Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [Ministerial Statement], 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (31 March 1864)

Document Information

Date: 1864-03-31
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 116-118.
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Legislative Assembly

Quebec, March 31, 1864.

The Speaker took the Chair at three o’clock.

A number of petitions were presented and received.

The Speaker laid before the House his warrant appointing Hon. Mr. Alleyn a member of the General Election Committee instead of Hon. Mr. Chapais.

Mr. Dunsford presented the report of the Committee on the county of Russell election in reference to the absence of Hon. Mr. Rose and Mr. Wm. Ferguson.

Mr. Irvine moved that the Richelieu Election Committee be permitted to adjourn intill the 16th of May next. – Carried.

Hon. Mr. Howland presented report on the Terrebonne election.

Hon. Mr. Evanturel presented report on the Joliette election.

Private Bills.

Mr. Morris moved that the time for revieving petitions for the introducing Private Bills and receiving the reports from the Committee up Private Bills be extended to 10th of May. – Carried.

First Readings.

The following Bills were introduced and read a first time:

Hon. Mr. Howland – Bill to Incorporate the British American Mining and Exploring Association.

Mr. McConkey – Bill to Incorporate the Fergus and Elora Railway Company.

Dr. Parker – Bill to authorize the administration of J.C. Hogarth to practice as a barrister in the Upper Canada Courts.

Ministerial Statement

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said:—Mr. Speaker in reference to the demands made on me yesterday for information on various subjects connected with the policy of the Government, I have the honor to make the following statement. Yesterday I was charged with announcing the formation of a new Ministry, and was at the same time authorized to state the policy of that Administration. The course to be pursued by the Government on particular subjects, however, and the measures to be introduced by them will be stated by ministers themselves in accordance with parliamentary practice when they are in their places in Parliament

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and oh! Oh!

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] was aware that there was no more of compelling the hon. member for Montmorenci [Joseph Cauchon] to be more explicit then he had been authorized to be; so the House, he supposed, wold have to put up with the meagreness the explanations which had been given. Were it not for the remarks he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had heard in the other House, from the present Premier [Étienne Pascal Taché], touching the interview he had in himself, he would not have troubled the House with any further observations on the subject.

He regretted that Sir. E.P. Taché had not previously communicated with reference to a conversation which it was distinctly understood between them, was of an entirely informal character. The interview referred to took place after himself and his colleagues had come to the conclusion, that in consequences of not being able to carry on the affairs of the Government with that energy which numerical strength alone could give, they should endeavor, if possible to obtain that strength. He therefore, with the consent of his colleagues, approached Sir Etienne P. Taché, and an interview was appointed at his (Hon. J.S. Macdonald’s) office. At that interview, he explained to Sir E.P. Taché the object he had in view. Sir E.P. Taché at once frankly told him that he would undertake the task of forming a Government for Lower Canada.

He (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) then said he had not disclosed to Sir E.P. Taché the terms on which he desired that they should agree, nor the names of the parties whose co-operation might have been sought, but that formal negotiations were now at an end, and, as old friends, they might, in an informal manner, talk over the possibility of seeing established such a good and strong government as the country required. The conversation continued on that understanding.

He (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) claimed that the Government of that day had a majority in the House, and that they were in a position to see whether arrangements could not be made with gentlemen from Lower Canada, so as to secure the harmonious working of our constitution in a way to meet the views of both sections of the country, and with a view to sound legislation, economy and retrenchment. Sir E.P. Taché said he would like to see such arrangements made, but though there was a good deal of difficulty in the way.

