Province of Canada, Legislative Council, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (15 September 1865)

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Date: 1865-09-15
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Quebec Daily Mercury
Citation: “Provincial “Parliament. Legislative Council. The Quebec Daily Mercury (16 September 1865) “Provincial “Parliament. Legislative Council. The Quebec Daily Mercury (18 September 1865).
Other formats: Click here and here to view the original documents (PDF).
Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).


Friday, September 15, 1865[1]

The Supply Bill

The Speaker announced a Bill from the Legislative Assembly to grant a supply of certain sums therein named to Her Majesty.

The Bill was then read a first time.

Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] moved

That the bill be now read a second time.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—If I avail myself of the opportunity to say a few words in respect to questions more or less prominently before the country, it is not with any desire to provoke fruitless discussion or to throw any serious obstacle in the way of the Administration. As yet, however, this House has not had before it anything like a general review of the important matters which are engaging public attention.

The motion of which I gave notice was designed by me to afford an occasion for the free expression of opinion; and I withdrew it only because I found that what in my mind was certainly divested of all trace of partisan feeling was liable to misapprehension, and was undoubtedly misapprehended by honorable gentlemen to whose judgment I am for the most part inclined to defer. It is now apparent that the work of the present session will be compressed within a very brief period—not because great questions are not awaiting legislative and executive action, but because various circumstances exist which in the opinion of ministers necessitate and justify delay. They have brought us together in fulfilment of a formal promise, made with more particular reference to the mission to England[2], and in that view have done right. Although individually I do not regard the results of the mission as proof of anything like complete success, I am not prepared to decide them as evidence of entire failure.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—All I had hoped for has not been effected; some things which I would fain have seen deferred have been forced upon us; but on the other hand, it cannot be doubted that much has been gained by the negotiations in securing for the condition, wants and resources of the province a greater degree of attention than had previously been extended to them by the people of the parent country; and by establishing between the province and the Imperial authorities a freedom of intercourse which cannot fail to be advantageous in coming years. We know now that the Palmerston Cabinet[3], which has been so heartily sustained in the recent appeal to the British constituencies, earnestly desires the success of our policy of Colonial Confederation;—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—and though I deprecate everything like coercion, and trust that nothing in any way resembling it will be attempted, I indulge the hope that the good offices of the Imperial authorities will at no distant day serve to remove the misapprehensions which have prevailed in some of the sister provinces[4], and to bring their representatives into more cordial accord with the Legislature of Canada.

Sufficient has transpired to prove that the delay of which some of our friends complain, does not arise from indifference to the necessity of doing something speedily to meet the sectional difficulties under which Canada has labored. The justification of the existing combination of liberals and conservatives lies in the obvious want of the Province of some bold and comprehensive measure to prevent a recurrence of sectional strife; and I trust—should the Maritime Provinces continue averse to the large scheme—that when next we meet, the question will be brought before us with special reference to the constitutional relations of Upper and Lower Canada.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—On one point arising out of this question, I am anxious to hear something in the shape of explanation. Is it to be understood that the Home Government makes its support of the Confederation scheme contingent upon the acceptance by Canada of all the points set forth in Mr. Cardwell’s dispatch?[5]

May we assume that that scheme is approved and will be sustained per se or are we to conclude that Imperial favor and action will be dependent upon the adoption of Imperial views on other questions? Upon the answer to these enquiries, in my judgment much depends. Especially with regard to the question of defence, it is necessary for us to know exactly where the negotiations have landed us.

For my part, I cannot but regret that Her Majesty’s advisers in England deem it their duty to press this question so persistently upon successive Provincial Governments. Not only is such a proceeding not calculated to be successful, but in my opinion it is not and never has been called for by anything in the relations of this country to the United States.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—We have been warned by alarmists, at various times during the last four years, that the enormous military power developed by our neighbors in the course of their terrific internal struggle, would be converted into an aggressive instrument so soon as the civil war was ended. But the prediction is being falsified by facts.

The war is over, and instead of preparations for war with other powers we see the Federal Government intent upon reducing its military establishment, with all possible dispatch, to a peace standard. Its vast armies are being disbanded, its enormous expenditures cut down; the means and energies so lately exerted for destructive purposes, are being once more applied to peaceful industry and enterprise. Instead of causes of apprehension, I see grounds of confidence.

And therefore, I deprecate as unwise and uncalled for the constant effort of the Imperial authorities to thrust upon this Province the question of defence, and to urge upon us a policy in regard to it which has the effect of unsettling the minds of our own people, and the arousing the sensibilities of our neighbours.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—For if we prepare for war, in a period of peace, they will naturally become suspicious and shy; if we erect fortifications along our extended frontier, and parade preparations for battle, we must in reason expect that the Americans will not neglect the precautions which such a state of things is likely to engender. Thus, the very measures which are pressed upon us with a view to the defence of the Province, in reality become sources of its greatest danger.

My intercourse with my constituents, and with the people of the western peninsula, has convinced me that an overwhelming majority—I might without presumption say nine-tenths of the whole—are opposed, not only to the agitation of the defence question so called, but to the expenditure of a dollar in the construction of works which whilst increasing our neighbours would be practically valueless in the event of difficulty. I never knew the people of Western Canada more unanimous or more firmly resolved than they are in reference to this question.

They feel, in the first place, that the financial condition of the Province is such that it would be impolitic to incur even the slightest expenditure for unproductive works, and in the next place they are sincerely desirous of maintaining the most amicable relations with the government and people of the United States. The harsh feeling exhibited by the acts of lawless raiders have already disappeared; and at this moment the most friendly feelings obtain between the residents on both sides of the line.

These relations the Canadian people are anxious to perpetuate; and I share their unwillingness to endure additional taxation to gratify the misconceptions of those who are imperfectly acquainted with the position of this Province, or to do aught that even by application may be made to seem offensive to our best customers. These being my views on the subject of fortifications and defence, it is hardly necessary for me to add an expression of the satisfaction with which I regard the delay announced by the Government. It would have been yet more agreeable to learn that the intention which is not to be pressed this Session had been abandoned altogether; satisfied, as I am that the expenditure of borrowed money upon fortifications would be impolitic and in the highest degree unpopular.

I can but hope that the delay will be long enough to enable ministers to ascertain the determined opposition which the idea of fortifications encounters, and to convince the Imperial authorities of the impropriety of insisting upon an expenditure of this nature as an element in any understanding between the Province and the parent country. In this connection it satisfactory to know that ministers properly appreciate the importance of reciprocity, and are doing what they can to promote a renewal of the treaty[6].

