UK, House of Commons, “Canada”, vol 48, cols 1007-1009 (28 June 1839)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Canada“, vol 48 (1839), cols 1007-1009.
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Sir Robert Peel before the House proceeded to business, begged to remind the noble Lord opposite, that he had said he would that evening intimate to the House what course he intended to pursue with respect to Canada, and that Canada Bill which provided for the union of the provinces. Would the noble Lord now intimate whether he intended to press the second reading of that bill to a division, and if so, on what day the division would be taken?
Lord John Russell replied, that he did not mean to press the second reading of that bill.
Mr. C. Buller wished to ask the noble Lord whether he intended to take any further steps about the other Canada bill.
Lord John Russell said, the bill for the temporary government of Canada would be brought forward with a view to make it a law, if possible. He stated some time time ago that there were despatches from Upper Canada, stating the opinions that were entertained by the House of Assembly there, and by the committee of that House; further despatches were received yesterday, which he had read that day, from the Governor, stating several important circumstances, and that it would not be advisable without an absolute necessity to have a discussion in that House about the union of the two provinces.
Sir Robert Peel said, that was exactly the ground which he had taken. Would the noble Lord indicate to the House what course he intended to pursue with respect to the future, in order to bring this question to an issue? There was a
great anxiety on the part of the Canadians to know what were the intentions of the Imperial Parliament on this subject. He ventured to say, that it would be absolutely necessary that they should apply themselves to this as to a paramount object—namely, that they should determine what was to be the condition of the Canadas in future? Were they to invite the House of Assembly to send persons hither to be examined at the Bar of the House, or was it intended to send out persons, or what means were to be used in order that the difficulties which interrupted the course of legislation might be removed?
Lord John Russell purposed in the course of the present Session, as he had already stated, to move through the further stages the bill for removing those difficulties and obstacles which stood in the way of the temporary government of the province of Lower Canada. It was the intention of the Government to propose a plan, of which the outlines had been already given to the House, for the purpose of effecting the union of the two provinces; but it did appear from the accounts received from Canada that the plan of union, which at first had been adopted not only by one party in Lower Canada, but generally by persons of great influence, and by the Assembly of Upper Canada, had since been the subject of great discussion.
When the last accounts came away there was a considerable ferment prevailing on that subject, and a general desire on the part of one great party that this House should not proceed to legislate on the subject without hearing the whole of the case of Upper Canada. He therefore thought it necessary not to endeavour to carry further the measure of union without giving every careful consideration to the question, and the expression of some concurrence in the plan of union. It was therefore the intention of her Majesty’s Government, having prepared that bill, to send it to Canada with instructions to obtain information, and as far as possible an approval of the plan, which might be for the general benefit of all persons, and he hoped at an early period of the ensuing Session to submit a measure which would be likely permanently to settle the question. If the right hon. Gentleman object to the course her Majesty’s Government intended to pursue with regard to the union, he
should be disposed to pay every attention to his objections. But he must say, that a great part of the difficulties existing in Canada, in respect to the bringing forward of any plan, might be attributed to the discussions which had taken place; and those difficulties could not be removed by discussions got up, not for the purpose of Canada, but for other purposes, such, for instance, as that taken at the end of the last Session of Parliament with regard to the administration of Lord Durham. In his opinion, if Lord Durham had been allowed to continue the course which he was pursuing, he would have speedily removed all the difficulties which stood in the way of legislation for the Canadas.
Lord Stanley wished to know if he understood the noble Lord to say, that he intended to send out to Canada a bill for the purpose of taking as general a concurrence of opinion as possible in favour of the provisions of it; and, if so, was it his intention to send out for that purpose the bill which had been printed that morning, and delivered to the Members of the House, or to withdraw that, and send out one framed on different principles?
Lord John Russell The printed bill.