Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [The New Administration], 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (30 March 1864)

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Date: 1864-03-30
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 112-113.
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WEDNESDAY March, 30th, 1864

The Speaker took the Chair at three o’clock.

After routine business—

The New Administration

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said—It becomes my duty, Mr. Speaker, to announce the formation of the new Ministry, which is as follows:—


Hon. Sir E.P. Tache—Receiver General and Minister of Militia.
Hon. G.E. Cartier—Attorney General East.
Hon. A.T. Galt—Finance Minister.
Hon. J.C. Chapais—Board of Works.
Hon. T. D’Arcy McGee—Bureau of Agriculture.
Hon. H.L. Langevin—Solicitor General East.


Hon. A. Campbell—Crown Lands Commissioner.
Hon. J.A. Macdonald—Attorney General West.
Hon. J. Simpson—Provincial Secretary.
Hon. Isaac Buchanan—Pres. of the Council.
Hon. Michael H. Foley—Postmaster General.
Hon. J. Cockburn—Solicitor General West.

[The hon. gentlemen then went on to read, in French, a document setting forth the policy of the new Government.]

John Cameron [Peel] proceeded to read the same announcement in English, viz:—

“The defence of the country will engage the constant and best attention of the Government, and such steps will be taken as will place the Militia force in a position to render prompt and effective service when required, without increasing the existing expense.

Every effort will be made to maintain and extend the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States, and the bonding system, under which goods now pass freely through both countries; measures not only important in themselves, but calculated to foster those friendly relations which it is so desirable to cultivate.

A conference will be sought with the sister Provinces with a view of effecting a more intimate commercial union with them.

Measures for the development of the North-west Territory and the improvement of our communications with the seaboard will be submitted for the early consideration of Parliament; and such readjustment of the Canal Tolls will be made as may be necessary to prevent the diversion of the Western trade form our own waters.

The pledge given by Parliament, this session, in answer to the Speech from the Throne, on the subject of the removal to Ottawa, will be faithfully carried out.

Departmental reform will be steadily pursued, and the entire public expenditure will be administered with the strictest economy.

Measures will be submitted this session for equalizing the Revenue and Expenditure.

The question of the representation of the people in Parliament will remain an open question.

The settlement of the available public lands in Upper and Lower Canada will be earnestly and systematically promoted. The encouragement of the great agricultural interest will be regarded as of paramount importance.

The general policy of the Administration will be governed by those great constitutional principles which have so long guided the counsels of the mother-country, and under which the happiness and contentment of the people of Canada will be best secured.”

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] moved

That a writ do issue for the election of a member for Montreal East, rendered vacant by the acceptance of office of Hon. G.E. Cartier.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] complained that the House had heard nothing as to the intention of the Government in reference to an adjournment. This important matter should not have been omitted.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said that as soon as the writs for the re-elections issued, he would tell the House the intention of the Government on this point.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] thought the House was in possession of the fact already. There should be no reservation on this point. Surely it was not too much to ask what the new Government intended before the House committed itself to any action on the subject. He would insist on receiving information as to the matter.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said the intention of the Government was to ask the House for an adjournment till the 3rd of May, so as give a month for the re-election.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said that now that these explanations had been given, he would take upon himself to say that from this side of the House there should be no factious opposition made to any reasonable demand of hon. gentlemen opposite for the purpose of completing their arrangements in order to meet the just expectations of the country as a Government. He was rather struck with the programme which the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Cauchon) had just read, as the basis of the policy which the new Government would carry out. It was just exactly the same programme, with the exception of one particular, as that of the out-going Administration.

The new feature was the statement that the militia of this Province would be placed in a more perfect state of organization in order to repel danger and meet the requirements of the country. He contended the old Government had not been remiss in this regard, and had already asked that provision be made for the necessities of the militia force. We should see what more the new Government would do in this matter. Perhaps we should receive more explanations to-morrow on the subject.

Then it was promised that everything possible would be done to secure a renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty. Well, he thought, and the House probably thought, that the old Administration had just as great an interest in forwarding this treaty as the new one—a measure that had conferred so much benefit upon the country. It was amusing for us to hear hon. gentlemen on the other side promise that they would watch over the interests of the country in regard to this matter. We had left nothing undone with the same object.

With regard to the statement that the Government would hold a convention with the sister Provinces, with the view to increasing mutual trade, he would assert that this object was not lost sight of in the negotiations respecting the Intercolonial Railway entered into in 1862, by the Macdonald-Sicotte Government. The establishment of free trade between these Provinces was part and parcel of the general arrangements in regard to the construction of this railroad, which the latter Government insisted upon, and were preparing to carry out.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—What seemed very remarkable was that a gentleman who had been a member of this Government, who had changed seats since, repeatedly acted as the champion of the Intercolonial Railway, had now entered the new Government, without its making any statement or a single pledge in reference to the construction of this railway.

