Provincial Parliament, House of Assembly, Double Majority (17 March, 1858)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Globe
Citation: “Provincial Parliament” The Globe (19 March 1868).
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
(Reported for the Globe.)
WEDNESDAY, March, 17.
Mr. THIBAUDEAU set that on moving the resolutions on this subject of which he had given notice, he expected of course to have the support of the members for Quebec, as they had not only a double but a trebled majority. But to enter into the merits of the motion he would begin by remarking that the Union of the two Provinces had been forced on Lower Canada for the purpose of annihilating the French Canadian race; but this plan had not succeeded so well as was anticipated, and the way to prevent it from succeeding better was to maintain the principle of the Double Majority. Indeed to do away with that principle when in no long time destroy the line of demarcation at present existing between the two sections of the Province, and to give a triumph to the bitterest enemies of Lower Canada. The Union was to be looked upon as a sort of confederation, for it had not rendered the two sections homogeneous, and the organization of the joint Government had only been for the purpose of carrying on the legislation and Administration of the country on general subjects. At the time of the Union, Lower Canada add a majority of the population; but the representation had been made equal in numbers in each section. In 1849 however, an attempt was made to change that plan in favour of Lower Canada; but only their Lower Canadians had voted for it, and the whole of the Upper Canadians had voted against it. Why were not these gentlemen then ready to maintain the same principle now that Upper Canada was supposed to be more populous than Lower Canada? Let them put their hands on their consciences and say whether they would be in favour of the Representation based on Population, if Lower Canada had still the greatest population? For his part he would advise them to give up this question if they desired to see the Government work in an effective manner, since Lower Canada would never yield at; but for his own part he believed that this was thoroughly understood, and that the matter was only urged for the purpose of obtaining power, and that object once accomplished, it would be given up. He would now move that, in the opinion of this House any attempt at legislation which would affect one section of the Province in Opposition to the votes of the majority of the representatives of that section, would produce consequences which would be detrimental to the welfare of the Province, and give rise to great injustice. He was persuaded that this resolution would encounter no Opposition from the ministry, because it was founded on a principle which they had enunciated in 1856; for the gentlemen whose words he was going to quote, spoke not merely in his own name, but in that of his colleagues’ also. Here the hon. member red from the report in the Globe of a debate in 1856 in which the present Attorney General West. He said he was satisfied that no Administration could govern the country for any length of time against the opinion of the majority of one section of the country; and that in order that there might be no mistake about the opinion of himself for his friends, he proposed to move on the Friday following “That while the principle of the Double Majority is not recognized by the Constitution, it is the opinion of this House that any systematic Government of one section of the Province in Opposition to the expressed wishes of that section would be fraught with danger to the well-being of the Province.” This president resolution with the exception of the word systematic was nearly verbatim that of the hon. Attorney General in 1856, and he omitted the word systematic because he considered it was not specific enough, and no one could tell whether it meant Government for one month, two months, three months, or any other term. But the omission of this word surely did not in any way affect the principle—which was that a section of the ministry should retire on a manifestation of want of confidence from their own section of the country. Whether this want of confidence must be manifested by a vote in respect to a local matter or not was a question of the most trifling importance, as it was plain that exceptional majority strong enough to carry a vote of non confidence do not fail to oppose the ministry successfully upon every local measure which came up, that might be factious; but it was what would take place if it were laid down as a rule that no vote except one upon a sectional measure should turn out a ministry. he left these details aside then, and conceived the true question at issue was whether there should be the principle of the Double Majority or not. If yes, they must take it with all its inconveniences; but there must be a frank acceptance of two things. This principle had been adopted in 1841; but it was not necessary to go back so far as that; for in 1854, on the ministry being beaten by a small majority, they resigned to, and Mr. Hincks stated that he believed himself obliged to do so, though the adverse vote was not an important measure; but just because he could not be supported by the Upper Canadian section of the House. Again, did not Sir Allan MacNab resign in 1856 on this very principle? Mr. Lafontaine, too, in 1842 had declared that the Administration ought to be agreeable to both sections of the Province. under these circumstances it could not be doubted that the principle which had been laid down in 1841 had been confirmed in 1842, and followed in 1854 and 1856. He believed it was quite possible to follow at the same principle still. Otherwise the line of demarcation between the two sections of the Province must be faced, and the question of Representation was at once opened as a matter of practical utility to Upper Canada. The principle that Lower Canadians had struggled for in 1844 was that the ministers who represented Lower Canada must have the confidence of a Lower Canadian majority; and if the thing were closely examined it would be found that it was their own section of the Province, and if the matter were fairly considered now it would be found at the Lower Canadians reposed their confidence simply in their own section of the ministry.
Mr. MORIN begged to withdraw his name from being used as a seconder, on the ground that the word “systematic” was not used in the motion.
Mr. BUREAU then seconded the motion.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON hoped the Government would give some expression to their sentiments on the question, more especially when one of their supporters had withdrawn his name as a seconder.
