Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates [Ministerial Explanations], 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (22 June 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 203-204.
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WEDNESDAY, 22nd June, 1864.
When the House opened at half-past three o’clock—
Hon. Mr. HAMILTON (Kingston) rose and said that he had been requested a few minutes previous to the meeting by the Hon. Premier to state to the House that the negotiations between the Government and the Hon. Mr. Brown had not yet been completed, but that it was expected that they would be concluded by four o’clock. He asked the House to adjourn until that hour.
Hon. Mr. LETELLIER DE ST. JUST inquired what progress had been made in the negotiations since yesterday. He thought that the hon. gentleman who had taken upon himself to ask on the part of the Government for a further adjournment, should be informed in this respect.
Hon. Mr. HAMILTON said the information would be brought down at the hour stated. Until then, the hon. gentleman must be content to wait.
The House then adjourned at pleasure.
The SPEAKER resumed the Chair at four o’clock.
Hon. SIR. E. P. TACHE rose and said he was now prepared to state to the House in detail the negotiations which had taken place between certain members of the Government and a leading member of the Opposition, and which had continued until today. The document would speak for itself. He would read it in French, and his colleague (Hon. Mr. Campbell) would afterwards do so in English.
(The hon. member then read the “Ministerial Explanations,” which were read in the Lower House by the Hon. Attorney General West.)
After finishing the reading of the documents the hon. member said the House would have understood there was to be a reconstruction after the adjournment. The Government would then be a Coalition Government, but not in the ordinary sense of the term, for the coalition was formed for a very peculiar, definite and important object, viz: to arrange the difficulties arising from the present representation of the people in Parliament. Hon. members all knew how the country had been agitated on this subject, how ill-feeling had been evoked, and even menaces used by one section towards the other, one standing in an aggressive and other in a defensive attitude. Such a state of things could not last long without danger, and it was known how difficulties of this kind had culminated elsewhere. The example of the United States, where sectional difficulties had led to a fratricidal and most bloody war, ought to be a warning to all who desired the welfare of the country, no matter of what race or creed, to see if means could not be found to agree upon some plan which would set these agitations at rest. By the negotiations he had made known to the House an understanding had been arrived at, which would at least procure the country a respite, if it did nothing else. The parties late in hostility had met together, and would meet together to divise the means of agreement, and if they succeeded, as he trusted they would, he thought they would have deserve well. He thought hon. members would all he disposed to respond to the effort with the desire of securing the befits intended thereby. He would not say any more at present, but would reserve the right to reply of the debate should call for it.
Hon. Mr. LETELLIER DE ST. JUST took exception to the course of the Hon. Premier in having made remarks previous to the reading of the paper in English.
Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL then, without preface, read he memorandum in that language, and said he also would reserve any remarks he might be disposed to make until other hon. members had spoken.
Hon. Mr. FERGUSSON BLAIR said it was not his purpose to dwell upon or to offer opposition to the extensive scheme of federation embracing Canada and the Lower Province. It was the first he had heard of it; and, as the subject was a most important one, and one intended to remedy certain grave difficulties, he thought that if on examination it was deemed calculated to effect the desired object, it would be the duty of all real patriots to support it. With regard, however, to the negotiations for reconstructing the Government, speaking as an Upper Canadian— for, though members represented the whole country, there were occasions when they must recollect specially the interests of their section— he must say he was not satisfied that the interests of Upper Canada had been properly considered; nor did he think that the Lower Canada allies of the majority of Upper Canada had been properly dealt with. It appeared from the explanations read that the overtures had been made by Hon. Mr. Brown; and he was glad of this, for the sake of his hon. friends opposite, for whom he entertained the highest respect. But it seemed to him that all through the negotiations Mr. Brown had been the conceding party; and all against the interests of Upper Canada.
