Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (23 February 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 3-6.
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Address to Her Majesty
A.J. Fergusson Blair [Brock, elected 1860, Provincial Secretary] rose and said he had a proposition to offer to the House, which he was satisfied beforehand would meet with the cordial approbation of all its members. Hon. members would remember that less than one year ago they had had the pleasure of voting an address of congratulation to Her Majesty the Queen on the auspicious event of the marriage of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, and he had now the pleasure to inform the House that Providence had smiled upon the union, and, to the great joy of the nation, had given the illustrious parents a son and heir. This happy event was a guarantee for the maintenance, in the male line, of a succession which hitherto had ensued the weal and prosperity of the empire, and he was sure that no part of Her Majesty’s dominions would more sincerely rejoice in it that this Province, and none in the Province more than the House itself. He would, therefore, move that an humble address to Her Majesty, expressive of the feelings of the House, be adopted, for the purpose of being laid at the foot of the Throne.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858] said he most heartily and cordially concurred in the motion offered by the Hon. Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair], and assured him that on no former occasion had the Opposition felt more satisfaction in acceding to the request of the Government, as expressed through him. The only cause of regret which he (Mr. Campbell) experienced in connection with this mate was that the happy event to which the motion referred had not been alluded to in the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] from the Throne. He did not charge the omission upon the Government as an intentional one, but supposed that in the midst of the various important subjects which engrossed their attention the subject had been overlooked. If they had not been so otherwise pressingly occupied he had no doubt they would have adopted the course which he could not but think would have been the most appropriate. That course had been taken in the sister colonies, but, after all, perhaps what the House was now doing was nearly as correct. He most sincerely seconded the motion, feeling, as he did, that the event to which it related was pregnant with most important consequences to the well-being of the nation. It would assist in securing to our posterity the blessings of that good government which we had enjoyed under the British Crown, and repressing the disorders which an uncertain succession were apt to engender. If the Government would only give the Opposition the opportunity hereafter of agreeing as fully in their measures as they did in the motion now before the House, he for one, would be most happy to second their efforts.
A.J. Fergusson Blair [Brock, elected 1860, Provincial Secretary] was glad he had afforded the hon. member so much satisfaction, and hoped he would have the pleasure hereafter of securing his assent to many other good propositions. With respect to the mode adopted of moving this Address perhaps, in strict etiquette, the subject should have been alluded to in His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] speech, though he was not quite sure that until the fact to which it related had been officially communicated, it was proper to deal with it. It was right, however, to say that when the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] was passed, Her Majesty’s Speech at the opening of the Imperial Parliament had not been received, but after it was received, and it was seen that Her Majesty had alluded to it, there could be no question as to the property of the course now adopted. He was glad to mark the tone of cordiality with which the motion was seconded by his hon. friend.
George Boulton [Canada West, appointed 1847] was sure that every member cordially approved of the motion, and thought it would have been still better if a joint Address had been agreed to by both Houses. It was, however, too late now to take that course. He had the greatest pleasure in supporting the motion, and was sure the hoary event would be the means, if possible, of increasing the strong attachment which the people of this country felt for the noble line of monarchs under whom the empire had enjoyed so many blessings.
The motion was then put and unanimously carried.
A Committee composed of Hon. Messrs. Fergusson Blair, Le Tellier de St. Just, Campbell, and Sir E. P. Tache was appointed to prepare an Address to Her Majesty founded on the resolution.
The House then adjourned during pleasure.
After a few moments the House resumed, when the Committee reported an Address similar in substance to that adopted by the Assembly, which was ordered to be engrossed and signed by the Speaker and presented by the Committee to His Excellency the Governor General, with a request that he should use the proper means to transmit the name to Her Majesty.
CONSIDERATION OF HIS EXCELLENCY’S SPEECH.
The order of the day for the consideration of His Excellency’s speech having been called.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] rose and said that the duty of moving the resolutions in answer to His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech had devolved upon him by accident, as he understood an hon. member on the other side would have been selected for the task if he had been present. For his part, he fully reciprocated the feelings expressed by His Excellency [Viscount Monck], and trusted that during the session now commenced the best attention of the House would be given to the legislation required for the public welfare. He was satisfied there existed no other feeling in the Council, and was sure that the Opposition would be conducted in such a way as not to be obstructive, beneficial. This House was ready to give its best attention to measures having the interests of the country in view, and to assist in carrying out the principles of good government, whether emanating from the Administration now in power or from any other, just as he believed it would be equally ready to disapprove and reject measures having a contrary tendency.