The SPEAKER having risen to put the question,
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON again insisted on the Government giving utterance to their sentiments. This, he conceived, was the question of the time. It was clear that, if there was no change during the next three years, it would be impossible to go on with the legislation of the country in the present state of things, with Upper Canada on the one side and Lower Canada on the other side of all questions of importance. The Government ought to be bold enough to express their opinion. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. FERRES said it was of much more consequences than the Opposition should express their sentiments.
Mr. LORANGER believed that in politics nothing was more dangerous than the Annunciation of abstract principles. Everything in the signs of Government must be determined by the particular circumstances which surrounded the question of the House; and the rule of action which was proper to be observed on one occasion was very different from that which should be followed in another. nor was it wise to legislate not upon passed facts, but on future eventualities. It was said that the principle of the Double Majority had always been acknowledged. That was true, and systematic legislation hostile the one section of the Province must certainly be regarded as unjustifiable. And it was extremely unlikely that any ministry would try such an experiment. It was useless, then, to foresee that which might never take place. He denied that in requesting the Double Majority there was any necessity for accepting that of Representation according to Population, and he asked whether, if Lower Canada were in a minority to-day, the Double Majority would be carried out. From 1844 to 1848 there was a single majority formed from the Upper Canadian section which ruled Lower Canada as well as Upper Canada; and what was the cause of Upper Canada being now governed—if indeed it were so governed—by minority from that part of the country? It was because the majority of the House took its stand not upon measures which concerned themselves merely, but upon measures which were essentially hostile to Lower Canada. This would soon be demonstrated by a fact hitherto unheard of in the history of the country, that the whole of Lower Canada, without exception, would be found on one side—he meant upon the question of Representation according to Population, which would come up in the course of a few days. After denying the great numerical majority in Upper Canada, which was claimed by gentleman from that section of the country, the hon. member preceded to remark that the Union Act had been forced upon Lower Canada. It was none of their work; but they had not thought it desirable to carry the agitation against it to any dangerous extent. They had been equal to the emergency in which they were placed, and had thus under this very Union Act conquered for their race a position of equality. Civil, religious, social, legal, and legislative equality, without fanaticism—that was what they demanded, and what they were ready to concede to others. If the Upper Canadian majority desire to exercise a control on the Government of the country, they must get rid of their fanaticism against Catholicism, and their demand for Representation according to Population, which, indeed, the leaders, being enlightened men, did not themselves believe in, but merely employed as instruments by which to overturn the ministry. But suppose the ministrie were overthrown and Lower Canada forced to coalesce with their most bitter enemy, the member for Toronto, how could the new Government—how could any Government be worked? The Opposition had not strength to assume the Government, for they had no confidence in each other, the hon. members for Cornwall in Toronto finding it quite impossible to establish any coincidence of opinion between them. Yet it was necessary that the country should be governed in some manner; and if the hon. gentleman for Cornwall were sent in to form a ministry, it was impossible for him to command a majority in his own section of the country as it would be for the hon. member for Toronto to do so. But suppose this difficulty were surmounted, and that out of the Upper Canada representation a sufficient number of members could be found to agree and form a ministry, still they would do nothing unless Lower Canada could consent to sacrifice yourself for the sake of the alliance, and for the benefit of the member for Toronto. Besides, the principle, if it were to be applied to general measures of the Government, lead directly to another difficulty—it led to the establishment of this rule, that whenever the two majorities could not be united, it would become necessary to change the Government. That was absurd. On general measures affecting the two sections of the Province, the simple majority must govern. When there was a majority on one side in one section, and a majority on the other side in the other section, it was the smallest majority that must give way. It was said that, in 1854, Lower Canada had claimed the advantage of this principle. That was true; but let hon. members cast their eyes upon the situation of Lower Canada at that time, and remember that she had but some five members who voted with the ministry, and then let them say whether the situation of Lower Canada was at all parallel to that of Upper Canada at present, when her majority against the Government was at most but three, and which might be lessened by the presence of another member, and the vote of the speaker. Was Upper Canada, then, with her majority of one or two votes, to be set against the great Lower Canadian majority of 44 or 48? Let it be remembered, too, that this majority in Upper Canada was created, such as it was, by appeals to the via list of passions, by appeals to religious fanaticism and national hatreds. After dwelling for sometime upon the topic of the “No Popery” cry, which the hon. member said had created this small Upper Canadian majority, he argued that a majority so created would not be continued, but that are re-action would undoubtedly take place where the eyes of Upper Canadians were open to the liberality of the Lower Canadians. But leaving that consideration, he would again repeat that in his opinion the unqualified assertion of the principle of the double-majority could lead to nothing practical. If the Government was to be for ever shifting—if the Administration was to be changed without a change of principles—if men were to be replaced without any variation in policy, the effect would be a state of anarchy as abominable as that which would arise from adopting Representation according to Population. The Lower Canadian majority was founded on sound political basis, not upon bigotry and hatred, and any change which would affect its position would be rejected by that part of the country. And then, what was the majority in a legislative body? What is created simply by members? Was it because forty men without any comment I of principle might vote against a ministry, that they were to be considered as an Opposition having a majority? Why, such a body was no Opposition at all. It was a mere coterie, for wanting any Union of principle it could follow no line of policy.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—Sir Allan MacNab, Mr. George Brown, Mr. Mackenzie, and Mr. Cauchon, were all in Opposition to Mr. Hincks’ Government. They did not at all agree among themselves; but did that prevent a ministry from being formed when Mr. Hincks was beaten? The Opposition had no duty to perform in the way of agreeing upon a policy until it was called upon to form a ministry. He asked the hon. Secretary whether there was not a ministry formed after Mr. Hincks’ resignation?
