“The Troubles of the Confederates”, The Globe [from the St. John Weekly Telegraph] (10 November 1864)

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Date: 1864-11-10
By: The Globe, St. John Weekly Telegraph
Citation: “The Troubles of the Confederation”, The Globe [Toronto] (10 November 1864).
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(From the St. John Weekly Telegraph.)

We refer now neither to the “bogus” Confederates nor the blood thirsty Confederates, but to the Colonial Confederates composing the late Quebec Conference. Mr. Whelan’s letters to the Examiner allow us just a short peep behind the scenes, and from these glimpses we learn that the proceedings of the Convention have been — anything but pleasant. Mr. Whelan writes:–

“On the assembling of the Conference, a resolution was submitted by one of the New Brunswick delegates, declaring that all the proceedings of the Convention, and the new constitutions to be framed for the local as well as for the general government, were done with the view of perpetuating the connection with Great Britain.

The resolution was strongly objected to on the ground that no one in the Conference ever contemplated separation from the mother country; that the connection was pre-eminently desirable, but that in framing a constitution for the Confederation the action of the Conference ought not to be trammelled by too close an adherence to the forms of the British constitution. The debate lasted for a long time, was characterized by much warmth, and ended in the adoption of a resolution somewhat the same in spirit to the one first proposed, being a declaration to the effect that the constitution of the general government should be formed on the model of the British constitution, as far as it is compatible with our colonial condition and so framed, likewise, as to maintain British connection.

On the same day Mr. Whelan further writes :

“It is understood that the resolution regarding representation in the Upper House of the Confederate Parliament was debated all day with considerable warmth and ability, but no agreement come to. Lower Canada complains that in the number proposed for her — 24 — she would not be fairly represented, it being proposed that Upper Canada (against whom there is great jealousy) should have the same number, while the Maritime Provinces, it was proposed, should have thirty-two members. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia claim 22 members out of the 32, while Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, it is supposed, will not be allowed to have more than 10 between them which the representatives from those islands will not agree to. And with so much diversity of opinion it is very difficult to say whether the Convection will not be compelled to break up prematurely. Matters do not certainly look very promising for a completion of the deliberations. I hope there may be concess’ on and reconciliation, but I have very grave doubts respecting a satisfactory result.”

There was evidently a “crisis” in the Conference. Next say the debate was resumed. Says Mr. Whelan:–

“The Convention met at the appointed hour (11 o’clock), and discussed until 1 o’clock the question of representation of the Maritime Provinces in the Upper House of the Confederate Parliament. The French Canadians seem to apprehend that they will be swamped in the Upper House, and desire a larger representation than the Maritime Provinces ask for, so that they may not be overpowered by the British element. The admission of Newfoundland into the Conference perplexed the arrangement, as the agreement was, at Charlottetown, to give equality of representation to the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E Island, with Upper and Lower Canada. This balance is disturbed by the admission of Newfoundland. What solution will be arrived at, it is not at present possible for me to say. The debate, which is conducted with great ability, stands adjourned until Monday.”

On Monday, 17th, he writes:–

“I understand that the debate on the question of representation in the Upper House was resumed today in the Parliament Buildings and the delegates from the Lower Provinces adhered, but an almost unanimous vote, to the claim for an equal representation with two sections of Canada; providing for separate representations for Newfoundland, the North-west Territory, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island. The Canadian Ministry retired from the Conference to consider the situation and in an hour returned, conceding all that the Lower Provinces demanded.”

Even among the representatives of the Lower Provinces there was not entire unanimity, for Mr. Whelan tells us that on one occasion they “had a long discussion amongst themselves as to the amount of representation in the Federal Parliament which each Province was entitled to from its area, trade and population. But the discussion was informal, and no conclusion could be arrived at.”

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