He (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) replied that, so far as he was personally concerned, there would be no difficulty – that he would not stand in the way of the disposal of the premiership in any manner that might be considered best; that he, with others of his colleagues, were ready to retire and become private members of the House, if their doing so would facilitate the formation of a strong Government, which would secure the legislation of the country being carried on satisfactorily.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—He might say he had been surprised to hear Sir. E.P. Taché state to-day that he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had expressed his willingness to act with the hon. member for Montreal East (Mr. Cartier), as the leader of the Lower Canada section. Sir. E.P. Taché had entirely misapprehended him on that point. What he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had suggested was, that the Premiership should remain with Upper Canada, and that four Lower Canada Opposition, and two Upper Canada Opposition should come into the Government. On the Hon. Mr. Cartier’s name being mentioned, he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) said he was certain that the presence of the hon. member for Montreal East (Mr. Cartier) in the Cabinet was the difficulty; but he did not say it was an insurmountable difficulty. As regarded himself, he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) could not join a Government of which the hon. member for Montreal East [George-Étienne Cartier], and others prominently identified with the Coalition rule, was identified;—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—and that he would prefer being a private member to joining them with whom he had been in political conflict for years, so that he should not have to offer apologies for acts which he had condemned time and time again.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—He stated, however, that he was extremely anxious to see arrangements entered into, by which a strong government would be obtained; and he told Sir. E.P. Taché that his colleague the hon. member for Hochelaga (Hon. Mr. Dorion) also was willing to retire, if that were necessary, to effect those arrangements.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—As Sir E.P. Taché was leaving he (hon. J.S. Macdonald) told him, he would be glad if he could consult some of his friends with that view. The same evening Sir E.P. Taché called at his (Hon. J.S. Macdonald’s) house, and said he had seen some of his friends, and was satisfied that no arrangement, such as he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had proposed could be carried out – that Mr. Cartier was the ruling spirit in Lower Canada, and that he (Sir. E.P. Taché) would not desire to take a position which would separate him from those who had been his political friends for many years. After that, he (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had no further communication with Sir E.P. Taché on the subject.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] thought it desireable that other hon. members of this House, who had been connected with the negotiations as to the change of Government by having overtures made to them or otherwise, should also give explanations. He understood that the hon. member for North Ontario [William McDougall] had some explanations to give, and he also thought that the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], whose non-arrival had for some time delayed the formation of the ministry, should likewise explain to the House the part he had taken in the matter.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary] said the events of the past few days would form an important and interesting chapter in the history of Canada. In the circumstances in which he found himself he would not attempt to characterize these events, nor to state the results which he believed would be sure to follow them, and which no lover of his country would contemplate without alarm.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary]—To enter upon a discussion of this kind in the absence of hon. gentlemen whose conduct would necessarily be the subject of animadversion might be deemed unfair, and be confessed, not without some show of resistance. But he promised the House that so soon as those gentlemen appeared in their places he would state his views of the transactions of the last few days very fully, and he would then be under no obligation to speak with reserve. Possibly he might think it expedient to meet some of those gentlemen face to face before their constituents;

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary]—on which case he should feel himself at liberty to speak of both the men and their acts as truth and the interests of the country require.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary]—His hon. friend (Mr. Holton) had remarked that explanations were expected from those of the House to whom offers of office were made, and refused during the late negotiations, as he (Hon. Mr. McDougall) had been honoured with an invitation by Sir. Etienne Taché, and the offer of a seat in his cabinet, he felt it his duty, as well to put himself right with his political friends as to explain to this House and the country, the reason which induced him to decline the offer of the hon. gentleman. Sir Etienne Taché had just explained in another place the negotiations in which he had been engaged for the last few days, and had detailed briefly the character of the interview he had held with him (Mr. Macdougall.)

In order to be as precise as possible, he would read to the House a memorandum of his conversation with Sir E. Taché, which was made  a few minutes after that conversation took place. He would state for the information of the House that this interview was held at his (Mr. Macdougall’s) residence on Monday last, about noon. He was aware before meeting Sir Etienne, that he had had an interview that morning with Hon. Mr. Blair, but he was not aware of the result, when he was summoned

  • (p. 117)

to meet the hon. gentleman as before stated. The memorandum is as follows:

“Sir E.P. Taché opened the conversation by stating that he had come to see if I would aid him in constructing a government. He said he was anxious to get the support of a few moderate men of the Upper Canada majority; that as the Conservative party now stood in the House, he could count on 65 votes; – that it was desirable to avoid an election; that he regarded me as an eligible man, of liberal views, and thought, if I and two or three of my friends would join the Government, it would command a good working majority. He paid me some compliments as to my ability. He paid me some compliments as to my ability, moderation, &c.

I thanked him for his good opinions, and observed that before I could properly discuss the main question with him, I should like to know what point he had reached in his negotiations. I understood he had had communications with other members of the Upper Canada majority that morning, but I had not learned the result.

Sir E.P. Taché said he had seen the Hon. Mr. Blair, but although the interview was a friendly one, Mr. Blair was not inclined to negotiate, as he was not the leader of his party – that Hon. J.S. Macdonald had been chosen leader at caucus, and that he, Mr. Blair, must refer to him.

I then asked if I was to understand that Sir E.P. Taché’s interview with me was with the sanction of, or without reference to the Hon. Mr. Campbell, with whom I understood he had undertaken to form a Government.

