Province of Canada, Legislative Council, [Correspondence re Union], 8th Parl, 3rd Sess (27 January 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Journals of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 36-48.
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Note: All footnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848, Premier, Minister of Militia, and Receiver General] acquainted the House that he had a Message from His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck], under his sign manual, which His Excellency had commanded him to deliver to this House.
The same was then read by the Clerk, and is as follows:
The Governor General transmits for the information of the Honorable the Legislative Council, a copy of the Resolutions relative to the proposed Union of British North America, adopted by the Conference of Delegates at Quebec, and copies of a Correspondence on the subject with Her Majesty’s Government, and the Governors of the several Provinces.
Quebec, 19th January, 1865.
Lord Monck to Mr. Cardwell.
(Copy, No. 135.)
Quebec, 23rd September, 1864
SIR,—Referring to my Despatches, No. 124, of August 26th, and No, 129, of September 1st, I have the honor to transmit a copy of an approved Minute of the Executive Council of Canada, requesting me to invite the Governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, to send Representatives to a Conference with the Ministers of Canada at Quebec, to be held for the purpose of considering the question of the Union of these Provinces, and to digest a practical plan for the realization of the idea which should be submitted for your approval.
The desire for a closer union amongst these Colonies than has hitherto existed appears to be very generally felt, both in Canada and in the Lower Provinces.
It appears to me that the mode of proceeding suggested in this Minute is the only one in which the views entertained by the leading politicians of the British North American Colonies, on this important subject, can be brought intelligibly and in a practical form before your attention.
This course is also, I think, that which was pointed out by the Duke of Newcastle in his Despatch to Lord Mulgrave (Nova Scotia, No. 182), of July 6, 1862, transmitted to me for my information, on the same day, as that which ought to be pursued in the circumstances.
I have therefore had no hesitation in complying with the request of my Executive Council, and I have addressed identical communications—of which I enclose a copy to the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and to the Governor of Newfoundland,—inviting them to nominate deputations to represent these respective Provinces at the proposed Conference.
I have, &c.,
The Right Hon. E. Cardwell, &c.
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Executive Council, approved by His Excellency the Governor General on the 23rd September, 1864.
The Committee of Council has the honor to inform Your Excellency that the Deputation from the Executive Council who met the Delegates from the Maritime Provinces, at Charlottetown, on the 1st instant, in accordance with the Order in Council of the 29th ultimo, have reported that such Conference duly met, and that the question of a Confederation of the British North American Colonies was discussed at length, and such progress made that it was thought desirable by the Conference that the subject should be resumed in a formal and official manner, under the authority of the Governments of the several Provinces.
The Committee have, therefore, the honor to advise and submit for Your Excellency’s approval, that the several Governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland be invited to appoint Delegates under the authority of the Despatch of the Secretary for the Colonies to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, dated 6th July, 1862, and communicated by the Colonial Office to Your Excellency by a Despatch of the same date, to confer with the Canadian Government on the subject of a Union or Federation of the British North American Provinces.
The Committee beg leave further to recommend that Quebec be selected as the place, and the 10th of October next the time, for the meeting, as they have ascertained that such time and place will meet the views and convenience of the several Governments.
(Certified,) Wm. H. LEE,
Lord Monck to Lieut.-Governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
Quebec, 23rd September, 1864.
SIR,—I have the honor to transmit a copy of an approved Minute of the Executive Council of Canada, respecting the proposal to hold a Conference of Delegates from the Colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, with the Ministers of Canada, to consider the question of a Union of these Colonies, and to digest a scheme for the practical realization of the idea which may be submitted as embodying the joint opinions of the Governments of the several Provinces to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with a view to obtaining his sanction for legislation on the subject.
In conformity with the request contained in this Minute, I have the honor to invite you to name a deputation to represent your Province in the approaching Conference which will meet at Quebec on the 10th October.
I have, &c.,
(Copy, Canada, No. 79.)
14th October, 1864.
MY LORD,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Lordship’s Despatch (No. 135) of the 23rd of September, reporting that you had invited the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, together with the Governor of Newfoundland, to send Delegates to Quebec to attend a Conference on the subject of the proposed Union of the British North American Provinces.
I approve of the course Your Lordship has taken in the matter.
