“The Delegates from the Maritime Provinces”, The Globe (11 October 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Delegates from the Maritime Provinces”, The Globe [Toronto] (11 October 1864).
THE DELEGATES FROM THE MARITIME PROVINCES.
The scheme for the union of the provinces of British North America advances with far more rapid stride than the most sanguine amongst us would have dared to think possible twelve months ago. While we all rejoice at the fact, while we are glad to be drawn in to closer communion with our fellow-subjects of this continent, we cannot but remember that we have arrived at the very crisis of our […]. In the hands of the men now in power, we feel confident that not alone our peculiar interest will be well guarded, but that anything which can be done by them will be done, to lay a solid foundation for the future prosperity of the whole confederate provinces. We cannot, however, leave everything to them, for we have at the present stage of the proceedings some duties to discharge which they cannot fulfill for us. The leading politicians of the Maritime Provinces are now assembled in Quebec, and it is their purpose before returning home to visit some of the chief cities in Canada, Toronto among the number. They want to know something more about us than they can learn in the conference chamber — to come face to face with our people, to judge of our country by actual view, to make themselves personally acquainted with our resources, so far as their time will allow, and to obtain what insight they may into our characteristics and social condition. They are not every-day kind of travellers. Canadians, like other people, are anxious to be though well of by all. But in reality we can afford to despise, if we like, the opinion of very many of those who occasionally come amongst us. They have no power to do us either harm or good. They may hate us cordially if they like, and still we may be none the worse. But the opinion these gentlemen from the Lower Provinces may from is of essential importance to us. They are the leading men in their own country, they do very much to give tone to public opinion there, and they will unquestionably, to a very considerable extent, leave their impress upon the minds of those who will in future years occupy the place which now they hold. Their individual impressions, perhaps, would be of comparatively little importance, if it did not belong to them to inaugurate a policy at the most important crisis which has ever occurred in the history of Canada. That policy, whatever it be, whether dictated or influenced to a greater or less degree by the ideas they may here get, will inevitably bear fruit, either for good or ill. Hitherto we have heard of the delegates now assembled at Quebec merely as men of eminent merit in their own localities, possessed of the confidence of their own constituents, administering the government of the country in which their lot has been cast ; and it mattered little to us what they thought, or how they conducted themselves. They had nothing to do with us, we had nothing to do with them. But henceforward the very reverse will be the ease. They will have to legislate for our country, they will have their share in controlling our policy, they will become in fact our politicians. The cabinets of which they will inevitably form a part, which they will support or oppose, we shall be called upon to approve or condemn. They will be no longer to us little more than mere abstentions, but living, active men, whose names will be to us as household words, who will be as much our politicians as Tache or John A. Macdonald, George Brown or Galt, William McDougall or George Etienne Cartier. Their deeds, will be current daily talk in all mouths, and thus it will be in their power to do us much harm or great food. Should […] happen that they should leave this Province less favourably impressed than we really deserve, the loss will be ours. There are some men who possess the ability to deal our strict justice, uninfluenced by prejudice, regardless of first impressions. But those who are able so to do, are very few and far between. We prefer to be on the safe side, to force our future legislators to think well of us, sure that we have much to hope from their good-will, and not a little to fear from their dislike.
In Quebec the delegates will be entertained in a manner worthy of the whole Province, but it is a Lower Canadian city in every respect. Montreal has been mainly built up by the West. The great wealth which she can boast, and the appearance she will put on, should be placed in a large degree to our credit. Still she is in Lower Canada. Ottawa is a rapidly progressive city; her people are as enterprising and as energetic as any in the Province, and when their own peculiar interests are at stake, especially capable of great exertion. But Ottawa cannot be accepted as the representative city of the Wester Province. That honour belongs to Toronto. By her conduct the West will be judged. She has the largest trade, the greatest resources, and is far ahead of any in the extent of her population. We do not state this for the purpose of self-glorification; far from it. We wish simply, by mention of facts beyond dispute, to point out to our citizens the obligation under which they lie to vindicate their position before the representatives of the Eastern Provinces. We do not desire, we are sure they do not desire, that these gentlemen should go away with the opinion that we are a mean, close-fisted, short-sighted set, incapable, even when our own interests are at stake, of a little self-denial for the sake of future good. By permitting anything of the sort to occur, we should do injustice to ourselves, and to the great Province of which this city is the commercial centre.
So far, we have spoken chiefly of our “interests” as Canadians; but, beyond that, there is something more which should impel us to action. We would not for out honour’s sake, that our hospitality should contrast to disadvantage with that lately shown by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A few weeks ago, a party of about one hundred and twenty Canadians visited those Provinces. Every where they went, they were entertained on a most magnificent scale. In St. John, a city much smaller than Toronto, no less than $4000 was subscribed for the purpose. They were boarded and lodged, dined and wined, free of all expense to themselves. In Halifax similar hospitality was displayed. A week or two later, and out Ministers were treated with as great generosity. The smaller number of our visitors does not demand so great an outlay, but we trust for our own credit, that, in all that is requisite, we shall in no particular be one whit behind.