Then we had a promise as to the development of the North-west Territory. Gentlemen opposite would see the late Government had not failed to protect and watch over the claims and interests of Canada, as far as possible, in regard to this matter. And in any negotiations that might have taken place we would have insisted upon the rights of Canada being recognised in reference to this territory.

The new Ministry, therefore, were, in this matter also, only taking up what we would have done ourselves. The new Government had presented the outlines of a policy, but he was not surprised that they should have allowed the House to meet without any definite policy in regard to the most important affairs of the country. Surely they must have a policy as to the Canal Tolls. They should be prepared to say whether they intend to abolish the tolls, which many of them had repeatedly contended were injurious to the interests of the country. The late Government deserved credit for continuing those tolls, in spite of all the pressure brought to bear against them on this point—dues levied for the benefit of the country on works which had caused it great expense. The new Government would find it a very difficult matter to abolish the tolls which had resulted to the public advantage. He fancied those hon. gentlemen would excuse themselves for not doing away with the tolls by stating that arrangements based upon their continuance for this year are already made.

He congratulated the hon. gentlemen from the Ottawa region on the declaration that the pledge respecting the speedy removal of the seat of Government to Ottawa would be strictly carried out. The Administration could have said nothing less, but he would tell them there would be difficulty in this, and that they would probably find difficulty among themselves in regard to as early a removal to Ottawa as was intended. The late Administration was determined, coute qui coute, that the Government should go thither next Fall, and he would leave it to the members for the Ottawa region to say whether they gave the Government that support required in order to enable them to carry out a determination so important to them and the country.

Some Hon. MembersCries of “oh!” and laughter from the Opposition.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Then, we are promised Departmental reform.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Formerly, when those hon. gentlemen were in power, elaborate speeches were made from their side, promising attention to and reform in the departments, the increase of efficiency, and so forth; but, strange to say, we never got it. Departmental reform—he did say it was a burlesque upon this House for gentlemen who had, while in office—he would not say designedly—allowed such corruption and inefficiency to grow up in the departments, now to talk of making departmental reform. But probably the evil system had received such a check from the late Government as would prohibit for the future the occurrence of such a state of things again, and if we had done nothing else during our term of office than to render it necessary for the present hon. gentlemen to commit themselves to a system of departmental reform, we had deserved credit for something, and rendered a service to the country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Then, we were promised an equalization of revenue and expenditure. We had a proud satisfaction in knowing that this branch received our careful consideration—that we had reduced the expenditure to the lowest minimum possible, under the circumstances. And we were prepared, if permitted to occupy these seats for a little longer time, to proceed with amendments in this direction. Our course in the way of retrenchment was onward and complete, and a year hence the revenue and expenditure would have been balanced. Then we should have been prepared to go on with the great improvements promised for the benefit of the country. Something was also promised in regard to the public lands. But surely they could not say that a more vigorous or efficient administration of the public lands could be carried on than had marked Hon. Mr. McDougall’s tenure in office.

[The Hon. J.S. Macdonald went on to comment upon the differences formerly existing among hon. gentlemen now in the new Cabinet and on the Conservative side, stating they had denounced each other by turns in the strongest terms.]

François Evanturel [Quebec County]—This is a Ministry of conciliation.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] hoped they had conciliated the hon. gentleman, whom we found it difficult to conciliate.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

François Evanturel [Quebec County]—But you were doing wrong.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said if that hon. gentleman had found persons in the new Government in whom he could confide, things must have been changed of late, and all that could be said was that wonders would never cease.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] In retiring from this side of the House, he and his colleagues had nothing to regret in regard to the position they had occupied. The late Finance Minister had overcome, to a great extent, the difficulties he had been called upon to meet after the retirement from office of hon. gentlemen opposite. By his able management of the affairs of his department, he now left matters in a comparatively easy position of his successor. He had anticipated the demand to be made upon the Province shortly, having paid the January debt out of the income alone.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Then, Hon. Mr. Dorion had prepared several bills which hon. members opposite would find necessary tom carry out, all tending top further efficiency and economy. Hon. Mr. Macdonald next observed that the gold discoveries in Canada were likely to attract hither a large, disorderly population, and that a measure regulating mining operations, and the protection of the peace in the several mining localities, should have been passed as early as possible before work commences. He pointed out of the evils likely to arise from the non-existence of such law, stating the late Opposition would be responsible for the difficulties that might arise, for which the late Government intended to make provision.

Another evil that would result from the course taken by hon. gentlemen opposite, was the prolongation of legislation in consequence of which the country would be left in a state of uncertainty, and time and money would be wasted. He maintained that with the exception of a single feature, the new programme did not differ from that of the late Ministry; and nothing would justify the country in supposing that they could have had any other object than merely to return to office.

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

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—He would expect to be told, to-morrow, what change they proposed to make in regard to the Militia, and what in regard to the Canal Tolls. It was necessary the country should know what was intended on these subjects, before the new Ministry went back for re-election. He had only to express his own gratification at his retirement from office. The time he had the honor of occupying the seat he was about to vacate had been one of turmoil, confusion and trouble.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and laughter from the other side.