I have, &c.,
(Signed,) EDWARD CARDWELL.
Governor Viscount Monck.
Lord Monck to Mr. Cardwell.
(Copy, No. 168.)
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Quebec,
November 7, 1864.
SIR,—Referring to my despatch (No. 135) of the 23rd of September, in which I have informed you that I had invited the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the Governor of Newfoundland, to send Representatives to confer with the Members of the Canadian Government on the feasibility of effecting a Union between the Colonies of British North America, and to my despatches of the 14th October (No. 51), and the 2nd November (No. 165), in which I enclosed to you the answer received to that invitation, I have the honor to report that the several gentlemen named in the communications above referred to, as representatives of those Colonies respectively, arrived at Quebec on Monday, the 10th October, the day named for the assembling of the Conference.
They immediately proceeded to the consideration of the important question, the discussion of which constituted the object of their meeting, having appointed Sir E.P. Taché, Prime Minister of Canada, as Chairman, to preside over their deliberations.
Their sittings began on the 10th October, and continued de die in diem until the 28th of the same month.
I have now the honor to transmit the Resolutions agreed to by the Conference, for which I would ask the favorable consideration of yourself and Her Majesty’s Government.
I may state that an extended intercourse with the Members of the Conference enabled me to assure you that they were one and all actuated by the strongest feelings of loyalty to the Queen, the most earnest desire to maintain the connection with England, and the wish to make the proposed Union work so as to strengthen that connection, by enabling the Provinces to take upon themselves more largely the responsibilities of a self-governing community.
I do not enter into any argument to prove that a consolidation of these Provinces is desirable, if it can be effected on principles which will give guarantees for strength and durability.
The advantages of a well-considered plan of Union, whether looked at from the point of administration, commerce or defence, appear to me so obvious that it would be a waste of time to state them, and the fact that the most eminent public men of all the Provinces concur in desiring such a Union, appears to me to go a long way in superseding the necessity for any abstract arguments in its favor.
The plan which has been adopted by the Conference, you will observe, is the Union of all the Provinces on the monarchical principle under one Governor to be appointed by the Crown with Ministers responsible, as in England, to a Parliament consisting of two Houses, one to be nominated by the Crown and the other elected by the people.
To this central Government and Legislature will be committed all the general business of the United Provinces and its authority on all such subjects will be supreme, subject of course to the rights of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament.
For the purpose of local administration it is proposed to have in each Province an Executive Officer to be appointed by the Governor and removable by him for cause to be assigned, assisted by a Legislative body, the constitution of which it is proposed to leave to the decision of the present local Legislatures, subject to the approbation of the Imperial Government and Parliament.
To these local bodies are to be entrusted the execution of certain specified duties of a local character, and they are to have no rights or authority beyond what is expressly delegated to them by the Act of Union.
To the general Government it is proposed to reserve the right of disallowing Acts passed by the local Legislatures.
I think this will be found a fair general outline of the constitutional portion of the proposed scheme of Union, and I trust it will be found of such a nature as to merit the general approbation of Her Majesty’s Government.
I do not allude to the proposed financial arrangements between the different members of the proposed Union, as these relate to questions exclusively affecting the Provinces and upon which I presume they may safely be allowed to adopt any course which they may themselves think conducive to their interests.
In transmitting these Resolutions for your consideration, I venture to state my opinion that the desire for a consolidation of British North America has taken strong hold of the minds of the most earnest and thoughtful men in these Provinces, and I trust, whether on the plan suggested by these Resolutions, or on some modification of it, a Union may be effected which will satisfy the aspirations of so loyal and influential a portion of Her Majesty’s subjects.
I have, &.c.,
The Right Honorable E. Cardwell, M.P.
REPORT of Resolutions adopted at a Conference of Delegates from the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the Colonies of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, held at the City of Quebec, 10th October, 1864, as the basis of a proposed Confederation of those Provinces and Colonies.
[Copy, Canada, No. 93.]
3rd December, 1864.
MY LORD,—Her Majesty’s Government have received with the most cordial satisfaction your Lordship’s despatch of the 7th ultimo, transmitting for their consideration the Resolutions adopted by the Representatives of the several Provinces of British North America, who were assembled at Quebec.
