Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates [Address in Answer to the Speech] , 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (11 June 1866)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 2-6.
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Monday, June 11th, 1866.
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The Speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock.
Code of Civil Procedure of Lower Canada.
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] gave some explanations with regard to the mode of distribution which the government proposed to adopt in regard to the Code of Civil Procedure for Lower Canada now nearly ready.
The order of the day having been called by the Speaker, the Assistant Clerk commenced reading the first paragraph of the address the speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] at the opening of Parliament, whereupon:—
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said he thought that before the consideration of the address was taken up; it would be proper for the Government to give the House explanations in regard to the changes which had taken place in the personnel of the Administration during the interval between the end of last session at the commencement of the present. One hon. member who used to sit near him and who possessed an exceedingly happy disposition had deemed it his duty to withdraw and was now found on the other side. A fact of this kind, he thought, very properly called for explanation.
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] said the government were quite ready to give any information or explanation in regard to the facts alluded to by the Hon. member, but that the member should recollect that explanations of this kind were always first given by the minister who had resigned and as the Hon. Mr. Brown had not yet taken his seat in the other house it would be proper to await his coming before the matter was gone into in this House. Mr. Brown was expected this evening and he (Mr. Belleau) hoped the Hon. member (Le Tellier) would be willing to wait until tomorrow when the explanations issued would be fully given. Besides it would be more convenient that the explanations should be made simultaneously in both Houses of Parliament.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said he would not insist, though he thought the Government might very well give the information desired without derogating from its duty. On the contrary, he regarded it as due to this House that it should not be obliged to wait until it was convenient to give it in the other Branch.
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] said the hon. member had evidently not understood what he (Mr. Belleau) had wished to convey. What he had desired to state was, that it would be hardly fair to the Hon. Mr. Brown to make these explanations in his absence. He thought, besides, that it was but courteous to await the appearance of that hon. gentleman before the explanations were proceeded with, and as he was expected this evening the delay could only be until to-morrow.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] assented.
A.J. Fergusson Blair [Brock, elected 1860, President Executive Council] said that as the hon. member (Le Tellier) had referred to him as having passed over from his side of the House, he might say that the sole reason for having done so was with the view of assisting to carry out the important measure of the Confederation of all the British North American Provinces; a subject upon which his hon. friend would remember he (Mr. Blair) had not agreed with him. He believed it to be a wise and desirable measure, whereas his hon. friend entertained a different opinion.
The circumstances under which the coalition was formed was well known to his hon. friend, as well as the circumstances under which the Hon. Mr. Brown had withdrawn from the Government, and no doubt, by to-morrow, that hon. gentleman would have stated the reasons which had led him to withdraw. He fully agreed with his hon. friend that it was not the duty of the House to await the action of the other in respect of this or any other matter, yet he thought couresy [sic] to the hon. Mr. Brown would suggest that the explanations should be deferred until he made his appearance in his seat in that House. The Hon. Mr. Brown had felt it his duty to withdraw from the Government, but the Hon. Mr. Howland the Post Master General who belonged to the same political party had not deemed it wise to follow his example, but had referred the question to his political friends, and among others to himself (Mr. Blair.)
He (Mr. Blair) advised that hon. member to retain his position, and having given him that advice, when a place in the Cabinet had been offered to himself, he had felt he could not honorably refuse to give his aid, such as it was, to that hon. member and the Government, and he did not see how he could have done otherwise than take his share of the responsibility. He would now put it to his hon. friend whether it would not be proper to allow Mr. Brown himself the opportunity of first stating his reasons for his resignation of office.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said he had no objection to wait until to-morrow.
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Address in Answer to the Speech.
David Christie [Erie, elected 1858] rose to move:—That an humble Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck] to thank His Excellency for his Gracious Speech at the opening of the present Session of Parliament, and in doing so said he agreed with his hon. friend (Mr. Blair) in the remarks he had made as to his duty in the circumstances in which he had been placed on the resignation of the Hon. Mr. Brown. Like him he had taken no part in the formation of the coalition for he (Mr. Christie) was not in the country at the time. But looking at the circumstances under which that coalition was formed, looking at the position of the country at time he had felt it has duty to give the Government a fair honorable and impartial support. And he had done so, so far as his knowledge and judgement had enabled him to do.
The specific object for which the coalition has been formed was the carrying into effect the project for the Confederation of the several Colonies in British North America, and failing this, the federation of Canada itself. In agreeing to support this project, he felt he was but carrying out the principles of the party to which they had long contended. He had regretted sincerely that the late President of the Council (Mr. Brown,) had felt it his duty, for reasons no doubt perfectly satisfactory to himself to resign. He had the highest respect for that hon. gentleman, and held the highest respect for that hon. gentleman, and held his abilities and patriotism in the greatest honor. When that hon. gentleman had joined the Government, he (Mr. Christie) felt that he had been moved in the highest degree by a sense of patriotism, and had exercised the greatest self abrogation and devotion. This he believed was the opinion of a large majority of the members of both Houses, and of the entire country.
