Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (29 February 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 35-38.
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MONDAY, Feb. 29, 1864.
The Speaker took the Chair at 3 o’clock.
Debate on the Address
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848] said he was not present when the Speech from the Throne was delivered, but that he had read it with care, and was amazed at some of its contents. It had been made a reproach to the old Government that they had been living for many years upon loans, owing to the extravagance they had introduced into every branch of the Civil Service, and the press in the interest of the present Administration had echoed and re-echoed the charges; and for the purpose of restoring the public finances it was alleged that the most stringent economy and retrenchment would be required. They were determined to make the income meet the expenditure, and generally there was to be such care exercised over the finances as would effectually remedy the wrongs inflicted upon the country by the regime which had preceded their advent to office.
There was a paragraph in which His Excellency [Viscount Monck] congratulated the House that the revenue had exceeded the estimates, and that the expenses have fallen short of the amount voted. But the next paragraph states there was still a large chasm between the revenue and the expenditure, to meet which a measure would be laid before the Legislature during the session. If His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] advisers had not gone beyond this, he [Col. Tache] would have had little objection to the document, and would have waited until the scheme to equalize the outlays and the income had been brought up. But the speech did go much beyond this and stated it was the intention of the Government to undertake stupendous public works, which if carried out, must at least double the public debt. In his opinion it would be advisable, before such improvements were undertake, that the expense and the revenue should be equalized, and that we should know how out present liabilities were to be discharged.
The Hon. Provincial Secretary [A.J. Fergusson Blair] said the proposed works were to be of the most beneficial character and ought not to be objected to, nor would he [Col. Tache] object to them, if there was no addition to be to the public burdens not heir account. But they were to be paying works. Well, he differed in toto with the honorable member, and had no hesitation in declaring his conviction that they could not pay directly whatever they might do indirectly. He had too often heard of such things to be ready to accept them. The same predictions were made respecting the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals.
Again and again had he heard that these public works would pay not only their own cost, but the expenses of Government in the bargain, and that the duties would consequently be reduced, and indeed that the golden age would speedily be restored. Now, he did not attach the slightest credence to any of these predictions, and however desirable thee contemplated works might be, if we had the means he was well satisfied they were would pay a shilling directly if they were undertaken.
He knew that before the Welland Canal was constructed, the price of wheat above the Falls was from 1s. 6d. 1s. 8d. per bushel, and that afterwards it was 4s. 6d. To 5s., which of course was a great advantage to the growers. He had heard a gentleman say that he had known 12 bushels to be given as Chatham for an old saddle worth scarcely $8. But the benefits were not so great tot he country below. The prices remained pretty much the same at Quebec, and all the profits went into the pockets of the people who, by means of the canal, were saved the great expense of carriage which, before that, they were subjected to. He did not wish to take a narrow view of such subjects, and it was very proper that we should have the means of connecting together the two ends of the Province, and so facilitate the intercourse.
The hon. member for Niagara [James Currie] had compared two periods in the history of the Province when the burdens go the people were so greatly different that at the second period the taxation had quadrupled that of the first; but with all respect for the hon. member, he thought this was an exaggeration. It he had said it had doubled or even trebled, he might not have taken so much objection to the statement.
James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said he had not spoken of taxation, but had said the cost of Government per head had almost quadruped.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—Well, he still thought the calculation exaggerated. He would now proceed to make a few remarks upon that portion of the Speech which related to the Militia organization, and would ask whether it was of such a nature as to be available in the event of war? There was no such organization. But had we 35,000 Volunteers properly clothed, equipped and drilled? He doubted whether there were half that number. But this fact would soon be put beyond doubt, and he would wait to see the retrains of the inspectors. Yet supposing we had them, was that a force that we might depend upon in case of invasion? Was it a force mobile, or one that could be moved to a distance to meet the enemy? Where was that force located? In the cities, towns, and villages, and some few of the more populous rural districts. Then how was it composed? Was it made up of men who could leave their homes without inconvenience or was it not rather an aggregation of men in business, professional men, artisans, and generally married men?
