UK, House of Commons, “Canada”, vol 52, cols 1323-1354 (23 March 1840)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Canada“, vol 52 (1840), cols 1323-1354.
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Lord J. Russell said—Sir, I have been anxious to take the earliest possible opportunity, after the arrival of the proposals of the Governor-general of Canada, to bring under the consideration of the House the important subjects to which those proposals relate, and I cannot but feel that the importance of the subject will of itself induce the House to pay the utmost attention to my statement. The subjects of her Majesty residing in Upper and Lower Canada, amount to more than 1,000,000; some calculate them at 1,100,000; and some at 1,200,000.
They reside partly in one of the great valleys of the American Continent, near the great outlets which communicate with the interior of America, and partly near that series of magnificent lakes which are on the borders of Upper Canada. To provide for the interests of such a population, and to establish the species of Government which is best suited to that population, likely to increase not only by birth but by emigration, must, I am convinced, be to the House a matter of deep interest. But, Sir, beyond this I am anxious to bring forward a measure which may, if possible, put a stop, except on very rare occasions, to that interference of Parliament which has been rendered frequently necessary of late years. It is now nearly twelve years since Mr. Huskisson, holding the office which I have now the honour to hold, stated the grievances, which, as he conceived, affected the people of Canada, and especially the people of Lower Canada, and he induced the House to appoint a Committee to inquire into the subject connected with the Canadas.
Since that time there have been various measures, various inquiries, and events of deep importance. There was the report of the Committee of the House of Commons, there have been inquiries by several Committees, voluminous documents produced, going into almost every detail connected with the state of the Canadas, with their laws, with their institutions, with the peculiarities of some of those institutions, and pointing out remedies for certain grievances. There have likewise occurred, in the course of that time, in two successive
years attempts to separate those provinces from their allegiance to her Majesty, by open insurrection in the Provinces, and by the inroads of armed banditti from without. These Sir, are events enough of themselves to secure the attention of Parliament, when a measure is introduced for the purpose, if possible, of settling all these matters, and preventing the recurrence of such injurious transactions. It has however, been thought right by her Majesty’s Ministers, after all the reports that have been veceived—after the different missions that have taken place to Canada, and after hearing the objections made to legislation in the last year—it was thought best by her Majesty’s Ministers, that some one having the entire confidence of the Government, who had taken a share in its councils, and who was informed of the various measures that had been adopted in the course of the events to which I have alluded, should proceed to Canada, and endeavour to ascertain upon the spot, combining as he would, a knowledge of the proceedings of the Parliament of this country, together with the sentiments of the Legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada, the best means for bringing these questions to a satisfactory conclusion.
It was thought right that such a person should be sent over to Canada, in order to enable her Majesty’s Government to bring forward a measure fortified by such authorities as would be likely to command the assent of the legislature, and be consistent with the wishes of the inhabitants of Canada. Sir, although I conceive this step not only to have been expedient, but to have become, by the course of events, necessary, in order to enable us to form such a measure and go through all its details, I confess that I could not adopt the bill which I am about to ask leave of the House to bring in, without at the same time doing an act of justice by advising the Crown to bestow some great approbation on that distinguished officer, who, being left on two occasions in a position of great difficulty and danger, manfully made head against the danger which threatened the Government then reposing in his hands, against insurrection from within and the danger of invasion from without; and who, by his knowledge of that art which he had practised under the great master of modern days, the Duke of Wellington, and by his great firmness, resisted the progress of disaffection within those provinces,
and drove back those hordes which invaded her Majesty’s dominions from without. It was, therefore, with great satisfaction that I brought down the message from the Crown, which you, Sir, read to the House this day. But in proceeding to state the grounds of the measure which I am now about to detail, I must first say, that I am ready to agree that the measure of an union would not have been expedient, if it had been found, as was foreseen by some, on inquiry from those interested in the settlement of these matters, that the people of Canada would regard it with an absolute repugnance. Sir, the present Governor-general of Canada has ascertained and by the most accurate means, the sentiments of the people of Canada with regard to it.