With the sanction of the Crown, and upon the invitation of the Governor General, men of every Province, chosen by the respective Lieutenant Governors, without distinction of party, assembled to consider questions of the utmost interest to every subject of the Queen, of whatever race or faith, resident in those Provinces; and have arrived at a conclusion destined to exercise a most important influence upon the future welfare of the whole community.
Animated by the warmest sentiments of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign, earnestly desirous to secure for their posterity, throughout all future time, the advantages which they enjoy as subjects of the British Crown, steadfastly attached to the Institutions under which they live,—they have conducted their deliberations with patient sagacity, and have arrived at unanimous conclusions on questions involving many difficulties, and calculated under less favorable auspices to have given rise to many differences of opinion.
Such an event is in the highest degree honorable to those who have taken part in these deliberations.
It must inspire confidence in the men by whose judgment and temper this result has been attained, and will ever remain on record as an evidence of the salutary influence exercised by the Institutions under which these qualities have been so signally developed.
Her Majesty’s Government have given to your despatch and to the Resolutions of the Conference, their most deliberate consideration. They have regarded them as a whole, and as having been designed by those who framed them, to establish as complete and perfect an Union of the whole, into one Government, as the circumstances of the case, and a due consideration of existing interests would admit. They accept them, therefore, as being in the deliberate judgment of those best qualified to decide upon the subject, the best framework of a measure to be passed by the Imperial Parliament for attaining that most desirable result.
The point of principal importance to the practical well-working of the scheme is the accurate determination of the limits between the authority of the Central and that of the Local Legislatures, in their relation to each other. It has not been possible to exclude from the Resolutions some provisions which appear to be less consistent than might perhaps, have been desired with the simplicity and unity of the system. But, upon the whole, it appears to Her Majesty’s Government, that precautions have been taken which are obviously intended to secure to the Central Government the means of effective action throughout the several Provinces, and to guard against those evils which must inevitably arise, if any doubt were permitted to exist as to the respective limits of Central and Local authority. They are glad to observe that, although large powers of Legislation are intended to be vested in local bodies, yet the principle of central control has been steadily kept in view. The importance of this principle cannot be over-rated. Its maintenance is essential to the practical efficiency of the system and to its harmonious operation, both in the General Government and in the Governments of the several Provinces. A very important part of this subject is the expense which may attend the working of the Central and the Local Government. Her Majesty’s Government cannot but express the earnest hope that the arrangements which may be adopted in this respect, may not be of such a nature as to increase,—at least in any considerable degree,—the whole expenditure, or to make any material addition to the taxation, and thereby retard the internal industry, or tend to impose new burdens on the commerce of the country.
Her Majesty’s Government are anxious to lose no time in conveying to you their general approval of the proceedings of the Conference. There are, however, two, provisions of great importance which seem to require revision. The first of these is the provision contained in the 44th Resolution, with respect to the exercise of the Prerogative of Pardon. It appears to Her Majesty’s Government that this duty belongs to the Representative of the Sovereign, and could not with propriety be devolved upon the Lieutenant Governors, who will, under the present scheme be appointed, not directly by the Crown, but by the Central Government of the United Provinces.
The second point which. Her Majesty’s Government desire should be reconsidered is the Constitution of the Legislative Council. They appreciate the considerations which have influenced the Conference in determining the mode in which this Body, so important to the Constitution of the Legislature, should be composed. But it appears to them to require further consideration whether, if the members be appointed for life, and their number be fixed, there will be any sufficient means of restoring harmony between the Legislative Council and the popular Assembly, if it shall ever unfortunately happen that a decided difference of opinion shall arise between them.
These two points, relating to the Prerogative of the Crown and to the Constitution of the Upper Chamber, have appeared to require distinct and separate notice. Questions of minor consequence and matters of detailed arrangement may properly be reserved for a future time, when the provisions of the Bill intended to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament shall come under consideration. Her Majesty’s Government anticipate no serious difficulty in this part of the case, since the Resolutions will generally be found sufficiently explicit to guide those who will be entrusted with the preparation of the Bill. It appears to them, therefore, that you should now take immediate measures, in concert with the Lieutenant Governors of the several Provinces, for submitting to their respective Legislatures this project of the Conference; and if, as I hope, you are able to report that those Legislatures sanction and adopt the scheme, Her Majesty’s Government will render you all the assistance in their power for carrying it into effect. It will probably be found to be the most convenient course that, in concert with the Lieutenant Governors, you should select a deputation of the persons best qualified to proceed to this country, that they may be present during the preparation of the Bill, and give to Her Majesty’s Government the benefit of their counsel upon any questions which may arise during the passage of the measure through the two Houses of Parliament.
