“The Ministerial Crisis”, The Globe (18 June 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “Legislative Assembly”, The Globe [Toronto] (18 June 1864).
The Ministerial Crisis.
The announcement made this morning in our Quebec telegraphic dispatches will excite no small surprise throughout Upper Canada. Few persons, we fancy, were prepared for the intelligence, that the present Ministry would venture on the hold step or applying to Mr. Brown to aid them in rescuing the ship of state from its perilous position, o[?] that he could be induced to respond to the application. It appears, however, that not only has such an application been made and promptly responded to, but that the announcement of the fact to the House of Assembly was received with a burst of enthusiastic applause from both sides of the House, such as has rarely been witnessed in a legislative body. The explanation of this wondrous change we need hardly say is to be found in the extreme embarrassment of the political situation at Quebec. A dead-lock had been all but reached in working the governmental machinery. But two short years have passed since the Cartier-Macdonald Ministry broke down, and the Macdonald-Sicotte Ministry reigned in its stead. One year later, the Macdonald-Sicotte Government made way for the Macdonald-Dorion Government. Two months ago the Macdonald-Dorion Administration fell in its turn, and the Tache-Macdonald Administration was established in its room; and this week the Tache-Macdonald has been compelled to succumb to a direct vote of a majority of the whole House. Four Administrations condemned in the short space of two years—and what hope was there of any satisfactory change in this state of things? Little or none. A large majority of the Upper Canadians stood ranged in hostile array against a large majority of the Lower Canadians; one party bitterly protesting against the injustice of the existing constitutional system, and the other contending as firmly to retain its advantages; and each new appeal to the people only depending the lines of demarcation and intensifying the hostile feeling between the sections. The vote of Tuesday night brought before the mind of every intelligent man in Parliament the full peril of the position. No one could see his way out of the dilemma by the ordinary parliamentary resorts. True, Ministers could appeal again to the country to decide between the opposing parties, but that appeal would be the third general election in three short years, and little or no hope could be entertained that its result would be greatly different from the results of the two election that preceded it. Ministers themselves were impressed with this strongly, and though empowered by the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament they felt more than repugnance to such a resort. And if Ministers were actuated by such a feeling, their supporters, almost to a man, were vehement ion their protests against another appeal to the electors, and in their urgent entreaties that every means should be exhausted of carrying on the Government with the present House of Assembly are resorting to the final alternative. But what way was there out of the dilemma other than a general election? One other way there certainly was clear, direct, undeniable. But who would have the courage boldly to pursue it—who would have the courage manfully to meet the crisis of the our, and lay the axe at the root of the whole sectional evil? For ten years past Mr. Brown and a large section of the Upper Canada Opposition have not ceased to declare that, until the question of Parliamentary representation was dealt with fairly and finally, there could never be peace or prosperity in Canada, and that for their part they were prepared to stand by any Administration that would honestly deal with it. The crisis of this week presented an opportunity for these gentlemen to urge their views effectively and unselfishly such as they never enjoyed before, and well they profited by the occasion. The discussion excited by Mr. Brown’s late Constitutional Committee, and the unanimity with which the report was finally adopted, no doubt had also their effect in preparing the way for what has happened. The apparent dead-lock which matters had reached did the rest. The Government resolved to take Mr. Brown and his friends at their word. They sent Mr. John A. Macdonald and Mr. Galt to Mr. Brown with the assurance that they were prepared to deal firmly and promply [sic] with the sectional difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada, and to invite his co-operation in the attempt finally to remove them. Mr. Brown replied at once that he was on the point of leaving Parliamentary life, and that he could not personally take office, but he was ready to aid them heartily and sincerely, and to seek the co-operation of his political friends in an earnest effort for the final settlement of the sectional troubles of the Province. Discussions as to the best practicable basis of settlement were forthwith opened, and at the latest accounts last night, nothing had occurred to forbid the hope that a solution of the problem will be found. The task undertaken is one of no ordinary difficulty. Nationality, local interest, and personal prejudices all stand in the gap; but we believe the task has been undertaken on both sides with perfect sincerity and an anxious desire to succeed, and we doubt no that every man in Canada will earnestly pray that the effort may be crowned with complete success. We cannot doubt that Mr. Brown, in responding to the appeal of his old political opponents felt, in all its gravity, the danger of misconception which he ran. He could not forget the past. He could not forget what has passed in by-gone days, between himself and the very gentlemen who approached him. He could not forget how often, and how strongly, [so?] he’s denounced Ministerial coalitions as utterly demoralizing. He must have known how rigorously he would be judged, and how relentlessly assailed. He must have felt that momentous indeed must be the object, clear and undeniable must be the call of duty, that would justify him in appearing, even for a time, as the political ally of Mr. Macdonald, or Mr. Cartier. But assuredly, if the immense importance of the object be attained could justify such a step, Mr. Brown amply has it for the position he now occupies, and we are persuaded that he has not acted erroneously in casting himself fearlessly on the good sense of generosity of the Canadian people rightly to interpret the course he has thought it his duty to pursue.