I should say, that he could not. obtain, by constitutional means, the general sentiments of the people of Lower Canada; but he called together the council, which was not formed by himself, but by his predecessor, and received from it certain resolutions agreeing to the principle of the union as regarded its general heads, but leaving the details to the Imperial Parliament. On proceeding to Upper Canada, the proposition was much discussed and debated in the assembly, and in the Legislative Council. Some who were in favour of it, wished to affix certain terms to it, but upon a full debate and consideration of the entire question, the assembly and council came to a resolution, in accordance with the proposition of the Governor general, in favour of the union, and unfettered by any restrictions or stipulations. Soon after that they proposed an address, in which they alluded to certain points which they were desirous of having arranged to their satisfaction, but they at the same time expressly declared that they would not make their consent provisional upon the acceptance of these points. There being this authority from the provinces, and so much agreement as to the general proposition of an union, I will state now the evils which I think such a union particularly calculated to remedy. It was stated by Mr. Huskisson, in 1828, that great evils arose from the nature of the feudal law in Lower Canada, from the extreme, complexity and intricacy of the tenures of land, and also from the fact that the state of the representation gave such a preponderance to the French race, that those
of the British race found themselves aggrieved and oppressed by that superiority. Now, I think, with regard to those two evils, that an union does seem an appropriate remedy for them. The Earl of Durham has shown in a clearer manner than has been shown before how very little we ought to confound the conduct of the Assembly of Lower Canada with the views of the advocates of constitutional freedom. In fact, the Assembly of Lower Canada, while they used all the weapons of freedom, while they used the constitutional arguments for the prevalence of free institutions, were using those arguments in order to establish a gross monopoly in the hands of their own race, and to exclude from the enjoyment of those rights to which they were entitled, the general body of British inhabitants. Lord Durham has shown, I think, most clearly, that whilst to all appearance the advocacy of constitutional doctrines was confined to M. Papineau and to the leading members of the Assembly, whilst the English party were obliged to find refuge in, and had the support of, the legislative council, and were therefore obliged to take the side of prerogative, in opposition to the popular assembly, they were really more attached to those great principles of liberty which it is our pride to uphold. In fact, the Assembly used the weapons of Hampden, in support of the principles of Went-worth; and while they possessed the sympathy of a considerable number of the inhabitants of the United States, they used their utmost efforts to forward a scheme of government extremely exclusive, extremely hostile to all social and political improvement, to the general extension of British enterprise, and the progress of education.
For these evils—for this evil spirit—there seems no better remedy—if we agree that Canada shall have a free Government. There is no more obvious or safer mode of proceeding, in order to put down this system of monopoly and exclusion, than to adroit the inhabitants of both countries to send members to one Legislature, leaving the French race to be represented by persons of their own opinions, but depriving them of that preponderance of which they made so ill an use. In so doing, of course there are many points to which hereafter I shall have occasion to advert; but with respect to the general nature of the proposition,
taking the number of the inhabitants of the provinces at 1,100,000, of which 450,000 are supposed to be of the French race, there seems no reason why the two together should not send members to the Assembly who would fairly represent the whole body, and give free scope to British enterprise and emigration, without subjecting the French to any degree of oppression. And, Sir, I have always been of opinion, that you ought not so much to blame the leaders of the French party for the use which they made of their power, dictated as it was by the singular position in which they were placed by the Act of 1791, as that Act which, while it confined them within certain limits gave them advantages in which the great mass of British emigrants had no share. I will not now discuss the policy of that Act. There may have been reasons, of which I am not a sufficient judge, which made it expedient to propose that measure. One thing is certain, that Upper Canada, which then numbered 10,000 inhabitants, has since risen to 400,000, and risen to that amount under the influence of British laws and British tenures. But I have always understood, and from those who knew the sentiments of Lord Grenville, that it was not the intention of those who introduced the Act of 1791 to make a permanent division between the two provinces, but that at a future time it would be wise in Parliament to alter the provisions which were then made.
