Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (6 May 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 122-123.
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FRIDAY, MAY 6, 1864
Early Meeting of Parliament
George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858] moved—
“That an humble Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, respectfully to represent, that it would advance the public interests, and promote the convenience of the members of the Legislature, were His Excellency, in the exercise of the Royal prerogative, to summon Parliament to assemble in each year on a day not later than the fifteenth of January. That to this end, His Excellency will cause to be submitted to Parliament such amendments or modifications of the act requiring annual returns to be made to Parliament, or any other act on the same subject, as shall provide that the financial year shall commence on the 1st day of November, instead of the 1st January in each and every year.”
—In support of his motion, the hon. member said that the large majority of the members of both Houses were of opinion that Parliament should be called earlier together, and at something more nearly approaching to a fixed time that had as yet been the case. In the past, the time of meeting had fluctuated between the 15th February and the 15th March. Then the first fortnight was usually expended in long debates on the Speech, and by the time that was over there remained but a week or two before the Easter holidays, during which it seemed
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difficult to proceed with any important legislation. In this way there was seldom anything done before Easter. The evil of this was not only the waste of time but the compelling members to remain at a time most inconvenient to them, and when their presence was specially required for their own private interests. This was the case particularly with gentlemen engaged in agriculture, and indeed it might be said to be the case with all parties, for summer was the time when business of all kinds was most active, and needed close attention. The excuse for not meeting early was that the fiscal year closed on the 31st December, and that it was impossible to have the Public Accounts ready to present them to Parliament by the 15th January, but this difficulty could easily be obviated. All that was wanted was to make the fiscal year end on the 31st October, and then there would be ample time to get all these statements ready. There was no difficulty in respect of the meeting of the Imperial Parliament at a fixed time.
John Ross [Canada West, appointed 1848]—There was no fixed time for the meeting of the Imperial Parliament.
George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858]—True, the time was not fixed by law, but still Parliament always met on the 4th February; and although he was not one of those who looked to Washington, he could not but observe that there, and, in fact, in all other places where there was representative government, Parliament met at regular periods. He begged to submit his motion.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848, Premier, Minister of Militia, and Receiver General] said he agreed substantially with the hon. member, but thought that when he learned it was the purpose of the Government to change the termination of the fiscal years, so as to secure the very object he had in view, he would not press his motion. He (Col. Tache) did not say it was intended to fix a day by law for the meeting of Parliament, as that would be interfering with the prerogative of the Crown; but the real object of changing the termination of the fiscal year was to secure an earlier meeting of the Legislature.
Some Hon. Members—Cries of “withdraw, withdraw.”
George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858] then asked leave to withdraw his motion, which was granted.