“Toryism in Desperation,” The Globe (28 March 1850)

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Date: 1850-03-28
By: The Globe
Citation: “Toryism in Desperation,” The Globe (28 March 1850).
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It is curious to notice how uniformly the political circles of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are agitated by the same topics at the same time, and how certainly like causes produce like effects in all three Colonies. Responsible Government was at one time the subject of strife in all three; then came its nominal acknowledgment in all three; then the same sweeping Reform majorities, and the full establishment of the principle so long contended for. But the parallel does not stop here; we find the same bitter indignation by the Tories of all three Provinces at being bereft of their long enjoyed power and pickings; the same kicking at what they cannot help; the same senseless recourse to the most republican theories in revenge for all their ills,—and more strange still, the same union of the two most extreme parties in the state for disloyal purposes. A fact, by the way, which shows clearly how little truth there is in the palliation set up by the Tories, for their annexation and house-burning eccentricities, that they were all traceable to the Rebellion Losses Bill. There was no Indemnity Bill on Nova Scotia or New Brunswick—but there we have the same Annexation tendencies—the same Independence theories—the same agitation for elective Institutions, as here; and, just as here, the Tories are the chief agitators, and the Constitutional Reform party are, as they have ever been, the true Conservatives—using the word in its best sense.

The New Brunswick Reporter, of the 3rd inst., a most able and judicious paper, which has done good service to the constitutional cause throughout all the struggles of the last few years, contains an article on the political state of New Brunswick, every word of which might apply as correctly here as at the place it was written. After reviewing past events and rejoicing over the establishment of British Constitutional Government, our cotemporary proceeds:—

Since that period we have become too frequently familiar with the discussion of some new and startling theories, which we formerly never dreamed of, and which we have never hesitated to denounce as treasonable in their advocacy, and as deeply injurious—in the event of their being adopted—to the common prosperity of the people of these Provinces. These theories have had their origin strangely enough, from the two extremes of the parties formerly at issue in these colonies; the one deeply grieved that the monopolies of caste had been utterly disclaimed—the other as much concerned that the reaction had not been so totally outre, as to tear down that Ensign of Royalty under whose shadow such gross and partial usages had so long been perpetuated.

Could our own position in Canada have been more correctly depicted? And in Nova Scotia we have precisely the same features. Nay, we have the Hon. Mr. Johnson, who, if we mistake not greatly, was the Attorney-General of the last Tory Administration of Nova Scotia, actually moving resolutions in the House of Assembly for something which very nearly approaches “peaceable separation” from the British Empire. The first “whereas” of Mr. Johnston’s resolutions shows the same vexation at the constitutional system which upset the day and general of Mr. J. and his friends, as the Canada Tories indulge in:—

Whereas, The self-Government extended to the British North American Province by the Secretary of State of the Colonies, having placed the Local affairs of the Province in the hands of the Executive Council unrestrained by any control on the part of the Lieutenant Governor or the Imperial Government, it is necessary to correct the anomalies and inconveniences unavoidable in the application of Imperial usages to a colony; and a common duty is created, irrespective of party interests, to cast the Institutions of the Province into such forms as may unite the freest operation of the public sentiment with the most efficient, upright, and economical exercise of the Executive, Legislative and Municipal functions: nor is it less obligatory on this House to obtain more perfect stability and certainty for principles of Provincial Government than can now be relied on—the present Secretary of State for the Colonies having, both in declarations and acts, shewn that a Minister of the Crown in the administration of Colonial affairs may hold himself free to disallow what a predecessor in the exercise of his official functions had established:

And the second “whereas” shows the same petty bitterness at the Head of the Nova Scotian Government, for carrying out the wishes of the people, as has been shown here, for the same reason, by our Tories:—

And Whereas, First: As regards the Lieutenant Governor This officer while in theory possessed of the Executive authority has been in reality denuded of all power, and should he attempt to exercise an independent control over the affairs of the Province he would disturb the principle of responsibility under which the Executive Council are now called to exercise the functions of Government. Hence so long as the Lieutenant Governor shall continue to be viewed as the head of the Provincial Administration, he must either sink into insignificance or become the instrument of Executive obstruction; in the one case the reverence due the Sovereign being insensibly diminished by the contempt engendered for the office of Her Representatives; in the other the harmony of the Province being endangered by the violation of a principle which the British Government in the last two years has affirmed, and Earl Grey as Colonial Secretary has sealed by acts of unmistakeable significancy.

Resolved, Therefore That to avert the evils of  renewing questions of Government which after years of agitation of uncertainty, have been established by Imperial authority, it is proper that the Lieutenant Governor of this Colony should be unquestionably recognized as an Imperial functionary, charged with the protection of national interests and as the official organ of communication between the Parent State and the Colony, but holding no relation to Colonial affairs beyond the ceremonials of Office.

Resolved Further, That to fix this character to the Office, it is proper the Lieutenant-Governor should be paid entirely by the Imperial Government.

Resolved Further, That if this Province shall be required to contribute any portion of the Lieut.-Governor’s Salary, the sum of £1000 would fully meet the just proportion of this Colony, and the value of his services under the present system—this House deeming it unjust that so large a sum as £3000 sterling should be now paid by the Province and absurd that £250 sterling, or any sum, should be granted for the Private Secretary of an officer, who himself has but to subscribe the documents that others are required to prepare.

We can imagine nothing more contemptible than the cry which is now heard against the amounts of the salaries paid the Representatives of the Crown of England in the B. A. Colonies—the one small consideration paid by us for all the benefits we derive from Great Britain. The fair way to look at this question is not to find what we could get some person here to fill the office for—but what a fit incumbent in British estimation, should receive as a competent provision in British estimation. Surely the large sums spent annually for our benefit by England should silence every murmur in so small a matter. In Canada especially, while we are enjoying a direct saving annually of six or eight times the sum, by the British guarantee on our bonds, it is singularly ungenerous.

Mr. Johnson next goes to the unfortunate Legislative Council;—

And whereas, Secondly: As regards the Legislative Council—The construction of the Legislative Council is inconsistent with the harmonious working of the present mode of Government and its useful influence as a Legislative body; with a majority created by the Government of the day for securing party measures, the Legislative Council is for most essential purposes but the subservient instrument of the Provincial Government. The same majority on a change of parties would make it an obstructive body, opposed to the existing Administration and the wishes of the people as expressed by their Representatives in this House.

Resolved, That the most efficient remedy is to be found in the election of the Legislative Council by the people for a limited period—the Members going out by Sections periodically: Thus the body would be brough nearer to the feelings and would more perfectly reflect the opinions of the Country, while the periodical elections would enable the people to correct the inconveniences that occasionally might arise from its composition by an infusion of new Members.

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