“The Canadian Federation” New York Times (29 October 1864)

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Date: 1864-10-29
By: New York Times
Citation: “The Canadian Federation”, New York Times (29 October 1864).
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Further Details of the Plan Adopted—The Federal Government, the Judiciary, the Finances, &c.

MONTREAL. Tuesday. Oct. 25, 1864.

It has much amused me to read the remarks of the Quebec papers. They have been abusing the Telegraph Company and the Canadian Ministry, for the imaginary sin of giving the New-York press information as to the proceedings of the conference — the said information being the dispatches I was enabled to send you from Quebec. It is curious that the outlines of the scheme of confederation devised by the Quebec conference, should have reached the Quebec public first through a New-York paper, but they may rest assured that the fault is not with the individuals they blame; it is with their own want of activity and enterprise.

It is thought that the details of the plan adopted will be authoritatively made known as a dejeuner to be given here on the 27th, to which all the delegates are invited. Very little can however be added to what the NEW-YORK TIMES has already published — supplemented by the present communication.

The proposed confederacy is to be governed by a Viceroy or Governor-General, appointed by Her Majesty for a term of years. It is proposed that there shall be local Governors, but that the Viceroy shall, either in person or by commission, open the local Legislatures, if required. I write “if required,” because the Colonies are not to be required to keep up local Parliaments unless they like; they may substitute municipal government, which they will, in all likelihood, eventually, if not immediately do, to save expense.

The Upper House is to consist of sixty-five members from Lower Canada, and a member from each of the other Provinces proportioned to its population. This would, on the basis of the last census, give a total of 194 or 200, according as fractions of 25,000 people are omitted from or taken in to the calculation.
The Federal Parliament will control the coinage, the tariff, the finances, the militia and similar matters; the system of law also, in some way, although the autonomy of all the Provinces has been preserved out of deference to the feeling of Lower Canada.
There will be a Federal Judiciary, but its power will be limited, for the reason given in the preceding sentence.

The Intercolonial Railway is to be at once proceeded with. The survey, just concluded under Mr. SANDFORD FLEMING, shows that on what is called the middle route — which runs between the coast line and the line near the United States frontier — there are no gradients exceeding fifty-eight feet in the mile.
The finances of the country presented great difficulties at first. Several statements are made of the way in which the question has been settled, but I believe it will be found that the Intercolonial Railroad Company will build the line through Canada and New-Brunswick, and assume the working of the Nova-Scotian roads; that a line of steamers touching at St. Johns, Newfoundland, will be subsidized, or otherwise guaranteed to the Newfoundlanders; that Prince Edward Island will receive an appropriation of $1,000,000 to extinguish the feudal land tenure there, and that then all the debts will be consolidated, a uniform tariff and excise law passed, and prefect free trade inaugurated among all the Provinces The new tariff will not be so high as the existing Canadian one, but higher than all the others.

The delegates, after feasting and attending a ball here, are to go to Ottawa to see the buildings in progress there. If they are pleased with them and with the place, it is understood that the Federal capital is to be located there, and that local governments are to be established at Toronto, Quebec, Fredericton, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. Johns, N.F. It is thought the Lower Provinces will not proceed with their contemplated union, now that the larger ineasure seems likely to be adopted. It is certain that the plan of dividing Canada into three or five parts, which was at first the favorite scheme of the Upper Canadians, will not be acted upon, as Lower Canada strongly objects and insists on remaining undivided.

The delegates are expected to arrive here soon by special train, and afterward to proceed as far West as Toronto. The managers of the Grand Trunk Railway, whose stock would go up 20 per cent. If confederation were actually accomplished, are tendering the delegates all possible civilities. The NEW YORK TIMES will be informed if anything of special interest should transpire.

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