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—In certain quarters there is an apparent readiness to depreciate the treaty, and to talk of the defiant course which this Province may pursue should the efforts to secure its renewal prove abortive. This appears to me the height of folly. No man familiar with the circumstances of the farmers of the Province can disregard the contrast [illegible]by their condition before and after the enactment of the treaty. Hence we cannot afford to affect indifference, or to permit reciprocity to go by default.

All things considered, it is perhaps the most truly vital question of the hour, and nothing should be left undone that may in any degree contribute to the renewal of the treaty, with such modifications as may be necessary to conciliate American interests at present arrayed in an antagonistic attitude.

The conclusion arrived at by the Detroit Convention[7] afford a happy augury of what may be effected by a judicious and conciliatory course, and I trust that no false pride of nationality will hinder us from striving with all our might to secure to the Providence the benefits of reciprocity.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—The Maritime Provinces are interested in this question in common with ourselves, and I regard with sincere satisfaction the arrangement made—I assume at the instance of our Government—to bring about concerted action. The representations which the approaching Confederate Council[8] may make to the British Minister at Washington will carry greater weight than those of any single Province; and it is to be hoped that propositions may be agreed upon which will commend themselves to the favor of the Cabinet and Congress at Washington.

With the view of rendering more intimate our commercial intercourse with the adjacent States, the policy of deepening the Provincial canals manifestly becomes urgent. The Great West wants a direct channel to the ocean, and Canada presents a route which in many respects may challenge competition. But the present capacity of the canals is not equal to the requirement, and we must quickly enlarge them if we would realize the full advantages of the position. Expenditures for an undertaking of this character would in the end be productive, especially if, as we have been led to expect, the requisite money may be obtained at a comparatively low rate of interest.

A heavy expenditure on account of an Intercolonial Railway would not be nearly so justifiable, although some work of that nature will probably be an avoidable accompaniment of Confederation. With regard to the Intercolonial project, however, the vexed question of defence has been permitted too largely to interfere; the choice of route have been uniformly fettered with the same consideration, that would stud the western frontier with bristling forts. Might we not beneficially consider the expediency of reducing the cost of the railroad to the minimum figure, by availing ourselves of the links that have been constructed as part of the chain to connect Fredericton with Halifax?

I suppose that the work must be accepted in some shape as a corollary of confederation, but les us by all means endeavor to effect that object with no further outlay than is absolutely necessary. At any rate, we may defer the question until the difficulties now standing in the way of Confederation have been overcome, and the future of the Province thus to some extent determined.

As to the North-West question, we shall have another opportunity of considering its bearings in relation to the proposition for acquiring it, to which the present Government is a party. My first impression, I must in candor say, was not favorable to the proposal—not because I undervalue the resources of the vast region to be acquired, or its importance to Canada for purposes of trade and settlement; but because I have shared the prevalent opinion that a large proportion of the territory rightfully belonged to Canada, and should therefore not be a matter of purchase.

I am bound, however, to add that an examination of the documents pertaining to the negotiation[9]—so far as they have been submitted to Parliament—has done much to remove my aversion to the project, and to satisfy me that the negotiation may safely be left in the hands of those who are entrusted with it in behalf of the Provinces.

The report of the Hon. the President of the Executive Council [George Brown][10]  is proof at all events that he has kept in view the great considerations which weigh with the people of Upper Canada, and with the light we now have, I believe that nothing will be done to sacrifice the interests or to abandon the rights of Canada for the benefit of the huge fur-trading monopoly.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Donald McDonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—Anxious as all must be to bring to an end the territorial authority of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the financial position of the Province warns us of the necessity of restricting within the narrowest possible limits whatever indebtedness may be incurred on account of this object.—But on this as on every question that may come before Parliament, we cannot too carefully weigh any plan tending however lightly to increase the public expenditure. Without sharing the despondency of those who talk and write as though Canada were destined to ruin and decay, I feel the paramount importance of maintaining the most rigid economy in every branch of the Government. Blessed with a bountiful harvest, we may hope for brighter time, than those of the last three years. But the duty is nevertheless incumbent upon us to scrutinize with care everything involving additional outlay, and to confine the expenditures of the Province within the strict limits of necessity.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858] said that the items in the present Bill of Supply had been so thoroughly discussed in another quarter that this House would hardly be disposed at this moment, with such a pressure of public business before it, to go over any of the same ground. The question of how far what is called the ordinary revenue might be reduced, is a very important one, and will be thoroughly taken up when the great constitutional changes are carried out. The whole system will then be remodelled.

We had to regret that there was again an excess of expenditure over revenue, amounting to $540,823. It is remarkable that this was about the amount necessarily disbursed for the Militia and Police Force on the frontier and to make good the loss sustained by the St. Alban’s Banks. Now no one would say that those two appropriations were not wisely made, for it will be on all hands admitted that such action on the part of our Government had the effect of removing all the irritation which had at that moment culminated to such a degree as to be most prejudicial to the commerce of both countries.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—In regard to any annual deficiency he had always maintained that we ought to find the ways and means and not to increase the Provincial debt.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—But the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] endeavoured to show that with our abundant harvest, there were reasonable grounds for expecting so much increase in the revenue of the country, and proposed no additional burdens beyond some slight alterations in the stamp duties. The course so far pursued by the Government, would be approved by the country, but it will demur against the heavy expenditure increased by a second session during the present year. It is our duty as the people’s representatives to avoid every undue expense, and if it was a necessity our being convened at this season. The public business should have been despatched so as to have prorogued at an earlier period. The people complain of too much legislation.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—There are so may small amendments to our laws, and such frequent changes, that there is always much embarrassment and uncertainty as to the latest enactments.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—It would have a salutary effect, if we could introduce into our system an ancient Spartan constitutional principle, that such leading laws as those relating to our schools, our municipal; and assessment systems, &c., &c., should be fairly tested for the period of five years, and then be thoroughly revised at the end of such periods. The hon. member now referred to a wide spread anxiety which prevailed before the meeting of Parliament that the Government were about to propose to the Legislature heavy expenditures for Fortifications and the Hudson Bay Territory.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—An anxiety which was produced by the documents which passed between the Imperial and Colonial Governments. As such had not been proposed, it would be premature to express his opinions upon those subjects. He had assured his own constituents, that he felt confident that the Government would never try to carry measures of such magnitude, by the vote of Parliament, without affording the people a full opportunity of calmly deliberating thereupon and giving their verdict. It is to be expected, that as this rising country expands, questions of difficulty will arise between the Colony and the Home Government, but we should always approach therein a candid and fair manner. The true interest of the Empire lies in the prosperity and contentment of her Colonies.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—If ever there was a moment when the true interest of this Colony lay in British connexion it is the present, and if the great body of the people of this Province conceive the Imperial policy as enunciated at any period to be an unwise or erroneous policy, we should frankly and in a proper spirit adopt the proper means to shew the reasonableness of our views. We may reply upon it, that we shall find amongst the members of Her Majesty’s Government and in the House of Commons many to plead and sustain our cause, if we are right in the position we take.