In His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech many great and important measures were foreshadowed, and every one of them was very necessary, for during the last fifteen or eighteen months there had been little or no general legislation. He sincerely hoped the measures promised would be such as the country required and the Legislature could accept.
The second paragraph was an expression of thanks to His Excellency [Viscount Monck] for having taken steps for carrying into effect the Acts passed during last session for the organization of the militia force of the Province. This was a subject of paramount importance to Canada. The events which had transpired in the United States were calculated deeply to impress the minds of the people of this country, and had given them occasion to prove, as they had done, that they were actuated, without distinction of race or creed, by the most devoted and unfaltering loyalty to the British Crown and to the illustrious lady who wore it with so much dignity. Not only was out gracious Sovereign know and esteemed in all lands as Queen, but was perhaps even more revered and beloved for the home and domestic virtues by which she had ever been distinguished. This it was that stimulated the loyalty of the subject, and whatever military measures the government might adopt and mature, he (Mr. Moore) was satisfied the people would ever be found ready to do their duty.
The third paragraph had special respect to the Reciprocity Treaty between Canada and the United States. This treaty had been negotiated on our behalf by the parent State, for as Colonists we could not do it ourselves. England had felt that after the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and the adoption of the free trade policy of Sir Robert Peel, Canada had no longer that advantage in the home markets which would enable it to compete advantageously with other countries. Until then there had been discriminating duties in favor of the manufactures of England in this country, but Lord John Russell thenceforward allowed us to treat all countries alike, England included, and the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States was still further designed to aid us in out commercial enterprises. Now, the legislature of the United States was pressed by its people to give notice of the termination of the Treaty, after the expiration of the term for which it had been passed, viz., the 5th of September, 1861. If
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there was one portion of His Excellency’s Speech more than another which concerned our interests, it was that which referred to the Treaty.
He (Mr. Moore) had no doubt that the notice would be given, for, from the opportunities of intercourse he had with gentlemen from the United States, he knew they were bent upon this. This being the fact, he thought the Government entitled to thanks for the efforts they were making in favor if a renewal, and he was convinced that when the subject had been fairy and fully examined in all its bearings, as it would be sure to be by the best talent on both sides of the line, the people of the United States would recognize the Treaty as having been in truth a really reciprocal and mutually advantageous arrangement. If this were so, it would no doubt be renewed, though possible with some modifications. There was an idea prevalent in the United States that if notice of the termination of the Treaty were given by them, they would force us, as a condition of its renewal, to admit all their manufactures duty free. He had combatted this idea, and attempted to convince them that it was not possible for Canada to construct a tariff discriminating against the manufactures of Great Britain and in favor of the United States. The Hon. Mr. Galt had fully and ably discussed the subject in an admirable pamphlet, in which he had proved the utter impossibility of doing what the American people desired, and the people of this country were greatly indebted to that hon. gentleman for his valuable production.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841]—Then the Americans complained that Canada had raised her tariff much above what it was at the time the Treaty was passed, but it was raised not as a matter of hostility to them but as a measure of necessity, and for the sole purpose of creating a revenue adequate to our necessities. Then certainly they had no reason to find fault with Canada on that score in view of the fact that they had increased their own duties some 20 and 25 per cent. over and above the increase which had taken place in Canada, besides imposing heavy direct taxation for the purpose of meeting the expenses of the unhappy war in which they are engaged. He expected that when the subject was fairly discussed and properly understood the objections to the renewal of the Treaty would be given up, for the advantages of our fisheries and the use of our canals could not so easily be dispensed with as some might seem to imagine.
The two next paragraphs had reference to the improvement of our inland navigation, and on this subject legislation was much needed. A large carrying trade was a constant source of wealth to any country and this the United States had early understood. To cultivate such a trade they had passed the warehouse bonding law and it had given them a great portion of our interior carrying trade, If by the improvement of our water courses we can attract the great Western traffic, which, with the shortest and cheapest route to the ocean, we ought to be able to do, the object will be well worthy of our greatest and most strenuous efforts. He was glad to notice also by the sixth paragraph that arrangements were in progress for a preliminary survey of the route of the proposed Intercolonial Railway. It was highly commendable on the part of the Government before they undertook so extensive and expensive a work that they should have the means of convincing the people that the cost would not be out of proportion to the benefits which might fairly be expected to flow therefrom. They had acted wisely and deserved the thanks of the country for the caution they had manifested in the matter.