In his (Mr. Blair’s) mind, the fact that equality of votes in the House entitled one party to an equality of representation in the Cabinet, as stated by Mr. Brown, could not be gainsaid; but, in a day or two, that gentleman had consented to accept a fourth. With regard to the leadership of the House, it was the same; he had given that up too. And so with the proposition he made of holding office without emolument, though he (Mr. Blair) must say that such an arrangement could not properly have been made. If there were members in the Cabinet with nothing to lose, the Governor would have a poor set of advisers. But, in respect of the way in which Mr. Brown’s Lower Canada friends had been treated, he could not approve of it. He had been accustomed to regard two qualifications as essential in public men, viz: fidelity to their party and loyalty to their friends; and, for his part, he could not have pursued such a course. As to the proposed federation, he neither condemned nor approved it— it might be productive of much good, or might be fraught with much evil. He could not gather from the explanations that the scheme was to be submitted to the people; and he thought that the arrangement which would enable the Government to get the supplies and pass their measures was not in accordance with the principles of the British Constitution.
Hon. Mr. MOORE spoke at very great length; and it is, consequently, impossible, with the space at our disposal and the claims of the Assembly, to do more than give a synopsis of his remarks. The hon. member thought it was not necessary for the Government to have come down with details; but that a statement of the results they had arrived at would have been quite sufficient. But he thought it strange that, after the Government had been defeated by adverse vote, that it should have made an arrangement by which certain members of Parliament should join them after the prorogation. And it appeared to him still more strangers that they should negotiate with a person who was not to come at once in the Cabinet.
Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL— But who will be a member?
Hon. Mr. MOORE— The fact was that things were to remain as they were until after the prorogation. Then, there was the anomaly that without reference at all to what had taken place, the affairs of the Legislature were to go on just as if nothing had happened. The hon. member then remarked upon the fact of the Government entering into negotiations with persons whose position did not involve any responsibility to the Legislature or the country, and that those persons should assume a responsibility which properly could only devolve upon Ministers. The question, also, upon which the negotiators had assumed to heal was one of the gravest importance to the country; and, taking a statesman-like view of the subject, be thought that before such an arrangement was contemplated, the people should have been appealed to. He thought that, in conjunctions of this important character, the proper way was to appoint delegates and to hold conventions, by means of which the views of the country could be elicited. Possibly, the Government did not intend to proceed without that sanction; but, so far, was as nearly as possible a transcript of the British Constitution. The people enjoyed the greatest security to life and property; and there was no country under the sun where the laws were more equal or administered more equitably. In view of these things, he thought no important step, such as the one proposed, should be taken until the people had had the opportunity of expressing their judgement. He had the highest respect for the individual members of the Government; but, at the same time, they might have committed a mistake just as he himself might have done. All he proposed to he was to raise [text ineligible] voice in loads of warning.
Hon. Mr. LETELLIER DE ST. JUST said that after what had been stated yesterday, when the adjournment was asked, he had expected the details of a plan for the pacification of the country; but he could not see that any details had been vouchsafed. There were long reports of conversations and it was evident that the parties engaging in them had been so distrusted of each other, that they had taken precautions to have their sayings duly and carefully stated; but there really was no plan arrived at or disclosed. It was not said into how many Governments the country was to be divided or how the people were to be represented in them; whether equality of representation or representation according to population were to prevail. He for one was desirous of knowing how the representation would be arranged in the Federal Government, and he thought that the House had a right at least to know so much of the pain, if there was a plan. He begged to ask the hon. Premier if it was the case that in the proposed Federal Government the representation was to be based on population.
Hon. Sir. E. P. TACHE said the hon. member pretended to see no plan in the explanations, but if he had attended carefully to them he would have discovered the basis at least of such a plan, which was afterwards to be ratified by Parliament and the people. However, he thought it was not reasonable for the hon. member after three or four days negotiations upon a most difficult subject which would require weeks and perhaps months to settle to ask for details. The Government proposed to mature a plan during the recess and to submit it to Parliament next session, and when the details were submitted they would of course be open to discussion.