Sir E.P. Taché said Mr. Campbell was aware of his coming to me; that his desire was to invite moderate men of both parties; that he and his friends would be glad to have me and two or three of my friends join the Government for Upper Canada, &c.

I said that before proceeding to speak of the personnel of the Government, either of Upper or Lower Canada, it was important to understand from him, as its proposed head, the general policy which he intended to propose; that while I did not except must particularity of detail, I would like to know his views on some of the most important questions before the country, or likely to be pressed on the attention of any Government that might be formed.

Sir. Etienne P. Taché said he could not say must as to policy without consulting his colleagues; that his own views might be modified by discussion; that he supposed I alluded to Representation by Population; his opinion was that it could not be dealt with during the present Parliament; that the position of the Government on that subject would therefore be the same as that to to which I had belonged. As to the Intercolonial Railway he said it was an important project, and looking at the position of the Reciprocity Treaty, the war now going on among our neighbors, and its probably results, he thought the Intercolonial Railway ought to be constructed as soon as possible.

I said that he was looked to as an authority on militia matters, and had no doubt formed an opinion of the present system. I should like to know if he considered it efficient, or would he propose a new, or a more expensive system?

He said he that thought, with the amount now expended, an efficient system might be established; he did not approve of the present Militia laws; he would say in a word, that what he wanted was a compulsory system, one which would enable him at the sound of the bugle “to bring the men into the field, he felt very confident he could propose such a system, and that it would not be too burthensome to the country.

I then asked him whether any of the measures now before the House as Government measures. Were, in his view, unsuited to the wants of the country.

He said yes, some of them, he was entirely opposed to Mr. Dorion’s Judication Bill; it was an attempt to create new tribunals more judges, and to overturn one of their Lower Canadian institutions. It could only be carried by an Upper Canadian majority, and he was opposed to any attempt to force measures of that kind on one Province, by a majority of votes from the other.

I said I would not discuss the merits of Mr. Dorion’s Bill, but I was glad to hear that he was unwilling to rule by virtue of a sectional majority; that until representation was based on a more, equitable footing than that on which it now stood, every effort ought to be made to harmonize the two majorities, and I hoped he was ready to apply the principle he had just announced, in the formation of his Government.

He said he was anxious to do so; that if I would assist him he was sure he would have a majority in both sections; that he had expressed this view (as to forcing measures obnoxious to either sections by the votes of the other) to Mr. J.A. Macdonald, who entirely agreed with him – that it was inexpedient; but if the worst came to the worst, and the Government could not carry a sectional measure by a majority of the section interested, they must drop it for the time; delay was the worst that could happen to such a case.

I replied that to adopt such a rule in legislation and not in the constitution of the Government seemed illogical and certain to result disastrously for the Province which happened not to have confidence in the Government. It would be to withhold from it all important measures, to deprive it, in fact, of a legislature, except for the purpose of imposing burdens; such a system had been tried under the late Coalition had had proved very unjust to Upper Canada. To attempt it again would cause universal dissatisfaction in that section, and therefore his Government, if he expected it to live, must command a majority in Upper Canada as well as Lower Canada. That while it was true the Macdonald-Dorion Government had not been able to obtain a majority in Lower Canada, nor refused those that seemed to be required; that it was because it found itself confronted with this difficulty that it had resigned, while still commanding a majority of the whole House; and that looking at the population and wealth of the respective Provinces and the confidence that Government received from the larger, both in respect to population and taxation. The injustice of governing on such a basis was not to be compared with that of governing with a Lower Canada majority: Sir E. interfered by saying that he thought no such evil would occur if the Upper Canada majority were disposed to be moderate and conciliatory.

I said it was perhaps well to come to the point at once. Was he disposed to give the Upper Canada majority, as it stood in the present House, its just share of the Government?

He said it was necessary to look to what would happen. He was willing to give to myself and friends as many seats, proportionately, as we could bring votes: that no doubt, if we went in Mr. Brown would soon be found in opposition: that he would take sway a good many of the supporters of the late Government, which would leave us with only a portion of our present  majority.

I replied that if a fair, honest compromise were made, if the policy of the Government was satisfactory, even though the representation question remained in abeyance for a time, I had no doubt the support the Government, even if Mr. Brown did not. Then, after some general remarks, he asked what number of seats would meet my views.

I said that if he was willing to act in a spirit of compromise and conciliation – if that was the spirit which was to rule the administration – I thought two things, at least, must be conceded: 1st The Upper Canada majority must have for the head of the administration in Upper Canada one of its own members. 2nd. As many seats must be given to the allies of that party in Lower Canada as are conceded to the opposition in Upper Canada.