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—No; there was not. The country went on by itself. (Laughter.)
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—Ah! well. That is just what I thought. The Opposition are not bound to have principles.
Mr. BROWN—It was really too cruel on the part of the hon. member for Cornwall to drive the hon. provincial Secretary out of his last refuge, By finding an excuse for the conduct of gentleman on the Ministerial benches, by the conduct of gentleman on the Opposition side of the House. But he thought it would be well, if the hon. Secretary would pay attention to the ministry and let the Opposition alone. After farther allusions to the alleged No-Popery cry at the late election in Upper Canada, the hon. gentleman said he could sum up the whole argument in a few words. Lower Canada had an 1854 made a treaty with the president Ministerial party in Upper Canada. That party had adhered faithfully to their pledges, and Lower Canada must sustain those who sustained them; but the hon. member contended that the principle of equality ought to dominate everywhere. He thought that all parties were agreed that the Double Majority was not necessary on general questions.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON made some observations which did not reach the gallery.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—Well, the hon. member for Montmorenci has himself voted against the Double Majority. [here Mr. Loranger read a motion by Mr. J. S. MacDonald in favour of this principle, showing that Mr. Cauchon and Mr. Thibaudeau had voted against it.]
Mr. THIBAUDEAU—You spoke in favour of it.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—I defy you to find two words of mine in favour of it.
Mr. THIBAUDEAU here read an extract from a report of his speech Mr. Loranger reported in the Globe in which Mr. Loranger Said Representation according to Population with the safeguard of Lower Canada, and that it was a principle which had been advocated by Mr. Lafontaine and others.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—Is any vote there?
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—If it is not, it only shows that the speeches and the votes are often inconsistent with each other.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—Well, I want to know whether the hon. member thinks the Double Majority should be allowed on general principles?
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON—I take it as a theory, not as an exception.
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—Well, the hon. member then is alone in Lower Canada, and if there must be a Double Majority upon general questions there could be no agreement between the two sections of the country. The hon. member for Montmorenci would not find two members to vote with him. That owner will member had recently taken a great deal of trouble to prove that Upper Canada was a victim of Lower Canada, but he could not make Lower Canada believe that it would suit her to be led by a majority from Upper Canada. He repeated what he had said before as to the difficulty arising from the necessity for frequent changes which would follow the adoption of this principle. In England, the great question of confidence turned Upon this—whether the people would confide to the Government the management of the public funds, and was never decided by an accident. At the same time that he made these observations, he admitted that if there were an important sectional majority against the ministry upon local matters, the Government could not continue in power. That was the same doctrine as the Attorney General West had laid down; but did it flow from that principle that one quarter of the House should control 3/4 of it? That was not a principle that could be sustained, and, in fact, the application of the rule must in all cases depend on particular circumstances, and it would be folly to lay it down in an absolute manner. Here was the case of a ministry in a small minority, and some hon. members wanted at once to write down its condemnation. Let them wait for the session to pass on a little while longer and see what the ministry would do, and whether before long there would not be a majority from Upper Canada in their favour. If that should turn out to be the case, would it not be a farce to see the necessity for other change taking place within a few days? He appealed to the members from Lower Canada weather they would do this merely to support emotion directed against the ministry. He would now explain the sense in which he spoke the words quoted by the hon. member for Portneuf. He spoke them at the time that Sir Allan Macnab had resigned because he had a majority against him in Upper Canada. It was a question of judgment for the hon. and gallant knight, whether he should resign within Upper Canadian majority against him, and he judged that the vote which had been taken was assigned that he ought to leave the Ministerial benches. A new ministry was then formed, and he (Mr. L.) had voted non-confidence in them, because he held that administry who had established a rule should adhere to it, and should not have retained power after their majority was gone. He had spoken upon those circumstances and not upon the abstract principle; and this was quite consistent with his doctrine that the Double Majority was a question of circumstances and discretion. This was consistent with the spirit of the Constitution. The English Constitution was left an unwritten one in order to bandit strict rules to particular circumstances. There wasn’t the Canadian Constitution nothing written but the Union Act and the Responsible Government resolutions of Mr. Harrison. but in neither of these was there any mention of the Double Majority. He concluded by saying that at all events he would assure the members from Upper Canada that on his (Mr. L’s.) side of the House they would always find a spirit of equality and justice—of tolerance political, social, and that whatever determination might become two the abstract principle of the Double Majority, no Lower Canadians would ever be found disposed to govern, or to aid others to govern Upper Canada in a spirit of injustice.