We had then reached a condition of things which could not last much longer, for they were fast tending towards anarchy. Men of both parties felt this very strongly, and had come to the conclusion that it was their duty to lay aside their party feuds, and seek some means of resolving the stubborn difficulties. And it was a matter of sincere congratulation that a project of such vast importance to the welfare of the country had been devised the consummation of which, he hoped, would soon be realized (Hear, hear.)
With reference to the resignation of the Hon. Mr. Brown, he must say he was then, ad was still of opinion that it was a step to be regretted, and such he believed to be the opinion of a large majority of the country. No doubt he had felt it his positive duty to act as he had done, and the reasons must have fully satisfied his own mind, but he (Mr. Christie) confused he had not deemed these reasons sufficient. However, it was premature to criticise them, especially in the absence of the hon. gentleman himself. But as he (Mr. Christie) was one of the persons who had advised the Hon. Postmaster General to retain his office he had felt it his duty to continue his support to the Administration. (Hear, hear.)
Coming now to the answer to His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] speech, the resolution required him to express gratitude for the hope of His Excellency [Viscount Monck], that we should find in the magnificent buildings, erected in this city, increased facilities for the despatch of the public business, but he must pass this over very briefly, for in reality he could not conscientiously approve of it. (Laughter.)
The next paragraph had respect to the Council of Trade, which had been convened from the different Provinces, the papers relating to which were to be submitted to the House. (The hon. member here read the paragraph in question.) This needed no special remark. The next topic had relation to the abrogation of the Treaty of Commercial Reciprocity with the United States. He could not but feel in reading the report of the Secretary at Washington, that there was great force in the position he had taken, viz: That the Treaty making power, given to the President and Senate, did not include questions of finance or internal revenue, and that the exercise of such power took them out of the hands from under the control of the popular branch. These remarks were equally applicable to our own political system; for when the Treaty of Reciprocity was first arranged, the Government brought down a Bill to give it effect.
He, therefore, felt that the Constitutional principle, stated by the Secretary of the Treasury, was correct, and that we had no reason to find fault with him. And even if he had not given these reasons it was certainly not our prerogative to censure his proceedings, or to make unfriendly comments upon their constitutional system. Well, the Government had sent a delegation of two members to Washington, and as far as he had been able to judge of their proceedings, from newspaper reports, they had conducted their mission with much ability.
Their failure to procure a renewal of the Treaty did not derogate from their merits, nor from that of the Government, in using every proper means to procure such renewal. It had been urged that it was derogatory to our position to send to Washington at all, but he could not see it in that light. Great Britain had not deemed it derogatory to send an Ambassador to the Emperor of France to arrange a commercial treaty, and when it was settled the Chancellor of the Exchequer had brought the scheme into Parliament. This was precisely what the Canadian Government proposed to do by sending delegates to Washington and what was not undignified in the Imperial Government could hardly be so in ours. Then it was said that it was not proper for them to come into contact with Congressional Committees as they had done, but neither could he see that there was anything derogatory in this. It was in harmony with the American system of legislation, and there was no other way of arranging the matter.
No single member of the American Cabinet has a seat in the Legislature. The Secretary of the Treasury [Hugh McCulloch] had sent down the scheme and they threw it out altogether and there was therefore no derogation of dignity in our delegates dealing with the Committee specially appointed to treat of such subjects. As to the next paragraph of the Resolution little need be said. It seemed pretty clear that in the present state of things in Congress there was little reason to hope for a renewal of the treaty, and while the present leaders retained their position little hope of any arrangement at all. It was really mortifying and surprising that while the old world was abandoning protection as a mischievous fallacy the American Republic, which claimed to be the great modern champion of equal rights and which declaimed so strongly against class Legislation, should adopt such a policy.
In his opinion it would do no good, but on the contrary a great deal of harm to the country. He certainly hoped we would not imitate them in their singular course. He held it to be the interest of Canada to open her ports as freely as possible to the trade of all nations from all parts of the world, and although our agriculturists might for a little while feel the loss of the treaty, and although some inconvenience and even loss might result in other directions, yet we ought not on that account to follow the American example or even to close our doors against them, but rather to allow them if possible an easier access to our markets. We had no reason to fear competition, and with proper measures we could ensure the greater part of the trade of the far West.
The paragraphs relating to an extension of trade with other colonies and nations, and the report of the delegates sent to the West Indies and Brazil would no doubt contain valuable and interesting information which, as he hoped, would lead at an early day to the opening up of new markets for our products.
We had a great pleasure in really assuring His Excellency [Viscount Monck] of the wisdom of the course pursued by the Government in calling out for active service a large portion of the Volunteer Militia of the Province to resit the marauders who had threatened an attack on the country. It was a matter of the very greatest satisfaction that the response to the call of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been so prompt and enthusiastic, but it could not be otherwise. We were threatened by ruffians who came to plunder and devastate the country under the pretext of establishing an Irish Republic.