It behooves our Government and Legislature, to be very careful at this critical moment to preserve the confidence of the people in their own institutions. We have just passed through a period of great commercial depression which has created more or less unsettled feeling, but, as stated in a recent debate, a complete change is at this moment taking place since the termination of the American civil war in the whole position of Canada and the neighbouring Republic. Their unlimited issue of paper money has come to an end,—no more war contracts are given out,—while all bounties have ceased,—and when the excitement and enthusiasm of the great struggle has passed away, they will find their burdens oppressive, with all their enterprise.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—If there is any portion of the people of Canada who have been desponding about the future, let them cast a glance at the comparative position of the two countries. Few of our people are aware of the extent to which that Government has been obliged to burden every branch of industry,—tax every individual thing that human ingenuity could suggest, and their revenue with all those burdens has up to this moment been insufficient to meet their requirements.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—They have already raised their custom duties to 40 and 50 per cent, just double our tariff fees upon every trade and profession. Manufactures of every description of materials,—woollens, cottons, paper, flax, hemp, leather, glass, tin, Iron, &c., &c., are required to make monthly returns of all sales, and pau to their Government an ad valorem[11] duty of 5 per cent. upon the same. Thus a manufacturer of woollens, who turns out in the course of the year £100,000 worth of goods, must pay duties to the amount of £5000 or $20,000 annually, a tax totally unknown in this Province. A few other illustrations may be given of some their ad valorem duties:—


Banks— Upon Deposits
Upon Circulation
Upon Dividends 5 per cent
Income Tax— Upon excess over

$600 5 p.c.

ranging up to

10 per cent
Insurance Co.


5 per cent


3 per cent
Railroads— Toll roads

On gross receipts

2 ½

per cent

Legacy Duty— Succession to real

estate ranging from 1 per cent to

6 per cent
Specific Duties
Butchers— Every calf killed over three months 40 cents
Sheep 5 cents
Pig 10 per cent
Snuff 40 per cent
Distilled Spirits per gallon $2
Iron per ton $3


Even every phial of medicine or box of pills is taxed and there are stamp duties upon every conceivable document. What would be thus our position, if through any circumstances we became a part of the United States? We should be required to raise by direct taxation, the interest of our own debt, while the Customs, Excise, and all those sources, of internal revenue, would be seized by the National Government.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—Let us look at the position from another point of view. It is admitted on all hands that the United States Government must hereafter keep a standing army of 100,000 men, our share of which would be 10,000 men, involving at the most reasonable calculation, an expenditure of $4,000,000 annually;

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—Or again as regarding the share of debt which would fall upon the Province of Canada. If we assume the total, as they do themselves to be $3000,000,000,—our proportion of it would be $300,000,000, the interest of which at the reduced rate of 5 p.c., would be $15,000,000 annually. We cannot look over those figures calmly, without feeling how light our present burdens are.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—We must feel, that we are comparatively in a good position, and that such considerations must at no distant period direct emigration to our shores; and as regarding our responsibilities to the Empire, he did not apprehend any serious difficulties. The Imperial Government had shown towards us, every consideration, and forbearance, and if we meet them in the simple desire to do what is just and right in our respective relations, we need not apprehend, that any undue obligations will be thrown upon us.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—In regard to the Reciprocity Treaty[12] we must await the action to be taken by the United States Government, and whatever that may be, he felt confidence in the ability of our own Government to deal with any alterations proposed. We can hardly persuade ourselves that so sagacious and intellect a people will adopt a policy, injurious to their own interests,—a policy, whereby they will deprive themselves of a large portion of the carrying trade of our Western products, and drive us to look for other channels of trade, which, with our St. Lawrence and railroads are to be developed. We had, however, the means in our power to meet the position whatever that might be.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—In conclusion, he thought the government was pursuing a very wise course at present in proposing no large expenditures. By pursuing a steady course, trying to nurse our credit, we should be in a position, when the proper time arrived, to carry out the deepening and widening of our canals, so as to allow larger vessels to reach the ports upon our inland waters. Many dwell upon the evil of having such a large foreign indebtedness; and think that a large amount of Exchequer bonds might be taken up in our own Province.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—How many of our own capitalists had lost largely by increased investments, and ought to prefer the security of our own government with a moderate rate of interest, and we should then prevent the heavy drain of circulating medium going out of the country. But there was one principle which he trusted will always obtain with our Provincial Government—namely, that in all their measures or principal improvements, they will study not to destroy the confidence which our people feel in their own institutions,—that they will forbear to introduce any scheme or measure that does not commend itself to their intelligent and practical good sense,—and that no large expenditures shall be made without their full concurrence and approval.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said he did not admit that the deficiency in the years revenue to be as stated by the hon. member, $450,000.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—Well the amount had been admitted as correct in another place, (the Assembly) and then $320,000 had been paid in the credit of the Sinking Fund, which reduced the amount to $120,000, and if the expense of sending the Volunteers to the frontier last winter, which was an unanticipated outlay, were also taken into account, the whole deficit would be met.

Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860], on allusion to the remarks of Hon. Mr. Alexander respecting the heavy taxation now pressing upon the people of the United States, begged to ask him what the taxation would be in Canada if we had gone through a four year war as they had.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—The same as theirs no doubt.

Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860], said he could not, in duty to himself, allow the Bill to go to a second reading without remarking upon the lateness of the time at which it had been submitted to the House. He was of course aware that it would be useless to oppose any of the items of the measure, as this House could not amend the budget. As the legitimate fruit of the Coalition which had been formed and still existed, he would, however, endeavour to show how the Government had failed in its duty.

Coalitions of this kind might give a temporary strength, but they were invariably prejudicial to the public interests and presented a bad example, for the people could not but see that the measures of such Governments were not based upon principle but upon considerations of a nature which he could not but describe as immoralities. The Government were now asking this House to sanction the expenditure of five millions of money and gave us but a few hours to consider whether it were right to do so. Was this proper treatment? If they had not been sustained by the unnatural strength of the Coalition, they would not have dared to act in this way. They would have said, “here is our Supply Bill and here are the reasons for its adoption.”

