Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (1 March 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 43-50.
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TUESDAY, March 1st, 1864.
The Speaker took the Chair at 3 o’clock.
DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855] said that the circumstances under which the Address from the Throne was delivered this session were different from those of any former session, and justified remark. The measure propounded had already been twice promised to the Legislature, but they had not arrived at maturity. Various causes for this failure had been assigned, but after making every allowance for any peculiarities in the position of the Government, he must say that, in his opinion, they were greatly to blame. In 1863, Parliament sat for five months without accomplishing anything in the way of general legislation. They called themselves a Retrenchment Government, and perhaps they were entitled to credit for some reductions they had made. But, though they did made reductions, if they could not proceed with the necessary legislation they could hardly be entitled to much praise.
Then as to the reductions themselves, he feared they had been counterbalanced in a great measure by great extra expenses. In the first session of 1863 His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech had foreshadowed a number of useful and important public measures, among others, one on the re-adjustment of the Representation, but as this was a vexata questio he would not dwell upon it, nor would he censure them for dropping it as they done. He held, however, that there were other which, in the course of a nearly three months’ sitting, should have been dealt with. His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had said they would be brought down and they should have been.
Why were they not? He could not admit that the vote of want of confidence was a sufficient reason, though that had been alleged by the Hon. Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair] as fully meeting the objection. They had sat for nearly three months and in three months there was time to mature and pass many measures. What did he find in the journals of the other House in relation to that session? Why, that they met on the 12th day of February, 1863, that the estimates were brought down on the 29th of April or 76 days afterwards—when it was nearly time to close—that on the 8th day of May, the Minister of Finance [Luther Holton] moved the House into Committee of Supply, and that then the motion of want of confidence had been made; that on the 11th the motion was carried, and on the 12th the House was informed by message His Excellency [Viscount Monck] would come down the next day for the purpose of closing the Session.
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Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair] had alleged that the session was brought to a premature termination by a vote of want of confidence, and that the Government had no choice but to appeal to the country or resign. They had chosen the last alternative. Now he (Hon. Mr. Dickson) begged to tell them they were wrong, positively wrong.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter from the Ministerial benches.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—Well, hon. members might laugh as much as they pleased, but he maintained the Government had done wrong on that occasion, and he could prove it to them by appealing to an authority which they would all admit was equivalent to the highest constitutional law.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—Yes, hon. members had better hear and prepare themselves to take down the reference he was about to give them, for it was an authority to which they had always bowed. In the Globe of 2nd of July, 1858, he read as follows:—
“What the people now ask is a thorough and complete change in the Government to go in, which shall not be responsible for any acts of its predecessors; which will not refuse to say that such a thing is wrong, or to correct it because one or other of the Cabinet was a member of the Government which introduced the practice. A sharp, thorough determined reform is what is required and only new men can supply it. To allow the rump of the Government to take in two or three loose fish who have supported them in all their evil deeds—although not officially connected with them—and to go on and govern the country as before would be no reform. We do not believe Sir Edmund Head will permit a reputation of what has been so often used to deceive the people.”
“When a Ministry is beaten (on a measure) in England it is not allowed to re-construct”
—the hon. member here said that this was the point to which he desired particularly to call the attention off the Government,—
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—
“the Opposition are called in, and they are permitted at all events to carry on the business of the country. Upper Canada will not be satisfied at all events with any replatrage which Mr. J.A. Macdonald may be able to effect.”
This was good logic, was it not? Now, the political events of 1858 and 1863-4 were not at all unlike, on the contrary they were exactly similar, and he repeated it on the high authority he had quoted that the Government now in power should have resigned. He must say he was proud to have been able to adduce so convulsive and potential an opinion.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—But the defeat of the Government on that occasion was not an ordinary one, it was not on a measure simply, but it was a deliberate vote of which notice had been previously given, with the view of testing whether or not the Government possessed the confidence of the House, and they had had ample time to prepare for it. Clearly they ought to have resigned. He would now read to the House the conclusion of His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech, at the end of the first session of 1863, viz., on the 12th May of that year. It was to the following effect:—
“I have, therefore, determined to prorogue this Parliament, with a view to its immediate dissolution, in order that I may ascertain, in the most constitutional manner, the sense of the people upon the present state of public affairs. The pressing importance of various questions connected with the trade and industry of the Province, and with its internal improvement and defence demands that no time shall be lost in convening a new Parliament.”
Here, then, we were told that measures of pressing importance required that no time should be lost in convening a new Parliament. Well, a new Parliament was called together, and His Excellency [Viscount Monck] said that he had called us thus soon to get our advice at the earliest day. These were his words:—
“I have called you together at this unusual season, because I desired, as soon as was practicable after the dissolution of the last Parliament, to obtain your advice and assistance in reference to the public affairs of the Province.”
The Speech then proceeds,
“Measures of importance, the progress of which was interrupted by the dissolution, will again be submitted to your notice. I would specially direct your attention to the existing Militia Law, which requires extensive amendment, in order to place this important arm of the public defence in a condition of efficiency. I trust to your wisdom to give a proper direction to the excellency spirit by which the people are animated, and to your liberality to supply the means by which practical advantages may be obtained from it. A bill for the equitable adjustment of the relation between Debtor and Creditor, and to afford relief to the insolvent debtors, will be laid before you. Certain alterations in the laws regulating the administration of justice, will be submitted for your approbation. The existing laws affecting the restoration of titles to real property in Upper and Lower Canada, and concerning patients of inventions, as well as the laws relating to the encouragement of Agriculture, will also claim your attention.”
Here, then the several points which he presented were clearly stated. The Hon. Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair] had said that the first session of 1863 was brought to a premature end by reason of the vote of want of confidence.
[Here the hon. member read from the speech of the Hon. Mr. Blair in which he had stated the reasons why there had been no general legislation during the two sessions of 1863.]
Now, he [Mr. Dickson] maintained that the hon. member’s allegations did not comport with His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speeches. In his view one session had been too short to do anything, and the other too long.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—He stated that it was not intended the second session should last so long as it had, it being the intention of the Government to adjourn it. Well, why did they not carry out this intention? They had proposed, he said, merely to take the verdict of the country upon the course the Government had pursued and after obtaining supplies to adjourn, but he was wrong here again, for Parliament was not called for the purpose of pronouncing a verdict upon the men who had pronounced guilty by the previous Parliament, but upon men whom that Parliament had not at all impugned. But to proceed,—the session was closed, and on the 14th of August we had been told by His Excellency [Viscount Monck] that the purposes for which he had called us together had been accomplished.
Now, was this correct? He had read from the Speech at the opening the measures which were to be submitted and none of them had been so much as presented, except the Militia Bill, and that, too at the eleventh hour. But the closing Speech itself was contradictory and impossible, for a little lower down, after saying that the object for which Parliament had been called together, which objects were stated at the opening, as he had shown, had been accomplished, His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been made to say, it had been impossible to submit those measures for consideration.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—Well, the third session was now open, and he was happy to partake in the hopes of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] that the best attention of Parliament would be given to the measures which would be submitted; but he must say His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] hopes were apparently not unmixed with the recollections of past disappointments, for he said he hoped that “now” they would give attention, &c., just as if he had meant to remind them of having spent two sessions of five months doing nothing, and that it really was now high time they should begin to work. If this was His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] meaning, he begged to assure the Government that there was not the slightest difference between him (Mr. Dickson) and His Excellency [Viscount Monck].
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—He had no objection to the measures promised.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear from the Ministerial benches.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—Oh! Aye, hear, hear, for he had not said anything he did not intend. Coming to the Militia Law, he admitted it must be a pretty hard task to construct one which would in all respects answer the wants of the Province. A measure of this kind had been submitted last winter which was not in a satisfactory shape, and to render it so it required to go through both Houses. There was only one feeling on the subject go the measure—one of unquestioned loyalty. He would not talk much of loyalty, got the too frequent profession of it made the speaker look as if thought people doubted him, and that he felt they had reason for so doing. He begged, however, to assure the hon. member for Niagara [James Currie] that he had not the remotest reference to him in this remark.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and great laughter.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—It was the interest of our people to be loyal, and they were so. There was a mutuality of interest between Great Britain and her colonies, and England would not and could not be as great as she was without them.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—And among the Colonies there was not a brighter gem than Canada.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—But then, England could not keep us at too great an expense. We had our duty as well as England. She had extended to us the fostering hand of her protection, and would, he was assured, be willing to do so until we desire to sever the connection, when, without violence, it would no doubt be effected. He had listened to a good many discussions on the subject of our duty in the event of war, and some people were prone to say it was too bad that while Canada was to be the battle-field, and to suffer the evils of war on her soil in a quarrel she had not provoked, and had nothing to do with, she must also provide means of defence. Well, no matter what the cause of quarrel, one thing might be depended upon, and it was that England would throw around us the shield of her protection in the hour of danger.