Our people had felt that in repelling these men they were defending the right as well as defending their hearths and homes. They felt that it was a wanton and wholly unjust proceeding, and that whatever wrongs might have existed in Ireland, or might still exist there, this country was in no wise responsible or accountable for them. Every Irishman who came to Canada was sure of the same rights and of the enjoyment of the same privileges as every other subject no matter of what creed he might be. The law protected all equally, and therefore there were no just grounds of complaint against the people of this country. Even General Sweeny himself in a recent speech had stated that the Fenians had really no cause of quarrel with Canada; and it was to be hoped that when the facts of the recent invasion became known in England we would have no more talk in the papers about the probability of quarrels on account of the colonies. This quarrel was none of ours. We had got into it because we formed part of the Empire though in no way the occasion. Yet we had made it our own quarrel, and in doing so had defended the integrity of the Empire. (Hear, hear.)
If this conduct on our part had not the effect of disabusing certain minds in Great Britain about the dispositions of the Colonies we might entirely despair of ever doing it. It was also a matter of honest pride that the precipatate [sic] retreat of the Fenians spoken of by His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been due to the valour of our own volunteers unaided by a single soldier of the line. But he did sincerely unite with His Excellency [Viscount Monck] in deploring the loss of his life which but resulted from this invasion to our gallant volunteers as well as the sufferings entailed upon the wounded men. No doubt the government felt that an expression of thanks in this manner was not enough to show the high sense which the Parliament of the country owed for the services of these devoted men, but that an early day the formal thanks of both Houses would be given them for their alacrity and for the fearles [sic] manner in which they had obeyed the call and exposed their lives. Their conduct proved that the defence of the country rested with the volunteers which had become the true military force upon which we would have to depend. He did not intend by this to disparage the regular soldiers. (Hear, hear).
They were a kind of force better suited to the habits and circumstances of this country, and less inimical to its rights and privilege, than a standing army. The next paragraph related to the support received by His Excellency [Viscount Monck] from the Lieut. General Commanding and Admiral Sir James Hope, which, no doubt, these emenent [sic] officers had been forward to render, but he could not help saying that there had been circumstances in connection with the movements of the regular troops on the line of the Niagara river road which at the very least called for investigation. The Resolution then went on to refer to the action of the Government of the United States, and he had no hesitation to say that so far as its recent action was concerned, it had been of a very decided and effective character, and he hoped it would be persevered in. The next subject was an allusion to the recent legislation for authorizing the suspension of the habeas corpus Act, in which he fully concurred.
We then came to the union of all the British North American Provinces. There seemed to be a good prospect of a speedy completion of this great measure, and he hoped that during this session the schemes for the constitution of the local Governments in Canada would be submitted. This would then be the last session of the Parliament of Canada, and it might with truth be said that notwithstanding all the difficulties we had to contend with, the country had made very great progress, and had before it bright prospects for the future, if wise counsels prevailed and too great extravagance was not indulged in. If economy were practiced, and the same wisdom which had been generally evinced in the past continued to distinguish the management of public affairs, we shall have reasonable hopes that the future would not be less satisfactory. Though Canada might be merged in the Confederation of British North America we would have reminiscenses [sic] affording us an alloyed pleasure. He trusted that the results of Confederation would be such as to justify the most sanguine hopes entertained by its advocates, and he would be sincerely glad to find it so. (Hear, hear.) He would now move the adoption of the Resolution.
Joseph Armand [Alma, elected 1858] said —called upon by the advisers of the Representative of our Gracious Queen, to second the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne should endeavor to fulfil that duty, but in so grave a matter he solicited indulgence for one not very much accustomed to take part in public affairs. He rejoiced at the splendor and magnificence of the buildings which are the theatre of their deliberations, and that, too, for the last time, the last session of the eighth Parliament, and also the last session of the final parliament of United Canada.
He congratulated the Government on the promptness with which they were about to carry out the suggestions of the Colonial Ministers with regard to the Union of British North America, and he had no doubt that the Ministry would obtain the support of the House in taking such measures as were necessary to make up to commerce for the abrogation of the Treaty of Reciprocity.
In view of the violation of our territory, by the invasion of a horde of vandals, he was happy to find that the Government had not forgotten the adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” Our volunteers, in concert with Her Majesty’s regular troops, had acted most nobly in repelling the enemy. The Queen’s Own, it is true, had exhibited the impetuosity of the French soldier rather than the steady coolness of the English soldier, but had, nevertheless, done well and deserve all praise. The country felt more than ordinarily thankful, as the Governor in his Speech expressed it, for the ready co-operation of His Excellency the Commander of the Forces, and Admiral Sir James Hope, both giving evidence that they fully comprehend the idea of the poet who says that, “Mourir pour la patrie est le sort le blus beau, le plus digne d’envie.” After such valiant conduct, and such noble examples, the voice of the historian will engrave on their tombs this epitaph: “On les devoues defenseurs de leurs pays.“
It afforded great pleasure to learn the determination of the Government to carry out the philanthropic recommendation of His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck], […]
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[…] to come to the aid of those whose protectors had perished, and to the aid of those suffering from wounds received in battle. He next referred to the Proclamation of the successor at Washington of the “martyr Lincoln” [Andrew Johnson] in the highest terms of praise, saying that for their firmness and energy their names would be coupled by posterity with that of the immortal Washington.
