“The Legislative Council,” The Globe (29 April 1852)

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Date: 1852-04-29
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Legislative Council,” The Globe (29 April 1852).
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To the Editor of the Globe.

SIR,—I observe with much satisfaction that you are opposed to the attempts about to be made to change the Legislative Council into an elected Assembly. There is something in the a proposal of changing a body from the choice of the Crown to the [illegible] people, which at first sight commends itself to the liberal mind. [illegible] assumed its real character, which you have well described as an attempt to obstruct the calm and peaceful working of Responsible Government. It may be assumed as a safe axiom that organic changes should never be made except when a strong case can be made out. Popular Government do not always produce the full amount of benefits expected from them, not from any fault in the system under which they are administered, but from want of principle and patriotism on the part of the people’s representatives, and from venality and corruption in the exercise of the elective franchise. These evils cannot be remedied by flying off to some organic change, which, instead of remedying imperfections, to some extent inseparable from all politics organization, will be too likely to produce a French crop of evils of a more dangerous character. Every great organic change unsettles the public mind, and loosens the hold to which all institutions owe so much of their prosperity in free countries. It is not on trivial grounds that such changes should be advocated—far less when there is no evident evil arising from their existence. The Legislative Council of Canada under the honest administration of Responsible Government is not, and cannot be obstructive. The power is essentially placed in the House of Assembly. The administration must be by men “who have the confidence of a majority of the House of Assembly.” A vote of want of confidence at once displaced the Tory Ministry in 1848, when Lord Elgin, the faithful and honest exponent of that great principle of British freedom, gave it full effect. If the Legislative Council had then been elected for a term of six years, and their consent to that vote had been constitutionally necessary and if they had taken the opposite view, even by the narrowest possibly majority, matters must have come to a stand. The people who had returned representatives into their House by more than two to one on the [illegible] been compelled to witness [illegible] utterly powerless, is [illegible] counteracting part of the machinery, [illegible] apparent purpose, but to obstruct [illegible] free working of Responsible Government [illegible] two Houses were elected by the people [illegible] periods, it would often happen that [illegible] opposed to each other. Or even if the [illegible] at the same time, the result might [illegible] Personal or local influence often [illegible] of electors. The same man would be [illegible] Tory for the Upper House, and a Liberal [illegible] of Assembly, or vice versa; and with [illegible] of the two Houses opposed to each other [illegible] the Government proceed? Both [illegible] chosen by the people, they must [illegible] both the same power; and if the [illegible] placed in opposition to each other [illegible] be the rulers? not the people, [illegible] and the very principle of population [illegible] would be brought into contempt. [illegible] might send an address of confidence [illegible] Government, and the Assembly one [illegible] confidence, or the reverse. No change [illegible] or of measures, could be effected [illegible] circumstances. The idea of an [illegible] taken from the United States. [illegible] Houses are often opposed to each [illegible] cannot change the measures of [illegible] although they were in harmony—[illegible] is in absolute possession of the [illegible] the term of his office. There is [illegible] two houses of the Legislature, to [illegible] proceedings of the Republican Government [illegible] the stoppage of the supplies, or the [illegible] the President. With full control [illegible] of new laws, there are no [illegible] changing the working of the administration [illegible] for good feeling to each other, and [illegible] American statesmen have, in [illegible] believe that their Institutions are [illegible] long ago have come to a halt. [illegible] and self-willed President, there [illegible] the whole laws passed by [illegible] from being negatived by the [illegible] paramount power has been [illegible] as in the case of President Jackson [illegible] for the United States Bank. The [illegible] which a second elected house [illegible] entirely different. The three branches [illegible] the same power as in the [illegible] the controlling power is practical [illegible] House of Commons. This principle [illegible] demonstrated, not only by votes of [illegible] followed by changes of Ministry [illegible] by more remarkable events. [illegible] Lords set itself against the [illegible] there appeared great risk, that [illegible] have had to create a large batch [illegible] order to bring that house into [illegible] Commons, the Duke of Wellington [illegible] and patriotism for which [illegible] distinguished, induced the [illegible] wishes of the Commons and [illegible] the Whig Ministry of 1834-5 [illegible] of 10 or 12 in the House of Commons [illegible] against them in the House [illegible] Ministry was sustained by that [illegible] during its existence, thus afford [illegible] demonstration that the ultimate [illegible] British system with the people [illegible] where is the use then of a [illegible] reply is obvious. It is a most [illegible] hasty legislation, and in all [illegible] business its decisions will [illegible] as those of the other House, [illegible] of both Houses are usual [illegible] motives, they listen [illegible] other when differences occur. [illegible], satisfied with the [illegible] leading measures of the [illegible] defer on many subjects to whose existence is an [illegible] of the country as [illegible] as it is to the country at large. [illegible], you say, that it would be [illegible] House than to have two elected [illegible] which would be the great [illegible] Canada is not destined to [illegible] experiment, the result of which [illegible] restore the absolute reign of [illegible] or to drive us to adopt the [illegible] creating an independent [illegible] by the people’s [illegible] of one Chamber only is [illegible] by the history of the [illegible] great event which so [illegible] anarchy and bloodshed, might [illegible] establishment of a constitution [illegible] but for certain fatal [illegible] the union of the [illegible]. Into one [illegible] character were [illegible] deliberation which a second [illegible] doubtedly have given them. [illegible] swept away as with an [illegible] avoid such consequence, [illegible] schemes as would deprive [illegible] Government, which it too [illegible], and so much labour [illegible].

            I remain, Sir,

                        Your [illegible].

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