In the year 1841 there had been almost a war on a question slight in itself, but important in view of the principle involved. A Canadian named Alexander McLeod had been seized in the United States, under a pretence which he need not now narrate and was to be tried for his life. Hon. members would call to mind the course England had pursued on this occasion, and what she had then done, she would do again in the hour of need. Parliament sat at Kingston in 1841, and on the 15th June of that year, when the Governor opened the Houses, be spoke of the impeding difficulty in these words:—
“A subject of Her Majesty, and inhabitant of this Province, has been forcibly detained in the neighbouring States, charged with a pretended crime. No time was lost by the Executive of this Province in remonstrating against this proceeding, and provision was made for insuring to the individual the means of defence, pending the further action of Her Majesty’s Government. The Queen’s Representative at Washington had since been instructed to demand his release. Of the result of that demands release. Of the result of that demand I am not apprized, but I have the Queen’s commands to assure her faithful subjects in Canada of Her Majesty’s fixed determination to protect them with the whole weight of her power.”
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—No matter what the casus belli, and so long as we enjoyed the protection of the State of which we formed an integral part, we were bound to do our fair proportion in the contest, if any should arise. Respecting the present Militia law, he must say, he did not think it was one that would answer the desired end. He was not hostile to it because it had emanated from the present Government, and if it were satisfactory to the country it would have his approval, but when he listened to hon. members who understood the subject, and who pronounced it insufficient, and heard friends of the Government like the hon. member for Niagara [James Currie] reply as he had done, he must conclude it was inadequate to our necessities.
Well, the hon. member had shown that there had been a great revival of the military spirit about St. Catherines, and that there were now a great many more Volunteers there than formerly, but he [Mr. Dickson] submitted that the Militia Bill had nothing at all to do with the change. And he believed if that hon. member had spoken as he really felt about it he would have admitted the charge of insufficiency to be correct. Lawyer-like, however, the hon. member had evaded the points it was inconvenient to touch. The hon. member for York [Hon. Mr. Allan] had also very clearly proved that in many respects it was an exceptionable measure.
Then the hon. and gallant knight [Sir E.P. Tache], who was an authority, had said the same thing, and with such testimonies he felt he could not be far wrong in his estimate of its merits. He believed it was the intention of the Government to produce a good measure, but they had not the requisite strength. The five months they had sat was occupied not so much in its preparation as in Cabinet-making.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—And then how was this honorable House treated in connection with that important measure? Had they no right to be consulted? The measure had been before the Assembly most of the session, but was not brought here until the last day but one, and after the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] had left for home. It had to be passed through its several stages without examination, for there was not even time enough to read it.
It was brought in, read a first and second time, passed through Committee of the Whole, reported, read a third time and passed, all within the compass of eight hours.—And yet this House was hardly supposed by the public to be bound to “go it blind” upon questions of paramount importance, but in that case, and in many others before, no time whatever was given for the consideration of the measures. They had to be accepted as they were or thrown out.
He did not charge this Government with being alone guilty of such disrespectful treatment of the House, but as they were in power, and the others had gone down among the dead men, the remarks were offered to them. Such a Bill should have been put regularly through the crucible of opinion in both Houses, and then it would have come out a good measure. In the case of squatters, sheep and shingles Bills, it might not matter much whether they came late or early, but a Militia Bill for the whole Province was not a matter to be so highly treated. He did not care what Government did such things, they were wrong, and the House ought not to submit to be so treated.
With reference to the Reciprocity Treaty, he fully concurred in the views expressed by both sides that we were in
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possession of certain right which the Americans required, and that they afforded a sufficient guarantee for the renewal of the agreement. As to the improvements in the St. Lawrence and the canals, there could be no objection to them, except on the score of expenditure, and when he heard of one engineer estimating the cost of the Ottawa Canal at $12,000,000 and another at $24,000,000 he thought the Government would certainly lost their character for retrenchment if they undertook it.
A word or two on the subject of the Intercolonial Railway. It was well known he had always been an independent member,—
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—and spoke his mind. Well, he must say the negotiations with the Lower Provinces on this subject seemed to have been conducted in a way which reflected no honor upon them. They were openly charged with a serious breach of faith, and he much regretted that any Canadian Government should have exposed have itself to such an accusation. It was the first duty of all Governments to preserve their honor. He was not, however, satisfied as to the practicability of the scheme itself, even in a military point of view. He did not know but that it might easily be torn up in the event of war, nor was he satisfied it could be worked in winter—the only time when it could be of much advantage to us. These were all very important contingencies. They should be carefully considered and examined into before the project was undertaken.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—He had never been a railway man, and for the twenty years he had been in Parliament had avoided connection with such measures. He had opposed the Grand Trunk Railway scheme, and the advance of the three millions for that object, for he believed the anticipated benefits never would be realized. Nor did he think he would support the Intercolonial Railway, and certainly not until he was better satisfied of its practicability. As to the other measures for the promise of which the House had already twice returned thanks, he hoped they would really be introduced this session, but if he were to reason from the past to the future, he would say the prospect was not very encouraging.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Walter Dickson [Canada West, appointed 1855]—He was obliged to the House for the kind attention given him, and hoped the Government after all would so manage the finances as to develop the resources and improve the condition of this great and grown country.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—In rising to speak upon the question before the House, he thought it was his duty to say a a few words in the outset as to the manner in which the debate had been conducted. Whilst he perfectly agreed with many of his friends on his side of the House, as to the ability displayed by the hon. gentleman from Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell], he could not go the length they did and say the course of argument was perfectly fair, and that he hoped to show before he should sit down. He would further say that, in so far as the language used by the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] was concerned, no fault was to be found, as there was not a word used by that hon. gentlemen which was calculated to wound the feelings either of Ministers or their supporters, or to give rise to bitter reports.
He [Mr. McCrea] was sorry to remark that he could not say as much for what fell from the hon. gentleman from Toronto [John Ross], who followed the Hon. the Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair]. He [Mr. McCrea] had looked over the report of their debates, and found that it had materially softened down that hon. gentleman’s remarks; and perhaps it was well that the reporters should excise a wise discretion in withholding from the public many things which were said in both branches of Legislature, as verbatim reports might not redound to our credit as deliberative bodies.
He [Mr. McCrea] had taken down the words used by the hon. gentleman from Toronto [the Hon. Mr. Ross], and applied to Ministers, with reference to what they had done about the Intercolonial Railway. That gentleman had said the conduct of Ministers upon this question was “disgraceful” and “shameful.” Such language was scarcely tolerated in the British Legislature in the latter part of the last or the beginning of the present century.
He [Mr. McCrea] would read a few extracts from May’s Constitutional History to shew how such language was treated even in on Parliamentary oratory:—
“In the earlier years of George the III. party spirit and perusal animosities—not yet restrained by the courtesies of private society, or refined by good taste—too often gave rise to scenes discreditable to the British senate. The debates were coarse and scurrilous as the press.”
“In these excesses Lord Chatham was both sinned against and sinning. In the debate on the Indemnity Bill, in 1776, the Duke of Richmond ‘hoped the nobility would not be brow-beaten by an insolent Minister’—a speech which Horace Walpole alleges to have driven the Earl from the House of Lords during the remainder of his unfortunate Administration.”
Again, that author says:—
“We find Colonel Barre denouncing the conduct of Lord North as ‘most indecent and scandalous,’ and Lord North complaining of this Language as ‘extremely uncivil, brutal, and insolent’ until he was called to order, and obliged to apologize.”
He [Mr. McCrea] would ask which was the most blameable—the language of Lord North, or that of Colonel Barre, which drew it forth; and certainly the language of Colonel Barre was not more proving then the words used by the hon. member from Toronto [John Ross]. Fortunately, Ministers had more control of their temper than Lord North; and he [Mr. McCrea] was glad to observe that the rank and file of the Opposition in this House did not follow the examples set them by their leaders.
Opposition members had talked by the hour, nay, by the day, upon this subject, and the whole burden of their speeches was that all the things touched upon in the Speech, and promised before that they have no longer any faith in the sincerity of Ministers. And yet after all this talk, and all the time taken up in the debate, we were told that no amendments to the Address were to be proposed. This brought him very much in mind of the poor cat in the adage, “waiting upon I could but care not, and I would but dare not.”
