“The North Ontario Election” The Globe (8 July 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “The North Ontario Election”, The Globe [Toronto] (8 July 1864).
NORTH ONTARIO ELECTION.
We observe that a Conservative journal in the West argues that the promoters of the coalition to effect a settlement of the constitutional question, should, if they have faith in the popularity of their proposition, be glad that Mr. M. C. Cameron is affording them an opportunity of obtaining the opinion of an intelligent constituency upon the merits of the recent arrangement. This, however, is just what Mr. Cameron and his supporters are not doing. They persistently refuse to put the issue upon the merits of the Ministerial policy. They persistently avoid the public issue, and strive to make a personal issue against Mr. McDougall. They refuse to deal either with the policy or the Government as a whole, and seek to belittle the contest to one against the individual minister. It is of this illogical course that we complain. If Mr. Cameron and his friends would come boldly forward and say that they do not believe that Ministers should be allowed an opportunity to mature their policy of Constitutional Reform— if they would declare that they are against a suspension of party strife, with a view to an honest effort by the leading men of both parties to settle a question which threatens the most disastrous consequences to the country if it is not settled— we could understand their consistency in asking the electors of North Ontario to embarrass the Government and to condemn its policy by rejecting the Provincial Secretary.
If the supporters of Mr. Cameron were prepared to say that the great question which has been the theme of nearly every political speech which that gentleman ever made, is not of such importance as to warrant an effort of the kind that is making for its settlement—if they were prepared to say that they prefer an indefinite continuance of the acrimonious struggles between the two sections for the years which must elapse before either party can settle that question alone—if they prefer a continuance of that system by which a majority representing the smaller Province shall govern the larger and wealthier Province, even in matters of the most purely local character—if they will say that they prefer these things, with the evils of extravagance, of heavy taxation, of enormous additions to the public debt, and of the demoralization of public men which result therefrom rather than that Ministers should be allowed a truce of a few months to mature their scheme for the permanent removal of these evils—then we could understand why they ask the electors of North Ontario to vote for a return to old sectional struggles.
But that is just what the friends of Mr. Cameron seem afraid to do. They appear to be convinced that people of North Ontario, who have always been firm in their adherence to the cause of constitutional reform, would make short work with any such argument as that. They pay no compliment to the intelligence of that constituency when they seek, by the introduction of a personal issue, to draw the attention of the electors from the real question. Though Mr. McDougall’s opponents take care not to avow that their purpose is one of obstruction to the Government, that is not the less the real and the only meaning to their conduct. They cannot support the Government and its policy, and at the same time labour to turn its members out of Parliament.
No sophistry about personal antipathy to Mr. McDougall can excuse inconsistency like that. If Mr. McDougall is unfit to be tolerated in the Cabinet, even for the sake of forwarding the great object which called the present Government into existence, then is every man of the remaining eleven ministers censurable for consenting to be his colleague. But the very basis of the existing arrangement consists in a waiving of all personal and party considerations for the sake of a great public object. For that the Liberal party of Upper Canada consented to support a Cabinet containing men to whom it had for ten years offered the most strenuous opposition. For the same reason the Conservative party consented to support in office three gentlemen to whom it had been bitterly opposed—even at the cost of displacing three of its friends to make room for them. The leaders of that party consented to replace a gentleman who has for many years been one of their staunchest, and most unwavering supporters with the very Mr. McDougall who is now so unfairly opposed on pretendedly personal grounds. Those who claim to be supporters of the Attorney General West—those who sanction his conduct in the recent negotiations—are bound in honour to do their part towards seeing that the terms of those negotiations are observed in good faith. If they sanction the recent arrangement one day, and announce themselves as hostile to Mr. McDougall’s re-election the next, they convict themselves of palpable dishonesty. We have been pained that many Conservative papers have followed up their editorials, endorsing the recent arrangement, with articles palhating and even commending the course of Mr. Cameron. Such conduct cannot but tend to the defeat of the cause which they profess to support. The Conservative members of the Government, of course, can have no symptoms with such dishonourable conduct; and we have confidence that a very large share of the Conservative electors of North Ontario will be found utterly to repudiate it. If they do not, there will be great reason to despair of the success of the effort for constitutional reform which it is the mission of this Administration to make.