The next topic was the duty of ascertaining the precise limits of Canada to the West. This, too, was a subject of vital importance to our interests and in view of the increasing demand for good lands to settle upon, it must be obvious that the proper definition of our possessions claimed and should receive all due attention.
The next paragraph related to the early completion of the Public Buildings at Ottawa, and he trusted that the anticipations held out would be justified. It was unquestionably the duty of the Government to give effect to Her Majesty’s decision at the earliest possible day and to put an end to the system of perambulation which had been a source of so much expense to the country and of inconvenience and hardship to the public servants. While alluding to this item he could not help remarking upon the removal of the Government from Montreal. It was not to their honour that they had been driven away by a mob. It was their duty to maintain the public peace, and they should have kept the mob down. Montreal was the most proper place for the seat of Government, and but for this concession it might have continued so. However as Ottawa had been chosen, at the request of the Legislature, they were moth to keep faith with Her Majesty, but they should see that proper provision was made to receive the officials, and that they were not sent to occupy buildings damp and unhealthy. If this were done, he very much feared the edifices would not be in proper condition next fall, and that if they were in the fall of 1865 it would be as much as could reasonably be expected.
The paragraph which followed had regard to a subject in which all were interested, and which had excited a good deal of pleasurable feeling throughout the Province. He alluded to the gold and copper discoveries in that part of the country in which he himself resided. In view of the great excitement already in existence, and which would no doubt increase as the season advanced, he trusted the Government would see the necessity of establishing such regulations as would prove safeguards and prevent the disorders of which are apt to follow the pursuit of that branch of industry. Allusion was next made to the necessity of making Legislative provision for the more effectual investigation of the causes of shipwrecks upon the coasts and waters adjacent to the Province. It was with a melancholy feeling that he approached this subject, the intelligence of the unfortunate wreck of the “Bohemian,” just received, having given increased significance to the paragraph in question. Without attempting to blame any one in particular for the many disasters which had attended out ocean line of steamers, it seemed an unavoidable conclusion that there must have been throughout a lack of that vigorous supervision which was absolutely necessary to justify a full confidence in the management. When the accidents to that line were compared with the immunity from such disasters by the Cunard Line, the contrast became very striking, He believed that the latter Company had only lost one vessel, the “Asia,” last fall.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—No they had not lost the “Asia,” and had not lost any vessel at all. The “Africa” had struck last fall on the coast of Newfoundland, but was got off with little damage and was now running.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] was obliged for the correct, and went on the say that the Government deserved credit for their intention to look well into the system of management of our own line, which had been attended by so many calamities, and he hoped they would succeed in detecting the errors and adopting means which would prevent the recurrence of such fearful disasters. In renewing the contract at half the subsidy, he trusted they had made provision for ensuring the safety of the lives of passengers, and if they had they would be entitled to the thanks of the House.
The twelfth paragraph had respect to many important subjects, about which legislation was much needed, to-wit: the laws relating to Parliamentary elections, to Bankrupt and Insolvent Debtors, to the Administration of Justice, to the encouragement of Agriculture and to the Fisheries, to the Registration of Titles to Real Estate, and to the granting of Patents for Inventions. If the Government brought forward and carried good measures in relation to all these subjects, they would certainly deserve well of the country, and he hoped legislation would be conducted in such wise as to secure the most effective results. He was sure this House would give them no factious opposition, but on the contrary that the Opposition itself would be of great help in maturing and perfecting the measures which might be introduced. It was the duty of this House rather to sit in revision upon the legislation of the other than to initiate measures of its own, and from the high character it had deservedly acquired, he was convinced the expectation of the country in this regard would not be disappointed. He would not proceed to the consideration of the remaining topics, but would leave them in other hands, and meanwhile had much pleasure in moving the resolution.
William McMaster [Midland, elected 1862] said that the hon. mover of the Address had so fully taken up and discussed the different topics in the Speech that little remained but to express in general terms his approbation of the Resolution as a whole. It was doubtless satisfactory to the House as it would be to the country to know that steps had been taken for carrying out the Act of last session for the organization of the militia of the Province, and so far as his knowledge extended, that measure had been favourably received, and was likely to be productive of the desired end. Under this Act, the Government would be in a position to call out at short notice, a large and effective force, and whatever difference of opinion there might be in regard to politics, should circumstances unfortunately require the active services of the Militia, he was confident the people of Canada, of all parties, would be found acting together as one man in putting forth the efforts necessary to maintain and perpetuate the connection which so happily existed between this Province and the mighty empire of which we all feel so proud to belong.