When the Lyson’s Bill was introduced there was great outcry because the Volunteers were to be drilled five or six days in the year, and it was urged that they could not afford to lose so much time. Well, then, if they could not give up five or six days in the summer—and the enemy, if he came at all, would not consult our convenience—how could they afford to lose six or twelve months to go to the frontier, or wherever else they might be wanted? He did not speak in a captious or partisan spirit. Such a force might do to defend our own homes, or to perform garrison duty, so as to release the Regulars, but it was not an organization that could be depended upon to go and meet the foe. The only principle upon which effective soldiers could be embodied was the obligatory principle, and the citizen should be taught that he has not only to pay the State taxes in money, but that he may be obliged to pay the tax of blood. When a military corps was formed of young men it could afford to make a sacrifice of one or more years of time, and our youth had done before them.
He had always been opposed to the Volunteer organization as vicious in principle, for the men were very apt to want their own way in forms wholly inconsistent with due subordination to officers. They sometimes imagined they ought to have the right to elect their own officers, and so, instead of being controlled, they became the controlling power. This was directly at the antipodes of the system upon which powerful armies were called into existence. In the army, there must be but one head, and all under him must come under his authority.
The United States had tested the Volunteer principle and experienced its insufficiency, for in several instances, after they fought the enemy and broke his lines, they lost the fruits of victory by refusing to pursue them. They thought they had done enough for one day and were entitled to repose. The tree soldier obeyed orders as long as he could, marched as long as he could, and only stopped when positively unable to proceed.
He (Col. Tache) could only account for the favour bestowed on the Volunteer movement in this Province on the principle that we attempted to imitate the Volunteer movement in England, but the circumstances of the two countries were very dissimilar. The Volunteers in England had never been attacked and never would be; so it was impossible to say what their efficiency was, but as a movement calculated to produce a great moral effect it had been very successful.
Then, in England the population was so dense in the cities and towns, and the country itself was so small when compared with Canada, that the Volunteers would not, in any case, be required to go far from home. There was no analogy between the two countries, and a system adapted to one was not adapted to the other. […] gentleman of fortune in England had made a hobby of the Volunteer movement, and spent large sums in clothing, equipping, and drilling battalions which they regarded in some sense as under their absolute and […]. No so here, though he believed a few patriotic men were in Canada had spent a good deal of money in the same way, but they were beginning to be tired of the constant outlet.
He had heard an anecdote in connection with the Volunteer movement in England, which would illustrate his meaning. The Lord Lieutenant had sent a filed officer to inspect a corps of 1,000 men, collected and trained at the expense of an enthusiastic gentleman of large means, who, when the officer came, asked his business, and being told, demanded his credentials. They were produced, and, after reading them, he said, “The corps were raised by me, at my own expense, and I know no body in connection with the matter, and I will see any one d———d before he commands them.” The filed officer had to leave without making the inspection.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—Well, there were not many such cases, but the fact was sufficient to show that the Volunteer principle was opposed to the principle of subordination. For his part, he would rather meet the enemy with 1000 good regular soldiers than with 5,000 Volunteers. He knew that the people of Canada were perfectly willing to come under the proper discipline and subordination necessary to constitute an effective Militia, but he did not, therefore, say that it was right to throw the whole burden of defence upon them. It would be preposterous.
The farmers, by their out-door occupations, and the hardships they were necessarily obliged to encounter, were admirably flitted to make good soldiers, and in strength and endurance would be far more competent than the people of the towns. They might not be so apt perhaps, but after five or six days of hard campaigning, would become very efficient. We should have a Militia law which would being this class under its operation. The House had been informed by his. friend (Matheson) that the Militia law of 1812 was much better than that now in force, and he was of the same opinion. Under that law it was easy to collect the men and they never grumbled. The Militia of Upper Canada was of the greatest value during the war, and in some instances had covered itself with glory.
In Lower Canada the law was not quite the same, and the Militia did not so often come into contact with the enemy, but they were quite as efficient. The Upper Canada frontier was so much exposed that it was often subjected to invasion, whereas in Lower Canada the settlements were separated by forests which prevented such incursions. However, whenever the enemy ventured to cross the frontier, the same sun that saw them pass it, saw them repass it too, and in no single instance did they light their fires or raise their tents on our soil.
The victories of Lacolle, Chateauguay, and other places, bore testimony to the valor of the Canadian Militia. (The hon. member here went into minute details of the provisions of the old Militia law, which, he said, was not so much adapted to make soldiers as to collect the men at a brief notice where they were wanted.) The hon. member for Wellington said that the bad feeling exhibited by the Americans towards England had been provoked by the press of Canada, in the interest of the Opposition.