Yes, continued Mr. Armand, “nous devons nous rassurer, lorsque nous voyons pour executer cette proclamation, deux generaux tels que Meade et Grant, deux des gloires militaires de l’aigle Americain.” He spoke bitterly of the Fenian attack, contrasting them with the followers of the “immortal O’Connell,” adding that brutal violence could never redress the griefs of their unfortunate country, but rather in making use of the fine privileges of the British Constitution, that of petition.
This was what was recommended to them by one of their great men, in an immense assembly recently held at Montreal, and in which he, for one, would make it his duty to participate. I can tell that illustrious patriot, that he would not be the only ne of his co-citizens in such a crusade. The two measures which the Government proposed at the opening of the session were worthy of its high position, and shows a proper sense of its duty.
As to the Code of Civil Procedure which specially concerns the magistracy we owe the initiation of it to an eminent statesman, who conceived the design and caused it to be executed, as well as to the learned judges consulted, who devoted to this great work their science and their time. The government will no doubt hasten to place before Parliament a statement of the accounts for the current year, and the estimates for the following.
That which especially pleases us, is that the revenue of the year is equal to the immense unforeseen expenses of the military service. It only remained to glance at the last paragraph of the address, and with perfect sincerity he was happy to learn from His Excellency’s discourse that the inhabitants of the Provinces of British North America had at last understood that the time had arrived when they should legislate under the same roof, under the protection, under the shadow and under the folds of the glorious British flag, of that banner which marches at the head of civilization, which is and which will be the security of the people, so long as it remains in alliance with that of France.
He did not fear yet again to make himself the organ of his compatriots, and to declare in view of Confederation, that so long as the mother country was faithful to her sworn faith, so long as the noble English, the brave Scotch, and the sons of beautiful and green Erin respect our institutions, our language and our laws, we shall desire to live and die subjects of noble Albion, or until she judges proper to emancipate us, in order to form of her vast possessions in British North America an extensive and magnificent empire in alliance with, and devoted to herself, where she will come to settle any differences she may have with other countries of the New World.
It is my conviction that with God’s help, and opening easy comunication [sic] with our brethren of the colonies, sisters as Mentor said to Telemachus, “the more numerous and the more easy the internal communications of the people, the more certain the presage of that people’s prosperity,” I am convinced that a little more self denial and a little more moral courage, and a little more virtue, we shall go on peacefully and prosperously with our intelligent and industrious neighbors, who until recently, as was judiciously observed by Mr. Guizot, seemed to grow and to expand as they traversed the ages and advanced towards posterity.
Donald Macdonald [Tecumseth, elected 1858]—A certain amount of vagueness, both in the speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck] and in the debate thereupon seems to have been unavoidable in the circumstances under which Parliament has been convened. An expectation has prevailed that this session will be the last of the Canadian Legislature as at present constituted, and I think that the Government has been justified in delaying our meeting with the view of being able, if possible, to present the question of confederation for definite and final action. The remarkable progress which the question has made since we separated has warranted a belief that this the critical—and as I hope the triumphant—stage, will not be long delayed.
Meanwhile, however, the practical and ever-present question of money demands attention; and it is creditable to ministers that they have resolved not to defer the great matter of the supplies, or, under any pretext, to incur expenditure without the previous sanction of parliament. This mounts to no more than the observance of a constitutional duty, I admit, but remembering how often it has been disregarded, I am not disposed to withhold from them the full meed [sic] of commendation. Of course the expenditure connected with the defence of the Province have formed an exception to the rule, but I am sure that not a single man can be found who does not feel, not only that this extra and unforeseen outlay has been incurred wisely and well, but that the Government would have been criminally culpable had the vigor of its measures been restrained by any niggardliness in regard to money. When the peace and well-being of the country are jeopardised by organized ruffianism, the question of cost, as an element in the question of defence, sinks into insignificance.
The boldest and most effective measures of defence become the cheapest. And certainly my opinion is that the measures adopted by His Excellency [Viscount Monck], under the advice of his Ministers, to meet the threatened Fenian attack were well considered, and undoubtedly they served a very useful purpose. And the preparation was needed. Fenianism has committed the folly of an armed invasion of our soil—but the all-prevailing patriotism of the Canadian people has been made manifest. Their universal readiness to dare and to do in defence of the flag has been established beyond cavil; and the circumstance cannot fail to strengthen the influence of the Province in the parent country, and to increase our hold upon the respect of our neighbors.