It was quite true that at the opening of the session on the 12th of February, 1863, and again in August of the same year, these same things had in substance been promised, but why had they been unverified, to use the mild term of his hon. friend Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell]? Simply because of the tactics and the votes of the Opposition. Was it not notorious that while Ministers were doing their best to carry out the programme they had arranged at the opening of the session last winter they were defeated by direct vote of want of confidence in a House not elected under their own auspices.
And then, at the summer session, the first meeting of the new House, by the tactics of the Opposition the business of the country was so long delayed that it was thought advisable to pass the Militia Acts only, which were the most pressing. But to come to the Speech itself. The first paragraph related to the Militia force of the Province. It had been stated by the hon. and gallant knight, the member from Montmagny [Étienne Pascal Taché], that we had deprived ourselves of the services of the old officers who had served their country in time of need.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—What he had said was that they had deprived the country of the moral support of these old officers, who had great control over the men in their neighbourhood.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Well, they yet hold that control, and he hoped they would prove their loyalty and their patriotism by exerting that control, under any and all circumstances, should it unfortunately ever be required. While on this subject, he would make a few remarks about what had been said in the House about our loyalty and attachment to the British Throne. His hon. friend the member from Perth [Hon. Mr. Matheson] had first struck the key-note of lastly the other day in the House in few sensible and well-timed remarks, and the refrain had been taken up on both sides, and members had vied with each other in the strength of their professions. For his part he did not like this eternal blazon about loyalty.
It certainly was; to his mind, bad taste and bad judgement, and, more than that, it was suspicious, as one hon. gentleman had before remarked. No credit was due to us for being loyal. We had the complete control of all our own affairs, and, more than that, we had the protection of the most powerful empire in the world. The late Lord Macaulay had hit upon the truth principle of loyalty. He had said “There never yet was a nation even to erably well governed, in whose breasts there did not spring up intuitively a feeling of loyalty to the Crown, and of patriotism for their country.”
In his [Mr. McCrea’s] mind, no country in the worlds had so completely proved the truth of the maxim as Canada. We have the testimony of the hon. gentleman from Perth [Hon. Mr. Matheson], a gentleman of undoubted veracity—who himself was among the number—that in 1812 the people turned as one man in defence of their homes and British connection. Yet in a little over a quarter of a century, we find through mismanagement and favouritism, this same people disaffected, and rebellion stalking through the land. And again, in less than a quarter of a century, when their grievances have been redressed, we find contentment prevailing, and the Governor General coming down to open Parliament, guarded solely by Canadian infantry, and greeted for salvos of Canadian artillery.
But the hon. the gallant Knight the member from Montmagny [Étienne Pascal Taché] said we had no force mobiliere, no force that we could move from out part of the Province to another on the frontier in case of need. Well, all that he (Mr. McCrea) could say was, that if there were any force in Legislature amendments, were inclined to so their duty, then he thought there was ample provision in the Bills of last session for organizing a force mobiliere, and when organized to march them not only to any part of the Province, out of it, should danger of invasion arise.
Here the hon. gentleman read from the Act respecting the Militia of last session, citing from the 10th section, to show how the different classes of the Militia service were to be embodied; from the 17th section, shewing how the Commander-in-Chief might call out the Militia at his discretion; from the 24th section, shewing how each battalion when organized should continue for three years, and finally from the 33rd section, shewing that the Militia so called out may be marched to any part of the Province, or to any place without the Province, but connected therewith, where the enemy is and from which an attack on this province is apprehended.
And then they had been told by the gallant knight [Étienne Pascal Taché] that the Volunteer force was not an efficient one for the defence of the Province. The hon. member for Niagara (Hon. Mr. Currie] had well said it was not a force wholly too be relied on in a time of war, but was the best that could be desired in time of peace. He [Mr. McCrea] then read from the Act respecting the Volunteer Militia force the clause shewing that it was intended in aid of the civil power, as well as for defence, and went on to say that it was never contended for the Volunteer force that it was anything more than supplementary to the great body of the organized Militia; and he went on quoting from the Act several of its clauses, and the oath prescribed for Volunteers, to shew that they were subject to the same commands as the regular Militia force in case of war.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—If the hon. member quotes from the Bill he should go further down and shew that the men could got free by giving two months’ notice, when without a doubt, all the men of business would take the opportunity to retire.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Well, the honourable and gallant knight [Étienne Pascal Taché] had said in his speech proper, that all the manual men would also retire. He [Mr. McCrea] said he knew Byron had made Suwarrow say, “Save wed a year, I hate recruits with wives.” But he [Mr. McCrea] said he did not believe that the men who had voluntarily taken the solemn oath he had just read, would be the first to back out. But hon. gentleman who had spoken seemed to think that the effect of the law which has only been in force about four months should have suddenly converted the whole Province in a military camp, and that we should not only hear of nothing but the trend of marching forces.
Time had not been given for the working of the Act to be developed. The hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] had asked where are the 100,000 men, well officered and partially drilled, which the Government had led the people of England to believe was to be the effect of the Militia Bill, as Mr. Adderly, a member of Lord Derby’s Government, had said. Now, he [Mr. McCrea) thought it was unfair to charge the Government with Mr. Adderly’s expression, but the true way to put the question was is Mr. Adderly now dissatisfied with the operation of our Militia Law?
The Ministry are doing their best to carry out its provisions effectively, and are establishing Military Schools for the purpose of training officers who would be fit to command a body of troops in the time of need, and it was well known that large numbers of gentleman were anxious to attend these schools when established. But he would contrast the present law with that the late Government by which about 18,000 men drilled fourteen days in the whole, at two periods of the year, would have been allowed to defence the coast of the 9th Military District of Upper Canada, extending about 200 miles.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—The Lysons’ Bill was only intended as a machinery for bringing the Militia to the centres in case of need.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Well, if so, he thought he present law preferable as if took the men to the frontier, here the danger really was. He would next allude to the Reciprocity Treaty about which a great deal had been said. He, for one, did not feel it was any part of our duty top go whining to Washington and asking the United States Government to continue it. He would be far from saving anything to irritate the
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American people, but if they were blinded by an unjustifiable spleen against Great Britain as not to see that there was as much profit to buying cheaply as in selling dearly, and they should in consequence abrogate the treaty, as they had the power to do so, were could not help it.
If they should do so, and at the same time abolish the bonding system, and fling away our carrying trade and all the advantages they derive from the use of our canals and fisheries, it would thrown us upon our own resources, and perhaps, by doing so, in the end operate to our advantage. A few thousands of dollars in the balance of trade, one way or the other, was as nothing compared to the great principle of the comity of nations which the treaty was calculated to foster.
He [Mr. McCrea] would now speak of the Intercolonial Railway, and he thought the language of hon. gentleman applied to Ministers was totally unfounded. What was asked by hon. members and the Eastern provinces but that we should blindly rush into the expenditure and perhaps repeat all the follies and mismanagement, to call it by no harsher name, of the Grand Trunk. We had divine as well as human authority’ that it is wise to count the cost of a house, before we commence its construction, and so long ago as the 25th of February, 1863, we find that a Committee of the Executive Council reported to His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck] that they “are of opinion that. More exact survey than any vet made is indispensable, to ascertain the approximate cost of the road, before a final decision or legislation can be had on the different proposals of the Imperial and Colonial Governments.”
