Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates [Ministerial Explanations], 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (24 June 1864)

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Date: 1864-06-24
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 211-212.
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FRIDAY, June 24th, 1864.

The Speaker took the Chair at three o’clock.


The Hon. The Speaker laid before the Council several bills which had been passed by the Legislative Assembly, and to which the concurrence of this House was requested. The bills were severally read a first time, and ordered for a second reading at the next sitting of th[?is?] [?House?].


Hon. Mr. Seymour presented a Report of the Committee on Contingencies, which was concurred in, and an Address was voted to His Excellency for the issue of a warrant to the Clerk of this House for the sum of $35,000, to enable that officer to meet the contingent expenses of the House until the 1st July, 1865.


Hon. Mr. Fergusson Blair presented Reports of the Standing Orders and Private Bills Committee, with the following bills, which were read a third time and passed:—

To naturalize Sterling Dupree Payne.

To incorporate the Levi Mining Company of Canada East.

To incorporate the Atlas Gold Mining Company.


Hon. Mr. Simpson presented a Report of the Committee on Banking and Commerce, with a bill to incorporate the Merchants’ Bank, with amendments. The amendments were concurred in, and the bill, on motion of Hon. Mr. Ferrier, was read a third time and passed.


Hon. Mr. Sanborn presented the tenth Report of the Joint Committee on Printing, recommending the printing of a number of documents. The Report was concurred in.


Hon. Mr. Bureau moved that an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, praying that His Excellency will be pleased to cause to be laid before this House, a statement shewing:

1st. The quantity of land in Upper Canada and in Lower Canada respectively, set apart for purposes of education.

2nd. The amount realized from the sale of these lands, the number of acres or arpents sold, the number remaining to be sold.

3rd. In what manner these lands or their proceeds have been divided between Universities, Academies, Colleges, Grammar Schools and Common Schools, respectively, in Upper Canada and in Lower Canada.

4th. The sums granted during the last five years, respectively, for Upper Canada and for Lower Canada, for the above mentioned institutions, form out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other source of revenue, in this Province.—Carried.

Ministerial Explanations

Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848, Premier, Minister of Militia, and Receiver General] said he rose with some embarrassment to call the attention of the House to the apparently interminable Ministerial explanations. Rumors of misunderstanding had been industriously circulated in both branches of the Legislature, and the Government had therefore determined to put an end to all misunderstanding, and had met in council for the purpose. In this House he (Col. Tache) had insisted upon going no further than the written paper, but in the other House some of the members of the Government, being more hardly pressed, had ventured to give their explanations. The term about which some difficulty had attempted to be created was these which related to the well understand principal of the Federal Government. He proceeded to read the following, which had been agreed upon among all the members of the Government:

“Last night in the other House, the Attorney General of Upper Canada, in answer to some remarks of the Hon. Mr. Brown, stated that he was aware that an attempt had been made for political purposes to spread the rumour that a discrepancy existed between the Ministerial explanations in the two branches of the Legislature; but that no such discrepancy existed in fact. That it was agreed between the Government and Mr. Brown that the memorandum read to both Houses should be considered as the explanations which ought to be made to Parliament and the country. That Sir Etienne Tache and Mr. Campbell had therefore refused to go beyond this record, and Sir Etienne had stated that any statements beyond the written paper were only the individual opinions of members. That is consequence of the rumors of a discrepancy as to the statements, and to put an end to the attempt, to produce discord, the members of the Government had conferred together and authorized him (the Attorney

  • (p. 212)

General) to state that in introducing the federal principal into the proposed federation, either of all the British North American Provinces, or of the Canadas (as the case might be) it was understood that to the local Governments and Legislatures would be entrusted the protection of all local laws, interests and institutions, and that no agreement had been, or could be made as to the constitution or powers of such local Governments these details must hereafter be carefully and fully considered.

That in the General or Federal Government, which would have the sovereign power and deal with all subjects of Government and Legislation common to all the sections composing the federation, one branch of the Legislature must be composed on the principle of equality, each session, State or Province being equally represented therein, and that the other or popular branch must be constituted on a popular basis, and that representation based on number would prevail; but that in stating so, it must be distinctly understood that representation according to number did not involve any sanction of the principle of universal suffrage; but that all classes, all interests and property, should be represented in the Lower House as they were in England. Sir Etienne added, I now beg to say that this statement of the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] is the opinion of the Government, and that I desire to announce it once for all as such, and further that I decline entering into any further discussion on the subject.”

Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said that after this explanation he was quite satisfied that there was no misunderstanding in the Cabinet, or if there had been it was all arranged. This, however, was the first time this House had been fully informed upon the subject of the agreement, as it had the undoubted right to be.

Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848, Premier, Minister of Militia, and Receiver General] said he was glad that after the tempest in a tea-pot which the hon. member had raised, he (Mr. Tache) was glad he had at last expressed himself as fully satisfied.

Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860] said he had not raised the tempest, but friends of Mr. Brown who were present had, no doubt, informed him of the apparent discrepancy between the statements made in the Assembly and those made in this House, and that it was which had set the rumors in circulation to which the hon. Premier [Étienne Pascal Taché] had alluded.

A.J. Fergusson Blair [Brock, elected 1860] said that as far as this House was concerned this was the first time the most important fact had been stated, that the principle of Representation according to Population was taken up as a Government measure. This, no doubt, would be very satisfactory to Upper Canada. But had it not been for the hon. member (Letellier) these full and satisfactory explanations would never have been given. To be sure they might have been derived from the newspapers as having been given in another place; but now the House knew it in the proper way. Without going into a discussion of the plan, he must, nevertheless, express a doubt whether the equality of representation in one of the Federal Chambers would be quite just. He could hardly think that in the event of Prince Edward Island being one of the parties, it would be entitled to as large a representation there was either of the Canada, and he scarcely thought Upper Canada would be satisfied with such an arrangement.

Philip Moore [Canada East, appointed 1841] said that the phrase “The well-understood principles of federation” does not, after all, convey very definite idea. Indeed, he thought it was somewhat vague. According to the United States system of federation, there should be three branches—the Executive, the Senate, and the House of Representatives; and he thought that if the well understood principles of federation were adopted, that model should be followed.

(The hon. member then proceeded to explain the working of the United States Constitution, and drew the conclusion that the plan of federation now proposed, being a deviation therefrom, was not, after all, conformable to the “well-understood principle of federation.”)

The hon. member then said that the hon. Premier [Étienne Pascal Taché] had stated all parties to the negotiation were present last evening when the memorandum he had now read was adopted; and he, therefore, begged to ask if Hon. Mr. Brown was present on that occasion with the rest?

Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848, Premier, Minister of Militia, and Receiver General] said that Hon. Mr. Brown was not yet a Minister; and, therefore, had no right to be present at the meetings of the Executive Council, but he had the authority of that hon. gentleman to assure the House that the conclusion the Council had arrived at was perfectly satisfactory to him. As to entering into an argument upon a measure which was not before the House, that was rather premature; and he begged to decline doing so.


Hon. Mr. De Laterriere begged to enquire from the hon. Premier, now that a new constitution was to be introduced, whether, under that constitution, the Seat of Government would be at Ottawa?

Hon. Sir E.P. Tache answered that that was a Cabinet question, which he was not at liberty to speak of.


Pursuant to order, the bill to incorporate the St. Lawrence Mining Company was read a third time and passed.

The House then adjourned until 8 o’clock p.m.

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