During the last three months we have shown our fitness for the high responsibilities of the recipient stage of nationality upon which we hope soon to enter. The result is the more important because occurring simultaneously with the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty, upon the continuance of which our loyalty has in some quarters been supposed to depend. That delusion has been thoroughly and I trust forever dispelled. We should have been glad to have a continuance of the treaty with its obvious advantages, but the people of Canada are not prepared to barter their allegiance as the price of it. At the same time I highly approve of the efforts made by our Government in conjunction with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to secure a renewal of the treaty. I am not prepared to commit myself to the proposition made by the Provincial representatives to the Congressional Committee of Ways and Means. Indeed, I think that some of the concessions which were tendered are beyond what our people would just now be prepared to sanction.
Of these particulars however it is not necessary to speak, since they eventuated in nothing. Apart from differences of opinion as to certain of the terms offered, I am disposed to look with satisfaction, not unmingled with pride, at the ability with which the Provinces were represented at Washington. It is impossible to peruse the report of the conferences held by the delegates with the Committee of the House of Representatives, without feeling that in respect of information, soundness of principle, and practical ability, our Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] appears to great advantage as compared with Mr. Morrill. Nor do I regard the mission as altogether a failure. For though destitute of immediate results, it may be said to have prepared the way for another, and I hope not distance arrangement. The great obstacle, as I understand it has hitherto been the want of knowledge in regard to, and the want of interest in the subject on the part of the Americans. Few amongst them seemed to understand the extent and value of their trade with the Provinces, or to be willing to make an effort for its continuance.
As a consequence of this fact, the opponents of the treaty have had everything their own way; their misrepresentations have passed uncorrected; and temporarily, at least, their efforts to prevent a renewal of Reciprocity have been successful. But since the visit of the Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt] and Postmaster General [William Howland] to Washington, and especially since the publication of their conferences with the Ways and Means Committee, I have noticed a marked change in the tone of the American Press. The importance of the Provincial trade begins to be appreciated; the inconveniences which must arise from the want of a treaty are acknowledged; and so far as I can judge there is a growing disposition to bring about another arrangement, of a more comprehensive character than that which has recently terminated.
I trust, therefore, that we shall bye and bye, hear of a renewal of negotiations, on a basis that will command the approval of both countries. Pending such an arrangement, it behoves us to consider carefully what measures Canada shall take in consequence of the abrogation of the treaty. My own judgment is in favor of a liberal and friendly policy. I would reject as ignoble and impolitic everything like retalliation [sic].
Let Mr. Morrill and his friends adhere to their Japanese policy if they choose. Be it our task, as it is assuredly our interest, to discard restrictions, to repudiate monopolies, and to reduce our customs’ duties to the lowest level, compatible with the revenue requirements of the Province.—Even as to the fisheries I would be conciliatory, rather than rigidly exclusive; convinced as I am that the completion of another commercial arrangement with the United States will be hastened or retarded, according as matters may be temporarily disposed of in relation to the fisheries.
Under this impression I have noticed with pleasure the statement of Mr. Layard in the House of Commons as to the negotiations going on between the British and American Governments; and my sincere desire is that an amicable settlement maybe effected in time to prevent trouble in the fishing grounds. Whatever be the ultimate issue of the reciprocity question in general, and the fishery question in particular, I shall await with a great deal of interest the complete report of the inquiries and suggestions of the Commissions which, under the Chairmanship of the Hon. the Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], have visited the West Indies with the view of extending our direct trade, both as to imports and exports.
Emerging, as these Provinces soon will, from the condition of isolation and weakness, and aspiring, as they do, to a Confederation which, while recognizing the gracious sovereignty of Victoria, shall stand before the world confident in the strength of its own resources, and with the territorial extent and unity that are recognized as sources of power, our duty is to open fresh channels of trade, and so to ramify our markets that she shall not be dependent upon the caprice or the fortune of any single customer. I shall be disappointed if the popular anticipations excited by the appointment of the Commission, and the ability and experience of its members, be not verified; for in the success of its labors I think I see guarantees of a bright commercial future.
George Alexander [Gore, elected 1858] said, every hon. member of this honorable house will naturally desire, before proceeding to discuss this subject matter in the speech from the throne, to allude to the nefarious outrages recently committed on our frontier, which have been met with such admirable promptitude, by our own patriotic volunteers, and the military authorities of the country. It was unnecessary to dwell upon the character of the Fenian organization, properly designed by the New York press as the scum and refuse of their population, banded together for plunder and perhaps in the hope of disturbing the friendly relations at present existing, between the two governments.
In both their objects they had failed, and it was gratifying to observe the United States Government, although late in the day, now taking proper measures to repress this extraordinary infraction of our international laws, within their own Territory. While we all deeply deplore the loss of life and suffering, unused by this invasion, it has called forth a spirit of resistance, of self reliance and of valor, such as has seldom been evinced by any country taken thus by surprise. (Hear.)
I am sure that we cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of our volunteers, (hear, hear,) for the most part young men of industrious pursuits, some of them holding valuable appointments, who, when the emergency arose, did not hesitate to sink all private considerations, and rushed at once to the frontier in the country’s defence, and I am sure that I express the feeling of the people, when I say that Parliament, ought in some way to acknowledge the great services they have rendered. (Hear, hear.)