Mr. LABERGE Said that the provincial Secretary’s closing remarks were very fine—the only objection to them being, that they did not accord with the rest of the hon. gentleman’s speech. The hon. gentleman had made certain observations, to which he would not reply that evening. He (Mr. Laberge) would never place party considerations above those which attached to a question of this importance. He would therefore refrain from touching on the attack which the hon. provincial Secretary had made on the Democratic party, and would only stay, that everywhere the party had contested the late elections in Lower Canada, and their opponents only succeeded in being returned by very small majorities. On that point he need only appealed to the Attorney General east, who was a living testimony to the truth of what he had said. the provincial Secretary had spoken from 5:00 o’clock till half-past eight, but had only touched upon the true merits of the question during the last ten minutes of his speech. The great question with the provincial Secretary seemed to be,—Will you reject our colleagues, and if so, what are you going to do next? That was not the question. The true question was—Shall we maintain the Double Majority principle which has existed since the Union, or shall we do away with it and have but one Province, ignoring all the constitutional principles which have so far been maintained?
Hon. Mr. LORANGER—I sustained that view; so far as general questions are concerned.
Mr. LABERGE.—Yes! But the question was not whether the principle should be sustained or this or that set of questions, or whether the ministry should be forced to resign upon particular votes or no. For it might happen that the ministry might on some particular question be placed in an accidental sectional minority, and he did not mean to say that it ought then to resign. But the practical question now was, whether this ministry was not in a permanent minority in Upper Canada? He thought there could be no mistake about the answer. Was not every vote which had been given this session, indicative of this fact? And yet the House was told to wait ten or fifteen days to see what might turn up! If the principle of the Double Majority be admitted, as the provincial Secretary admitted it, as the Attorney General West had admitted it by his resolution of last session, was it not clear that it should not be left to the ministry to decide when the principle should be applied. It should not be left to say, this question is general and that other question is local and of little significance, on which an adverse sectional vote should not compel a resignation. The fate of the country should not be so placed without limitations or guarantees in the hands of any ministry. Let it fixed rule be laid down, and let this be, that confidence or want of confidence in a ministry, expressed in the way laid down in the amendment of the hon. member for Montmorenci, shall constitute the obligation of the ministry to resign, or their title to hold office. This rule was certain, while that proposed by the provincial Secretary, left them at the mercy of the Government. The single majority principle would be far more logical than that—it would also be more constitutional, and perhaps even more just. The provincial Secretary had spoken for half an hour to prove that the Upper Canadian majority was only elected by the use of shameful means, and inconsequence of the fanatical cries that were raised for the purpose of influencing the popular feeling. Having made that statement, with what grace could he come and tell the House that there was no majority in Upper Canada against the ministry. It had often been repeated that all that Lower Canada wanted was equality. But where was the guarantee for this equality to be found, saving the Double Majority principle to be applied to all the measures of the Administration, whether legislative or administrative. Cease to admit this as a rule, and what followed? The provincial Secretary said it was a fine spectacle, pleasing to any patriotic heart, to see all Lower Canada united to vote against Representation by Population, in Opposition to Upper Canada. But with this state of things always continue? When the solution of the question always remain in the hands of those who now control that? What proof that it would not be so, was, that the chief of the cabinet himself had formerly voted for Representation according to Population, although now for the time he opposed it—just as last year he voted for the Double Majority principle, but would now inconsequence of the exigencies of his present position, vote against it. In Coalitions of course there must be sacrifices, and it was quite natural for the hon. gentleman, after voting for the question one session, to vote against it the next period the provincial Secretary, throughout his speech, had not produced a single series argument against the proposition of the member for Portneuf (Mr. Thibaudeau.) And yet he did not practically move one step forward in favour of the Double Majority, and, this being so, was he consistent in being so strongly opposed to Representation by Population? This was in direct Opposition to the views of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who only asked the Upper Canadians to wait till the census was taken. He (Mr. L.) was not present when the hon. gentleman spoke, but he had read the reports in the newspapers.
Hon. Mr. SICOTTE.—The reports said quite the opposite of what you have stated.
Mr. LABERGE said the provincial Secretary profess to belong to the reformers of Lower Canada. How then could he forget what took place in 1844, when the party to which he belonged had to protest against the Government of 1 section by a majority from the other? Had not the Lower Canadians always protested against that? Had they not persecuted—even, perhaps, persecuted too much—those gentlemen by whose aid the Upper Canadian majority was unable to govern the country. He need only appealed to the hon. member for Champlain (Mr. Turcotte) for testimony as to the extent to which this persecution was carried. (Laughter.) He had many other observations to make in reply to the provincial Secretary, but a more appropriate occasion for making them would soon present itself. He believed all were agreed as to the necessity of the Double Majority principle—it only remained to be decided how and when it would be applied. But he thought it would be a mockery to talk of it at all, if on every occasion it were to be left to the ministry themselves to say whether a vote against them was on a general or on a local question, and thence to determine whether resignation was necessary. He considered Mr. Cauchon’s amendment to be an improvement on the original motion, in as much as it was more clear and definite, and the last clause he specially approved of.