It was a duty of this House to protest against such a proceeding, ignoring as it the proper weight and functions of this House in the constitution. It was no doubt true that the Coalition had been formed for a political purpose—a change in the constitution—but it was now very evident that that purpose could not be accomplished and that being the case the coalition ought to have ceased. But as its members clung together, and for what other assignable reason than the advantages of office? It was not very usual perhaps to hear such plain speaking in this House, but it was the kind of talk held and very freely indulged in out of doors.

At the commencement of the Session the Government said they would bring forward some important measures, but that before the House was the only one they had ventured to bring up. There had been several other Ministerial bills but they were all of secondary importance. What and become of the North West Settlement Bill which was promised, the Reciprocity measure and Confederation of the Canadas?

They were all dead letters. Here at the end of six weeks all that was submitted was the Bill of Supply and that was pressed upon us without allowing time to consider whether or not the particulars were really conducive to the public welfare. He had no hesitation to say that there were items in that bill which ought not to be there.

The hon. member then went on to remark upon the allowance to the Grand Trunk Railway for postal services, and contended very energetically that a settlement had been come to by a previous Government which ought not to have been disturbed; and then there was another item of $[?1?]7,000 for arbitrations founded upon a bill which had been passed in this House some three years ago, and which was never intended to have the effect of leading to such expenditures, as bills for expenditure of public money could not originate here. There was some mystery about the item which did not admit of explanation, for if the money had been asked directly it would no doubt have been opposed.

(The precise meaning of the hon. member in relation to this item was not very clearly understood.)

The exceptional position which this House occupied would oblige us to accept the bill, but then it could be done under protest, and he had risen for the express purpose of protesting against some of the particulars if embraced. The deficit was said to be $540,000, but he must confess he believed it was very much greater in reality. An hon. member had told the House that the taxation in Canada was but $40 per head, and that in the United States it was over $100, but he had not told us how the difference arose.

He had not alluded to the enormous expenditure of the four years of internecine war, and that this increased taxation was to pay the costs incurred. He had not told of the progress of the two countries, and he should remember that however much we might love England, we ought not to be unjust to another nation. Notwithstanding the huge taxes, the people of the United States were prospering and it was now the opinion of eminent men in Europe, who were competent to speak that they would meet all the claims upon them, and continue their wonderful progress us in the past.

For his part he thought that we in this country must have walked like blind people if we had not observed the great strides the Republic had been making in wealth and everything that constituted a great people. We was quite sure that there was no desire in Canada, notwithstanding for annexation to the United States, but it was well known that a very common belief prevailed in Europe that we are doomed to be absorbed by that country for nothing appeared impossible to them.

Indeed it was quite possible even that proud Albion might at no very distant day, for the sake of the peace of the world do by this country as France had done, and cede it over to another Government. The time might come when England, exerting no power on this continent would abandon her Colonies, and in that case what could we do but consent to become part of the great Republic. Stranger things than this had happened in the history of the world, and the sentiments he now expressed, and to which the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands [Alexander Campbell] seemed by his manner to take exception, were freely held and discussed in England by notable men without exciting any suspicion of their loyalty.

Both in the Imperial Parliament and the leading newspapers of the country these opinions were freely uttered and he had but recently seen a pamphlet by Lord Bury[13] in which he went much further than he (Letellier) presumed to go. Some persons laughed at the prophecies while others treated them with becoming gravity, but it was unquestionable that our condition and destiny were subjects of very general debate, and in the direction he had indicated.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sanborn [Wellington, elected 1863] also thought proper to remark in terms of dissatisfaction upon the lateness of the time at which this important measure was brought in. The evil of keeping back the most important legislation, so far as this House was concerned, until the last days of the session had several times been the subject of complaint, and very properly so; and he concluded that we ought not in duty to ourselves and the constituencies who had sent us to watch over their interests to pass such measures—to which members could not give the attention they required—without making a solemn protest against the practice.

If we persisted in passing Bills like the present without the proper examination they needed, the people would soon see that the House was of no weight in the constitution, and seeing that would naturally conclude that it would be better to have but one House. This system of delaying Bills to the last ought to be remedied, but he feared that if there ever were any remedy it must come from ourselves, and he would suggest whether the House might not pass some rule making it necessary to the passage of a measure that it should be in our hands by a given time. One of the hon. members who had spoken seemed delighted with the state of affairs generally, but he was sorry he could not exactly coincide with him.

(The hon. member then made a rapid review of the state of parties beginning with the defeat of the Cartier-Macdonald Ministry[14] upon their Militia Bill in 1862[15]); contended that through their instrumentality it was that such importance was attached to the loss of that measure in England. That the same party had constantly harped upon the comparative necessity of defensive measures, fortifications, the better organization of the Militia, &c., &c.

That it was through their press organs that a bad feeling had been created between this country and the United States by which war had been made imminent for a time; that even last session when they were restored to power and had formed a coalition, they pretended that the question of defence was of such pressing importance that they must need cut the session short, leaving the work of legislation in a state of abeyance and proceed to England to confer with the Government, as to best means to be adopted for defending the country.

That their doctrine then was,—it was the duty of the Province to partake largely in the expense for such defence, and that not merely were Quebec and Montreal to be protected by fortifications, but that the West must also be put in a similar position; so they get a rate of credit for the expenses of the Civil Government, and another of a million to be applied to defensive and war purposes, and then prorogued Parliament. But was it not surprising that after all this haste and pressure, there very gentlemen did not leave for some fifteen or twenty days? It was most strange, for it must be remembered that the necessity for holding the summer session with its large expense was consequent upon the abrupt and unseasonable curtailment of the former one.

Now notwithstanding all that had been said by the hon. members for the Gore and Tecumseth Divisions [George Alexander and Donald McDonald], he could not see that the visit of the delegation to England[16] had accomplished anything in particular. The hon. member last mentioned, contended to be sure that we needed no fortifications, but the report of the Delegates with which he was so delighted, was to the effect that we should have fortifications from one end of the country to the other. It was to be noted, however, that notwithstanding this pressing need for fortifications the Government had not proceeded upon their own report but had quietly yielded to the opinion of the country and practically given them up.

Then we were to have some immediate settlement about the great North Western Territory, and he seemed to be full of his project, but somehow or other the House (Assembly) was never ready to receive his propositions. Something he said had always been in the way, so that important matter also remained in abeyance. This was very significant. It was no doubt true that in Lower Canada the acquisition of the vast territory in the North-West was not regarded with much favor and this might account for the deferment of the measure of the President of the Council [George Brown] on the subject. Now all that was asked was the Supplies.