We all know how our excellent volunteers have gone on steadily, under many discouragements, acquiring proficiency in drill. They have in the most commendable manner, worked out their own position, (hear,) and I ask the Government, might not our cities and the valuable homsteads [sic] of our farmers been plundered to any extent, but for the valorous efforts of our young volunteers. (Hear, hear.) It was indeed a most fortunate thing, that at this critical moment, we had at the head of the Militia Department, Col. McDougall, an officer eminently qualified for this position, combining large military experience, with sound judgment. (Hear, hear.)
Who, with the very able counsel of one, whom, from his distinguished position, it is not parliamentary to name, planned the whole defence, in so quiet, and effective a manner, as to allow all public anxiety, and we should not omit to mention the valuable services rendered by Lieut. Col. Taylor the Assistant Deputy Adjutant General in the West. The crisis through which we have just passed must serve to show how unwise it would be to leave such a country as this, without a proper organization of the militia. It would indeed be a blind economy to leave exposed such a Province as this to be ravaged in the manner it has just been threatened, from now henceforward, the question of defence must receive the best consideration of the government. While we have to consider what would be a fair and just and liberal encouragement to give to our excellent volunteer force, I would venture to suggest that we should not delay any longer to officer the Battalions of the Militia throughout the Province with men properly qualified or who have received certificates from the Military Schools. Why should […]
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[…] this not be done at once?
And there are other suggestions of a practical character which it would be necessary for Parliament to decide. But this slight disturbance of the peace must not prevent our entering upon the consideration of all the other great questions affecting the material growth of the country. We are especially called upon at this moment, to consider the whole commercial position, how and where we can most effectually secure markets for all our surplus produce, and how we can increase in every possible way the facilities of trade. Never were the prospects of this Province better, than they are now, (hear, hear,) If we have only sufficient commercial enterprize [sic], to carry our own surplus produce to the markets of the world, instead of depending upon others to do so. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. member proceeded at considerable length to explain his views as to the Commercial Policy which should be adopted by the government in regard to American produce coming in, maintaining that while everything should be done to encourage and sustain the Agricultural industry of the country, there must be a permanent and reliable policy in regard to all our import manufactures which have progressed and prospered so large a degree within a few years.
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said, he did not propose to offer any opposition to the passage of the Address, but we should think well what we were about in voting it. In view of the recent troublesome events he felt the Government had need of the best support of every true patriot, and he hoped they would so order their measures as to assure continued peace and prosperity to the country. (Hear, hear.)
Without admitting propriety of what was said in the Resolution in regard of Confederation he would nevertheless offer the subject no further opposition, (Hear, hear,) not would he propose any other amendment. In view of the condition of that question he thought the Government needed all the help they could get so as to conduct the matter to a successful issue. (Hear, hear.)
He rejoiced as much as any one could at the fine spirit displayed by the Volunteers at Fort Erie. True some of them had sacrificed their lives for their country, but their memory would be held in grateful remembrance and their names be an honor to their families in all future time. He understood that they were mostly young men, and that the corps which had borne the brunt of the fight belonged to the University of Toronto. If so they would ever be an honor to that Institution, and the people would no doubt see in the valor they had displayed, that education taught men their duty to their country as well as other knowledge. We were also called upon to rejoice at the completion of the Houses of Parliament, but this for one he could not do. They were too fine, too large and too costly.
Then we were desired to express our satisfaction with the prosperous commercial condition of the Province, but before we could do this we must have facts before us which we had not now. Then Confederation was alluded to as near accomplishment, and from passing events he supposed it was likely to be so. Well he had not helped to bring this about, and what he had once thought about it he still thought to-day, but the thing being done it was useless to complain. He hoped that if the Government proposed to treat the constitution of the Local Governments this Session they would submit the schemes at an early day—the sooner the better. If they adjourned that they would adjourn to a later day than was at first proposed, as during the summer the members were better at home than here.
David Macpherson [Saugeen, elected 1864] said, before the motion was put, he desired to say a few words on one or two paragraphs of the Address. Too much praise could not be awarded to the brave Volunteers, who, in the moment of danger, had rushed to arms and perilled [sic] their lives in defence of the country. It had afforded him particular pleasure to hear the hon. member for Grandville (Hon. Mr. Le Tellier) remark in such handsome terms upon the conduct of the Queen’s Own and the University Companies of Volunteers. These gallant men had certainly done themselves the greatest honor, and he (Mr. Macpherson) had every confidence that, should the danger continue, the Volunteers throughout the country, irrespective of nationality, would vie with each other as to who should be foremost to check the career of the assailants, whose unprovoked and atrocious conduct, in the recent invasion, merited the severest chastisement.