Hon. Mr. CHAUCHON said that after the explanations of the opinions of the hon. Secretary, he was more convinced than ever that it was the duty of Lower Canadians to insist on the recognition of the Double Majority as a system. The hon. Secretary had called up much indignation against the fanaticism of Upper Canada, and had secured much admiration from the House for the sentiments he had expressed; but members now we’re bound to get rid of all passion, and go Cooley to the bottom of the question, so that if the House were not disposed to act, the question might be taken up by the people. The hon. member for Portneuf had cited the discourse of the hon. Secretary of the Province, and unfortunately for the hon. member, he had spoken twice on the same subject, and each time in the same sense. The hon. Secretary had even proposed an amendment to a resolution proposed by the hon. member for Cornwall, and had explained his support for the Double Majority not as an accident but as a theory. On the 26th of may, 1857, the hon. member said “that he disagreed with the ministry on their views with respect to the Double Majority, and he was in favour of that system as a principle. That he thought minister should resign when the majority in their own section was against them; and that if he were a minister of the crown from Lower Canada and found the majority of the members from Lower Canada against him, he would not unite Lower Canada with an Upper Canadian majority. The hon. Secretary had twice made the same avowal. The hon. gentleman being of another opinion now, therefore, must have changed his mind, for though two negatives made an affirmative, he never heard that too affirmatives made a negative. But hear under what circumstances the ministry of the day had asked the host to reject the resolution in affirmative of this principle, which had been proposed by the hon. member for Cornwall. It was not on the abstract question that the House had voted in the negative, but upon that of in opportunity, and the proof of it was that the motion was got rid of by an amendment of Mr. Loranger, declaring “that this House, in forming itself into a Committee of the Whole, does not relinquish the principle of the Double Majority, but merely desires to give her Majesty that means of carrying on the Government for the present year.” the Government wanted to vote the supplies, and could not allow that business to be obstructed by the intrusion of other questions period but when events arise to for suppan the House the consideration of these questions, it was necessary to come to some determination, and to see whether it was best for the interests of the country, for the Provinces to remain together, a separate; and it was desirable to do this while it could be done calmly, rather than to put it off for several years, when, perhaps, the sentiment now rising in the country would have gained a force that would make any arrangement impossible. The question was not whether the Attorney General, or the Commissioner of Crown Lands, or the provincial Secretary, should retain their offices—but now the country should be legislated for—how its affairs should be administered. these were very different questions, although it was often very convenient for some persons to link them together. He remembered when, in 1851, he declared against Mr. Hincks, he was asked—”Are you going to ruin us all? It is true that Mr. Hincks has not the confidence of Lower Canada, but who shall we set in his place?” three weeks before the meeting of Parliament, who is on the hustings, and the question that was asked to him there was, “Will you vote for the men who burned the Parliament House in 1849—for those who have tried to ruin Lower Canada? Can there be any Union of principle between you?” it was in this way that the people were deceived by reports spread abroad at all the hustings, and preached throughout the country. But he had declared everywhere, that if there were to be no forgiveness of the past, no legislation was possible, and that the true duty of public men was to forget all that had gone before, and to set themselves to work to legislate on the great questions upon which the prosperity of Lower Canada depended. Three weeks after this the ministry fell, and though the country had been told that no ministry was possible, in three days a new ministry was formed, stronger than any which had preceded it, and which proceeded all the great questions of the country. The same thing was attempted now. The hon. member for Toronto was the scarecrow set up at present, and in addition it was said that the Opposition was greatly divided. But he said now, as he had said in 1851, that out of these divided elements it would be quite possible to form a strong Administration. If it were possible to do with Sir Allan Macnab for a Premier, rallying his small party, how much easier must be now with a party from Upper Canada’s made up the majority from that section of the country. He now invited the attention of the host to the position of the Prime Minister who resigned in 1854 (Here the hon. member red from the pamphlet published by Mr. Hincks at his resignation, in which that gentleman said he did not think he would be justified in retaining office, after losing the confidence of his own section of the Province.) he then turned to the speech of Mr. Turcotte made on the preceding week and remarked that that hon. member beginning by admitting the principle of the Double Majority had finished by proving that there was no case in which it could possibly be applied. One question he considered to be a matter of finance, another was a matter of municipalities, and for some reason or other, there was none in which the Double Majority could have any applications. But, in his opinion every question must come under the influence of the rule. The object of the Government under the Constitution was a double one—legislation and Administration, and the Government had as much need of the confidence of the country to carry on one of its functions as the other period in fact, this confidence was probably more necessary, as the support of the administrative then as the support of the legislative function, both on account of the patronage which grew out of the duties of an executive, and because the execution or non-execution of the laws depended upon them. If there were no responsible Government, there would be no need of any confidence, for the administrative acts would be performed by a ministry having no place in the Legislature, and therefore no legislative functions. The Constitution had established an equal representation in each section of the country. What was the object? While that as the country was in an exceptional position, inhabited by two races differing from each other, there should be security for each. But how could this be efficient—how could this security be obtained without the Double