution which the House had considered in committee the other night, and upon which he would found a bill. The following is the resolution:

  1. That it is expedient to provide, that the Governor in Council may, in his discretion, authorize the manufacture in bond of such goods as he may, from time to time, see fit to designate, and in the production of which spirits or other articles subject to duties of customs or excise are used, by persons licensed to that effect, and under regulations to be made by the Governor in Council, and that such articles when so manufactured shall, if taken out of Bond for consumption within the Province, be subject to duties of excise equal to the duties of customs to which they would be subject, if imported into this Province from British or Foreign Markets, and entered for consumption; —sand that for every such license or renewal thereof, there shall be paid a duty of $50; such license to be renewable yearly on the thirteenth day of June.

Hon. Mr. Galt explained that the object of the Resolution was to permit certain articles to be manufactured for exportation. Of course very great vigilance should be exercised in carring out the plan proposed, and every care would be taken to make the regulationsas effective as possible.

The motion was carried.

Hon. Mr. Galt then moved the concurrence of the House in the report of the Committee of supply (on the estimates passed last night). —Carried.

Hon. Mr. Cartier moved the reception by the House of the report of the Committee of the whole on Bill respecting the code of Civil Procedure of Lower Canada. —Carried, and bill ordered to a third reading at the sitting to-night.

The following bills also passed through Committee and were ordered to be read a third time at the sitting to-night: Respecting the inspection of Registry Offices and the making of the plans and books of reference for registration purposes in Lower Canada.

To amend chapter 128 of the Consolidated Statutes of Upper Canada, intituled, “An Act respecting the Administration of Justice in the unorganized tracts of territory (from Legislative Council). —Hon. Mr. Attorney-General Macdonald.

To amend the Act respecting the Court of Impeachment in Upper Canada (from Legislative Council) —Mr. Sol.-Gen. Cockburn.

An Act respecting persons in custody charged with High Treason and Felony (from Legislative Council). —Mr. Sol.-Gen. Cockburn.

To amend the law respecting the appointment of Records in Upper Canada (from Legislative Council.) —Hon. Mr. Sol.-Gen. Cockburn.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  resumed the debate on the resolutions providing for the Local Constitutions. He moved the adoption of the first resolution, with the following addition, “and it is further now resolved, that in the opinion of this House, the appointment of the first Lieutenant-Governor should be provisional, and that he should hold office strictly during pleasure.” He proposed this amendment to meet the objection raised by the member for South Oxford [George Brown], when the question was formerly before the House, that the first Lieutenant-Governor, who of necessity would be appointed by a Government, not then having received the confidence of Parliament, should hold office five years.

This amendment rendered the office merely provisional, as he could be removed at anytime and without assigning any cause. The first government would of necessity have to be a provisional one. The Governor-General [Viscount Monck] must select his advisers from among the people of these provinces, and continue to administer the affairs of the Confederation, until by a general election, under the Constitution, and Parliament can be convened, and give effect to the Constitutional system of administration.

George Brown [South Oxford] expressed his satisfaction with the manner in which the Attorney-General [John A. Macdonald] had considered the point to which you had called attention on a former occasion. In fact the whole course of the Attorney-General [John A. Macdonald] in treating this question, had been exceedingly satisfactory. He had expressed his willingness to accept changes or amendments where they might be deemed necessary, and he (Mr. Brown) would be exceedingly glad to see the discussion carried on and the same good spirit to the end. He hoped the members from Upper and Lower Canada would each abstain from interfering with the provisions which only applied to the other section. For his part he would have a great reluctance and interfering in anyway with the Local Constitution of Lower Canada; he thought they ought to make it to suit themselves.

With regard to the amendment proposed, he (Mr. B.) thought the difficulty might better be got over, making the Governor-General [Viscount Monck], also the Governor of the Provinces, until the Lieutenant-Governor could be constitutionally appointed.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  had not the slightest doubt but that the whole machinery of both General and Local Governments could be set in motion without difficulty. But, it was not desirable that they should attempt to provide for too many small details. They must provide for a General Government and a Local Government, to take effect at once, though there was no reason why the present Governors in the other Provinces should not administer the affairs of these Provinces, until an appointment could be made by General Government, enjoying the confidence of Parliament.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] thought the amendment in the right direction, but the time will come when the people of the country would demand a voice in the appointment of Lieutenant-Governors, as it might be tasteful in the future to see it in the hands of the General Government. And difficulty might arise from his not being removable without a cause being assigned, as is the case of difference with his cabinet the General Government might retain him in the position.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] spoke briefly on the point, and was replied to by Hon. Mr. Brown, when it being within a few [Antoine-Aimé Dorion:] minutes of the dinner hour, six o’clock was called.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—If they called this 6, he would like to know at what time it would be 7:30, as members did not desire to be kept waiting. (A laugh.)

