“The Two Federations,” The Globe (27 July 1864)

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Date: 1864-07-27
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Two Federations”, The Globe [Toronto] (27 July 1864).
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There is with some persons a vast difference between the two federations spoken of in the Ministerial agreement of last month. One, they tell us, is a vast affair, calculated to give us national importance at once. The other is, to their eyes, only a petty municipal scheme, unworthy of consideration by the side of the grand proposition. They go into ectacies at the idea of a federation which is to include the Maritime Provinces, but decry a federation which, while providing for the admission of these coveted Provinces when they are ready to come, would at first include only the Canadas. We have endeavoured to show that either federation would meet the purposes for which the people of this Province are now seeking constitutional changes. Either would give each Province the management of its own local affairs, and either would solve the great difficulties which have arisen from the injustices of our present representative system. As for the comparative expense, it is quite clear that it would be at least as costly to have the larger federation, with greater duties for the general government, and with probably a more elaborate form of government, as it would to have simply the Canadian federation. On these grounds, therefore, it seems plain enough that the advocates of the larger federation are bound in consistency to take the smaller one in the meantime, not only as paving the way for the one which they so much desire, but also involving substantially the same principles and the same advantages. To many minds, however, there remains still a powerful argument built upon the comparative greatness of the two schemes. It seems to be though by many who ought to know the facts, that a federation of the whole Provinces would be vastly more important in population, wealth, territory, &c., than would a federation which did not go beyond the limits of the Canadas. We could wish that this were so, and that we had in these British Provinces the many millions of people necessary to make ours at once a country of foremost importance in the world.

But there can be no use in deceiving ourselves upon that point. No good can result from talking as though the annexation of the Lower Province would treble or quadruple our population, when, in sober fact, it would only add a little more than twenty-five percent thereto.

With a desire to lay the facts before our readers, and in no spirit of disparagement towards the Lower Provinces, we propose to give a few figures bearing upon this question of relative greatness. The census of the Canadas and the three Maritime Provinces was taken in 1861. The results arrived at were as follows:— Upper Canada, 1,396,091; Lower Canada, 1,110,664; Nova Scotia, 330,857; New Brunswick, 80,552. The two Canadas, according to these figures, contained 2,506,755 people, and the other three Provinces, 663,456. It thus appears that three years ago, the population of the two Canadas was nearly four-fifths of that of the whole five Provinces. The ratio of increase in the population in Lower Canada is quite as great as in the Maritime Provinces, while in Upper Canada it is about twice as great. We may, therefore, be pretty certain that by the end of the present year the population of the two Canadas will be fully four-fifths of that of all the Provinces. We grant that the differences of one-fifth of the whole is by no means to be despised. We grant that a population of well-nigh three-quarters of a million is well worth counting in British North America. We grant that is represents seven or eight years growth of the population of the Canadas, and that the population of the whole five Provinces is now probably as large as will be that of the Canadas at the taking of the next decennial census. It is quite right to urge that we should get these seven hundred thousand people to join us as soon as we can, but it is not fair (illegible) their joining us is to make the difference between a great nation and a petty municipality.

If we turn to the finances and the commerce of the various Provinces, we find that very much the same proportions prevail. The imports of the Canadas have for some years averaged about $42,000,000 a year. In Nova Scotia, the average has been about $7,500,000; in New Brunswick, about $6,500,000; and in Prince Edward Island, $1,100,000—in other words, about $14,000,000 against $42,000,000. The exports of the Canadas have for some time averaged about $33,000,000 a year. The average in Nova Scotia has been about $6,500,000; in New Brunswick, $4,500,000; and in Prince Edward Island, $1,200,000—a little over $11,500,000 in the three Maritime Provinces against $33,000,000 in the Canadas. Thus, taking either the imports or the exports, we find that the trade of the Canadas is about three times as large as that of the other three Provinces, and that in the federation of the five Provinces three-fourths of the trade would belong to Canada. Perhaps it may be claimed that it is a creditable thing for the Maritime Provinces that one-fifth of the population of the whole should have one-fourth of the commerce—but the discussion of that point is aside from the present argument. We are simply giving figures bearing upon a certain point—not seeking to draw inferences disparaging to the people of any of the Provinces.

If we turn to the taxation of the different Provinces we find even a more marked disproportion. In Canada the provincial revenue raised last year exceeding $10,000,000, and is henceforward to be something more. In Nova Scotia the revenue in 1862 was $1,127,298; in New Brunswick, $692,230; in Prince Edward Island, $187,753; in all, $2,007,281, against ten millions of more. In other words, Canada is paying five times as much in taxation for provincial purposes as do the other three Provinces. It is true that the rate of taxation in the Canadas is somewhat heavier than in the Lower Provinces, and that, therefore, the proportion of five to one cannot be taken as indicating very correctly the proportionate wealth of the different Provinces—though it may, perhaps, be held to do so approximately. If we take again, as a point of comparison, the quantity of land under cultivation in the different Provinces, we reach a result very similar to those shown by our previous comparisons. According to the census of 1861, Upper Canada had 6,051,619 acres under cultivation, and Lower Canada 4,804,235 acres; together 10,855,854 acres. In the same year we find it stated that Nova Scotia had 1,027,792 acres under cultivation, and that in the same year New Brunswick had under tillage 835,108 acres. We have not at hand the corresponding figures for Prince Edward Island for that year, but find that in 1848 there were 215,389 acres under cultivation in that little Province. Increasing that figure to 300,000 acres as an estimate for 1861, and adding the figures for the Maritime Provinces, we get a total of 2,162,900 acres, against just about five times that extent of tilled land found in the Canadas. We might, were it necessary, extend our comparisons in a variety of ways, but those we have given are more than sufficient to establish the fact for which we are contending as to the relative importance of the different Provinces.

We do not wish a word which we have written to be understood as designed to disparage the Maritime Provinces, or to deter any one from advocating political union with them when it can be got on conditions mutually acceptable. We do desire, however, to discourage the false impression that there is, in point of important, such an immense and immediate difference between the “greatness” involved in the two schemes of federation. The Canadian federation, as we have shown, it to the federation (illegible) Provinces, in point of number (illegible) the proportion of four to five. (illegible) that it may be better to have the whole than to have the fourth-fifths only, if the whole is to be had without disadvantage. It is entirely wrong, however, to argue that the whole will be something magnificent, and the four-fifths comparatively nothing. If the whole would be a great country, the conclusion is inevitable that the four-fifths must be of tolerable importance. It is always to be remembered that, under the policy of the Government, the Canadian federation will not delay the realization of the other in the slightest. On the contrary, in the event of the larger federation being found impracticable at present, the Government measure for the application of the federal principle to the government of the Canadas, will provide that the Lower Provinces and the North-west country may be added to the union as soon as extension in either direction becomes feasible. In place of the proposal of the smaller formation being a thing deserving the hostility of those who advocate the larger scheme upon the sole ground that it is larger, it should command their support as paving the way for their favourite scheme. They, quite as well as those who seek federation in one form or other as a means of obtaining a great reform, and of securing good government, should cordially accept the federation of the Canadas if it should be found that more is not now attainable.

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