It would also be gratifying to the country to know that the attention of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been directed to the Treaty of Reciprocity between Her Majesty and the Government of the United States. The advantages of the Treaty to Canada were great, but they were not all on one said. The people of the United States were largely benefitted by it, and it was to be hoped that both the contracting parties would see it to be for their mutual interest to continue the Treaty in force for an indefinite period. The action taken by the Government in respect of the North-West territory was a step in the right direction, and would be hailed by the people of Canada generally with great satisfaction. It was a fact that the quantity of good land at the disposal of the Government was comparatively small and in view of this and other considerations, the importance of opening up the vast North-West to communication and commerce could hardly be over-estimated.
Most of the measures indicated in the Speech would, he thought, commend themselves to the favourable considerations of the House. A good Bankruptcy Law was certainly required, and he hoped soon to see one in operation. He trusted that the Legislature, during the present session, would be able, without injury to any particular branch of industry, to pass the measures necessary to equalise the annual income with the annual expenditure, so that the Government might not any longer be placed in the humiliating position of being dictated to by the officers of powerful corporations or the capitalists of London.
The administrative acts of the Government during the time that had intervened since last session, could not fail to give general satisfaction. For instance, he regarded the arrangement of the Minister of Finance [Luther Holton], in view of the state of the money market in England, as a complete success. The fresh contract for an Ocean Mail Steamship Service he looked upon as most favorable, effecting as it did a saving to the Province of no less than $200,000 per annum. The settlement of the Grand Trunk Postal subsidy on what was believed to be equitable terms, was no less satisfactory.
The adjustment of the long pending dispute between the Government, the Grand Trunk Company, and the Bank of Upper Canada, respecting a bill of exchange for a large amount, and the saving effected by the system of retrenchment now going on, which would be found to be considerable, altogether furnished conclusive evidence that the administrative acts of the Government had been characterized by visor, judgement and economy. And the fact that the deficiency which was estimated at a million and a half of dollars, will be found to be under a million, while the income will exceed the estimated amount by a considerable sum, afforded a pleasing contract to the state of things as they were two years ago, when a former Minister of Finance’s estimate of the excess of expenditure over the income was no less than about five million of dollars, was surely something to call for congratulation. He had been from the first an humble supporter of the men now in power, and it afforded him more than ordinary satisfaction to find that they had, under circumstances of a peculiarly trying character, managed to accomplish so much. His confidence in them remained unshaken, and if the present Minister of Finance [Luther Holton], who, as an able financier, had no superior in Canada, was allowed time to mature and carry out his plans, he was confident that he would restore the finances of the country to a healthy condition. Holding these views, it afforded him the greatest pleasure to second the Resolution.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858] said he must congratulate both the mover and seconder of the Resolution on having retained one of the distinguishing peculiarities of their early days. The aspirations of youth, based upon a ready faith in the promises of the gilded future, were unhappily too often dissipated by experience, but the hon. Members seemed to have retained, even at an advanced period of life, all the ardor and credulity which marked the morning of existence. When promises made to the ear had often been broken to the hope, men naturally become prone to doubt and distrust, and he therefore marvelled at the implicit reliance of his hon. friends upon the fine promises of the Speech, put in the mouth of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] at the opening of the session. For his part, when he looked at that Speech, comparing it with former deliverances, made to
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the Legislature, under the [Illegible] of the [Illegible] Government, and remembered how short that Government had come in the performance, he confessed he could not participate in the fervent faith of those hon. members. He must, however, repeat that he admired the youthful facility with which they again credited the declaration of the ministers. Perhaps his feelings might be tinctured with some degree of envy, and he would be glad if he could exercise the same undoubting faith, for it was always a source of great pleasure to an ingenuous mind to trust in the sincerity and truth of others.