Hon. Mr. LETELLIER DE ST JUST thought that this was a most strange and unsatisfactory answer, were the members of this House less entitled to information than those of the other? In the Assembly an answer had been given to a similar question, but here we must be satisfied with vague replies. In that House it was distinctly stated that in the proposed federal or general Government the representation would be based on population, and why should not a similar answer have been given here.
It being six o’clock the Speaker left the Chair.
After the recess—
Hon. Mr. LETELLIER DE ST. JUST said that in the Lower House the question he (Mr. Letellier) had put in this Chamber had been answered in a different way, viz to the effect that in the proposed arrangements the principle of representation of population had been to some extent conceded. And to accomplish this, a certain combination had been made with a man who had always been considered as holding principles dangerous to Lower Canada. He did not say that the Government were not justified in resorting to extraordinary measures to ensure legislation and quiet, nor did he even object to the scheme proposed, but he maintained that the plan which had been promised had not been laid before the House.
Hon. Sir. E. P. TACHE remarked upon the exceeding energy the hon. member had thrown into his speech, but then it ought to be excused, as this was an extraordinary occasion. He (Mr. Tache) was accused by the hon. member with having withheld information given in the other House, but he solemnly stated that he had stated all he could as a member of the Government, and if the members of the Government in the other House had stated anything else, it was merely the ennunciation of their individual opinions, not any arrived at by the Government. The hon. member also represented the Government as on their knees to Mr. Brown, but he thought the position they had taken was one of so dignified a character as would ensure the approbation of the country. Nor was the hon. member more correct in respect of the course he (Mr. Tache) the Conservatives the greatest reforms ever effected in the country were accomplished. By means of that alliance the Clergy Reserves and the Seigniorial Tenure had been settled, and the Legislative Council rendered elective. There were the fruits of that alliance, and, forsooth, it was for these things that the hon. member threw the stone at him. As to the measure proposed in the memorandum, it would be submitted to the country in good time, but not by means of conventions, which were too Republican a course for this country to pursue, and he did not think the federation would at all loose the ties which bound as to the mother country.
Hon. Mr. BOULTON moved that the orders of the day he takes up.
The SPEAKER said that when Ministerial explanations were being given or debuted, all
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other business was made to give away.
Hon. Mr. DE LA TERRIERE spoke at some length, and said the arrangement with Mr. Brown was resorted to for the mere purpose of avoiding a general election. He protested against all confederations, and said that the only remedy for the difficulties between Upper Canada and Lower Canada was the repeal, pure and simple, of the Union. He would, for his part, do all he could to oppose the scheme now proposed.
Hon. Mr. SANBORN wished to know from the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands whether the measure proposed met the demands of Upper Canada for many years past.
Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL said the hon. member could read for himself the explanations given, and was as fully competent to draw conclusions as he himself might be.
Hon. Mr. FERUSSON BLAIR said that yesterday the details of the plan were promised, but had not been given.
Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL begged to remind the hon. member that yesterday the number of new members to be introduced into the Cabinet was not settled, but today it was done, and that was a most important detail which had been stated. As to the details of the federation system, it was clearly impossible in so short a time to mature them. We were now in the fourth session, during which little or nothing had been done, and surely it had at last become necessary to find some means of meeting the difficulties which presented legislation. These difficulties were the results of the demand on the part of Upper Canada for Representation by Population, and its refusal by Lower Canada on the other; and what would have been the effect if this mode of dealing with these difficulties had not been sought? Another appeal to the country with all its attendant expense and trouble. For his (Mr. Campbell’s) part he had hoped that an increase of population in Lower Canada consequent upon the discovery of gold and other causes would have removed the uneasiness; but circumstances had created immediate embarrassment which had to be met. It had been contended that the people should be consulted, and be, without speaking authoritatively, would say that no doubt the people would be consulted, though not in the way of conventions to the constitution through their representatives. No matter who was in power at the time before it became law, it would be submitted to the people through a general election. In that way, and that only, could such a measure be submitted to the people. As to other details of the plan it was impossible to give them. The general basis had been agreed upon, and when the details were arranged they also would, of course, be submitted to Parliament.