In the same document it is declared that Mr. Tilley, the Commissioner from New Brunswick, had declared “that he had instructions not to pledge New Brunswick to a greater expenditure for the whole road than three millions and a half; and that if the estimated amount was to exceed that sum he would have to submit the whole question again to his Government.”—Again, the Committee says: “As the survey might establish the fact that the road would cost more than three, or three and a half millions; and as, in that event, further conferences would be necessary with the Imperial Government and the other Governments,” &c.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—An offer had been made to construct the Intercolonial Railways for three and a half millions.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Perhaps the offer is contained in the letter which he hon. gentleman had in his pocket the other day, from which he read the censure upon Ministers, but refused to give the writer’s name. The offer might be worth as much as the censure. The hon. gentleman [Hon. Mr. Ross] had said, in the course of his speech, that the Americans were about to construct a road to the Lower Provinces which would cut off the trade in tea which we might otherwise drive with them, in exchange for their procedure, as well as to let it go to New York.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—The offer was made by an American company, but the Lower Provinces, true to their engagement with Canada, had declined it.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Then the Lower Provinces had faith in the Canadian Government after all. He had understood the hon. gentleman to say that the trade in tea and other articles between the Lower Provinces would induce the construction of the Intercolonial Road.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848] had not said that the trade in tea was of itself an inducement to build the road, but had mentioned it and other items as supplementary to the military idea.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Does the hon. gentleman really think to make the House and the country believe that, if the road were constructed to-morrow, we could send tea to the Lower Provinces? Does not every one know that Halifax is a better port than ours, accessible at all seasons of the year, and that teas would rather come from that port to us than go from ours to them? And then the hon. gentleman told us that there were thousands of passengers which would go over the American road, if built between the coast cities and Halifax, which we would lose by the delay in constructing our road. No one can believe that, if our road were constructed to-morrow, a single passenger wishing to go to New York or Boston from Halifax would ever think of coming all the way to River du Loup, then to Quebec, then to Richmond, from Richmond to Island Pond, and so on to their destination.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—A large part of the trade would come to us, such as tea, pork, leather, and salted meats. He did not say that we should have the thousand passengers, but had mentioned them incidentally in proof of the intercourse now existing between the Lower Provinces and the United States.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—The hon. gentleman had made use of these remarks in connection with the threatened Railway from the Lower Provinces to the United States, showing that by our delay we were in danger of losing that trade. He either meant that or he was talking vaguely, leaving us to draw what conclusions we chose.
Then, with regard to the enlargement of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa Canals, hon. gentleman had said that did not look much like the retrenchment the government had promised. What the friends of economy and retrenchment meant with regard to public works was that none but such as were found necessary should be undertaken, and that they should be carried with economy and prudence, not recklessly and extravagantly, as has been done by the former Government; for instance, the Grand Trunk Railway which was still fresh in all out memories. There could be no doubt but that, as Ottawa was soon to become the Seat of Government, it would be actually necessary to develope the resources of the valley of the Ottawa, which had too long been neglected.
The honorable and gallant Knight, the member from Montmagny [Étienne Pascal Taché], had said that the counties laying above the canals were the ones that were benefitted by them, and not those below, and instanced the case of Chatham, whose twelve bushels of wheat had been given for an old saddle not worth four dollars before the Welland Canal was constructed. The answers to that argument was that it was of as much advantage to the people below the canal to have a cheap market opened up for them to buy in, as it was for those above to have a clear one opened up to sell in precisely as it is with the Americans and the Reciprocity Treaty.
It was certainly a matter that the [illegible] try ought to congratulate itself upon, that the Government might soon be removed to Ottawa, and so put an end to the perambulating system. There was a little difference, however, between the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] and the hon. member for Toronto [John Ross] on that score, which he [Mr. McCrea] would like to see settled between them. The hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] had stated that no credit was due to the present Government for going to Ottawa direct from Quebec, because he and those who had acted with him had always held similar views.
Now, he [Mr. McCrea] held in his hand a letter which he had copied from the Toronto Globe of the 9th of February, signed by the hon. member for Toronto [John Ross], which he would read for the information of the House. Every body would remember the great meeting held in Toronto last winter, about getting the Seat of Government back to that place before going to Ottawa.
DAVENPORT ROAD, 7th Feb., 1863.
MY DEAR SIR,—I regret very much that indisposition, arising from a very severe cold, will prevent me from being present at the meeting at the St. Lawrence Hall, this evening for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements for the reception of the Seat of Government at Toronto, in the ensuing autumn, under the alternate system, which the late Government decided to continue until the completion of the Public Buildings at Ottawa.
[Signed] JOHN ROSS.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—Had always been in favor of the alternate system, and had so voted.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Precisely so. But then the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] who certainly acted with and supported the late Government, says eh and they were in favor of removing directly from Ottawa to Quebec.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—He never could be ranked as a supporter of the late Government. He had suffered reproach on their account, but on many points he had not been able to give them his support.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862]—Well, I am glad to see that the hon. gentleman from Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] repudiates them. In conclusion, hon. gentleman, the various topics mentioned in the Speech from the Throne are of the utmost importance to the material interests of the Opposition tell us they appreciate the words, but the men have so often promised us the same things that they have no hope of their fulfillment, and, therefore, they condemn men and measures alike. We have seen who has been responsible for their non-fulfillment, since the opening of the session in February, 1863.
By a vote of non-confidence, Ministers were obliged to appeal to the people, which they had a perfect right to do, notwithstanding what the hon. member from Niagara [Mr. Dickson] has said to the contrary. He [Mr. McCrea] would again read from May to shew that they had the right to appeal to the people.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—Nobody disputes that now.
Walter McCrea [Western, elected 1862] said he was glad to hear the member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] say so, and the hon. member for Niagara [Walter Dickson] should remember that the Assembly which gave the hostile vote was not elected under the suspicious of Ministers. Since their advent to power, they had been most anxious to get on with the business of legislation, but they had been thwarted by an Opposition unparalleled in the history of Canada since the introduction of Responsible Government. And yet that Opposition does not now dare to stand up on the face of the country and by an amendment condemn a single one of the measures enunciated in the Speech from the Throne.
For his part, if he should move an amendment of the address at all, it would be to add words to the concluding paragraph so as to make it read thus:—
“That His Excellency may rest assured that the affairs and disinterested consideration; and that we participate with His Excellency in the earnest hope that under the favor of Divine Providence our deliberations during this session may be productive of results conducive to the prosperity of Canada and the happiness of the people; and we venture to express the hope that every individual member of both branches of the Legislature will, irrespective of party prejudices and the desire for party power, exercise to the utmost of his abilities, the faculties which that Providence has given him, for the accomplishment of so desirable an end.”
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852] said he would not have risen to speak if the hon. member for Wellington [John Sanborn] had not made an assault on the Cartier-Macdonald Government. That hon. member had undertaken to assert that the Government of those gentleman, and of which he formed part, was not serious or sincere in their professed desire to pass their own Militia Bill; that if they had been, they would not have allowed it to be defeated without saying a word in its favor.
He did not know where that hon. gentleman had got his information, but certainly he had been very unfortunate in his assertions. The Bill had been duly discussed, and the hon. member who had brought it in, Hon. J.A. Macdonald, had explained its provisions at very great length, besides categorically answering a multitude of questions put to him on the subject from all parts of the House. But this was not all, for the financial portions of the measure had been just as fully treated by the Hon. Mr. Galt, and he was particularly sorry the hon. member (Mr. Sanborn) had not done that gentlemen more justice as they both came from the same place.
It was also discussed by Hon. Mr. Sicotte, by Messrs. Langevin, Dr. Connor, Hon. J.S. Macdonald, Mr. Dufresne, and Col. Haultain, Hon. Messrs. Cartier and Drummond, Messrs. Desaulnier, Cameron, Foley, and others also spoke, some in its favor and some in opposition. The hon. member was very forgetful of our optical history when he ventured to make such assertions. He had gone further and said the agreement to let it drop was come to in a caucus, and further still, for he had ventured to dive into movies and alleged that the object the Government had in allowing the defeat was to do harm to the Opposition in England. The hon. member [Mr. Belleau] here quoted from Hon. Mr. Sanborn’s speech, and said it would not go for much then contradicted by the facts now stated.
John Sanborn [Wellington, elected 1863]—Was it not a fact that the measure was not discussed at the second reading?
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852]—There was a discussion at the first reading, and at the second it was discussed by Messrs. Galt, J.A. Macdonald, J.S. Macdonald, Messrs. Langevin, Dufresne and others. He had given hon. gentleman the names of the members who had spoken, and must again express his regret that the hon. member should so lightly make grave charges which were not justified by facts.
He would now allude to a remark of the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Luc Letellier de Saint Just], who, to justify the abandonment of the measures promised by his Government, had made use of a subterfuge by saying that they could not be proceeded with owning to the three motions of want of confidence brought up against them, a course which he said was unheard of in political warfare.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860]—No, not unheard of, but has said the difficulties were due to factious opposition.
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852]—The hon. member had said unheard of, (inouis) for he (Mr. Belleau) had ten the words down at the time. But he would, nevertheless, accept his present statement, to the effect that it was factious to propose three votes of want of confidence in one session.
Well, if the hon. member
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referred to the session of 1859 in Toronto, he would find that his friends, the then Opposition, had in that single session brought up no less than ten votes of want of confidence—some persons made them thirteen. Yet, in that very session the Government proceeded regularly with their measures, and passed them. They did not put them off year by year out of fear of the Opposition. The hon. member here read a long list go the Government measures passed that session, and said he remembered the then Hon. Minister of Finance, Hon. Mr. Galt, had dreaded his tariff would be met with another such vote; but, nevertheless, he proceeded with it, and got it through. The Usury Laws were also repealed that session, and a Fishery Bill was passed.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860]—Was the Bill to repeal the Usury Laws a Government measure?