He submitted, however, to the hon members, whether their experience of the non-performance of the promises made by the Government in former Speeches that from the Throne, ought not to excite some small degree of caution in receiving and believing the promises of the present Speech. Did they really believe that these promises would be all carried out? It would be most remarkable if they were; it would be worthy of note in any country under the sun if all the magnificent anticipations in this most elaborately rich address were realized. Why it held forth promises of important improvements in the navigation of the St. Lawrence, and of something grand to be accomplished in connection with the North West territory, though, to be sure, it did not indicate with any very remarkable precision the nature of the contemplated ameliorations. It did not say that measures would be adopted for facilitating the intercourse or inter-communication with the settlement at Red River; it merely stated that the question was daily becoming one of greater interest, and that His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had deemed it expedient to open a correspondence with the Imperial Government, with a view to arrive at a precise definition of the geographical boundaries of Canada in that direction.
What was there in all this to excite gratitude towards the government? Let the paragraph be closely examined and it will be seen that there was no engagement to do any thing at all—nothing to bind us more closely with our fellow colonists in that remote locality, nothing in fact but a vague allusion to a comparatively unknown territory, which may or may not become in the future a fit place for emigrants to settle in. then there was something about equally vague with regard to a project in the North East, and considering the antecedents of the Government in connection with the Intercolonial Railway, which proceedings had been published to the world, he must say he wondered at their courage in putting in the mouth of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] “that unforeseen obstacles had retarded the survey of the route.” Why, was it not patent to the country that they themselves had created the obstacles in question? From the first moment that the present Premier [John Sandfield Macdonald] had formed his Administration had they not interposed difficulties for the express purpose of averting the progress of the enterprise, and had they not by those means created the most serious doubts in the minds of the people of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick of the honor and honesty of Canada?
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—How was the action of the delegates sent to London to treat about this project, viewed even by an organ of the Government—at least he supposed he might so term it; it certainly was not an organ of the Opposition—he meant the Toronto Globe, a paragraph from which he found quoted in part of the correspondence on the subject go the Intercolonial Railway, published during the last session of Parliament, at the instance of the House of Assembly, and in which Messrs. Sicotte and Howland are congratulated upon having accomplished the object of their mission to England, by indefinitely postponing the Intercolonial Railway. This assertion is quoted by and English Association somewhat favored and patronized by the Government. he referred tot he north American Association in England, which this very Government had so far recognized as to grant them pecuniary aid, and that, too, without the consent of Parliament—how had this body viewed that action?
[Here the hon. gentleman read a paragraph embodying the charge.]
And yet, forsooth, after the good name of Canada had been compromised and the good faith of Canada impaired by their own direct action, the advisers of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] made him say, on the most solemn state occasion of which our system of Government admitted, and when all the utterances of the moment should be weighed with the most scrupulous regard for the truth, “that unforeseen obstacles had retarded the survey” of the route.
He (Mr. Campbell) did not hesitate to say that the delays had been intentional, and that they were interposed because the Government early found the scheme was not looked upon with favor by their supporters at the West. For this reason and for no other was it clogged with difficulties and then abandoned. By these indefensible proceedings they had procured Canada a sinister reputation abroad and seriously tarnished our honor as a people.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—And not only had they procured us this shame but their action had led the people of New Brunswick to look to the United States for an extension of their railways, so as to put themselves in way of a more ready and speedy communication with that country. In view of this palpable breach of faith with the lower Provinces, and the extraordinary averment in the Speech from the Throne as to the cause of the miscarriage of the project, he must be excused if he could not place entire reliance upon their new promises in relation to the foreshadowed improvements on the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence or the far West and far East.
The hon. mover and seconder of the resolution, however, seemed quite ready to take in anything stated and in this matter presented a fine illustration of youthful credulity in alliance with mature age. He had alluded to former fine speeches full of fine promises by the same Ministry at the opening of Parliament, and he would now read that spoken at the commencement of the first session of 1863.
[Here the hon. member read His Excellency’s Speech on that occasion.]
here then the very subjects since held in petto are to-day re-introduced. A person judging of things in good faith would naturally imagine that the gentleman opposite would read the word of the Governor General solemnly given to the country, as he had already said, on a most important public occasion, as chatting a sacred obligation of performance, and that they would attempt to accomplish their engagements, failing which they would cease to keep their places. Surely, if any promises can be regarded as binding those of the Governor General should be so considered; and would anybody suppose that no effort would be made to redeem them, but that they would be quietly dropped if the programme appeared to entail some inconvenience? But it would, perhaps, be answered that the Opposition, by their own act, prevented the performance; that the vote of want of confidence broke down the Government and incapacitated them from doing what they intended.