Majority? the hon. member for Iberville had referred to the period between 1844 in 1848, and had shown how the entire people of Lower Canada had cried out against the single majority domineering over them; and he would add this remark upon the subject, that it was by a curious fatality that two of the present ministry were in the Government which had then held power. The present Inspector General was Inspector General then—the present Attorney General had held the place of Crown Lands Commissioner, and they had ruled Lower Canada by an Upper Canadian majority, just as they now ruled Upper Canada by a Lower Canadian majority. The hon. crown land Commissioner haddock knowledge the presence of the federal character of the Constitution, and he thought the hon. gentleman must therefore admit the necessity of the ministry representing each member of the confederation possessing the confidence of those they represented—confidence, however, the want of which was not to be indicated by a vote on any given subject against the ministry, but by circumstances proving that there was this want on general grounds. For his own part he believed there was but one way in which this table majority principle could be applied, and that was precisely in the same way as respected each section, as the principle of the single majority was applied to entire Government in England. The ministry there did not resign upon any trumpery question, nor upon one or two defeats; but they did so soon as they found that the majority of the House was steadily and constantly against them. And so it should be here as respected each section. It was no doubt a difficult subject created by the Union of the two Provinces; but he did not think there was any insuperable obstacle in the way of working out his plans, and if there were it was time the Union should be put an end to. The host could not reject the Double Majority and Representation by Population, since the rejection of the latter resulted in taking the majority from any part of the Province without reference to any distinctions. He deprecated the mode in which the politics of the country were made to turn merely on personal consideration; but in reference to the course taken on the question by the provincial Secretary, he remarked that when public men were laying the foundation of a system of policy, they should be held responsible for their acts. This would guarantee the country in spite of the will of the gentleman now in the Government, events might now will rise that would compel them to do that which they at present refused to do? It was to prevent this that he desired to raise up every possible barrier, and to lay down a principle before which all personal affections and friendships must give way. The necessity was apparent; for how was it that so many men had changed their opinions upon this question? Simply because it was in human nature to change opinions at the same time with infections, and thus new views now taken upon the Double Majority grew out of the friendships entertained by the men who professed them. Yet it could be permitted to know men to say they were for the Double Majority went out of power, and for the single majority when they got into power; otherwise there would be an end to all principles, and the working of any Constitution would be impossible. And let the members from Lower Canada remember this. During the present session there would be brought up several questions on which almost all Upper Canada would be united. It was said that the present House had been returned owing to particular influences being brought to bear on the public mind of Upper Canada. But they (the Lower Canadian members) had nothing to do with—the soul question was whether the Upper Canada members had been returned in a constitutional way. Well he repeated that, however, elected the Upper Canadian portion of the House would be on several questions pretty unanimous—thereto would be no great difference between one side and the other, and if the ministry should be beaten upon some of these points, it might happen that a new ministry would be formed consisting of nearly the whole body of Upper Canadians, and if you Lower Canadians taken from the townships or from Montreal, and that this Government might thus rule Lower Canada, as Lower Canada was now ruling Upper Canada. Whether it happened this session or not, there was no guarantee against the change in the relations of parties, and Lower Canada, might again find Upper Canada, as in 1844, deciding all questions without reference to Lower Canadian sentiment suppan them. He might see men, who were opposed to the Double Majority, because it was antagonistic to Representation according to Population, forming a Government to sweep away all that was dearest to her. He appealed to the members from Upper Canada, who we know would vote against the resolution, to say whether they did not do so with the intention of governing Lower Canada, if they had a chance by the single majority?
Mr. WHITE—That is what you are doing now.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON said he was not governing at all. He called upon Upper Canadians to vote for the Double Majority as a means of securing justice to themselves, as well as to the other section of the country, and concluded by moving the following amendment, which he thought defined more clearly than the original motion what the rule ought to be:—
“That the Imperial Parliament by enacting in the 12th Section of the Act 3 and 4 Victoria, cap. 35, that the parts of the Province of Canada, then constituting Upper and Lower Canada, should be represented in the Legislative Assembly by an equal number of representatives whatever might be the respective populations of these two Provinces, asserted the Federal principle in the Union; that the Parliament of Canada admitted and sanctioned the same principle when in increasing the number of those representatives, by the Act 16 Vic., cap. 152, after the census of 1851, it maintained a numerical equality between the two former Provinces; that the Canadian Parliament gave it a yet more deciding and expressive sanction by extending it to the Legislative Council, by the provision in the Act 19 and 20 Vic., cap. 140, viz.: that the members elected should be forty-eight in number, twenty-four for Upper Canada, and twenty-four for Lower Canada; that Her Majesty’s Representatives in selecting their Executive Councillors, as a rule, in equal numbers from Upper and Lower Canada, have also acknowledged this principle of the Union, and sanctioned in the Administration the federal character of the Constitutional Act of 1840; but that the acknowledgement of this principle in the Administration can only be substantial so long as the Executive Councillors taken from either section of the Province possess the confidence of that section expressed by the majority of its representatives.”