The hon. member (Moore) had also said the constitution was to be changed, but he would now see that no such change was to be made without consulting Parliament. The Lower Provinces, viz: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, had already agreed to consider the subject of a Federal Union; but this was done through their legislation who had delegated members to confer on the subject. Now in the face all these things it was clear that greater details could not be given. That hon. member had further anticipated that there would be increased expense, but he (Mr. Campbell) thought differently, and at all events Parliament would also be consulted on the point. He (Mr. Moore) also said that the junction of the parties interested in this arrangement was wrong. Well, he (Mr. Campbell) to a great extent was opposed to coalitions, and there was no doubt that the gentlemen who had negociated the arrangement were equally so; he meant the Hon. Mr. Brown and Messrs. J. A. Macdonald and Galt, but the gravity of the political situation demanded extraordinary self-abnegation, and the necessities of the country had prevailed overt the feelings of those gentlemen.— The hon. member then went on to say that the vote which had brought about this negotiation might have been got over, for it was not really aimed against the Government; but then a dissolution and general election, with the possibility of no special change for the better in the relation of parties had led to the acceptance of the proposition to seek an escape from such a necessity by the attempt to agree upon a basis which would be acceptable to all parties. The scheme had met the approval of the Colonial Office years ago, which had recently, as he had shown, been contemplated by the other Provinces, and which even in this country had in past time engaged the attention of some of its most talented men. The Government would endeavor to mature a scheme which would meet the approbation of Parliament, and if they did not then Parliament would reject, that was all, and at any rate the Government would have the consciousness of having endeavored to find a solution to very grave and obstinate difficulties.
Hon. Mr. FERGUSSON BLAIR said that he understood from the Government the subject of Representation by Population had not yet been considered, and that if a contrary opinion had been stated in the other House it was an individual opinion, not that of the Government. The hon. member went on to remark that in fact little had been done, that could see, except agreeing to talk about a Federation. As to appeal to the people he did not say it should be submitted in a preliminary way to the country. The hon. member (Mr. Campbell) had said it would be submitted to them at a general election, but how would Parliament which was to pronounce upon the subject to be chosen? Why, under the present state of things so that there would be really no guarantee that the interests of Upper Canada in the matter would be consulted.
Hon. Mr. SANBORN said that in proposing a question to the hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands he had done so in consequence of a statement of Hon. Mr. Brown in the other House, that he had only consented to negotiate on this subject, because of the concession of Representation by Population in the proposed federal Government. He was not prepared to object to the scheme, but he thought it was a step which would lead to a result which would be happy for the Province. However, he was not without apprehension of difficulty in the way. What he had heard in the other House had given him to see the parties there were very desirous to know all that was intended by the arrangement. He did not think that the recognition of the federation principle alone would meet the difficulty. No one that he knew of had combatted that principle, but there was another question which had caused a great deal of feeling, viz: Representation by Population, and he waned to know if that principle was to any extent recognized in the arrangement. This should be clearly and plainly started so that there might be no misunderstanding on the subject. If there was to be a federation of the two Provinces and the principle of Representation by Population was to be applied to it, then let it be fully known. But there was another subject which should be considered, and it was the representation of the English- speaking people in Lower Canada. The Lower Canadian French had resisted Representation by Population for fear that their institutions should be interfered with, but those institutions had never been threatened by the English inhabitants of Lower Canada, and he would be the last to raise his voice to cause anxiety on the subject. He contended, however, that the English-speaking people of Lower Canada would not be guaranteed against injustice if there was no provision for their specific representation in the scheme. The hon. member then dwelt at some length upon the general impropriety of coalitions when made by those who all along had been opposed, came together in office; but considered at the same time that occasions might arise when such conditions would be necessary, and perhaps the present was such an occasion.
Hon. Sir. E. P. TACHE moved that until the end of the session there be an evening sitting and that such sitting shall be considered a distinct sitting of the House.— Carried.
The following bills were then read a third time and passed.
Bill to regulate the sale of Intoxicating Liquor.