He said that could not be done. The Lower Canada majority was as strong as it desired to be, and there was therefore no motive to give places in the Cabinet to its enemies. He proceeded to denounce the Rouges as socialists, and declared there was far more to separate them from the conservatives of Lower Canada than to separate the liberals of Upper Canada from the conservatives there. Spoke of Le Pays and Mr. Doutre in very warm and very derogatory terms as publishers, and disseminating among the people very dangerous doctrines, the worst of the French socialist school, &c., &c.,

I told him I had never heard any of these doctrines from Mr. Dorion or any of his supporters in Parliament, and was sorry to find him, an old reformer of the Baldwin-Lafontaine school, so hostile to the liberal party of Lower Canada.

He said he was sorry to find I was not disposed to join him, and rising to leave, I asked if I had understood him to insist on giving the Upper Canada leadership to Mr. Campbell or to a member of the conservative minority.

He said Mr. Campbell was in the Upper House, and the lead in the Assembly would therefore be at the disposal of those who might join him, but he would consider Mr. Campbell as the head of the Upper Canada part of the administration.

I said I was sorry I could not give him any assistance in the construction of his Government on such a basis. And so the interview ended.”

William Powell [Carleton] wished to know if the memorandum was an exact report of what was said.

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary] said he did not pretend to have made a verbatim, or shorthand report of the conversation, but he could vouch for the accuracy of the report as to the substance of what was said on both sides. It was written down just as he had read it to the House, a few minutes after the interview ended.

John Cameron [Peel] asked if the hon. member had communicated to Sir. Etienne Taché a copy of the statement read?

William McDougall [Ontario North, Provincial Secretary] replied that he had not been asked to do so. It was understood on both sides that the conversation was not to be deemed private. He had reported the substance of it to his friends the same day, and he had seen it pretty fully reported in the newspapers. He had just heard Sir Etienne Taché’s statement of the interview in another place, said it was made without any previous reference to him (Mr. McDougall). He was very confident that he had not misreported Sir Etienne’s language, nor misunderstood his meaning.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] asked a question about the number of seats offered to the Liberal party, but after consulting with Mr. Cameron, withdrew his question.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said the House would be glad to hear some explanations from the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]. The formation of the Government had been delayed for some time by his non-arrival, and it was but right that the negotiations which had passed between himself and those who had been engaged in constructing a Government should be known.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Cameron [Peel] replied by remarking that he had sufficient Parliamentary experience to know what his obligations were; and that it was not for himself to judge whether he should explain anything which had passed between himself or anybody else in the course of the negotiations. Notwithstanding that he had been urged by the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] as well as the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] to give those explanations, he must be permitted to maintain the same silence he had hitherto kept.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] asked if the hon. member for Montmorenci’s [Joseph Cauchon] answer intended to cover the questions he (Mr. Dunkin) put yesterday.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—Yes

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] could not say that the answer was different from what he expected, nor, being as it was, could he say that it was perfectly satisfactory.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] remarked with reference to the statement made by the hon. member for Montmorenci [Joseph Cauchon], that he considered the practice which had crept in of reading ministerial programmes with ministers out of the House, was un-English as well as unconstitutional.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—But when hon. gentlemen followed that practice, and came down here, through a friend with a written programme of their policy, they could not urge that as a reason for not giving explanations and amplifications of that policy which they had thus improperly brought down. Otherwise it might be in their power by dexterous and evasive statements of their views to deceive the House and the country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—If ministers gave an equivocal or evasive statement of their policy, and then claimed that they were not bound to explain or supplement omissions in that statement, the whole proceeding was one that was a mere trifling with Parliament.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The hon. gentleman went on to say that the reason of the course pursued by ministers in refusing explanations, was not so much their unwillingness to answer the questions he had asked, as their unwillingness to answer those put by the hon. member for Brome (Mr. Dunkin). Any one who understood by what secret agencies and influences the present Government had obtained office, could understand the significance of the questions asked by the hon. member for Brome [Christopher Dunkin].