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852]—No, but the Government aided in passing it. He thought the hon. member would now receive that his friends had been, according to his own doctrine, very factious indeed, and that it did not lie with them to charge factiousness upon the present Opposition.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
It being now six o’clock, the Speaker left the Chair.
Jacques-Olivier Bureau [De Lormier, elected 1862] said he deemed it important, under the circumstances, to express his opinion on the Colonial policy. It was by consulting the political history of the country, and on past struggles that we would be able to understand the causes of our present difficulties and divisions. Immediately after the conquest of Canada by England, the influential men, the men of business, and the chiefs of the people returned to France. In this way the few Canadians who remained behind found themselves without leaders, but thanks to the Clergy, thanks to our schools of higher education, under the direction and control of these patriotic and devoted ecclesiastics, men of ability were trained who were soon able, with honor and effect, to stand for the rights and privileges of their compatriots.
This was not the first time that he (Mr. Bureau) had stated his opinion of the obligations under which the country had come to the clergy of those early days. And the facts were so patent that none had ever attempted to deny them. The exceptional position in which the French-Canadian people had found themselves after the conquest, and the struggles they had to sustain in order to maintain their social, political and religious status had accustomed them to look air political events and threatening dangers from afar.
It was in this way that the firm opposition of the French-Canadians to the principle of Representation according to Population was to be explained, and that, because they feared the application of that purple would effect the ruin of their institutions. In the Act of Union there was a clause requiring the consent of two-thirds of our representatives in Parliament to change the equality then existing, but this clause, which to-day would have been a great protection to Lower Canada, was repealed by the Imperial Parliament by means of some unhappy influence, which to the present remained a secret.
All that was known on the subject was that in the last edition of the History of Canada by Mr. Garneau, the Hon. A. N. Morin is made to declare that His Ministry had not participated in any way in the change—the repeal of the said clause. He adds that the Hon. Mr. Hincks, his colleague, at the time it was made was in England. If this clause were still found in the Union Act, the agitation for a change int eh relative representation of the two sections of the Province in the Parliament would hardly be attempted.
It was this unfortunate question which excited our public men so much and placed Upper and Lower Canada in direct opposition. He had been glad to hear the admission of the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell], the new leader of the Opposition, when he declared that the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration, in view of the difficulties of the political situation, had patriotically resolved to oppose the doctrine of Representation based upon population as prejudicial to the good understanding and harmony which should subsist between the people of Upper and Lower Canada.
If it was unjust to govern Upper Canada by a majority from Lower Canada, it must be equally unjust to govern Lower Canada by an Upper Canadian majority. That hon. member entertained these views and thought it was desirable that the Ministry should be composed of men enjoying the confidence of a majority from each section of the Province, and he had no doubt the Government would do all in their power to attain so desirable an object. History would thereafter censure bitterly the course of those who had repudiated a principle which was the safe guard of the different sectional interests of the Province.
As a new political party was being called into existence under the leadership of the hon. member for Cataraqui, he (Mr. Bureau) would be glad to be informed of the principles of this new Opposition. For instance, was the hon. member in favor of or against Representation by Population; in a word, what are the principles upon which the party is based?
As an independent member, he (Mr. Bureau) was open to conviction; but he could not well understand how that hon. member could wash his hands of the past political course of his old friends, while the chief of the Opposition in the other branch energetically and courageously defendant all his acts while he was at the head of the Government. He confessed there was a mystery here which was not easily penetrated. A great deal had been said in regard to the Militia laws, and means had been used to agitate the country about them.
One party, and that the Tory party, had raised a cry of loyalty, no doubt for political purposes, and he would take occasion to say that in this respect the Tory party only echoed the feelings of the most advanced liberal party. Who would have thought, who could have foreseen that the Tory party would have become in this House and in the country the interpreters of the Cobden school in England, but inspired by entirely different sentiments.
Since the introduction of Free Trade in the mother country, the colonial system has become a burden to the Empire. Since then, the 53 British Colonies had ceased to being the profits which a commercial policy had assured. Since then, the Empire had ceased to derive strength and wealth from the colonies in especial but only in common with all the nations of the world. The Liberals, in consequence of this great commercial revolution, advises to emancipate the colonies and to give them self or independent government. This they allege is the only means by which the heavy taxes upon the people can be diminished.
It was then an economic point of view that the English Liberals proposed to throw the burden of defending the Colonies upon their inhabitants, and nothing could be more natural from the point of view of these gentlemen. But was it not absurd to hear that to show our loyalty we must even in time of peace, organize and keep up a standing effective military force, to repel the aggression of possible enemies? It was not wise to create vain expectations in the Empire, and it became us to speak the truth frankly, and to declare the views we entertained upon the subject.
As to our loyalty, it was not possible to call it in question. Canada was attached to the parent land because of its liberal institutions. And would ever continue so. The present Government was reproached with not having done enough for the defence of the country, but the following statistic proved the contrary. The Militia Report for 1863 showed that the Volunteers amounted to 25,010, and the expense of their management amount to $91,152.
Now, let the House look at the year 1861 and what did we find? Why, that in Lower Canada there were 1679 Volunteers, and in Upper Canada 1798, making a total of 3477 at an expense of $51,900. Thus with a much smaller comparative expenditure the present system was seen to have produced the happiest results. Why, pretend and try to make people believe that we could easily succeed in defending a frontier of 2,000 miles giants the power of the United States with its immense wealth and population. Could we even do so if we were to employ for that purpose every man in the Province capable of bearing arms? Certainly not. What we could do in the event of a way would be to furnish our content of men, and to contribute to the military expenditure in the measure of our financial ability.
In his opinion the Address had been sufficiently discussed, but he held it to be his duty to declare in the face of our finical difficulties that he would not consent to the construction of Public Works, which would have the effect of increasing the Provincial Debt, and imposing new taxes upon the people. He, however, felt it his duty to give due credit to the Minister of Finance [Luther Holton] for having managed to procure a loan upon factorable terms in this Province, and thought it was unjust to seek to minify the merit of that financial operation.
Joseph Armand [Alma, elected 1858] said it had not been his intention to speak to the Address from the Throne, but as many hon. members had deemed it necessary to state their opinions on that important document, and especially as three of them had enunciated views of which he partook in part in one case, and from which he differed entirely in the others, he had come to the conclusion that it was his duty to say what he thought on the subjects in question.
He would only allude to two paragraphs, which he regarded as of major importance to the future well being and prosperity of the country. He had heretofore expressed his views on that question, and he thought it would have been much more judicious to devote a part of the sum appropriated to the accumulation of a mines of stone in the city of Ottawa to the promotion of colonization in the immense valley of the same name, embracing as it did a territory capable of nourishing, in case of need, over eight million of souls.
It was late in the day, to be sure, to propose a colonization of that kind, but there was an old adage, none the worse its age, that it was always “better late than never.” If the Government should succeed in such a work it will have greatly contributed to the augmentation of the of the resources of the country. The other paragraph, and to which he attached still more importance, was that which had respect to the Law of Elections. He was convinced that every member of the Legislature would deem it a duty to lend his best help to the Government in this matter, for matters had arrived at an alarming condition.
This was what celebrated writer who, having visited Canada, told him on this subject,—“You have in your country everything necessary to make the people happy, if you know how to make good use of your excellency Constitution, but to do that you must strive to form a good election law.” Yes, at this very day, we see men coming and openly stating “I have undertaken the election, and will carry it at any cost, and without troubling myself about the means.” And faithful to that maxim of an ancient people who said, “if we can make a mule laden with gold climb the ramparts of the best fortified city, the city is ours;” so they tell their partizans, “we have thousands of funds to spend on this election, and if we can purchase the principal inhabitants of the county, the election is ours.”
But if everywhere their emissaries received the energetic and patriotic reply of another of antiquity, “Friends, we fear you, but we fear more your gold, silver and presents, than yourselves,” they would adopt other means, and have recourse to violence. What he was about to state was proved by an examination ordered by this honourable House itself. Men have come and deposed that they had been engaged for the expressed and avowed purpose of being at the head of parties of men employed in intimidating the votes.
To attain this end, if bloodshed was necessary, and more, if slaying was necessary, they were to do it. After such word, were not the citizens justified in going to the polls to exercise the highest right of freemen, under the British constitution, that of choosing their public men, with apprehension. To do this, they must organize, at their own cost, a police to protect them.