Bill relating to Sureties of Public Offices by Incorporated Companies.
Bill concerning the Ocean Mail Service.
The following bills after being explained by the members who had them in charged, were read a second time and referred to Comittees.
Bill relating to the appointment of magistrates in remote parts of the Province.— Hon Mr. CAMPBELL.
Bill respecting Jurors and Juries in Lower Canada.— Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL.
Bill to enable the Trustees of John Whyte to dispose of certain property— Hon. Mr. FERGUSSON BLAIR.
Hon. Mr. SEYMOUR moved the adoption of the second Report of the Committee on Contingent Accounts which had respect to the fixing of the salaries of the officers and servants of the House whenever changes became necessary.
Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL said that as he had been Speaker, he thought the withdrawing of this control from the Speaker was to some extent weaking his authority and perhaps somewhat his dignity also. He did not object to the recommendations of the Report; but he thought these changes could be just as well made at any rate by means of the Speaker who should be regarded as the fountain of honor and authority. He would suggest that the consideration of the Report be postponed until tomorrow.
After some further consideration, in the course of which Hon. Mr. Ferrier said he thought the nominations should originate with the Speaker, it was agreed to postpone the order until tomorrow.
NINTH REPORT OF PRINTING COMMITTEE.
On motion of Hon. Mr. SIMPSON the Report was concurred in.
OTHER SECOND READINGS.
Bill relating to the Trinity House Montreal.—Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL.
Bill relating to the Canada Marine Insurance Company.— Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL.
Bill relating to the Trustees of the Montreal American Presbyterian Church.— Hon. Mr. FERRIER.
Bill relating to the Montreal Art-Union Association.—Hon. Mr. FERRIER.
Bill to amend the Act relating to the Woodstock Literary Institute.— Hon. Mr. ALEXANDER.
Bill to amend the Act of the Iberville Academy.— Hon. Mr. BUREAU.
Bill to incorporate the Massassaga River Improvement Company.— Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL.
Bill to remove the doubts and confirm the will of John Grey of St. Catherine near Montreal.— Hon. Mr. RYAN.
Bill reuniting to the representation of the counties of L’Assomption, Joliette and Montcalm.— Hon. Mr. ARCHAMBAULT.
Bill to define the limits of the counties of Wolfs and Arthabaska.—Hon. Mr. PROULX.
Bill to authorize the town of Bowmanville to issue certain debentures.— Hon. Mr. SIMPSON.
Bill to grant certain powers to the Farmers’ Mutual and Stock Insurance of Canada West. Hon. Mr. SMITH.
Bill to incorporate the village of Napanee and town, and for other purposes.— Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL (for Hon. Mr. FLINT.)
Bill to incorporate the St. Lawrence Mining Company.— Hon. Mr. FERRIER.
Bill to amend the act incorporating the Merchants’ Bank.—Hon. Mr. FERRIER.
Bill to erect into local municipalities the Parishes of St. Venceslaus and St. Brigitte, in the County of Nicolet.— Hon. Mr. PROULX.
Bill to incorporate the Congregational College of British North America.— Hon. Mr. FERRIER.
Bill to incorporate the Guelph, Fergus and Elora Railway Company.
Bill to authorize the Corporation of the Village of Caledonia to issue certain new Debentures to redeem others now outstanding.— Hon. Mr. LEONARD.
Bill respecting the Waterloo and Saugeen Railway Company.— Hon. Mr. FERGUSSON BLAIR.
Bill to facilitate the settlement of R.S. Miller’s Estate.— Hon. Mr. MATHIESON.
Bill to divide the Township of Lochaber into two separate municipalities.— Hon. Mr. SKEAD.
Bill to extend the Charter of the Upper and Lower Canada Bridge Company.— Hon. Mr. SKEAD.
THIRD REPORT ON CONTINGENT ACCOUNTS.
Hon. Mr. SEYMOUR, in moving the adoption of this Report, said it related simply to the mode of keeping the accounts.
The Report was then adopted.
The House then adjourned.