Well, supposing that excuse to be taken in regard to the first session of 1863, what about the second session of the same year? Had not the Government then the option of at least attempting to carry out their programme? They had a House elected under their own auspices; they had enjoyed and liberally dispensed an extensive patronage, and at the beginning of the session they again produced the large promises of the previous occasion. all they omitted was the re-adjustment of the representation; that was dropped for good reasons, no doubt.
They had for years most strenuously agitated the question of Representation by Population, and because Hon. Mr. Patton, one of the most respected and useful members of this House, was not considered sound enough upon it, though personally, together with other members of the then Government. He was favorable thereto, he was defeated, and the hon. member for Saugeen [John McMurrich], now in this House, was elected on his stead. Yet the hon. member who supplanted him on this very ground gave his support to a Government which absolutely ruled out the principle and made it a close question—not allowing any of its members to vote in its favor.
That Government had actually retrograded in regard to it, and taken a position less advanced than the Government it had displaced. Aye, and that hon. member now supported a Government in no wise better disposed than the Government of which Hon. Mr. Patton was a member upon this very question. The Representation by Population dogma had been made to give way to their sham notion of a Double Majority, a sham which was soon exploded, for, while it was undoubtedly improper for one section of the Province continuously and systematically to rule the other by its majority, it was not the less true that the division into sectional majorities was impracticable, and that while the Government had a majority of the whole House they were entitled to retain their places. Well, the programme of the second session of 1863, with the exceptions he had named, was the same as that of the first session.
[Here the hon. member read the Speech of His Excellency at the opening of the second session of 1863.] ˇ
This was now the third time that several of the most important measures promised in the recent Speech from the Throne had been guaranteed to the country, but, as on former occasions, he very much feared Ministers would rest content with having advised to propound them, and would trouble themselves very little about carrying them through. Were the people really to be taught that the representative of Her Majesty might promise anything in opening Parliament, without any obligation on the past of his advisors in keep faith upon them? Were the people to go away and say: “Oh, it’s all very fine, but it doesn’t meant anything?” Was the word of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] to be left unverified?
He did not wish to use a harsher term. what, he would ask, was done last session to carry out His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] promises? Was there any as tempt at legislating respecting the law of Debtor and Creditor. He had hoped and expected that a Bill would have been introduced in this House itself on the subject, and had ventured to suggest to the Provincial Secretary to bring one in in this Chamber. There were many commercial and many legal members quite competent to deal with the subject, and the hon. member (Mr. Ferguson Blair) had said he would see if it could be done, but it was not done.
Then, as to the Registration of Titles to Real Estate and the Patent Laws, was there any step taken towards treating those subjects, or the various other subjects mentioned in the Speech? None whatever. In fact there were no bills introduced by the Government, although the other branch of the Legislature was of their own election, and they had the power of the patronage. They closed the session without doing anything, and literally broke all their engagements. Then what did they advise His Excellency [Viscount Monck] to say in closing the session? Why, that “the purpose for which he had called Parliament together had been accomplished.”
But were they accomplished? No, not one of them. Was any effort made even to avert a further deficiency in the finances of the country? Not the slightest, and a motion expressive of regret that this had not been attempted was only defeated any a very narrow majority, obtained too by very extraordinary means. The fact was that Government had been all the time not he verge of ruin, and could do nothing. If, instead of depending upon the slenderest possible majority they had said, we cannot fulfill, or even attempt to fulfill our pledges, there would have been some show of manliness about the confession, but while they had not the courage to do right, they still preferred to retain their stats by a miserable majority obtained in a way which did them no credit.
Was it reasonable, then, for this House (knowing how past promises had been regarded) to be expected to place reliance upon the renewed pledges offered? Was it not rather more consonant with the experience of the past to take them with a considerable allowance of doubt? He was not so conversant with military matter as to enter fully into the merits of the Militia Bill, but he might yet ask whether it had really met the requirements on the country? He held that it had not.
There had been great congratulations, because of some articles which had appeared in the London Times to the effect that the measure had satisfied the expectations of the Imperial Government, but it had afterwards appeared that the satisfaction so expressed was based upon entirely incorrect apprehension of the real facts of the case. Mr. Adderley had stated that the effect of the bill would he to fully clothe, equip and drill a corps of 35,000 Volunteers, and to organize and partly drill an available Militia 100,000 strong; but was this the fact? What was the conditions and strength of our Volunteer and Militia Forces to-day on the eve of a possible was? Why that there was not a tithe of the force organized as represented by these figures, and not a tithe of the preparation expected of us in England. Yet the Government, if they had not directly created the wrong impression, or made the wrong statement to which he had alluded, had been content to shelter themselves under it and to take advantage of the misrepresentation.
