“The Local Constitutions”, The Globe (2 August 1866)

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Date: 1866-09-02
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Local Constitutions”, The Globe [Toronto] (2 August 1866).
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The House resumed the adjourned debate on the resolutions on the subject of the Local Governments and Legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada.

Atty.-Gen. MACDONALD stated that the discussion would be held with the Speaker in the chair, but that each member might speak as often as he pleased, the same as in Committee of the Whole, and that after the resolutions had been read a first time, they might again be discussed on the second reading.

The first resolution, with the addition, “and it is further now resolved, that in the opinion of this House, the appointment of the first Lieut. Governor should be provisional, and that he should hold office strictly during pleasure,” was agreed to on a division.

The second resolution being moved,

Mr. M.C. CAMERON said it was necessary that the Legislature should determine the constitutions of the Local Governments and establish what were their powers. He moved, therefore, as a substitute for the second resolution, the following:—“The Local Governments shall, until altered by the Local Legislature, be composed of a Lieut.-Governor and an Executive Council, to consist of five members to be chosen by the Lieut.-Governor; and the Executive authority of the Lieut.-Governor shall be administered according to the well-understood principles and practice of Responsible Government, by and under the advice of the Executive Council, who shall be responsible to Parliament and the people.”

Hon. Mr. CAUCHON, argued that the Government resolution fully provided for Responsible Government, and that Mr. Cameron’s substitute was not consistent with the principles of Responsible Government, inasmuch as it limited the number of councillors.

Hon. J.S. MACDONALD combated Mr. Cauchon’s arguments, and maintained the proposal of determing now what should be the number of councillors.



Mr. RANKIN continued the debate on Mr. M.C. Cameron’s amendment. He opposed the amendment, considering it would be an infringement of the essence and spirit of Responsible Government.

Mr. MACKENZIE supported the amendment, the object of which, he said, was merely to provide for a Provisional Government until the Local Legislatures should be fairly constituted. He thought the Local Legislature should have the fixing of the number of members of the Executive Council and the amendment so provided; but until the Local Legislature was in existence, it was right that the Parliament should determine how many heads of departments should constitute the Council. In saying this, he spoke on what he desired for Upper Canada. As regarded Lower Canada, if the members representing that Province were satisfied with the resolutions as it stood, he was quite willing they should settle it in that way. Five members he considered a reasonable number with which to commence operations.

Atty. Gen. CARTIER contended that the argument of Mr. J.S. Macdonald respecting Responsible Government made under Lieutenant Governors was unfounded.

Mr. DUNKIN believed the question before the House had nothing to do with the Quebec scheme. The question now was about the particular details we should adopt. He believed that the British system of Responsible Government was the best one to adopt in our Local Governments, and would work better than the Democratic principles of the United States, These two were antagonistic principles and could not work together, were one embodied in the General, and the other in the Local Government system. The best form of words to me in carrying out the British principle in the Local Government, and assimilating it as nearly as possible to the Federal system, was the form already agreed upon. (Hear.) He would oppose any alteration.

Mr. MORRIS was in favour of conceding the fullest authority and responsibility to the Local Governments to carry out the principles of the British Constitution.

Mr. M.C. CAMERON asked for a definition of the basis of the Local Constitution and of the well understood principles of Responsible Government, as applied in this case. We did not by the motion limit the number of the advisers the Lieut. Governor, but the number responsible to Parliament and the people, which was the practice of the British Constitution. Until we had the authority of the Imperial Parliament, we had not the right to determine what should be the frame-work of the Local Constitutions.

Mr. McGee contended that the system of Constitutional Government, in regard to responsibility, &c, would be secured by this scheme; and Governors would hold their commissions from the Crown and be responsible to it to as large an extent as if invested with their authority by the Queen in person.

Dr. PARKER and Mr. THOS. FERGUSON made some remarks on the subject, when

The amendment was put and declared lost on a division.

The second and third resolutions were then declared carried.

Hon. Mr. DORION then gave notice that he would move, in amendment to the fourth resolution, that it be referred to a committee to amend, so as to provide for only one chamber for the Local Legislature of Lower Canada, instead of two, as provided in the case of Upper Canada.

Hon. Mr. HOLTON then said that he and his friends would not object to all the resolutions being read a first time pro forma, at present, with the understanding that discussion be had on the scheme on Thursday.

Atty. Gen. MACDONALD consented to the proposal.

The resolutions were read seriatim.

Hon. Mr. GALT said he would propose an amendment to the eleventh resolution, with the view of providing that, instead of the limits of the twelve Lower Canada constituencies in which British Canadians preponderated being liable to change on a three-fourths vote, as originally supposed, a schedule be attached to the resolutions declaring no change in electoral limits of any constituency should take place without the majority of the members of those constituencies consenting.

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