This Supply Bill then was all we got for the extra expense of nearly $400,000. It might be said in respect of the postponement of the defence and fortification projects that the danger of war was over, but he contended that the danger might be greater now than two years ago, for the United States then were embarrassed with a terrible war and were now in condition to resent any real or supposed wrong. It was in times of peace that the danger of war was greater and on the whole he could see no reason at all for congratulating himself or the country with the results of the Delegation to England but rather the reverse.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said that as this bill was in effect the only one for which Parliament was called together and as it granted some five millions of dollars he might be excused for saying a few words on the subject. He had been struck with the excellent speech of the hon. member for Tecumseth [Donald McDonald] and then with the eloquent one of the hon. member for Gore [George Alexander], who had made us so graphic a picture of the condition of the United States, but he could not well agree with either of these gentlemen. He could not congratulate himself or the country upon the condition of the public finances, and instead of the deficit being as was stated by the last hon. member $540,000 he thought he could show that it was in reality $897,000.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—On the 18 months comprised in the budget.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—No, for 1865. In 1863 the deficiency was $982,000 and next as he had stated which made nearly two millions in two years. This was no cause he thought of congratulation and in the face of the facts he would have expected a measure to be brought in to put an end to such a state of things. The hon. member for Gore (Mr. Alexander) had said that we had had in the past too much legislation but with regard to this Session the complain could hardly be made with propriety in so far at least as the Government was concerned, but he (Mr. Currie) thought it was good cause of complaint that for this solitary Bill of Supply the country should have to pay the large sum of $300,000.

Instead of meeting the deficit by new taxes the old system of borrowing was to be resorted to and another million of debentures issued. We might indeed be told that the expected revenue of the year made it unnecessary to impose new taxes, but we had been told the same thing in 1863 and were disappointed, and he had no doubt the House and country would have been much better satisfied if the Minister of Finance [Alexander Galt] had taken the means to obviate the deficit. A deficiency of $900,000 on the year or more than the whole cost of the Government of Nova Scotia for the same period, was something which hardly justified congratulation.

We had been again entertained with observations about the supposed annexation feeling in the country, and for his part he thought a great deal too much prominence was given to such reports. It was said that some portion of the press had actually advocated such a course, but very small and insignificant as the proportion of the press was which had ventured to recommended it, that of the people who entertained the idea was smaller still, and it was a very great mistake to regard the matter at all in this House for it gave it an appearance of importance which in itself it did not really possess.

But whatever of a party there might be in the country favouring the idea, and if that party had extended at all (which he did not believe) the extension was one to the formation and continuation of the existing Coalition in the Government. This House was told last Session by the head of the Government that such was the condition of things that unless some change was effected we would willingly or unwillingly drift into the United States.

A VoiceAn inclined plane[17].

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—Yes that we were upon an inclined plane which would inevitably land us into that country. The moment he (Mr. Currie) heard that expression he felt it was an unfortunate one, it set the people talking and did much to strengthen the party which was then growing small and beautifully less. If instead of giving prominence to such topics, the Government had provided employment by the enlargement of the public works, they would have done much to extinguish any small remnant of the feeling of Annexation which might still exist, and at any rate it was a libel upon the people and press of Canada, to say that the feeling existed to any appreciable extent. He must, however, say that he had since heard it often enough stated that if the Government forced the construction of expensive fortifications, and devoted any considerable sums for militia or army purposes nothing would tend so much to the renewal of and discussion of annexation sentiments.

He (Mr. Currie) had already said that Parliament seemed to have been called together for no other purpose than to pass this bill of Supply, and that all this trouble and expense were fairly chargeable upon the mistaken course of the Government. Now what were the facts. After the debate upon the scheme of confederation, which he had felt it his duty to oppose and when the business of the session was satisfactorily progressing, an end was suddenly put to that business, and the members sent home before they had had time to pass the supplies.

What was there to cause such a sudden stoppage of the session when with the large majority supporting the Government and with men of such undoubted ability as they had in office the Supplies could have been passed in a few days? Was there a demand from England for them to go thither in such haste? None that he was aware of.

The despatch asking them to do so was received in February[18], and had not been considered so pressing as to require an immediate departure. The secret of this abrupt desire to go to England as he believed, was that their pet scheme of Confederation had received its quietus at the New Brunswick elections[19]. They had heard its death-knell sounded in that Province, and he was satisfied that if they had possessed the power they would have induced the Imperial Government to force the project upon the unwilling Lower Provinces.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—The hon. member was quite mistaken.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—Well he could not understand their hurry when in a couple of weeks they might have passed the Supplies. On the 14th of March a vote of one million[20] was asked for the purpose as was alleged of showing to England that we were prepared to take our share of the responsibility for maintaining ourselves as part and parcel of the empire but could not these views have been communicated to the Imperial Government by dispatch in the ordinary way? When the one million was voted it was no doubt with the intention of spending the money for the purpose specified but to the present not a dollar of it had been used, not a stone or sod had been turned in pursuance of the object.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—Would the hon. member have been better pleased if it had been done?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—No, but thought it would have been better not to take a sham vote of that kind. Having taken it, however, it would have been more consistent to act up to it.

But to return, there was no doubt that the New Brunswick elections had ruined Confederation. In January, the Government of Nova Scotia informed that of Canada, that their leader would submit a series of resolution in favor of the project upon the meeting of Parliament[21], but instead thereof, on the 10th of April, that gentleman had submitted another of quite a different import to wit for the smaller union (as it was called,) of the Lower Provinces[22].

And this too was done under the auspices of the very Government that had approved the resolutions of the Quebec Conference[23]. Knowing the state of feeling in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to be so adverse to Confederation as to make the carrying out of the project utterly impracticable, why did not the Government of Canada bring up at once the measure they had promised for the settlement of our local difficulties. But after all, though there was such imminent necessity for going to England, the Delegation[24] did not go for some weeks, and time enough had elapsed before their departure to have passed the supplies. But they must needs go to England at any rate to confer about Confederation when they knew that the people of New Brunswick had rejected the scheme[25] by an overwhelming majority.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—By an overwhelming majority of 400 votes in the whole Province.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—That was not correct, and was but a piece of newspaper calculation entirely at variance with the facts.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands] said he had not received the information from the newspapers but by a letter from a politician of note and character in that Province, thoroughly acquainted with all the circumstances.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—The computation related only to the votes cast where there had been conflicts.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—There had been conflicts in every country.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—Well the most intelligent constituencies like the cities and towns had voted no Confederation.