Were there, he would ask 35,000 Volunteers in Canada clothed equipped and fully drilled? There were not. But where were the 35,000? And would the Volunteers who turned out at the reviews recently be ready to go to the frontiers, as his hon. and gallant friend (Sir E. P. Tache) phrased it, to resist invasion? But supposing they were ready, how many find they amount to in all? Possibly some 15,000 or 16,000. These Volunteers, however, were generally artizans living in the cities and towns, the large bull of the population having been untouched by the Volunteer organization. In fact in this respect the Government occupied a position towards the people of the ground delusion.
Passing from the Volunteers to the Militia, where were the 100,000 enrolled and partially drilled and disciplined men? There was no such organization, and all the Government had done was to shelter itself under the assumption, without the shadow of reason, that it existed somewhere. Most heartily did he recognize the
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fervent loyalty of the country and most readily did he acquiesce in the truth, that all class were alike loyal and devoted, but yet he maintained that instead of 100,000 men, partially drilled, disciplined, and well officered, there was not one single battalion of Militia in this condition. The exact reverse was in reality the case—the Militia at this moment being in a state of disorganization.
Indeed the Militia Bill of the present Government actually had the effect of disorganization. It destroyed the old system which had many good and effective features, and under which the men could be easily collected at the centres, and substituted nothing adequate to the necessities of the case. Yet those gentlemen had made His Excellency [Viscount Monck] say, at the close of the session, that the Legislature had done all they were assembled to do. He regarded their conduct in this matter as exceedingly culpable, for it had led the people to slumber under the delusive belief that the country was a in proper state of defence, when, in fact, there was hardly any thing worth calling by that name. All this was calculated to suggest grave doubts as to the sincerity to the promises now made.
And to come to the subject of finance, notwithstanding the reputation for ability claimed by the hon. gentleman who seconded the motion, on behalf of the Minister in charge of that particular department, he must express some hesitation as to the probable flow of money with which that hon. gentleman was to bless the country. Where would all this money be if the Government were going to spend the magnificent sums necessary to the improvements in the navigation of the Ottawa, the St. Lawrence, in the North West and in the North East? It was said, to be sure, that a saving of $49,000 on the expenses of the Civil Service had been effected, and the sum was to be increased or had latterly been increased to $80,000: but did the Government mean to say that even this would be sufficient to carry out the improvements in question? Then was it not probable that the commissions through which these savings had been effected had cost as much or more than the savings themselves? The old shams of retrenchment had accomplished their object, and having creased to tell very strongly upon the public mind, other means had to be restored to, and hence the Ottawa and other schemes. The Commissioners, however, had been useful rewarding political partizans, and that was most likely the chief ends attained by them. The Double Majority and Retrenchment shams being no longer available, were to be set aside and something else inaugurated.
During the first session of 1863, if he remembered right, the hon. members for the Saugeen [John McMurrich] and the Midland [John McMaster] Divisions, were willing to take the Ministry upon trust, and to allow them to keep Representation according to Population for the moment in abeyance, feeling confident that in the next session they would courageously address themselves to the task, but instead of doing that, they had thrown the measure overboard altogether. He would venture to say that when the hon. member for the Saugeen Division [John McMurrich] had presented himself to the electors, he had told them that Representation by Population was the most important of all subjects, and that if it could be secured it would effectually overthrow the baneful French domination under which the country had been so long suffering.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—He had not read any of the hon. member’s speeches during his canvass, but he would put it to him whether this was not his most effective weapon. Now who were the members that kept the Ministry in power? Why the Clear Grits, the men who for long years had agitated for Representation by Population, as their chief and almost only plank. Yet now when the Ministry had proved false upon this point they continued to support them and to keep them in office. Was it not time after three sessions, in which nothing was done for the country, except the boasted retrenchment which everybody fully understood, that these gentlemen should show some disposition to live upon better principles than the sins of their predecessors?
The paragraph relating to the North-West was intended to create an expectation in Upper Canada that something would be done to open up the way to the Red River settlement, so that we might supply the people there with the commodities they required, but let the wording be carefully examined and it would be found to have no such meaning. The paragraph merely said something about defining the boundary of Canada, and, for his part, he was at a loss to know why it had been put in the Speech at all. It was, of course, desirable to know the boundaries of the Province, but was that a matter of such importance that it must figure in an address from the Throne?