  • (p. 113)

Paul Denis [Beauharnois]—That is true.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] said it was owing to the factious opposition of hon. gentlemen on the other side, who, he hoped, would have an easier and more agreeable time than he had. If they adopted the policy the late Government endeavored to carry out, they would have no factious opposition. But they might rely upon it that we should require proof of their sincerity, of a very strong nature, before we could forget what the country had suffered from them when in power before, and before we could support them. The hon. gentleman went on to comment upon Sir E.P. Tache’s acceptance of office in the new Administration, and to taunt the hon. member for East Montreal [George-Étienne Cartier] with having been set aside by his party after his long services, to make room for another leader.

But he (Mr. Macdonald) could not suppose that hon. gentleman would take a second-rate position of this sort, and was compelled to believe that this was only a Cartier-Macdonald Administration again, no matter what members might choose to call it.

Some Hon. Members—Hear and laughter.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—The hon. gentleman denounced the new Cabinet as being of the party that had misgoverned the country so long, and ruled Upper Canada with a Lower Canada majority, warning members from the former section of the evil consequences to themselves that would follow their support of such an Administration again, and adding that several hon. members from Upper Canada had, on Mr. Cartier’s representations, again basely deserted the interests of Upper Canada and sold themselves in the same market as before.

He (Mr. M.) desired to see no rivalry between the sections, and the Government carried on satisfactorily for each. He went on to condemn hon. gentlemen opposite for rejecting the overtures made from his side, with the declared object of forming a strong Government, including moderate men on both sides. The time must come when an Administration of this kind would be formed, and such he would cordially support.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] asked whether it was proposed to move for the long adjournment to-day or to-morrow.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—It will be made to-morrow.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said the House desired information as to the policy of the new Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] in regard to the remission of the Canal Tolls, and also as to the commercial policy of the Administration. Down to yesterday there could have been do doubt of the policy of the hon. gentleman—that it would be the same as he pursued when in office before. But now the hon. member for Hamilton [Isaac Buchanan]—a man of totally different views—appeared in the Cabinet, and it would be well to know what the commercial policy of the Government would be.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said that of course he could not say anything now in reference to the inquiries propounded by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton]. If he had any information to give him to-morrow, he should be most happy to give it to the hon. gentleman.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome] said there was a question, or rather a class of questions, of a very important nature, with reference to which he (Mr. Dunkin) desired to have some information to-morrow. He observed that there was, in the new Administration, an hon. gentleman who was formerly in favor of arbitration with regard to the postal subsidy. Now he should like to know whether the Government were going to resort to arbitration respecting the postal service? He would also like to know whether there was any Governmental policy in reference to the Grand Trunk amalgamation bills?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Christopher Dunkin [Brome]—And in addition to his desire for information as to whether the Government was going to further these amalgamation measures, he would like to know whether there was any intention of increasing the postal subsidy. He might add that his own course would be very materially affected by the policy of the Government on these questions.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear. 

The motion ordering the issue of a writ for Montreal East was then carried, as were also similar motions respecting the writs for Kingston, Sherbrooke, Niagara, Kamouraska and Dorchester.

On the motion being read by the Speaker respecting the writ for Hamilton— 

Joseph Rymal [Wentworth South] said he would vote for it with great pleasure, as it would afford the constituents of the ex-member an opportunity of showing how they appreciated his conduct; and he had no doubt the constituents in question would hail the joy such an opportunity.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Joseph Rymal [Wentworth South]—All the hon. gentleman was likely to gain by his new position was the letters “Hon.” to his name. He had been remarkably erratic, hitherto, in his course, and he was likely to continue so.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]—You are acting the part of a good neighbour.

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

The motion was carried, as were also motions of the same purport respecting the writs for Northumberland, Montreal West, and North Waterloo.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] moved

That when this House adjourns to-morrow, it stand adjourned until the third day of May next.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] begged, before this motion was put, to move another which was of considerable important. A couple of the annual department reports had been laid on the table within the last few days, and he desired to move that they be printed.


Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]’s motion was then put and carried.


Luther Holton [Chateauguay] supposed it was of course understood that the hon. member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] would be prepared, when the House met to-morrow, to give the explanations relative to the Governmental policy which had been demanded of him?

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said that the hon. member for Chateauaguay [Luther Holton] was a little too hasty in his conclusions. He (Mr. Cauchon) had, to-day, repeated to the House that which had been communicated to him; and of course he could not pledge himself as to what information he would have to lay before the House to-morrow.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said that hon. gentlemen on his side of the House expected and intended that all these explanations should be given to-morrow, and that they should be gone fully into.

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

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency] said that the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Holton) really need not take the trouble of recounting to-day all he was going to do to-morrow. Let him wait until to-morrow, and then say what he was going to do.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

There was some conversation as to the hour at which the House should meet to-morrow (Thursday); but finally it was agreed it should be the usual hour—three o’clock.

Joseph Cauchon [Montmorency]’s motion was then carried, and the House adjourned at 5 p.m.

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