Some Hon. Members—Oh! Oh! and laughter.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—It was then evident that in relation to the subject, at least the Government of Canada was under no necessity to send delegates to England. The next item in the programme was defence. Well they went and talked about defence and arranged about fortifications, but to this day, nothing had been done, and the whole subject remained as unsettled as it was before.

The next was the Hudson’s Bay claim, and they had obtained a cession of the North West Territory, but he would come to that again. If they told the Colonial Minister that they were authorized to spend one million on the Militia, they took a course which the Parliament of this country had not contemplated, and it was quite clear that if the money were to be expended for such a purpose, it would not be in the manner desired by the people of this country but in the manner the Minister of War might dictate.

Then as to the fortifications the Imperial Government were to pay for those which might be required at Quebec, but not for any west of that city. Now it seemed to him that there was need of an imposing delegation to England to arrange those simple particulars or to find out the policy of the Imperial Government in relation thereof for that policy had been previously announced in the House of Lords in just as many words; and on the 13th of March Mr. Cardwell had said precisely the same thing in the Commons[26]. The visit of the delegates did not change that policy.

The report of Col. Jervois said that the fortifications at Quebec would cost £200,000 sterling[27]; and those at the West £9[?4?]3,000. The former were to be constructed at the expense of the Imperial Government contributing $150,000 in armaments. Well it had been the principles of the old British statesmen that so long as England had Colonies she was bound to protect and defend them just as much as to defend the county of Kent; and he was very much of the same opinion. Well then, the results of the delegation were, that England was to spend $1, and we were to spend $6 for fortifications. As to the North-west territory we were authorized to buy it out; but he believed we always had been. The Hudson’s Bay Company was not pledged to sell out; but if they did sell, no doubt, they would make us pay well.

George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—That would depend upon the legislature of Canada.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—The press and people of England when comparing the dispatch of Mr. Cardwell[28] and the declarations of their government in Parliament with respect to what we were going ourselves to do in the matter of fortifications with what we had done or were now doing would naturally feel very much disappointed and dissatisfied, and would probably reduce their own intended expenditure by half.

But coming to the supply asked. The Government now out of power had come in pledged to great retrenchment and that which followed had adhered to the same professions, but how had those principles been carried out by the latter? They had been wholly ignored and in this they were the more to blame for they had the power and if it was not exercised the natural inference was that they had not will. There were after all complaints of the extravagance of the Government of 1862; but if the expenditure of that Government were compared with that of 1863, it would be found that upon ten items alone the latter had expended the enormous sum of $545,000 in excess. This showed that there really was no proper regard for retrenchment and that a constant increase was going on in the face of annual deficits in the revenue. But $545,000 was probably considered a mere trifle by those gentlemen but it was some 35 or 40 per cent more than the cost of the Government of New Brunswick in 1863.

The hon. gentlemen, alluding to the floating debt of the country, complained of its great increase within a short period; and then went on to say that there were a few items of the bill to which he desired to draw attention. Under the head of Education, he perceived two new grants set down over 1863—one to Trinity College, and the other, as a set off, to a College at Sandwich. On this head he thought it would be much more desirable to build up the national schools and universities in preference to sectarian schools. Then again he had heard the Government boast that they had not spent one dollar without the consent of Parliament, but, if they had not spent money, they had contracted debts, for there was an item of $1000 to meet additional expenses of our representation at the Dublin Exhibition, over and above the $5000 already voted, which has been spent, together with the $1000 now asked. That was so much spent without the consent of Parliament.

Under the head of Colonization Roads, we had $50,000 set down for Upper Canada, and a like sum for Lower Canada. Now, he deprecated the system of granting to one part of the Province a sum of money because the other section had been granted a similar sum for ameliorations which the latter required and the former did not, and had hoped that a strong Government like the present would have had the courage to deal properly with such a state of things. Under the head of Hospitals and Charities, he had been struck with the manner in which the charities had been divided—Toronto and Montreal appearing to be the favorite localities. On the whole, however, in charities, Upper Canada got a good deal more than its share, receiving some $36,000, and Lower Canada but some $23,000.

Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841]—It is according to the population.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] supposed so. The under the head of Militia, we had a new item for the Salary of an Adjutant General, together with two Deputies, the Deputy Adjutants General, East and West. While speaking of the Deputy Adjutant General, he felt it his duty to bear testimony to the valuable services rendered by the Deputy Adjutant General West, against whom he must say he had been at first somewhat prejudice, and he hoped those services would not be forgotten by the Government. Then, we had an item for brigade majors, and, in this respect he trust the Government would exercise some supervision. There were some districts, where there was no necessity for such officers, there being scarcely any volunteers and it was too bad to pay so much for brigade majors, and drill sergeants besides. Under the head of grant to meet the expenses of the Camp of Military Instruction, the hon. gentleman said he hoped this camp would be well attended, but he feared that the grant would not be sufficient to cover the expenditure. He considered the allowance to the graduates for travelling expenses far too small. Then in regard to the item for a detective force on the frontiers, he said he hoped the Government would explain whether they intended to maintain this force much longer. He trusted the service in question would be discontinued before long, as there was no occasion now for it.

There was another item which he thought the Government were highly censurable for putting into the estimates, he alluded to the aid to Agricultural Societies in Upper and Lower Canada, which he considered as nothing else than a sham, being intended, not for agricultural societies, but to be spent in Montreal and London, in balls, dinners and banquets to the Eastern Delegates. He thought the item would have told as well, if the plain truth of the matter had been given.

[Some discussion and bantering in regard to the item followed between Hon. Messrs. Currie, and Ryan, and finally Hon. Mr. Currie, at a few minutes before six o’clock moved the adjournment of the debate until the next sitting, which was carried.]

The Supply Bill

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] then resumed the adjourned debate on the Supply Bill. He complained that the Government had left all the important and necessary legislation of the country in the hands of private members. He regretted to see so many important matters shirked by the Government, and went on to remark that all questions which threatened to throw any embarrassment in their way had been left open questions by them to the disadvantage of the Province, among others the necessary amendment of the municipal law, the assessment law of Upper Canada, and the regulation of interest. He regretted that they had not seen fit to come down with some decided policy on those measures that of interest particularly, on which he thought they should have taken some decided stand, as, in view of the realization of their Confederation scheme—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—it would be desirable that there should be some fixed standard. The hon. gentleman then proceeded to review and criticize at some length the policy of the Government in regard to the defence of the country and the militia, remarking, in connection with the latter, that a strange change has come over the spirit of their dream. When, in opposition, raising an outcry against the then existing Government for their measures on the subject, which since their accession to the Treasury benches they had failed to take steps to change or amend, though they had promised a strict revision of the question.