The hon. member who had seconded the resolution had dwelt with much satisfaction upon the administrative abilities exhibited by the present Government, but he hardly thought his encomiums fully deserved. Had anything occurred during the recess leading to increase the amount of reliance which hon. members may be disposed to place in Ministerial assurances? It was rightly expected from the members of a Government that their public utterances should be marked by precision and truth. Exaggeration might, providing it did not go too far, be excused in an opposition, but not so in a Government.
Well, at the dinner to the Minister in Ottawa, the Premier [John Sandfield Macdonald] himself, alluding to the alliances to be paid to the Grand Trunk Railway for postal services, had said that by the decision of the question the difference between $250 and $100 per mile per annum had been saved to the country. He alleged that one of the arbitrators was for giving $300 and the other $200, and that no doubt a compromise would have been arranged at $250, whereupon Hon. Mr. Moffatt, the Government arbitrator, immediately addressed a letter to the Hon. the Attorney General West [John Sandfield Macdonald], stating that he had decided upon $145 per mile, and had communicated that decision to him several months before, as he must be aware. Also, that this sum was to cover the cost special trains and side services amounting to some $18,000 per annum. Was it creditable in a Prime Minister to thus distort important facts? Then, the Hon. Mr. Dorion, the co-Premier, at the dinner to the Government in this city, had said that by the transfer of the Bank account the large sum of $1,500,000 was placed at interest, which sum had until then been unproductive.
Now, by an examination of the balances in the hands of the Bank of Upper Canada, it would be found that only once, and for a short time, the current balance had arisen to that figure, and that the half of it was nearer the average amount. But if the hon. gentleman had intended to state the case fairly he would have deducted from even this amount the current balance remaining without interest in the hands of the Bank of Montreal, under the new arrangement, and then the public would have been enabled to see the gain effected, in the shape of interest, by the transfer. There unquestionably had been an exaggeration, to say the least, calculated—although probably not intended—to mislead.
The hon. seconder had spoken of the management of the Minster of Finance [Luther Holton] as a perfect triumph of skill, but he [Mr. Campbell] failed to see the great merit of the operation to which he referred—the borrowing of a million and a half from the Bank of Montreal at 6 per cent. He had been informed that the Bank of Upper Canada had offered more favorable terms than those agreed upon with the Bank of Montreal; and it was well known, also, that the money required could have been had from other quarters. The skill must have been in selecting for acceptance one of several offers.
The fact was that the Minister of Finance [Luther Holton] was averse to going home, and so he had borrowed in this country, and in so doing had probably withdrawn a great part of the sum which has been spoken of from the uses of trade for the purpose of sending it home to pay the maturing claims. Where was the financial triumph? He failed to see it. Then another financial triumph was that the estimates for the past year had exceeded the expenditure in amount, but possibly the estimates may have been framed with a view to this boast. Besides, it might be useful purposely to over-estimate the probable expenditure and under-estimate the probable revenue, for other reasons.
On referring to the resolution, he found that the Government promised, more or less distinctly, seventeen different measures, which, if carried out, would entail a very large outlay, the largest for many years, and so falsify the promises of economy and retrenchment so loudly made. But as measures heretofore promised has not been carried out, he thought the country might re-assure itself, and that, after all, there was not any extreme danger that the projects foreshadowed would be pushed forward with any undue haste. All he hoped was that the Government would not abandon all their promises, but would at least proceed with the measures which were very much wanted by the country. He did not intend to oppose the passage of the Address, but, in the interest of truth, had deemed it necessary to state tot he House the options he entertained of its contents.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] rose to remonstrate with the hon. member for what he conceived to be very disrespectful language towards him and the hon. member who had seconded the resolutions.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858] disclaimed any such intention.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] persisted and maintained that in speaking of him as a youth he meant to say he was in his dotage.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858] again assured the hon. member that nothing was further from his thoughts, and upon Hon. Mr. Moore proceeding in a somewhat excited way, appealed to the Chair as to whether the hon. member had a right to take the floor a second time.
The Speaker decided that Hon. Mr. Moore had the right of reply, and if he chose to take it then he might do so.
The clock now marked the hour of six, and the debate was adjourned until the morrow.
The House then adjourned.
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