John Sanborn [Wellington, elected 1863] said he had not attributed all the bad feeling in the States to the Opposition press, but had said that some of the prominent papers in their interest by their intemperate writings had caused much of the ill feeling which existed.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—Well, that was not materially different from what he had stated. But he would ask if before that time the American press and people were not just a […] against England as since. Everybody would recollect that the British Ambassador, Mr. Crampton, had been obliged to leave Washington because he was supposed to have had something to do with recruiting men for service in the Crimes. When the Canadian press interfered it was in self-defence
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—and in defence of the mother country, and they were right in so doing. For 80 years the Americans nursed a profound hatred of England, and had shown it on every possible occasion. It was a mere shallow pretence for them to charge the blame of their own bitterness upon us and try to make a scape goat, for their faults, of the Canadian press. But if it were true that the Canadian press had so offended, be understood that the most offensive writer was a person who had been appointed a Commissioner by the present Government, and who had been their chief defender and exponent since they came to power.
Some Hon. Members—Laughter.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—The hon. member for Niagara [James Currie] had given the House
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a statement of the Volunteer force in his part of the country which was highly creditable, but he would ask that hon. member if it was as efficient and of such a nature as to make it suitable to be taken to the frontier in the event of war? He would like to know from the hon. member it the force he commanded so well—for he was sure from his enthusiastic way of speaking about them, and which he greatly admired, that he did so—was composed of men who could leave their homes, or rather was it not made of professional and other business men, mostly married, who would not like to be withdrawn from their own localities? He would be obliged if the hon. member would state his opinions on the subject, as they might be useful to both the Government and the country.
James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] said he had never yet had reason to look upon the Volunteer force as one that could be depended upon in case off actual war, but he regarded it as a most excellent military school, and the only practical one in time of peace. He had this very fay received a statement showing the interest felt in military discipline in the old town of Niagara. The company to which that statement alluded had had 82 drills in the year, and the average attendance when the Instructor was present was 321 men, while at private drill it amounted to 284, or 16 days of 10 hours each and two days for target exercise, when they had fired 5,600 ball cartridges. In view of such efforts to improve themselves, he thought the Volunteers deserving of more encouragement than they had yet received.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848] said he was happy to confirm all that the hon. member had said for they shared the same views. He himself had written a small pamphlet ten years, in which he had given them expression. Of one thing he was persuaded, and it was that the hon. member had not succeeded as he had done without the expenditure of a good deal of his own private means.
A Member—Yes, over $500.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848] believed this, but there were not many men in the country able or willing to do this. He (Col. Tache) had not spoken to this subject in a partizan spirit, but from an earnest desire to see the country placed in as effective a state of defence as we could afford, and he trusted the Government would so improve the law as to remove the discontent which had arisen. He would wait patiently for the measures of the Government, and when they were received would give them his best consideration, if they showed that, besides equalizing the income and the expenditure, they were able to proceed with the public works suggested he would assuredly give them his support.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Louis Olivier [Lanaudière, elected 1863] said he proposed to make a few remarks upon the debates, chiefly because the leader of the Opposition had given to his own observations a partizan direction, which seemed to need some reply. He had no partisan feelings himself, but deeming it proper to support the Government in their effort to save the country, he must say he did regard the Address as obnoxious to the reproaches or censures brought against it. But possibly the unusual tone of the hon. member might be due to the fact that he had recently been announced as the coming man or head of the Government and was desirous of earning his epaulets. In that view of the case he had certainly done his duty well, and could not be chargeable with the extreme credulity with which he had complimented the mover and seconder of the resolutions. But if not liable to such a charge he might, perhaps, be credited with a quiet attempt at diplomacy, but then it was hardly to be expected of an Opposition leader that he should approve the utterances Ministers.
Still he (Mr. Olivier) did not accept the hon. member’s views as quite sound. He had admitted that the measures foreshadowed were good, and said that if he could believe in the sincerity of the Government he would support them, but this he found it impossible to do. But, seriously, were the Government obnoxious to the suspicious of the hon. member. He reproached them with having on two previous occasions made promises similar to those embodied in the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck], and treated this as a fault, but he (Mr. Olivier) thought that the repetition only showed their good faith and earnest intentions in regard of the measures in question. As to the failure of the first session it was well known that it was due to the defeat the Government had sustained. The hon. member, in feed, had consented that it was so, and he thanked him for the admission.