In view of these facts, he, for one, was disposed to support any Government bringing measures calculated to put an end to such a state of things. As it was not enough to censure without suggesting remedies, he would propose that the candidates be made to swear, on the day of nomination, that he had not paid, would not pay, and would not reimburse, any money before, during, or after the election. He would also prevent the employment of carters, for localities had been known to employ 200, 250, or even 300 of these men at $8 a day each.
He would also recommend the secret scrutiny, not as used in the Municipality of Montreal, for that was but a half measure, but the secret scrutiny of France, if that were possible. He would now answer the allegation made by the hon. member from Toronto [John Ross] and De Lanaudière [Louis Olivier]. These gentlemen admit that party spirit obtained in this House, and that leaders were necessary. It was clear that it was so, and that would be to deceive one’s self to deny the fact.
As time lapsed, the members of the House would become more and more subjected to periodical elections, and would be chosen by political friends. But he did not imagine those hon. members had intended to say that such party spirit was useful in the House, an the thought it was to be desired that it should not exist.
An old patriot, who had spent his years in the defence of constitutional rights, told him, a few days after the proclamation of his elections: “Sir, you are about to enter a House, which I regard as a Court of Appeals. There you should place yourself above questions of sect, caste, or party; you should think little of who is or is not at the helm of affairs; you will have to judge soberly of their acts, and without inquiring whether the measures submitted to you come from the right or the left of the Lower House; you should examine if these measures are calculated to advance the interests, the prosperity and the happiness of the country. To judge thus, you should have the independence formerly possessed by the Council, and I regret sincerely
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that since it was determined to choose the members by the people, they were not chosen for life.”
And he (Mr. A.) would, for the sake of illustration, assume that the judges of the Court of Appeals were subjected to periodical elections, not by the people, not by lawyers, but by the judges of the inferior Courts, and would those gentleman, if they attached any value at all to their salaries, have the independence they exhibited at present. Would it not be necessary for them to gain the influence and the sympathy of the majority of their electors? And would it not be the same with members of this House when they would be called upon to decide certain questions? Would they not have to bespeak the sympathies and deference to the prejudices of the majority of their electors. To say no, would be to exhibit a singular ignorance of the human heart.
He would now allude to the proposition of the hon. member for Saugeen [John McMurrich], a proposition at which he was the more surprised, as it was the second time it had been made in the House. He had thought this dogma dead and buried by the firm, energetic, judicious and patriotic determination of the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration.
The fiercely burning question of Representation according to Population had been made a close or dead one by them, and it was a sine qua non that none of its members should support it, and he (Mr. Armand) confessed he felt happy not to be exposed to see the Cabinet dividing upon it. He did not imagine that on certain questions there might not be some divergence of opinion among them. He knew that such differences must arise on questions of detail, but not differences which would prevent a cordial understanding. If it were otherwise it would bespeak the absence of a spark of that pure patriotism which burned in the ancient Romans, and this the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration understood.
He would not undertake to dissuade his honorable friend for to hear him speak one would think that the Lower Canadians were not entitled to breathe the same air, to quaff the same springs or to nourish ourselves from the same soil, in a word to live and die on Canadian ground. No, he would not attempt to convince him, for it would require a Cicero, and he thought the hon. member would perhaps allow him to propose a few questions for his consideration.
For what purposes then did the hon. member want representation according to population? Was it to obtain more money to macadamize his roads? Well we had granted it. Was it to open canals? Well had they not been opened by us? Was it to construct his railways? We had constructed them. Was it to build new towns? They had been built with the Municipal Fund. Was it to pay the national debt of Upper Canada? We had paid it at the Union.
But was it possible that the hon. member had the hidden object of depriving us, by a stroke of the pen, of our language our institutions, and our laws? If it were—if ever the noble English, the brave Scotch, or the sons of beautiful and green Erin, should forget themselves to the extent of sharing the views of the hon. member, the Lower Canadians would never submit to so iniquitous an act; they never would cease to employ the constitutional means within they reach; they never would cease to use the British right of petition.
And he was sure there would be more than one voice raised in the Imperial Parliament, as aforetime during the war of independence, when a member rose and said: “If I were an Americans, as I am an Englishman, I never would submit to the wrongs you wish to impose upon them.” He was sure that more than one member of the Imperial Parliament would ask his hon. friend and his partisans,—“If you were a French Canadian would you submit to such demands?” He already heard the answer of his hon. friend, and of his hon. friends, in the negative. Well, then, the British Parliament would say to them: “Why do you wish to do to them what you would not wish them to do to you?”
And he [Mr. Armand] would ask the hon. member—Why do you wish to so to us what we would not do to you when, proportionally, we had a larger population than you have to-day—at the time when he who yesterday was gathered to his grave, to the great party to which belonged many members still in Parliament? And why ask of us now what we will not ask in a future, not far distant, when, by reason of our larger population than the Western section? Yes, he was sure the Imperial Parliament would join the Lower Canadians in praying our august and well-beloved Sovereign to protect us, and to preserve to us the rights guaranteed by the sacred honor of treaties. But he would stop, for he heard voices from the east and west—English, Scotch, and Irish—as if saying—“But why those vain terrors? Do you supposed there ever will be among us a purpose to do you such an injustice?” No; he felt he was deceiving himself even by admitting the possibility of such a thing.
[The hon. gentleman here ended his remarks, which were received with great apparent interest by the House, and during the delivery of which he was several times cheered.]
James Skead [Rideau, elected 1862] said—Incompetent as he felt himself for the task, he could not refrain from rising to say a few words on the subject under debate; and he would endeavour to do this with the utmost impartiality,—to praise where praise was due, and not shrink from censuring where he thought—censure was merited. The Speech from the Throne embraced a programme which would do honor to the statesmen of any country. The sincerity and the ability of Ministers to carry out the proposed works would be better known, however, when the estimates were laid before the other House.
The proposed works were gigantic, and would necessarily consume ten to twelve years, with an annual appropriation of at least a million of dollars. Much as these works were required, and much as they might be useful and profitable (as they would be) to the country, in facilitating settlement and developing its resources, the present state of our finances made him doubtful of the possibility of carrying them out. He saw but one mode to effect this result: a liberal grant of our wild lands, (of which we had millions of acres unproductive) with a sufficient Provincial guarantee, to one or more companies, which might, by these concessions, be induced to take the word in hand and complete them to our satisfaction. None were more desirous of, and few more interested in, the completion of some of these works than himself.
To him the proposed works on the Ottawa were of the first importance, and he trusted that at length justice—so long deferred—would be done to the region with which he was more immediately connected. He scarcely need say they would have his best support.—He would first allude to the paragraph of the Address relating to the Militia. On this questions, as it appeared to him, much light had been thrown in the course of the debate.
For himself, he made not the slightest pretension to an acquaintance with military affairs; the greater portion of his life had been spent in the backwoods, with the axe for a weapon; but there he had learned a few facts which he would now repeat, and he would tell that honorable House where they would find a formidable army reserve. On the Ottawa and its tributaries, we could muster, at the least, twenty thousand of the boldest and the hardiest, the most enduring and the most active men in the world—the very sort of men we so much needed in the last war with the United States—our enemy had them, and we suffered in consequence. For many purposes of war, especially in a forest-covered country, these men would be found incomparable, and he could most positively state that they would not hang back if their country needed their services.
Some Hon. Members—Cheers.
James Skead [Rideau, elected 1862]—As regards the threatened abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, and the withdrawal of the bonding privileges, he did not believe that any large portion of the American people were in earnest. They might give us the required notices, to subserve certain purposes, but they would go no further. Their country, almost denuded of wood, could not afford to lose the products of our forests, and the use of our canals was almost equally necessary to them. But if the worst happened, we must set our house in order. We must deepen the St. Lawrence Canals, and make Chicago an available port. This will bring the great West to our side.
And if, in addition, we succeed in getting the Intercolonial Railway, we may smile at the unwise and selfish policy of our neighbours. It behaved our statesmen to use every exertion to secure the great prize of the growing trade of the West, whether by the improvement of the canals of the St. Lawrence, or, better still, by means of the Ottawa navigation—or by both—or again, by any other means that might be available.
Great improvement in the Ottawa canals could be made at a very trifling cost. For instance, natural causes had obstructed the Grenville canal—greatly reducing the depth of water—but an outlay of about $15,000 would make this canal available for vessels, drawing from four and a half to five feet of water. This would be a great boon to the timber interest, and to many interests besides. The consideration of the Intercolonial Railway came next in turn. With the difficulties of the Grand Trunk staring the country in the face, it was necessary to proceed very cautiously in the matter.