Mr. MORIN being in favour of the principle of Double Majority, hoped the Administration would respect that rule as much as possible; but only so long as circumstances made it proper to do so. The first practical consideration in looking at this subject was—what was the relative numerical force of the two parties in in the House, and the answer was, that the Ministry possessed two-thirds, and no doubt, this fact must operate a certain change of opinion as to the constancy with which the rule of the Double Majority must be adhered to; especially when it was plain that the hon. member for Portneuf had raised the question only to drive the Prime Minister from his place. But suppose the small minority in the House should succeed in this attack, what would happen? The Lower Canada majority would have to accept Ministers from the Upper Canadian Opposition. When he considered the principles of this Opposition, however, he could not wish to see the present Government make way for them. Lower Canada could form no alliance with the hon. members for Toronto and Waterloo; nor could they consent to do anything that would give the first of these gentlemen a chance to govern Lower Canada with a few men from thence aggregated to the Upper Canadian majority. Lower Canada would not consent to that. It was not made to change the medal in that way. It had a collective majority with which it was satisfied, and it would not consent to abandon its friends. He regarded the present attack on the Upper Canadian portion of the Ministry as an attack upon Lower Canada, since it was caused by the Opposition of the Premier to Representation by Population, his defence of Separate Schools, and his friendliness to Lower Canadian institutions. Should such a man be abandoned only to oblige the Upper Canadian majority, in whom Lower Canadians had no confidence? The Upper Canadian majority had no coherence of principle among themselves; nor did he believe even that they represented fairly the opinion of the people of the country. He believed that that opinion was rather represented by the gentlemen on the Ministerial benches. But he repeated the Lower Canadian majority could not join with the Upper Canadian Opposition, with the opinions held by that Opposition; and if the hon. gentlemen who formed the Opposition were willing to make traffic of their opinions for the sake of obtaining portfolios, they were still more unworthy of the Lower Canadian alliance. He would not betray the faithful friends of Lower Canada. He denied that the Double Majority was the great guarantee of Lower Canada, as had been represented. The true guarantee was equality of representation, which would remain, while the other rule must from time to time be broken through. He pointed out, as Mr. Loranger had done, the difficulty in the way of working out the principle of the Double Majority; and then, turning to the Opposition, remarked that it must require long years of repentance before they could expect any confidence to be reposed in them by Lower Canadians; but if they would detach themselves from their prejudices, give up their demand for Representation according to Population, and assent to the support of Separate Schools; if they could do these things, and could then establish a majority against the present Premier; Lower Canadians would offer their hands, and would tell the Ministry to retire in favour of those who would command the confidence of the country. In the mean time it was the intention of the Lower Canadians to take every precaution in respect to all measures affecting Upper Canada, and on all such acts of legislation they would proceed with as much patriotism as in those which more particularly concerned themselves. They required nothing but equality and justice, and now they were prepared to give, but if that were not sufficient they would come to the conclusion that the only remedy would remain was a dissolution of the Union of the Provinces.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD Opposed the motion to adjourn the debate for a fortnight. He said he regretted to find the French members showing a disposition to give up what they had looked upon as a safe-guard in past times against the outrageous perpetrated on their liberties in Lower Canada, when they were oppressed by the despotism of an Administration in the hands of the very party to whom they had now allied themselves. Now they treated that safe and ash guard with contempt, and put their iron heels on the necks of the people of Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.) It might as well for them, while they were dominant in this House, while they supported the ministry in their forced legislation for Upper Canada, and in their Administration of the Government contrary to the wishes of the people of Upper Canada—wild, for example, they supported the Administration in scandalously forcing on the people of Norfolk, a sheriff against whom such charges lay, as had been brought before the House by the member for Waterloo—it might be well for them in these circumstances to ask to have this important question postponed, but is was not in the interest of right and justice that it should be so. He claimed his right to express here after his views at length on the question under discussion, but simply rose now to protest against its postponement. He took a most deep interest in the question, feeling as he did the Upper Canada ought not to be ruled by Lower Canada, and that the verdict given by the people of Upper Canada against the party in power, should have been a sufficient reason for their walking out of office before now. (Hear, hear.) They I need not tell him that the Opposition majority in Upper Canada had been obtained by appeals to fanatical feelings—it was enough that the party stood there in the House a majority, and told the Upper Canada section of the Administration that they had no confidence in them. Where the Lower Canadians to maintain a minority in power, because they were afraid of his hon. friend, the member for Toronto? Were they on his account to refuse to carry out the principle which had always been carried out, except when in 1845 and 1846, the same party is now, was in power? Was the principle to be set aside because his hon. friend from Toronto was a dangerous man, and because he enjoyed a large share of the confidence of the people of Upper Canada? If the Lower Canadians took this course, the day was coming when they would reap the reward of their treachery. Their conduct to-night would help to drive their friends to take another course, and ere long they would have Representation by Population forced upon them in spite of themselves. (Hear, hear.) The Leader of the Government himself, if in Opposition, would join in carrying it out. That hon. gentleman voted for Representation by Population, when out of office—when he went into office he ignored the principle, but, so soon as he went out of office, he could pick it up again. He (hon. J. S. MacDonald) had never changed his views. It had been his misfortune to be in Opposition for fourteen years, and on this as well as other questions, had pursued one consistent course. But those hon. gentleman opposite had moved and voted for resolutions, involving those very principles on which is hon. friend from Toronto had so manfully gone to the country.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER.—When Mr. Baldwin resigned office, because there was a majority vote of Upper Canada against him, who was Solicitor General, and continued to be Solicitor General?