Then as to the session of last fall, were they really guilty of neglect? They had not been allowed to proceed with their measures. The Opposition did not show on that occasion the proper feeling which should always actuate Oppositions intent upon the public welfare, but had constantly obstructed the course of business. The hon. member had addressed himself to the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty, but if he (Mr. O.) rightly understood the position of the hon. member on that question he ought not to desire its renewal, for at a great dinner at Toronto it was objected in view of trouble with the United States that Canada should be constituted a neutral territory.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—That was no suggestion of his, but he believed of the hon. member for Hamilton, Mr. Buchanan.
Louis Olivier [Lanaudière, elected 1863]—Well, at any rate, the sentiment seemed to have been applauded, and if such an event had come to pass there would have been no necessity for a system of defence. The hon. member had also dwelt upon the Militia and Volunteer topics, with the view of inculpating the Ministry. He had asked whether there were really 35,000 Volunteers embodied and ready to go to the frontier. Well, there were not, nor was it intended that the province should supply a force for this purpose. This was the business of the troops of the empire, and of nobody else. He had never regarded it as incumbent upon the province to maintain a regular force for the propose of meeting the brunt of an attack by the enemy. All we could do was to supply a supplementary force to aid the regulars, and it was a bad policy to strive to make England behave that we could do more.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—Did not the Canadian Militia, in 1812, go side by side to battle with the regulars?
Louis Olivier [Lanaudière, elected 1863]—Yes; they had done so for a few months, but nevertheless he still maintained that it was the business of the empire to provide the regular troops necessary to encounter the foe if the country were invaded. It did not appertain to us to declare war to make peace, that was the sole prerogative of the parent country; and he did not believe England expected it of us that we should provide the troops to fight the battles consequent upon her own policy. If there were war tomorrow, and the regular troops were sent forward to meet the foe, it might be the duty of the Province to send them Militia auxiliaries to co-operate with them. But it was impossible for us to raise and keep embodied a mobility force to resist, unaided, the invasion of the country. The hon. member had also alluded to the subject of Representation according to Population, and had said that the Cartier-Macdonald Government were more favourable to that dogma than the present.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858] disclaimed having said anything of the kind, but simply that the present Government occupied precisely the same ground on the subject as the Cartier-Macdonald Government—the question being an open one with both.
Louis Olivier [Lanaudière, elected 1863] had understood the hon. member differently, but nevertheless accepted his disclaimer. He would, however, like the hon. member to give the House his own version of the subject. Why should the question be introduced at all in these debates, since the matter was not referred to in the Governor’s Speech? It seemed to have been brought up simply as a brand of discord. He hoped the hon. member would never make use of this topic as a part of his policy. What was wanted was strict economy in the public service, and he held that the Government should be supported, not so much on its own account as for the principles it had laid down, and which it should have a fair chance of carrying out.
The hon. member had also referred to the proposed improvement of the canals as at variance with the promises of economy and retrenchment put forth, but if the Canals could be made productive, the improvements were at least worthy of consideration. It was urged, however, that they were of so gigantic a character as to plunge the country into deeper and more hopeless debt. He did not know how this might be, and would tell the Government that he supported them because of their policy of retrenchment and economy and trusted they would do nothing inimical thereto. When they had established the equilibrium between the income the expenditure of the province, it would be time to think of expensive improvements.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Louis Olivier [Lanaudière, elected 1863]—He never was a partisan, and when he had entered the House he did not expect to find it imbued with the spirit of party. He again warned the government, and he thought he had a right to do so, not to enter upon schemes which would engulph large sums, which the province could not supply. But these improvements might be necessary and not so expensive as was represented, and at any rate they were worth examination.
The Ministry had then been reproached with not going on with Intercolonial Railway, but he believed the majority of the people were opposed to this project, and at any rate, so far from blaming the Ministry for the course they had pursued in relation to it, he thought they deserved credit for the prudence they had displayed. They had acted as any prudent man would do in his private business—that is, they had refused to embark in a doubtful enterprise without due and sufficient examination of its merits.