We could not do too much, he repeated, to show our sense of obligation to these brave men, or too greatly admire the patriotic alacrity with which they rushed to the field, their bravery in battle, and the patience in suffering of those who were stricken down in the encounter. Nothing would command a greater unanimity in the House or country than the proposition to give the volunteers a special vote of thanks. He was glad, too, to find that there was an intention to propose the making of some provision for the relief of the families who had been deprived of their natural protectors. In so doing Parliament would only be carrying out what had already been commenced by private citizens throughout the country. He now begged to say a few words on the subject of trade, and he would say he had been much pleased to hear the hon. mover (Hon. D. Christie,) one of the most extensive agriculturists in the country, express himself as he had done, in favor of the adoption of the freest commercial system.
For one, he would be sorry that Canada should follow the example of the United States in its restrictive commercial policy. He would favor the greatest possible freedom, and as far as possible, remove all existing restrictions. If the Minister of Finance [Alexander T. Galt] would follow such a policy, as far as practicable, he (Mr. McPherson) was sure he would have the sympathies and approval of a large majority of the country. This was the true policy for Canada. Let all be done that could be done to encourage and to make this a cheap country to live in, and the consequences would be of the most beneficial character. We ought to be well able to compete with the United States in this matter. The expense of living there at this time was greater than in almost any other country, and although they might up to the present, have escaped any serious inconvenience from the greatly increased debt and taxes, owing to their redundant currency, the time would assuredly come when the pressure would be severely felt, and as assuredly would this prevent emigration thither. It should be our endeavor to make Canada as cheap a place to live in as possible, and if we did this we would, of a certainty, attract a large population.
He believed the true commercial policy was to reduce the tariff of customs duties to the lowest practicable point, and although the country had need of a large revenue, these reductions would give an expansion to trade and commerce which would more than compensate for such reduction. If we could dispense with the customs tariff altogether; if, for instance, Canada were one grand extended free port, he believed that a stream of commerce, greater and more enriching than the most sanguine could now anticipate, would flow through the country. If it were possible to arrange our fiscal system so as to derive our revenue from more direct sources, the country would realize a larger measure of prosperity than can be hoped for under our present system.
He did not advocate the rushing into sudden and violent changes, but he desired to recommend reduction of duties to the Government, as the policy to be hereafter kept in view, and as speedy an approach to perfectly free trade as possible. Our manufactures even then should flourish, for with the burthen of taxation and cost of labor in the United States, it is impossible they can compete with us. In England the price of money is greatly enhanced, ad in all probability it will be long before it will be as cheap as in years past. This, with the cost of transportation, and other charges, should be sufficient protection to our manufactures, and he had no doubt that all of them suited to the country would prosper. Present circumstances favored the adoption of a sound commercial and fiscal system, and it certainly was not the interest of the country to foster monopolies which eventically [sic] proved detrimental to the public, and had to be overturned.
Jacques-Olivier Bureau [De Lormier, elected 1862] (who was not distinctly heard) thought that so long as the United States encouraged their manufacturers, by bounties or draw backs, Canada could not compete with them. He expected that when the duties between the several Provinces, to be united under the Confederation, were equalized a considerable impulse would be given to trade; but, to foster manufactures, some degree of protection was necessary. Even in England some degree of protection was afforded under certain circumstances.
Thomas Ryan [Victoria, elected 1863] said it was not his purpose to introduce extraneous matters, as commerce and manufactures, or to speak in relation to the proposed extension of our trade with other countries. He was satisfied that the Report of the Commissioners would soon be laid before the House, as it was in a forward state of preparation, and at any rate, now was not the time to give information on that subject. He hoped, however, that the mission of the Commissioners would be of advantage to the commerce of the country, but still it would not be wise to form exaggerated expectations from the visit, as it was not in the nature of things that a sudden revolution should be produced by such means. The object of the Commissioners was to give and receive information, and it would be for the parties engaged in business to avail themselves of it, and to push their trade. He believed that opportunities were opening to Canada, of which she could take advantage, and that many things produced in this country which were supplied through the States to the West Indies, on account of their greater proximity, could hereafter be supplied directly and on better terms.
But he had risen to notice a topic which had not been alluded to in the Speech of His Excellency [Viscount Monck], and which he thought it desirable should not be overlooked. He desired to be informed whether proceedings had been taken by our Government to call the attention of the Government, and through them the attention of the United States, to the events which had been occrruing [sic] there for some time past, and which had recently issued in an invasion of our soil and the loss of several valuable lives.
Two years ago he had called the attention of the Government to the organization then existing, and suggested that representation should be made to the Imperial Government with the view of putting a stop to the threatened invasions on the part of citizens of the United States of a country at peace with that Government. It was positively unsupportable that we should constantly be exposed to trouble and danger from these lawless men, and it is very desirable they should be put down once for all, for if merely checked for the moment, and then allowed to prepare for some more convenient opportunity of harrassing [sic] us, we should be in a state of continual discomfort.
If we could not follow these evil disposed men ourselves to the United States, it surely became the duty of Great Britain to take up the subject in an earnest manner and see what remedy could be applied. The United States might be very well disposed towards us, but a proper disposition was not sufficient action. If they alleged they had not the power to repress these men it would be necessary to inquire what other means could be used to effect the purpose, but he believed that if the Government of St. James made proper representations the desired results would be reached. If the disturbances continues then it would be an indication that the American Government were not inclined to cultivate friendly relations. Things could not go on as they were now, and we could not consent to be threatened year by year by an organized body of lawless men on pretence of injustice suffered in another country.