The general advantages of railways, in saving time and money, and in improving the value of all kinds of property, no one would deny. This railway had become a necessity. The United States were taking advantage of our present position, but with this line in operation we need not care for that country. The cost of construction, certainly, amounting to a large sum, was not so frightful as it appeared at the first glance. He would advocate the line only on condition that the sister Provinces paid their fair quota of the cost.
There were many ways in which it would save us money. Look at the subsidy to the ocean get to Halifax or St. Johns, and it would go far towards it, if it did not entirely pay our part of the interest on the moneys expended. And it should be remembered that in the calculations made, nothing had been allowed for the resources which this line might develope in its progress through a country but very little known. The establishment of a new company, or rather the new dress ins which the old Hudson’s Bay Company appeared, had called attention to the boundaries of Canada.
He, as a Canadian, claimed, he almost felt inclined to say, the two oceans as our boundaries; but as the Imperial Government had seen fit to establish a separate province on the Pacific, he contended for the Rocky Mountains west of the Red River settlement, including the prairies and coal fields of that region, as our limit.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
James Skead [Rideau, elected 1862]—The future prosperity of our country demanded that this territory should be our own. The hon. gentleman proceeded to say that he felt highly gratified at the progress made in the public buildings at Ottawa since last spring, and at the very moderate outlay incurred. The progress made was really astonishing, taking into account the small expenditure. Still he must say that much valuable time had been frittered away, and for this the blame rested mainly with the Macdonald-Sicotte Government. The work of their commission was badly arranged and most needlessly prolonged. Why could not the inquiry have been limited to one block of buildings at a time, and that having been completed work might have been resumed, the investigation meanwhile proceeding with another? There nothing whatever to have prevented this.
At a certain memorable dinner, at which the Hon. Premier [John Sandfield Macdonald] occupied a distinguished position, that hon. gentleman was pleased to say that nothing short of an earthquake could prevent the removal of the Government to Ottawa next autumn; but the people of Ottawa entertained no apprehension of a territorial convulsion of that nature, and should one occur in the political world he trusted that the interests of his friends and neighbours would not be swallowed up in the vortex.
The question of house accommodation for the employees and followers of the Government, was of the first importance, but it admitted of easy solution. If the Government would definitely name a time for the removal, there were parties in Ottawa and the neighbourhood who would erect a sufficient number of suitable houses to accommodate all who might come. Frequent disappointments, doubts and delay, alone had prevented this from being done before.
The hon. gentleman concluded by remarking that there were two omissions in the Speech which were two omissions in the Speech which were regretted. The first was the absence of any allusion to emigration. He said he admitted that an extensive immigration was not to be expected in the absence of prosecution of public works, but still he thought that by judicious management, an annual supply of some thousands of labourers suitable for the work of the rural districts, would be readily absorbed for they were much needed. This applied particularly to the Ottawa country.
The second omission related to our forests. He could not avoid remarking that, in this respect, negligence and mismanagement had characterized our Government for some years past. A wanton waste of these valuable gifts of nature had long been going on. It would be well to remember, that a forest, once destroyed was never completely restored. The magnitude and importance of the winter business had not received a due consideration.
Annually, 1,300 to 1,400 ships of the largest class left our ports with timber freight; 350,000,000 feet of timber went every year to the United States and a net revenue, collected with very little trouble, of more than half a million, was derived from his source. The number of persons to whom, directly and indirectly, it gave employment could not be less than half a million; and as to the capital employed, this was so immensely
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large that it would not be wise even to venture on an approximation. All this business depended on the care and preservation of our forests, and under an improved system these great advantages could much extended. For one thing, he would assert, that better management would double the revenue now obtained from this branch of industry, and this alone would enable the Minister of Finance [Luther Holton] to reduce many duties which now pressed heavily on the farmer and the labeling classes.
The hon. gentleman utterly condemned sales of land en bloc to speculators, and recommended that land suitable for agricultural purposes should be given to actual settlers at 25 cents per acre, a price, which would cover the cost of survey, agency and management. In addition, he would give them a right in the timber growing on their allotments. He had omitted an item to which he desired for a moment to revert. In his opinion the Ottawa district had been slighted all through in regard to public improvements, and it was time this should be understood. It was true that some $60,000, possibly $80,000, might have been spent upon the timber slides at various places, but it should be remembered that these slides paid annual tolls to the Government to the extend of $20,000 which was a very good return for the outlay. The slides were, in fact, the best paying stock in the Province, and he assured the House that private enterprise would willingly take them at their value, keep them in repair, and at the same time greatly reduce the tolls.
The hon. member then thanked the House for the patient attention with which they had listened to his remarks, and resumed his seat amid token of general satisfaction.
David Reesor [King’s, elected 1860] said he was much pleased with the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa [James Skead], who had just taken his seat. His speech was highly practical and to the point. Upon entering the House this evening he (the Hon. Mr. Reesor) did not intend taking any part in the debate, but as the hon. member for Ottawa (Hon. Mr. Skead) had been the first to allude to what he believed to be the true position of the Hudson Bay Company, he would claim the indulgence of the House while he said a few words on this question, and before taking his seat would also refer to some other questions of interest embraced in the Speech from the Throne, as well as to statements made during the debate by leading members of the Opposition, and which he donut upon referring to official records to be far from accurate.
While he was placed to find a determination on the part of the Government to ascertain the boundaries between Canada and the Hudson’s Bay territory, he regretted much that there was a reason to apprehend that the Imperial Government has sanctioned a transfer of the interests of the old Hudson’s bay Company to a new Company, which was likely to throw greater difficulties in the way of the settlement of that immense Territory than existed before such transfer. Before the transfer the right of the old Company to the soil was not recognized; their legal interest int he fur trade was, very properly, not regarded as of much value, as their exclusive right to the fur trade under their charter was understood to have terminated.
But we now have a new Company who have purchased the rights of the old Company, under the sanction, as it appears, of the Imperial Government, for the sum of one and half a million sterling, thus recognizing in the new Company a valuable interest on account of cash paid, which it may be difficult to ignore in any future arrangement that may be desired for the settlement of that country. Very true this transfer was made under the pretence that the new Company would construct roads and a telegraph line through that immense regions and a telegraph line through that immense regions lying between the head of Lake Superior and British Columbia.
But it appears now, since the transfer has been consummated, and a recognized value paved upon eh Company’s rights, all improvement, with a view to the settlement of that territory, are as little likely to be taken up now as at any former time, and the new Company is working in precisely the same channel as the one that preceded it, with a view of making the most out of the fort trade. Furthermore, when the nature of the transfer becomes fully understood, it will be found that the change is little more than nominal as regards the proprietorship.
Amongst the new stockholders will be found the strength of the old Company—it is little else than the old Company selling out to itself—with the names of a few new stockholders kept prominently before the public for the sake of appearances, the whole object apparently being to place themselves in a position to demand a million and a half sterling, before they will consent to relinquish their claims to the Imperial or Canadian Government. The matter should be enquired into at the proper quarter, and the question determined, whether the present Company really have a right to keep for a hunting ground the immense valleys of the Red River and Saskatchewan, or to demand for their interest $1,500,000 sterling.
This region with the development of the immense mining and timber country, north of the great Lakes and eastward of the Ottawa valley. Timber is one of the most valuable exports of this country, and settlement should always be encouraged to follow the making of timber. Those engaged in the making of timber and limber, create the best market for the produce of the early settler. While valuable timber may be taken from comparatively barren lands, there are generally adjacent valleys, along the principal streams, rich for agricultural purposes.
Coming now to the policy of the Government, in regard to the New Parliament Buildings, and their Commission of Enquiry, he (Hon. Mr. Reesor) thought there was no good ground of complaint. True, a few months delay int he work was occasioned by the enquiry. But look at the result. The whole cost of the enquiry scarcely exceed $19,000, while the investigation, as shown by the report, will effect a saving to the country of about $500,000.
The hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] had, during this debate, stated that the Government had claimed credit for their retrenchment had claimed credit for their retrenchment policy. He (Honorable Mr. Campbell) the leader what he claimed to be an organized opposition said:—“he was willing to give the Government credit for the little good they had effected, but after all what find it amount to. They had expended $100,000 on commissions, and saved about $80,000.” Now it is to be regretted that any hon. member of this house should be so unguarded in his statements.