The Railway was wanted for defence, so it was alleged, and it was quite well known that as a commercial scheme it could never pay. But Railways were not after all such effectual aids to defence as had been represented, for they could be easily destroyed by an enemy and might leave the parties who depended upon them in a worse plight than they would have been for the transport of troops, than if they had depended upon other modes of conveyance. Yet, if it were really necessary for the purpose, it should be regarded as an Imperial measure, and the Empire ought, at least, to contribute towards its construction. The Empire understood its duty to its Colonies, and had always performed it, and certainly it could not expect us to undertake works for defence, which must entail ruin upon our finances. After all it was not probable that we should have a war, and it seemed very questionable to launch into expanders and submit to sacrifice in view of so uncertain a contingency.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said he was surprised at the course the debate had taken. It almost appeared as if the Militia Bill were before the House and the hon. members opposite were dealing with its provisions. His Excellency [Viscount Monck], in his Speech from the Throne, congratulated the House on the operation of the Militia Bill, and said that he had used his best efforts to give it effect. He would not conceal his feeling that to frame a Bill for organizing an efficient Militia force in a colony was a very difficult work, and that consequently any attempt at doing so must, in the nature of things, be far from perfect.
It was asked whether we had done our duty in such a way, in this relation, as to prove our loyalty to the Crown, and it was said they would not believe in our loyalty because we had not passed the Lysons’ Bill. But after we had enacted a measure for a similar purpose those who loved Canada ought to rejoice that His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been enabled to say he was satisfied with the feeling of loyalty and devotion evidenced by the people of this country. England did not ask us to do more than we could, and after we had done all in our power there would be left enough for the Empire to do. The child could not be excepted to take the place ought not to be regarded as a military power.
Whenever Canada was required to put forth her strength it must, of necessity, be under the ramparts and flag go England. It was not wise for us to go in advance of our abilities; when we were able to do more we would, but, until that time arrived, it was unreasonable, illogical, and destructive of our own interests to do so. Canada was not a manufacturing but an agricultural country, and it would take time ti prepare it to defend itself. In one time, no doubt, it would acquire the courage and strength necessary, but at present it certainly was not in a condition to do so. In 1812 a handful off men had gone with the regulars to the field of conflict, and what they had done the present generation, it necessary, would do. Let the occasion demand the effort and not only would our people imitate the conduct of their fathers, but would surpass their achievements.
Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860]—The hon. leader of the Opposition had objected that there were too many topics in the Speech, and that the Ministry proposed to enter upon very large expenditures, but if the hon. member had read the Speech with a better disposition he would come to very different conclusions. He had particularly alluded to the proposal to determine the boundary of the Province to the North-west, and represented it as a matter of too subordinate a character to be touched upon, but he (Mr. LeTellier) was of a different option, for the uncertainties of the times were such as demanded that immediate attention should be given to the matter.
The Hudson Bay Company had recently ceded its right to a new company, and it would be dangerous to allow them to take possession without defining the extent of the Province. Nothing more than this was intended in the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck]. The money spent for such a purpose could not be said to be wasted, for surely it was important we should know where the limits of the country commenced and ended. Then the hon. member opposite (Hon. J. Ross)
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had made an objection which he had not expected from him; he had spoken adversely to the proposed survey of the projected Intercolonial Railway route.
Now the hon. member ought not to have been surprised at the intended action, for he must have known that a sum of $10,000 had been put in the Estimates for that very purpose. Since then sum difficulties with New Brunswick had supervened, the exact nature of which he could not state to the House, but that did not prevent hum for saying that the survey was determined upon, and that the principal officer was making his preparations to begin the work. He, however, believed that when the papers were laid upon the table, and the facts of the whole case were fully understood, the course the Government pursued would meet with the approbation of the House. But he would like to ask the honble. member how the Government could object to do what the House had ordered? Was it not incumbent upon them to obey its commands?
Some people spoke of the Intercolonial Railway as a mere military road, and not a commercial one, but he regarded it as an absolute necessity. It would lead to the union of the Provinces, and so long as it remained unconstructed, its want would be felt as a source of great weakness. When he saw the United States offering inducements to the Lower Provinces to connect with them by constructing the links of road necessary to join their own, he felt it was time for us to make some sacrifice, if we desired to avert the results which would follow if they were successful. In the event of any difficulty with the United States in what position would we be if we desired to give or receive help from the Lower Provinces, if we had no such means of communication? We could do nothing, and the enemy might come and take possession of the space between.
For his part, he had no hesitation in saying that he was decidedly in favor of the project, and hoped the survey would prove that it ought to be undertaken at the earliest possible moment. If it were accomplished he was satisfied it would be for the undoubted advantage of the country.