I have, &c.,
(Signed,) EDWARD CARDWELL.
Governor Viscount Monck.
Honorable Arthur Gordon to Lord Monck.
Frederickton, New Brunswick,
7th October, 1864.
MY LORD—I have the honor to inform you that, in accordance with the request contained in your Lordship’s despatch of the 23rd September, I have appointed the Honorable S.L. Tilley, Honorable W.H. Steeves, Honorable P. Mitchell, Honorable J.M. Johnson, Honorable E.B. Chandler, Honorable J.H. Gray, and Charles Fisher, Esq. to be Delegates to attend the Conference on the subject of a Federal Union of the British North American Colonies, to be held at Quebec, on the 10th of October, 1864.
I have &c.,
(Signed,) ARTHUR GORDON.
Viscount Monck, &c., &c., &c.
Sir R. McDonnell to Lord Monck.
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, 3rd October, 1864.
MY LORD—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 23rd ult., which reached me on the 30th ult., transmitting a copy of an approved Minute of the Executive Council of Canada, dated the 23rd September, 1864, and inviting me to name a deputation to represent Nova Scotia in the approaching Conference at Quebec on the 10th instant.
In reply, I have the honor to state for your Lordship’s information, that I have laid your despatch and its enclosure before my ministry, and I have appointed the Hon. Provincial Secretary, Hon. Atty General, Hon. R. B. Dickey, Hon. Jonathan McCully, and Adams G. Archibald, Esq., to form a deputation to meet the Delegates from the other British North American Provinces in Conference at Quebec on the 10th instant, as proposed in your Lordship’s despatch.
I have, &c.,
(Signed,) RICHARD GRAVES MCDONNELL,
His Excellency Viscount Monck, Governor General, &c., &c., &c.
Prince Edward Island, 6th October, 1864.
MY LORD—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, this day, of your Despatch, dated 23rd September, transmitting to me, copy of an approved Minute of the Executive Council of Canada, respecting a proposal to hold, at Quebec, on the 10th October, a Conference of Delegates from the Maritime Provinces, with the Ministers of Canada, to consider the question of a Union of these Provinces.
Your Lordship invites me to name a deputation to represent Price Edward Island at this approaching Conference.
I have accordingly, with the advice of my Ministers, named the following gentlemen, who will, I understand, proceed to-day to Quebec, in order to be present there on the 10th instant.
The Hon. J.H. Grey, Prince Edward Island; the Hon. E. Palmer, Attorney General; the Hon. N.H. Pope, Colonial Secretary; the Hon. A.A. McDonald, M.L.C.; the Hon. G. Coles, M.P.P.; the Hon. T. H. Haviland, M.P.P.; the Hon. Edward Whelan, M.P.P.
I have, &c.,
(Signed,) GEORGE DUNDAS,
His Excellency the Viscount Monck.
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Newfoundland,
October 4, 1864.
MY LORD,—I have had the honor to receive Your Lordship’s letter of the 23rd September, with its enclosure respecting the proposal to hold a Conference of Delegates from the other North American Colonies with the Ministers of Canada, to consider the question of a Union of these Colonies.
I found, on my arrival here two days ago to assume the administration of this Government, that in anticipation of such a communication from Your Lordship as that which I now acknowledge, the Honorable E.P. Carter, the Speaker, and Mr. Ambrose Shea, a Member of the Assembly, had already been, nominated on the part of this Government, and they have already proceeded to Quebec.
I have, &c.
(Signed,) A. MUSGRAVE.
The Right Honorable Viscount Monck, Governor, General.
 Here follows a printed list of the Quebec Resolutions, which we have not included here for redundancy purposes. The Quebec Resolutions will be introduced to both Houses, the Legislative Council (p. 3) and Legislative Assembly (p. 13) on Feb. 3, 1865 and the reader will find them presented there.
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