He next referred to the subject of the North West territory in connection with the proposed bill on the subject, complaining of the lateness of the hour at which so important a measure was to be brought in and then alluded to the stamp tax, disapproving of the alteration therein, which he thought likely to operate, in many cases, to the great disadvantage of the public. In conclusion, the hon. gentleman touched at some length on the question of payments and postal subsidy to the Grand Trunk, deprecating the action of the Government in reopening the arrangement of Hon. Mr. Mowatt, which had been approved of by two of its members. This he considered to have been a highly improper step, and a gross job at the expense of the country for the benefit of the Company.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864] thought it well that the public accounts should be thoroughly discussed in this House. The hon, member for Niagara [James Currie] had evidently devoted much time to their study, and although this House had not the power to amend the Supply Bill it was nevertheless well that it should be thoroughly scrutinised for we had, as in the other House, Ministers present to give explanations.

He (Mr. M) did not intend to follow the hon. gentleman through all the points of his speech to which exception might be taken, but some of them he could not permit to pass unnoticed. The hon. gentleman from Niagara deprecated the allusions to annexation which had been made in this House and through a portion of the press, in which he entirely agreed with him, but the hon. gentleman immediately afterwards referred to the same subject in a manner more objectionable and more to be deprecated than anything that had ever taken place in this House or even in the press. He (Mr. Currie) had said that if the Government of this country proceeded with the construction of fortifications, either at the instance of the British Government or to satisfy their own sense of duty, there would arise throughout the country a strong feeling in favor of annexation.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said that was not his meaning; he explained what he had said before.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864] was glad he had given the hon. gentleman an opportunity of qualifying his statement, as he understood his remarks to imply that a feeling in favor of annexation would properly arise if the fortifications were proceeded with, and almost to justify it.

The hon. gentleman had characterised the vote of $1,000,000 taken last session for fortifications as a sham vote[29]. Well, hon. gentleman, there can be no question in the mind of any man who knows anything of the public opinion in England that that vote did more than anything else to satisfy the British Government and to secure for our representatives the gratifying reception they met with. If this was obtained by the mere voting of the sum without expending it, surely the hon. gentleman should be satisfied.

A vote which had exerted such a beneficial influence in England deserved to be characterised otherwise than a sham vote. The hon. gentleman next complained that the Government had wasted a great deal of time on the subject of Confederation and that they did not as soon as they discovered that obstacles had arisen in the Lower Provinces, bring down the lesser scheme, the Confederation of the Canadas.

He (Mr. Macpherson) would have blamed them very much had they done so, for in his opinion an overwhelming majority of the people of the Country desire the Confederation of British North America, but he did not believe that the Confederation of the two Canadas would be acceptable to the people. In his opinion the Government was blameable for having stated in the other house of Parliament, and also in this that unless they saw that the greater Confederation could be carried by the next session of Parliament they would be prepared to proceed with the lesser.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864]—Now, hon. gentlemen, a great project like that of Confederation should not be lightly abandoned, and he hoped that the Government would not relinquish it though it was not accomplished next Session, or so long as a hope of carrying it remained.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864]—The hon. gentleman then complained that in the negotiations in England[30] no agreement was come to or apparently discussed as to the proportions in which Mother Country and the Colony, should bear the expenses of war, should war unfortunately come. Now he (Mr. Macp.) was glad that no such agreement had been made for we had what was far better, the assurance of the British Government that the whole strength of the Empire would be put forth in our defence.

The honorable member for Niagara [James Currie] had said that so long as this country remained a colony it should be defended by the mother country in the same way as the County of Kent. Now, if England should become engaged in a war of defence and the county of Kent were attacked, would that county leave herself to be defended by the rest of the kingdom, or would she not join her strength and energies to the others so that the whole strength of the Empire might be put forth.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864]—And if we should become involved in war was it to be said that a people numbering three millions would do nothing in their own defence? No, he felt satisfied that the colony would do all in its power, and that the mother country would do likewise, so that the whole strength of the Empire would be united for our protection.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864]—He would not, at this late hour, follow the hon. gentleman further, except to notice one other point—the last to which he referred—the postal subsidy to the Grand Trunk Railway Company. He (Mr. Macpherson) had hoped that the Grand Trunk Railway had passed out of the politics of the country, and so far as the great body of the people are concerned he believed it had though some of the politicians were behind the people in this respect.

The hon. gentlemen had referred to the various attempts made by successive governments to fix the postal subsidy—the first by the Government of which, as he truly said, the President and Solicitor of the company were members; and nothing could be a more complete vindication of the conduct of these gentlemen in their treatment of the Company than the statements which the hon. member for Niagara [James Currie] had made. So long as the subsidy was arbitrarily fixed by the Government it could not be expected that the Company would be satisfied. What therefore, under the circumstances, could be more reasonable and just than that the question should be submitted to arbitration. Then, could it be referred to gentlemen better qualified in all respects, more competent to deal with the question, or more impartial than the arbitrators named?

The Ex-Chancellor, Hon. Mr. Blake; one of the most learned Judges on the Bench of Lower Canada, and an officer of the other House of Parliament,—the Law Clerk—who is held in universal respect. He believed the country was perfectly satisfied with their award, and it must be remembered that it did not apply to the Grand Trunk railway simply, but to all the railways in the country. It should also be remembered that the question had been referred to arbitration by previous governments—it had been referred by the Cartier-Macdonald Government[31]; that reference had been conferred by the Macdonald Sicotte Government[32]. It was true that Government broke up the arbitration, but they had in the first instance approved and confirmed the action of their predecessors.

He believed the people of the country fully understood and appreciated the value of our great railways, and were also satisfied that they had been obtained at a small cost to the Province. The total amount invested in the great leading Railways of the country was in round figures $100,000,000, of which the Province had contributed about one fifth or $20,000,000 the annual interest on which was $1,200,000 or one and one third per cent on the total sum invested. Now had we not obtained the benefits of the expenditure of this large sum and the perpetual advantages and [?facitica?] resulting from the possession of our railways on favorable terms? We have obtained them on terms more advantages than any other country having to go abroad to borrow money. How had it been in India, Australia, and in the second rate Monarchies of Europe. They have had to guarantee a dividend at a minimum rate of 5 per cent on the cost of construction.