Another subject animadverted upon was the renewal of the Treaty of Reciprocity with the United States. Well, that matter was one for the parent country to deal with, and did not come within the scope of our powers. Indeed, he thought that the less it was discussed the better. If by eager discussion, we showed our sensitiveness on the subject to the people of the United States, they would suppose we cold not do without it, and must have it at any price, whereas by the contrary course, they would understand we knew they wanted it as much as ourselves. If the Treaty were abolished, in less than six months, our American neighbours would discover they had committed an act of supreme folly.
When we had excluded them from our fisheries, the States of Maine and Massachusetts would find they had very severely punished themselves, and placed their fishermen at a disadvantage, when compared with our own, who besides, were encouraged by the bounties paid to them. Quite a large number of vessels from both those States came annually to fish in our waters, and if in consequence of the abrogation of the Reciprocity, they were debarred from doing so, their owners would find they had suffered a heavy loss. And was it to be supposed that the American people did not fully understand the value of the privilege they enjoyed of passing their products through our water-ways on the same terms as our own did? They knew perfectly well that our canals offered the shortest and most direct route to the ocean from the great West. If they were closed against the, the very large population of that vast section of the country would feel deprivation in such a way as to create the greatest possible discontent. It was well known that the Government of the United States depended very greatly upon the West just at this time, and would not at all incline to thwart them in this way. With such arguments as we had to counterbalance the objections on the other side, we might safely rest in peace with the assurance that our neighbours would think twice before the abolished the Treaty.
For the last two years our imports from the United States had been as large as those from England, and he thought we might safely leave it to England to protect our interests in this particular. The Government were in correspondence with the parent State on the subject, and when the papers would be laid before the House, it would be seen that they were not obnoxious to the charge of neglect. His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech also alluded to amelioration in the navigation of the upper St. Lawrence and canals, and it was urged that with the small means we had at command, it was not possible to commence large works, but if the canals were regarded as the great channels through which we expected to being down the trade which would go to increaser our wealth, it would be considered as necessary that they should be kept up on a scale commensurate with the necessities of the trade. If we did not do so in time and the trade suffered inconvenience, the United States would be driven to commence improvements on their own side, and if they did set about it, they would so enlarge their canals as for ever to prevent us from after competition.
When the improvements already effected on the Erie were contemplated, it became the duty of the Canadian Government to watch that the United States did not give us such competition, and in his opinion these considerations were fully sufficient to justify the paragraph in question in His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] Speech. But, after, all the idea of improvement was only submitted to the Legislature. No scheme had been devised, and if the subject was taken up in a generous and frank sprint, and with a desire to arrive at safe concussions, he had no doubt it would be productive of the best results. If the United States saw that we were resolved to enlarge the canals, he had no doubt they would very soon abandon the thought of annulling the Treaty.
The hon. member who led the Opposition had also adverted in his speech to the Ottawa buildings, and had stated that the position of the Postmaster General in relation to the removal to Ottawa was inconsistent with the action he had taken in resigning his office when he found there was no probability of going to Toronto.
On a previous occasion he had endeavored to show that this view of the case was not a correct one, and he would only briefly say that that hon. gentleman, at the time he did so, believed it was not possible the buildings could be ready for occupation in the fall of 1864, but when he had obtained the information which placed the matter beyond doubt, he had waived his objections, and very properly retained his office.
There was, however, one paragraph in the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] which no one seemed disposed to quarrel with, and it was satisfactory to find that upon one point, at least, all parties were agreed. He referred now to the discoveries of gold, and to the expressed intention of enacting such regulations as would protect the parties engaging in the work of seeking it from the irregularities in connection with such pursuits.
The next paragraph had relation to the necessity of making more effectual legislative provision for investigating the causes of wrecks upon or near our coasts, and it was also apparent that every one felt the need of such action. It was quite time that the defects which seemed to inhere in the management of of our Provincial line of ocean steamers, and to which a large subsidy was paid, should be sought out, and if possible ascertained. When we saw the Cunard steamers prosecuting the same business for a score of years without the loss of a single ship, while ours were so frequently the subjects of the most extensive and fatal disasters, the conclusion appeared inevitable that there was some cause for these disasters which ought to be ascertained. We were bound, if possible, to protect the travellers who took passage in these vessels, and indeed common humanity demanded that efforts should be made to put an end to them in the future.