Mr. TURCOTTE.—The hon. gentleman was fond of his office.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—Such a remark came ill from an hon. gentleman who had sold his countrymen, who went with the Metcalf Administration, when only three or four French Canadians dared to do so, end to board this House day after day till he got his pitiful salary of £300 a year for doing nothing. but he was glad the Attorney General E had put a question to him, in regard to the resignation of Mr. Baldwin, as it gave him an opportunity of illustrating what he meant by the Double Majority principle. When Mr. Baldwin retired from office in 1851, he did so on account of an adverse casual vote on a question affecting Upper Canada. He (Mr. M.) had never asserted here or elsewhere that a casual majority vote of one section of the Province against the majority of the whole House, would ipso facto make it necessary for an Administration to resign. and when that but, when they found a majority of the constituencies in Upper Canada, sending to this House of party to stand in direct Opposition to the existing Administration, fact was placed beyond doubt by emotion of want of confidence being voted for by a majority of the representatives of that section,—that he considered to be a fair case for the application of the principle. The vote against Mr. Baldwin’s Administration was a casual vote, 4, when that gentleman retired, his colleagues continued in office and retained the confidence of the people of Upper as well as Lower Canada. Add a subsequent., when a new Parliament met in 1854, and Mr. Hincks, Mr. Baldwin’s successor, found that he had no prospect of being able to command a majority of the Upper Canada section, what did he do? He resigned like a man, is hon. gentleman opposites stepped in. They got into office, in consequence of effect being given to the Double Majority principle, and yet they were the only parties who had ever invoked the principle of the single majority, and he had no doubt they would remain there on that principle, so long as the recreant members from Upper Canada, who were now at their back, permitted them. But let Lower Canadians remember this, that such a system could not last long, and that the day would come when the members from Upper Canada and those from the townships, the whole Anglo Saxon element of the Province, would unite into one phalanx, and Lower Canada would have good reason to lament her abandonment of that protection granted to her by the Union act. It was important that the question should be settled at once, and he protested against this attempt to throw it over the recess, till after hon. gentlemen had attended to their Easter duties.
Mr. PICHE rose to a point of order. He asked if the hon. member for Cornwall was speaking to the question.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—Since the hon. gentleman for Berthier (Mr. Piche) last spoke, he had crossed over to the Ministerial benches, and seems to have got there some additional instructions.
M. PICHE again rose to interrupt Mr. MacDonald, but cries of “Order” and “Chair” compelled the hon. member to resume his seat.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD Said he could not understand who was putting the unfortunate man up to make these exhibitions, but he trusted that Lower Canadian members would not force the postponement of the question, and inflict on Upper Canada for another fortnight, a Government which did not possess its confidence.
Mr. TURCOTTE—We don’t want to postpone it.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD—What is the motion in the Speaker’s hands? Is it not to postpone the consideration of the question for a fortnight.
Atty. Gen. CARTIER—But we are all to vote against postponement.
Hon. J. S. MACDONALD was glad to hear the hon. gentleman say so. He hoped the debate would be resumed to-morrow, for it was too important to be disposed of at this late hour, and he wished to have an opportunity of expressing his views fully in regard to it.
Atty. Gen. MACDONALD said that this question had been indirectly brought up for many sessions. It was now fairly indirectly presented to Parliament, and it was only right that it should be fairly and fully discussed, and decision come to at the earliest possible period. It was but justice to the Administration for the time being as well as to the Opposition, that there should be no doubt as to what was the constitutional view to be taken of the question. He quite sympathized with the demand of the hon. member for Cornwall, that he should be fully heard on the question. That hon. gentleman on account of the consistent course he had always pursued in regard to it, had a right to be heard, with attention and respect. (Hear, hear.) he hoped the member for Charlevoix, (Mr. Cimon) would withdraw his motion for postponement, and allowed the discussion to be resumed to-morrow.
The motion for postponement was then withdrawn, and the House adjourned at half-past eleven.