Some Hon. Members—Hear and cheers.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South] said he really thought it would be better for hon. gentlemen to allow the House to adjourn than to go on indulging in language from which no benefit could be derived.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—It was really absurd on the part of hon. gentlemen to talk of secret influences – he supposed they referred to the Grand Trunk. They ought to recollect their own actions towards the Grand Trunk before they spoke in this manner. They know everything about the amalgamation bills to which reference had been made – they had tried to tamper with the Grand Trunk – these Premier, the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], had been very closely connected with as amalgamation bill which had been before the House some sessions ago – no hon. gentleman had made more money out of the Grand Trunk than the hon. member yet forsooth they now talked about the secret information which had brought the present Government late power.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—And they wanted explanations as to the details of the policy of the new Government after the hon. member for Cornwall (Mr. J.S. Macdonald) stating to this Goud yesterday that it was identical with the policy of the Macdonald-Dorion Government, and taking credit for every item of it.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Assuming this statement to be correct, they were therefore actually wanting information about their own policy.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—He did not hope they would cease such useless talk and allow the House to ad –

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] then gave some explanations as to the part he had borne in the negotiations when asked by Mr. Blair, on Tuesday of last week, to undertake the formation of the Lower Canada section of the Government after Sir E.P. Taché gad declined to assist that hon. gentleman. He had put himself in communication with Mr. Chapais, and explained his desire to form a combination which would secure a strong Government to carry on the legislation of the country. He told him (Mr. Chapais) he thought it would be fair in that view and that of some if his (Mr. Chapais) friends would join, three Lower Canada seats might be given in the Cabinet to that side of the House, also giving three to his (Hon. Mr. Dorion’s) friends. Mr. Chapais was unwilling to do anything that would be unsatisfactory to his party, and did not think that the arrangement would satisfy them. Subsequently he (Hon. Mr. Dorion) had interviews with Hon. Mr. Abbott, and afterwards with Hon. Mr. Alleyn. Those hon. gentlemen had both expressed the same disinclination as Mr. Chapais, although expressed perhaps in different terms. He then reported to the Hon. Mr. Blair that he was unable to form such a combination in Lower Canada as would lead to the construction of a strong Government. In those interviews he had not spoken of the exclusion of any names from the proposed Administration.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] (in answer to the remark made by Mr. Dunkin) pointed out that, while the Hon. Mr. Loranger was acting as the mouth-piece of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government, in May, 1862, he had – in answer to a question put by him (Mr. Cauchon) – indicated what in his opinion would be the course of that Government should a certain contingency arise; but it was found afterwards, when the case did arise, that the Government did not pursue that policy.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

First Readings.

The following bills were introduced and read a first time:

By Mr. McConkey – To incorporate the Canada Mining Company.

By Mr. Stirton – To incorporate the Fergus and Elora Railway Company.

By Mr. Parker  – To authorize John C. Hogart to practice as a Barrister in the Courts of Law and Equity in Upper Canada.

By Mr. Powell – To incorporate the Hamilton Children’s Industrial School.

Hon. Mr Cauchon moved that the House do now adjorn.

The motion was carried, and the House, at a quarter to 6, P. M., adjourned until the third of May next.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South] said he really thought it would be better for hon. gentlemen to allow the House to adjourn than to go on indulging in language rom which no benefit could be derived.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—When hon. gentlemen themselves sat on the other side of the House and occupied the Treasury benches, all must recollect how difficult it was to obtain a single reply upon any one subject from them. Then it seemed a virtue to be silent, and it appeared as if they were totally ignorant of every matter connected with the affairs of the country, and nothing but the formal notice and the formal enquiry would induce them to say a single word. It is most astonishing to see the change that even one day in the cold shades of Opposition has produced. Not these hon. gentlemen seem to have received new light; all of a sudden they are able and willing to discuss every point connected with our political existence. They desire, no doubt, above all things, to convince the public that they are the true and only saviours of the country.