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  said, as he had previously informed the House in reply to the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], that a plan would be proposed for the adjustment of accounts between Upper and Lower Canada, he would state before the House rose that he would, after the resolutions were disposed of, move a resolution providing for the division of assets , and a general settlement between Upper and Lower Canada. It was a very difficult question to deal with, and in his judgment could not properly be entered upon until it had first been settled as to what amount of the common property of Canada would be assumed by the general government. It could not therefore take place until after Confederation had been accomplished, and he proposed to provide for it by moving a resolution to the effect that in any act, which the Imperial Parliament may pass for the purpose of uniting the several Provinces of British North America under one Confederate government, it is the opinion of this House that there should be provision made for the adjustment of the debts, credits, liabilities, property and assets of Canada, between Upper and Lower Canada, by arbitration, that one arbitrator shall be appointed by Upper Canada, another by Lower Canada, and the third by the general government, but that said arbitrators shall not be appointed until after the Local Constitution still have gone into effect, nor shall the third arbitor be a resident of Upper or Lower Canada.

Evening sitting.

The Speaker took the chair at 7:30 o’clock.

The bills which passed through Committee in the afternoon were read a third time and passed.

  •             (p. 62)

The debate on the resolutions was resumed.

In reply to a question,

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  explained that it would be necessary to embody these resolutions as passed by Parliament, in an address to Her Majesty.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] contended that according to the fair meaning of the Quebec resolutions[1], it was provided that the existing government should frame the Local Constitutions; and that the resolutions before the House, presenting but a mere skeleton, did not fulfill that condition.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  replied that the general principles upon which the Confederation of the Provinces was to take place, had been agreed to, and embodied in the form of resolutions, and it was well understood that the general principles of the Local Constitutions should be presented in the same way. The Government has strictly follow the well understood terms of the Quebec resolutions[2], with regard to the Local Constitutions. Were we to undertake to make an act for the Imperial Parliament to pass? The hon. gentleman day after day had reproached the government for not going on with these measures; now, when they were going on with them here, he was throwing every obstruction in their way, determined if possible to defeat Confederation.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] contended that the government should elaborate as many of the details of the Local

[John Sandfield Macdonald:] Constitutions as possible, and submit them for the consideration of this House, and not go home with these resolutions so indefinitely framed, and construct whatever sort of constitution they chose. The people should have some guarantee that within a few months after the abolition of our present form of government, they would be permitted to meet in the Confederate and Local Parliaments.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  said as he had remarked before, they must deal with only one case at a time. They should look to the question before them, and settle that before raising other issues. Already the general principles of the Confederate Constitution had been determined; now, they were called upon to settle the general principles of the Local Constitutions. With regard to Lower Canada, the matter was very simple, as the present constitution of Canada had been adopted in its entirety, with a single exception of a nominated, instead of an elective Upper House.

In Upper Canada they had aimed at a greater change—yet it was only a change in one particular, the adoption of one chamber instead of two. This, then, was the great question to discuss in these resolutions, and the other was whether they should or should not have Responsible Government in conjunction with a single chamber. As to the general course of proceeding, the first step after the passing of the Imperial Act would be the sending out of a Viceroy or Governor-General, under whatever title Her Majesty may be pleased to give him. And his first duty would be to issue the writs for a general election for the Confederate Parliament, and to appoint provisional Lieutenant-Governors that they might issue writs for an election for the Local Parliaments. Of course it was well known that it would be quite impossible to submit this measure to the Imperial Parliament before the next session, which would be in January, or early in February next.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] contended that there was no danger of any changes being made from the principles laid down in the resolutions because they had not given their own government any authority to change them, and the Imperial Government would not introduce such changes without their consent. It must follow therefore that if any changes are proposed, our Government must bring them before the Parliament of this country, and have its sanction before they can be introduced into the Imperial Act. He also referred to the provisions of the Quebec resolutions[3] regarding the formation of the Local Constitutions, saying that the meaning evidently was that well existing government should settle the general principles of the Local Constitutions, separate Provinces would be empowered to amend them here after within the provisions of the general Constitution.

James O’Halloran [Missisquoi] said when the Quebec resolutions[4] were before the House Ministers had promised details on the bringing down of the Local Constitutions, but now they had only laid a ghastly skeleton before the House.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] found no provision made in those resolutions for a Local Executive Council. He should like to know whether the government intended to make any change, so that this might be remedied. The resolutions did not actually provide for Local Government, only for a Local Governor.

Now a government, as he understood it, consisted of Governor and Executive Council.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  explained that the general terms of the well understood principles of the British Constitution [John A. Macdonald:] were sufficiently explicit to define the necessity for a constitutional Ministry. But the number of departments had been left to be determined by the Local Parliaments.

George Brown [South Oxford] thought that with the experience, an ability which the House possessed it ought to prepare as many of the details of the Local Constitutions as possible. The union act of ’41[5] had provided that the heads of the Departments, should form the executive, and we thought that some provision should be made for a Local Executive. If the point were left to the Local Parliaments, there would be a great temptation to multiply offices to too great an extent.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] defended the resolutions as framed and argued that the Local Executive was sufficiently provided for by the general declaration of the principle of government. The resolutions upon which the Union Act had been founded, did not make any exact definition as to the Executive Council.

Maurice Laframboise [Bagot] addressed the House in opposition to the resolutions, saying that England would not regard the feelings of French Canadians. She would do again what she did in 1840, impose it up on the people.