The Irish in Lower Canada were as well disposed, he believed, as any other class of Volunteers to come forward and defend their adopted country. He believed that if an example were made and several more lives were forfeited by the invaders of our shores, a stop would be put such attempts. He rather thought it was a misfortune that no greater opportunity had been afforded to our volunteers and regular troops to teach these adventurers a severe lesson, but they kept close to the border, and when pursued retreated where we could not follow them. When it was remembered how Canada had behaved when the Southern raiders invaded the American territory, how Parliament voted the money taken from the Banks, and how we exerted ourselves to prevent the recurrence of such incursions, he thought we had a right to expect the American Government would interfere to prevent the enactment of such outrages as we had recently experienced at the hands of the Fenians. He hoped to hear from the Government that steps had been taken to secure the country from such outrages in future.
Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] said, he had no doubt the Imperial Government had made the proper representations on the subject of the Fenian outrages to the Government of the United States, through their Ambassador at Washington [Frederick Bruce], and he believed it would be found that it was in consequence of such representations, that the latter had taken the measures of repression which had already been so effectual. The President [Andrew Johnson] had issued a proclamation and authorized the General Commanding in the North (General Meade) to see to it, that a stop be put to further marauding incursions. The United States were fully aroused to the necessity of maintaining peace with Great Britain, and were acting in good faith. They should receive credit for what they had done, and had good reason to believe their action would be effectual. Indeed he though the lesson the Fenians had learned, would be sufficient to prevent their making any other attempt of his kind in future.
George Boulton [Canada West, appointed 1847] as he had heard that this was the last speech from the Throne by the Governor General of Canada [Viscount Monck], desired to say a few words in connection with a reply to it. One thing he could vouch for and that was the undoubted loyalty of the country. He had known the men of Canada to be called out to support British rule on more than one occasion, and he had invariably seen the greatest loyalty evinced. The desire for a continuance of British connection was strong in the minds of the people. No one thought of annexation to the United States, and he knew that some […]
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[…] who, on former occasions, had entertained the notion, had now materially changed their minds. The country was prosperous, and had made rapid strides in the way of material advancement.
Extraordinary changes had taken place in his time; the country had increased in wealth and population in a most surprising manner, due in a great measure to that system of government, which we enjoy and which was admirably adapted to improve the country. He recollected Toronto when it was a mere wilderness—when the west side of it was all trees, and now it has a large population, broad and busy streets, a fine harbour, and magnificent public buildings. It was a source of great satisfaction to him to know that the people of this advancing country when called upon to defend it had always done so with alacrity and with effect; and he felt proud to believe that we should never want the aid of old England. Whatever individuals here or elsewhere might say he believed that the integrity of the empire will be maintained.
A word about Confederation. He thought it most desirable that Confederation should take place, as by that means the wealth of the country would more and more increase, and he did not believe and hoped that the country would not suffer from the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, which was not the result of inutility [sic] to the United States, but of an unfriendly feeling towards Great Britain for her conduct during the American Civil War. He was perfectly desirous to remain on terms of amity with his neighbors and thought they ought to be indebted to England instead of displeased with her for her forbearance and neutrality during the last war.
Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] said that with regard to the matter alluded to by the hon. member from Montreal, (Hon. Mr. Ryan), which that hon. member thought should have been embodied in His Excellency’s [Viscount Monck] speech from the throne, viz. : as to the representations made to the Government at Washington, on the subject of the Fenian invasions of our soil, he felt at liberty to state that the subject had been brought under the attention of the Imperial Government, and, he had no doubt, that the British Ambassador at Washington [Frederick Bruce] had made the proper representations to the American Government. It is probable that to these representations we may to some extent attribute the recent measures of the American Government in arresting the progress of the misguided men in question, and he further hoped and believed we would not be molested by them any more.
Harcourt Bull [Burlington, elected 1864] said it was not his intention to say anything whatever on the resolution before the House, as there was no difference of opinion on the subject; but he could not allow to pass without a word an invidious distinction made between our volunteers, when all have done so well, and have successfully driven the invaders from our soil. The Queen’s Own and the University Company have been the only troops mentioned, and he did not wish to pull one flower from the wreath of glory to which they were entitled, but if they were the first in the field, he believed there were other volunteers that were the last. He trusted that until the whole history of the fight is known no distinction will be made in Parliament between the volunteers engaged in the battle of Ridgeway, convinced as he was that all the volunteers have done their duty well.
The resolution was then put and carried unanimously, and the usual formalities of preparing an address to His Excellency [Viscount Monck] founded thereon were observed.
The House then adjourned.
 The delegation consisted of the Minister of Finance, Alexander T. Galt, and the Postmaster General, William Howland.
 Justin Smith Morrill was the Chairman of the (U.S.) House Committee on Ways and Means.