It was really absurd on the part of hon. gentlemen to talk of secret influences-he supposed to endeavour in the most discreditable and dishonest manner to impress the public mind with the idea that the new Ministry was placed in, and held their present position, by means of the Grand Trunk favour and power. And as a matter of consequence they, worthy, upright, honorable men as they are, were displaced because of their opposition to that company. But they ought to recollect their own action towards the Grand Trunk before they spoke in this manner. They knew everything about the amalgamation bills to which reference had been made—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—one of which has already been introduced in the Upper House, and the other, be supposed, was to be introduced into this House, and all, too, as he (Mr. Ferguson) could positively assert, with the consent and concurrence of those very patriotic gentlemen who now tremble, as it were, least any further conversations should be made to this much-to-be-dreaded and powerful institution. Had they not, however, tampered with the Grand Trunk themselves, they hypocritical indignation at this moment might be a little more tolerable to this House and to the country, and people be induced to believe it, and therefore oppose the members of the new Administration at their election on that ground; but it is too notorious to be doubted that the ex-Premier, and other of his colleagues, used every power they possessed, and every power there positions as members of the Crown gave them, to secure the support of the Grand Trunk on the eve of the last election, and even went so far as to offer $150 per mile for postal services, instead of $70 per mile, which the late coalition Government was paying. The hon. member for Cornwall, too, in the session of 1862, and previous to his becoming the leader of the Government, very good-naturedly, and possibly not “thinking it any harm”—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—introduced the famous amalgamation bill for the Company, the provisions of which proved to be so distasteful to the House that he had to withdraw it before coming to its second reading. And it will be recollected that in the same session, and after that hon. gentleman became Premier of the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration, both himself and his colleagues used every stratagem, every device possible, to pass a bill for capitalizing the postal subsidy, and making the Province security for $600,000; and only for his hon. friend from Brome (Mr. Dunkin,) the member for Carlton (Mr. Powell,) he (Mr. Ferguson,) and others, doubtless the bill would have passed, and the country be saddled with that large amount of indebtedness this day.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Again, sir, was it not well known that no man, no hon. gentleman in this country, had made more money out of the Grand Trunk than the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton.) By his extra-ordinary ability he succeeded in becoming a great contractor; got £12,000 per mile for making the road that a few months previous was let out to be made for £5,000 per mile. And the $400,000 which he so frequently speaks about as being given away to the Company, it is well known that himself was the greatest gainer thereby, as he pocketed nearly the whole amount, and yet, forsooth, they now talked about the secret influences which had brought the present Government into power.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Again, those hon. gentlemen wanted explanations as to the details of the policy of the new Government, after the hon. member for Cornwall (Mr. J. S. Macdonald) stating to this House, yesterday, that it was identical with the policy of the Macdonald-Dorion Government, and taking credit for every item of it.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Assuming this statement to be correct, they were therefore actually wanting information about their own policy. For his (Mr. Ferguson’s) part, he might say that he was not altogether satisfied with the policy of the new Government; that he would much rather have heard it announced that something more definite, something more satisfactory in the way of settling the great questions that has agitated the public mind in both sections of the Province for so many years was contemplated; but under present circumstances he felt it his duty to avoid further waste of time and money, and allow the Government to go for re-election, come back, and then judge them by their policy and their measures, and oppose them or support them according to their deserving.

William McDougall [Ontario North]—Oh, then you are independent.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—Yes, sir; independent in every sense and acceptation of the term; and more than that, consistent, too, which the hon. gentleman never was, nor never knew how to be.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—And he (Mr. Ferguson) was only astonished when he heard that Sir E. P. Taché had sought the assistance of the hon. gentleman, late Crown Lands Commissioner, to form a Government under the false impression that he had the confidence of the people of Upper Canada, and could bring with him certain of its representatives – while the truth is that the people despise him for the shameful manner in which he abandoned them and his principles for the sake of place and its emoluments; and above all, for the pains he has from time to time since taken, in this House and to the country, to prove himself one of the greatest political hypocrites – standing up, as he has done, for hours together, in order to publish his own shame, and declaring that while he proclaimed his advocacy for Representation for Upper Canada, and opposed Separate Schools, and dilated upon other subjects in favor of his Western friends and constituents, he never was sincere in his professions, but false and untrue in every point and particular.

And, to-day, he (Mr. Ferguson) was not afraid to assert that, instead of that hon. gentleman being able to command a majority of the Western Representatives, he has not, in reality, a single follower. And, as to his having the confidence of the people, it was simply absurd. His sneer, therefore, at independence and consistency was in perfect keeping with his hypocrisy and the repudiation of all political principles.

He, Mr. Ferguson, had not intended saying a word on this occasion, but his patience was exhausted listening to the wailings of discomfited gentlemen, and particularly the Finance Minister, about the union that has taken place between the hon. member for Hamilton, Mr. Buchanan, and the present Finance Minister, Mr. Galt, and his grave doubts about their ability to agree upon free trade and protection to native industry, or upon a measure that would tend to equalize the income and expenditure of the Province, while he himself has been thinking over the subject for the last 12 months, and after all his promises and professions has failed, signally failed, to present a single idea, or a single line or figure to the House, or the people, whereby his capability or incapacity might be judged of. And still more, that even at this advanced stage of the session, he has no dared to introduce or publish the supplies necessary for the expenses of the current year. In conclusion, he did hope they would cease such useless talk and allow the House to adjourn.

Some Hon. MembersLoud cheers.

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