Arthur Rankin [Essex] thought the discussion had hitherto been conducted in a most irregular manner. They had already made known, in a constitutional way, their views as to Confederation, in the resolutions[6] embodying what was called the Quebec scheme, which would, no doubt, be adopted without change, and the only thing that remained for us was to settle our Local Constitution. He thought the course pursued by the Government, in regard to these, had been a proper one.

After most irregular discussion, it was suggested that the debate be adjourned.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said the vote should take place tonight.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] and John Scoble [Elgin West] said the resolutions had not yet been properly discussed, and then debate ought to be adjourned.

Joseph Perrault [Richelieu] said the discussion was useless. Members dare not change their votes for fear of an appeal to the country.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] said that many members had already left, and in a few days more would be going, and he wished to see the vote taken that the business of the country might be proceeded with.

George Brown [South Oxford] desired to see these resolutions discussed fully and gravely, and if any amendments were found necessary, they should be made. He submitted that honourable gentleman opposed to these resolutions put themselves in an awkward position, by insisting on the vote being taken to-night. They forgot that the important subject of the distribution of the seventeen new seats in Upper Canada had not yet been even referred to in the debate.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  said the government had only one view in framing these resolutions: to leave behind them as perfect a measure as possible. They would not comment therefore, be hurried, nor with the majority of the House be hurried, in coming to a decision upon them. It was not a question of a day, but a question that would affect Upper and Lower Canada, perhaps for all time to come. It should therefore be carefully considered. The hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] had said there were improvements to be suggested, and it was the intention of the Government to give the fullest opportunity to consider them. But hon. gentlemen opposite who are opposed Confederation, [John A. Macdonald:] who said it was going to bring ruin upon Canada now desire to hurry it on. They would rush into the danger to avoid the apprehension. 

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] said the subject was a very important one. The Government had laid it before the House, without professing that it was altogether perfect, that it might be fully and fairly discussed, and that, if need be, its imperfections remedied. The Government would be very glad to consider any suggestions to that end from any side of the House. The gentleman opposite had, after all their anxiety to find fault, been unable to discover anything in these resolutions, upon which they could base a reasonable objection.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] again charged the government with improperly delaying business.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  replied, dwelling on the importance of the subject, and saying that the member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] had a number of amendments in his desk, which he desired to bring up on the House as a surprise, and perhaps create some embarrassment to the Government.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] said he had already informed the House that he had several amendments to move, and had not attempted to surprise the House.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia] —Then why does not the honourable gentleman have his amendments published? It was most unfair to ask members to vote upon such a serious question as an amendment to the Constitution, without giving some time to consider it. He (Mr. McD.) explained that he would press the motion for the adjournment of the debate which would be resumed on Tuesday, though the final vote which would bind the House to the resolutions would not be taken until Thursday.

Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton] approve the course of the government, and thought the suggestion to print important amendments ought to be followed.

Matthew Cameron [Ontario North], though opposed to Confederation from the first, and though he had not seen anything to make him regarded more favourably, considered now that it had become a fixed fact, it was the duty of all to endeavour to make it work as well as possible. The Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] had said it was a grave subject, but he thought the grave part would be when we buried Canada; still he did not wish to have too much crying at the funeral. He thought the course of the government in adjourning the debate the proper one.

The members were then called in and the House divided on the motion to adjourn, which was carried. —Yeas, 70. Nays, 18.

On motion of the Hon. Mr. Howland the House went into Committee of the whole to consider the resolutions, providing certain amendments to the Post Office act.

Hon. Mr. Holton called the attention of the Postmaster-General, to the provision making it a felony to sell stamps without special permission. He considered if he brought $100 worth of stamps at their face value, it would be a great hardship if he would not be permitted to sell them again for his own money.

Hon. Mr. Howland said the explanations would be given on the second reading of the bill.

The Committee rose and reported the resolutions without amendment.

On motion of Mr. Howland, the bills to amend the Post Office act was read a second time.

The following bills were also read a second time:

To incorporate the Cobourg, Peterboro and Marmora Railway and Mining Company. —Sol.-Gen. Cockburn.

To enable compensation to be made to the heirs of Elizabeth McKay, for the loss suffered by the erroneous issue of a patent for lands, to which she was entitled. —Atty.-General Macdonald.

On motion of Hon. J.A. Macdonald the House went into Committee of the whole on a resolution empowering the Governor in Council to appoint a Registrar for the Judicial District of Nipissing.

The Committee rose and reported the resolution without amendment, and the House adjourned at 11.40.

[1] The version of the Quebec Resolutions that passed the House can be found in this volume, Legislative Assembly, 13 March 1865, pp. 1027-1032.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The version of the Quebec Resolutions that passed the House can be found in this volume, Legislative Assembly, 13 March 1865, pp. 1027-1032.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Union Act, 1840 (U.K). Brown calls it the ‘union of 1841’, which refers to the year it was proclaimed, 1841.

[6] The version of the Quebec Resolutions that passed the House can be found in this volume, Legislative Assembly, 13 March 1865, pp. 1027-1032.

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