In regard to the reduction of the Postal Subsidy, the same hon. member had refused to give the Government the credit which he (Mr. Le Tellier) thought they had a right to expect. That hon. member had said that the Cartier-Macdonald Government had proposed to do the same thing, but why did they rest on good intentions merely when they had the power to carry them out. He had also said that the late Postmaster General was disposed to make a similar reduction, and surely if the present Government had accomplished what their predecessors only proposed to do, they ought to be praised and not blamed.
Reproaches had also been visited upon the Administration for not passing the measures in the sessions of 1863 which they had promised, but there was no good cause for such reproaches. But if in the early session they were prevented by a vote of want of confidence from proceeding, and in the later had no time to do so, that was no reason why they should not do so now, nor was it fair to throw doubt upon their intentions. The hon. member said the reason why they did not proceed with such measures was that they had not the power; that they were not strong enough to do so, and, therefore, should have resigned.
The reason why they had not proceeded was plain enough. They were met with several motions of want of confidence, and it was generally understood that while a Government were the subjects of such assaults or lasts they were not expected to propose any important legislation.
The Opposition had denied them the opportunity of going on and then turned round and blamed them for not doing it. He believed that if the measures had been presented they would have been found acceptable and would have passed, but a factious Opposition precluded the possibilityof its being done. They wanted to stop the public affairs and had succeeded, and the blame remained with them, not with the Government. The hon. Member, he was sorry to say, had put more harshness in his remarks than he was went to do in former times, but probably that arose from the fact of his having been constituted the leader of the Opposition.
Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858]—The hon. member ought to have stated not only that it was unusual in England when a Ministry was under the operation of a motion of want of confidence to proceed with important measures, but […] unusual to make any important appointments to office, but they had altogether forgotten that part of the custom of Parliament, and had dispensed their patronage without hesitation.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860]—Well, the hon. member had not denied that the measures could not be proceeded with during the continuance of votes of want of confidence, and, therefore, it was not just to charge the Government with having failed to do their duty. He had made the charge but he had not sustained it, nor could he sustain the charge of their having paid $1,000 to an Association in London without good reason. The money had been promised by a member of the old Administration but not paid, and surely it was not proper that the honor of the country should continue to suffer for their neglect.
The Government did not seek to hide improper outlays under their estimates, but firmly and openly stated what they wanted and proposed to expend. They did not ask less than they wanted and then proceed to help themselves to the rest. The honorable member had also said that as the Government had only a small majority which could not sustain them in legislating, that they ought to resign. But he would ask the hon. member who was so anxious for their retirement, what hopes there were for the formation of another and stronger Government.
Was not the Opposition made up of a mass of heterogenous elements, which never could fuse together. The hon. member was the chief in this House, but there were one or two or more chiefs in the other, who might not be disposed to submit to his leadership, and for his part, he could not see how they could expect to agree, less still, how they could expect to form a Government. Public men ought to be ready to make sacrifices of their personal feelings and wishes for the good of their country, and he hoped the hon. member would be enough of a patriot to set his own aside in the interests of the Province. Give the Government the opportunity of legislating, and let them judge by their measures. It might be well enough to propose one vote of want of confidence in enter to test the hold which the Government had upon the legislation, but after it was disposed of, the Legislature should be allowed to proceed.
Last session, however, several such motions were brought up, one after another, and the business was constantly interrupted. There was too much of personal feeling, too much of the moi, to allow of the proper discharge of duty. One would almost believe that the Government, was a matter to be grasped and clutched at, and that the
content aim and object of the opposition was to attempt seizing it in their own hands. He did not ask of his optical opponents to think as he did, but he did ask them after, buy testing, the strength of the Government had been ascertained, to allow the necessary legislation to proceed. If the measures they had to bring forward were reasonably considered, he believed, they would sustained, but if not then legislation would become impossible.
The hon. and gallant Knight [Tache] had said there had had been objections to the public works in old times and one would have interred from his remarks that he was one fo a party who did so, whereas the contrary was the case. They had built the works and spent a great deal too much money upon them, but it did not follow that those which the present Government had in view would necessarily be too expensive or too ill-managed to pay. The hon. member was too captions altogether when he asked for direct returns.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848]—The hon. member was putting words in his [Col. Tache’s] mouth which he had never uttered or meant, for he had said directly the contrary, and had illustrated his position by showing how the canals had indirectly made very large returns to the farmers and traders.
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Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860]—Well, he supposed he had misunderstood the hon. member. He would not add anything more, but hoped that the affairs of the country would be allowed to proceed without necessary interruption.
It being now six o’clock the debate was postponed, and the House adjourned.