Had we to commence the construction of our railways to-day we could not do so on better terms, and had these terms been demanded, could we have refused? What would have been the condition of the country to-day without our railways? We complain of the exodus of our young men, and a most unfortunate feature it is, but had we not railways our old men and all our population would be going also. He repeated that the country was perfectly satisfied with the settlement of the postal subsidy which had been effected, and also satisfied that they enjoy their railway facilities on terms highly advantageous to the interests of the Province.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

On motion of Benjamin Seymour [Canada West, appointed 1854] the further consideration of the supply bill was postponed until to-morrow.

Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] presented to the House

A Return to an Address to His Excellency the Governor General, dated the ninth day of September, praying that His Excellency will be pleased to cause to be laid before this House, copies of all correspondence which may have taken place since the beginning of last Session between the Government of this Province and the British Government with Her Majesty’s Representative at Washington in relation to the Reciprocity Treaty.[33]


[1]      Source: “Provincial Parliament,” The Quebec Daily Mercury (Sep. 16, 1865) & “Provincial Parliament,” The Quebec Daily Mercury (Sep. 18, 1865).

[2]      The Canadian delegation consisted of John A. Macdonald, George-Étienne Cartier, and Alexander Galt. They drafted a report on their discussions with the Imperial Government on Jul. 12, 1865 and it was presented to the Legislative Council on Aug. 9, 1865, p. C:2.

[3]      The British government at the time. The Palmerston ministry lasted from Jun. 1859-Oct. 1865.

[4]      Facing considerable suspicion and fierce hostility to the Quebec Scheme in New Brunswick, Tilley did not submit the scheme to the provincial parliament and a general election on its adoption was inevitable. The legislature was dissolved on February 9th 1865, and writs were issued for a general election be returned in March 1865. Tilley’s Ministry was soundly defeated, with the Premier himself losing his seat in the legislature, and an anti-confederationist ministry led by Albert Smith was brought into power, taking 35 of 41 seats in the Legislature. Fears of higher tariffs and debt, in addition to lack of clarity on the intercolonial project, and a competing railway project to the United States, raised distrust in the confederation project.


Facing similar discontent, Nova Scotia Premier Charles Tupper delayed introducing the Quebec resolutions to the legislature. Instead, Tupper introduced a resolution in the Assembly, on April 10th, 1865, signaling a return to the safer topic of a Maritime union. While those resolutions spoke of a union of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, it was believed to be a strategic move merely to bide for more time. Prince Edward Island quickly rejected the Quebec scheme and prorogued the legislature on April 3rd.

[5]      Despatch from Right Hon. Edward Cardwell to Viscount Monck (Jun. 17, 1865). This despatch and other papers relating to Defence of the Province were presented to the Legislative Council on Aug. 9, 1865, p. C:2.

[6]      Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The United States passed a Joint Resolution abrogating the treaty in Jan. 1865. It was formally terminated on Mar. 17, 1866.

[7]      The commercial convention held in Detroit (Jul. 11-14, 1865) was attended by the Boards of Trades and Chambers of Commerce from across the United States and British North America. It was one of the measures meant to save the Reciprocity Treaty in 1865. The most impactful speech was given by Nova Scotian delegate Joseph Howe on Jul. 14, 1865. For the proceedings of this convention see Proceedings of the Commercial Convention, Held in Detroit, July 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th, 1865 (1865).

[8]      The Confederate Council of the British North American Colonies was composed of the Governor General and one voting member from each colony (Upper and Lower Canada each getting one vote). The Canadian delegates included Brown, Cartier, Macdonald, and Galt although only one vote per colony was allowed—this ended up being Brown for Upper Canada and Cartier for Lower Canada. The other members were Shea (Newfoundland), Pope (P.E.I.), Ritchie (Nova Scotia), and Wilmot (New Brunswick). They would meet in Quebec a month later, where seven unanimous resolutions were passed by the Council (Sep. 18, 1865).

[9]      Documents pertaining to the negotiation of the North-West Territories were presented to the Legislative Council on Aug. 15, 1865, p. C:5.

[10]    George Brown’s report on the North-West Territories to Governor General Monck (Jan. 26, 1865). ibid

[11]    i.e. “according to value.”

[12]    Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. Supra footnote 6.

[13]    Lord Bury pamphlet. Unconfirmed reference.

[14]    Led by George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald (1858-1862).

[15]    Bill: An Act Respecting the Militia (Province of Canada, 1862).

[16]    Supra footnote 2.

[17]    Premier Étienne Pascal Taché said if Confederation was not followed through with, Canada would be forced into the American Union on an “inclined plain.” Taché, Legislative Council (Feb. 3, 1865), p. 6.

[18]    No such despatch seems to exist. Campbell also hints that Currie is mistaken.

[19]    Supra footnote 4.

[20]    Legislative Assembly (Mar. 14, 1865), p. 1032.

[21]    Despatch from Governor R.G. MacDonnell to Governor General Monck (Jan. 9, 1865). Correspondence presented to the Legislative Assembly on Aug. 18, 1865, p. C:21.

[22]    Supra footnote 4.

[23]    The Quebec Resolutions which were agreed to by the Legislative Council can be found on Feb. 20, 1865, p. 346.

[24]    Supra footnote 2.

[25]    Supra footnote 4.

[26]    UK, House of Commons, “Defences of Canada—Colonel Jervois’ Report—Observations” (Mar. 13, 1865), cc. 1539-1637. Cardwell said, “The defence of Quebec we engaged to undertake; the defence of Montreal we called on the colony to undertake…We think that is a right division; that the position which is the gate of Canada, through which the military and naval forces of England are to enter to defend Canada, should be fortified by the mother country; and that Montreal, the strategic and commercial capital of Canada, should be fortified at the expense of the Canadians themselves.”

[27]    William Jervois, Report on the Defence of Canada (1864).

[28]    Despatch from Right Hon. Edward Cardwell to Viscount Monck (Jun. 17, 1865). Supra footnote 5.

[29]    Supra footnote 20.

[30]    Supra footnote 2.

[31]    Led by George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald (1858-1862). There was also a Macdonald-Cartier administration (1857-1858).

[32]    Led by John Sandfield Macdonald and Louis-Victor Sicotte (1862-1863).

[33]    “Return To an Address of the Honorable the Legislative Assembly, dated 10th August, 1865; for copies of all Correspondences, since the beginning of last Session, relative to the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States” [No. 11] in Sessional Papers (1865). The report, however, is not printed. A note accompanies the report that reads, “In accordance with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Printing, the above documents are not printed.”

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