He (Hon. Mr. Reesor) had taken the trouble to enquire a little into these matters at the proper quarter, and he found that the cost of the Ottawa Commission, all told, was only $19,000, and the cost of all other commissions only $13,000, making a total in round numbers of $32,000. Then let us look at the savings effected. In the Ottawa Buildings it will not be denied that the setting aside of Mr. Killaly’s report, and the carrying on of the works under the present contract will secure, besides better work, a saving to the country of over half a million of dollars.
While by the doing away with useless officers the savings in the contingent expenses of the different departments, the reduction in the Ocean Mail Subsidy, and the economical management of what was before partially or wholly unproductive, an additional gain will be found to have been secured to the country when the Public Accounts are published of some $600,000 more. Probably the fairest way to judge the merits of the present Administration on the subject of retrenchment, is to compare the results of their management with that of their predecessors.
Under the Cartier-Macdonald Government, we find that the public debt was not only largely increased every year of their administration, but at the end of each fiscal year a large deficit from 1855 to 1862 there has been an excess of expenditure over the income ranging from two to five millions dollars per annum. How different has been the management of the present Government!
Notwithstanding the new expenditure of $500,000 on the militia—notwithstanding the extraordinary expenditure on the Ottawa Buildings—the interest on the public debt, and all other extraordinary as well as ordinary expenditure, we find the year 1863 to show a deficit of less than $1,000,000. If the present Government go on in the course they have commenced, the probability is that in the course of a year or two the revenue will exceed the expenditure; while upon the other hand, if the late Government had remained in power, going on in the course they had followed for the previous ten years, we should have most likely found in 1864 a deficit of at least $5,000,000, instead of less than $1,000,000, as is now the case.
In regard to the threatened abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, he (Hon. Mr. Reesor) felt very sure that, should the treaty be abrogated and the bonding system abolished, no party would have greater reason to regret it than the American themselves. The Republic is fast growing into a great maritime power. The free use of our fisheries as a nursery for their seaman is a matter of the first importance, really worth to them as much as all the advantages we derived from the treaty. Add to the fisheries the use of the St. Lawrence and the whole chain of our canals, through which American vessels now pass on the same terms as do our own—all these, in addition to free trade in breadstuffs, afford a boon that our neighbours know how to value. But should the bonding system and treaty be abolished, our policy shall then be to enlarge the canals and construct the Intercolonial Railway. We could in this way furnish a cheap outlet for the produce of the great west, and control an immense proportion of the carrying trade to Europe, British vessels having in that case an exclusive right to the canals and the St. Lawrence.
He (Hon. Mr. Reesor) could not believe that so shrewd a people as out neighbours would hastily deprive themselves of these advantages. If they did, they would be the first to apply again for a new treaty or the re-enactment of the old one.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
David Reesor [King’s, elected 1860]—Closely […] to the Reciprocity Treaty is the question of the Intercolonial Railway. If we lose the former we must provide ourselves with the latter, and should the bonding system be abolished, the Intercolonial Railway becomes almost a necessity. But in the meantime the proper step is being taken—the survey of the route—which is first necessary to ascertain its practicability and the probable cost of construction. This much is required to secure the guarantee of the Imperial Government to the loan necessary for the work.
He (Hon. Mr. Reesor) did not regard this as a work that should be hastily undertaken. At the present time it was very clear that as a commercial enterprise such a road would not pay. Yet it is hard to say what a little time may bring forth. A new route to the seaboard may in a few be as desirable for commercial as military purposes.
One word upon the efforts of the Government to organize an efficient Volunteer and Militia force. These are two ways to provide for the defence of the country—the one voluntary, and the other as the Hon. and gallant Knight opposite (Sir. E. P. Tache) very properly expresses it—obligatory. By the Volunteer principle, you are more likely to secure the services of those who can be most easily spared from other occupations. Their willingness to fight is an evidence of patriotism, and no one who has watched the serious struggle that has been going on during the last two years in the neighbouring Republic, can doubt what their experience has pretty gully established. That is, that two volunteers are equal to three conscripts.
So fully are they convinced of this fact that nearly every Northern State has managed to send forward its quota of the million of men now under arms, upon the volunteer principle. Rather than empty the obligatory method of filling up the ranks, the Federal Government, the State Government, and the local municipality, each make a liberal grant, as a bounty, in order to fill up the ranks without conscripts. Besides, this principle is the fairest to the poor man who, if conscripted, would be unable to hire a substitute.
We sometimes forget, too, that the volunteer principle appeals to the patriotism. The patriotism of the people in a well governed country is often a greater barrier to the success of an enemy than a standing army. All recollect when, some three years ago, France seemed to be mysteriously engaged in strengthening her naval and military forces—No one knew the design of the Emperor. But that England was stirred with the strongest apprehension that her shores might be invaded is patent to all. The question was debated in Parliament, at public meetings and through the press—the whole country burned with loyal enthusiasm. It was then an appeal was made for volunteers, and nobly did they respond to that appeal.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
David Reesor [King’s, elected 1860]—One hundred and fifty thousand volunteers were soon raised. This was evidence of the people having a due appreciation of the value of their institutions. England did well, but Canada has done better. We have 35,000 volunteers. They have ten times our population, but did not raise five times our number of volunteers.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
David Reesor [King’s, elected 1860]—It ill becomes hon. gentleman opposite to complain of the effort thus made to provide for the defence of the country. What did the late do Government [sic] during their ten years of power. They had not a well organized, well drilled company of volunteers or militia in the whole country. Nearly all that has been done, has been done since the formation of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government. Taking all together the Administration has done well, and deserves the thanks of the country. But it has been said that the South Leeds election indicates a change in public sentiment.
He (the Hon. Mr. Reesor) thought it should not be so regarded. The result of that election is not surprising when we consider the influences brought to bear upon it. The leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Mr. Campbell, canvassed that constituency, in company with two other gentlemen of great ability—the Hons. J.A. Macodnald and T. D. McGee. And is it likely that he was any more guarded in his statements to the electors of South Leeds than he has been in this House during this debate? If he told the electors of South Leeds that the Government deserved little credit for economy,
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that they had expended more on commissions than they had saved by retrenchment, is it surprising that many of the honest electors of that county were misled and induced to vote against the Solicitor General?
What else could be excepted of them, after listening to such statements made by an hon. member of this House, and one of such high character and ability? Yet, we all know that the result of the Government policy has been most gratifying, as hon. gentleman would see by the public accounts, to be laid before them in a few days; and that instead of the commissions costing more than the country has gained by a sound Administration of the affairs of the different Departments, they would find the total cost on the commissions less than three per cent. of the absolute gain to the Treasury.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said, in explanation, that his remarks about the canals had reference only to those already in existence. There was another point to which he wished to draw attention. Hon. Mr. Dorion had been blamed for saying that by the transfer of the Bank Account the Government had placed at interest $1,500,000, before unproductive. The hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] had said this was an exaggeration by half the whole sum. Well, he [Mr. Currie] had taken the trouble to refer to official statements of 1862 and 1863, and adding the eight quarterly balances together, found them to amount to $8,873,000 which, divided by 8, gave an average of over $1,500,000; then, if the outstanding bill of exchange of $100,000 sterling were added to this the sum would be fully one million and a half, and $95,000 to spare.
George Allan [York, elected 1858] said he was sorry the hon. member had not made the statement when the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] was present; however, he [Mr. Allan] would say he had referred to the monthly statements furnished by the Banks to the Receiver General in 1863, and found that the figures given by the hon. member for Cataraqui [Alexander Campbell] were correct. Only in one month had the balance in the hands of the Bank of Upper Canada risen to $900,000, and during the others they varied from 4 to 4, 5 7 and 8 hundred thousand. Then, as to the bill of exchange in question, it was not fair to add it to the balance. He stated from his own knowledge that the bank had wished for nearly two years to settle this matter, and that it had been urged upon the late Minister of Finance [William Howland] and the present [Luther Holton].
James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—Upon Hon. Mr. Galt?
George Allan [York, elected 1858]—No, upon both Messrs. Howland and Holton—
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
George Allan [York, elected 1858]—and he himself had accompanied Mr. Cassels, the Manager of the Bank, when he was here in former sessions, with the view of bringing it to a settlement, but never could succeed. They were too busy, &c.; at any rate it was not con, so the fault was with them, and not with the Bank.
James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said his statement was made up of the balances of two years, and did not include special deposits. Then, as to the Bill of Exchange, the amount was due, while the matter, from any cause, remained unsettled.
The various paragraphs of the Resolution having been passed seriatim,
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] moved the adoption of it as a whole, and the motion was passed without a division.
After the usual forms, an answer founded on the resolution was passed and peered to be presented to His Excellency on the following day, at halt-past three o’clock.