Sir, such being the general view which we take as to the expediency of an union, I think the best way I can explain the reasons which induce me to think that a free and happy government may be founded on the principle of an union between the two provinces, will be by stating the various propositions on which we are of opinion that this union should rest. The House will then see the nature of the government which we propose to establish, and be able to judge how far such a Government will be likely to attain the object which we have in view. The first question will be as to the declaration of the union. I should propose, that her Majesty should give instruction to the Governor-general to make a proclamation of the union; that no day should be fixed in the bill for this, but at the same time that there should be a limited period within which it should be declared; and I should submit, that it should not be later than six months
after the passing of this bill. It is the opinion of the Governor-general, that it is most desirable that an early period should be fixed for the union. There are some special reasons which make it so desirable. One is, that the Assembly of Upper Canada is at an end in the present year; and it would be necessary, if the union were long delayed, to dissolve that Assembly, and to call a new one, which would be a measure obviously not desirable, when the two provinces were about to be incorporated. But a more general reason is, that the people of Canada are generally anxious to see a termination put to the long and vexatious struggle by which they have been agitated. I proposed last year, considering the time that would be taken in framing the various details in the articles of union, that the Assembly should not meet until the year after next; but, not only the authority of the Governor-general, but all the accounts I have received on the subject, have convinced me that it is a reasonable petition to ask of the Parliament, that as soon as possible they should terminate this anxiety, and give a settled form to the future constitution of Canada.
It is obvious, that if you continue the present special council of Lower Canada—a special council made by the Governor—you are continuing a species of government which no one could wish or believe should be permanent. It could never be the intention of Parliament, or agreeable to the wishes of any portion of the Canadians, that that government, despotic in its form at least, should be continued beyond the necessity for its duration. It is clear that great inconvenience would arise from giving a more general scope to the restrictive powers of the special council—I will not say unwisely restricted, because the general principle was a right one, of giving no large and extensive powers of legislating for permanent objects to a council granted for a particular purpose.
But whether they were unwise or not, it is evident that as long as it is the opinion of Parliament they should be continued, so long will restrictions exist to such improvements in the laws as are most essential to a free government. I think, therefore, for these reasons, that the declaration of an union should not be long delayed, and that in a few months after the passing of the bill a proclamation of it should be made. I come next to the constitution of the Legislative
Council and Assembly, which, together with the Governor, it is proposed should form the Legislature. It is proposed, as last year, that the Crown, or the Governor acting on the part of the Crown, should appoint the legislative councillors. The report of the Governor-general states, that after consulting persons of all parties, while there were many who still adhered to their old favourite project of an Elective Council, they all agreed that if there were not an Elective Council, the best plan would be to leave the nomination as it was directed by the constitution of 1791.
A great party is attached to that proposal, and I agree with them in thinking it gives a permanency and independence to the body which are most desirable. There is, then, a strong party in favour of this proposal, and no party in favour of any other, except that of an Elective Council, to which the Government has a most decided objection, and to which, on a proposition I made three years ago, this House expressed likewise its repugnance. The other House of Parliament came to a similar resolution. I propose, therefore, that the nomination of the council shall be for life, the only disqualifications being bankruptcy or crime. The Governor-general thinks it desirable that a power of resignation should be given, as it happened not unfrequently that a person who fully deserved to be placed on the list of councillors went to reside in a distant part of the country, and by entirely abandoning his duties as a councillor, swelled the list in point of numbers, without any advantage being derived to the province from his services. It is not proposed to limit the number, but we intend that they should not be less than twenty.
The next question, and a most important one, is as to the future constitution of the House of Assembly. The Governor-general proposes—and the proposition seems to meet with the assent of both provinces, that the number of representatives sent by Upper and Lower Canada should be equal. It is evident, that at the present moment, the inhabitants of the upper are not equal to those of the lower province. But, on the other hand, the inhabitants of Upper Canada are greatly increasing, and, if I were to speculate on this subject, the probability, I should say, is, that in a few years the number of the inhabitants in the upper will be increased beyond those of the lower province. It is proposed, however,
that the united legislature should have the power of adding members from time to time as the population increases. With respect to the distribution of these members it is proposed that thirty-nine should be allotted to each province, and should be distributed with no very great alteration of the existing boundaries. On the consideration of that question, it was found, not, indeed, that those boundaries were very long established, but that they were convenient for the purposes of representation, and that it would be extremely difficult to form any scheme in a country where the inhabitants were so rapidly increasing, either founded on population, or on area and population, which would be practically useful. However, on abstract grounds, it may seem fair and reasonable. It is, therefore, proposed that the existing division of Upper Canada should be taken.
With regard to Lower Canada the proposition is, that the distribution of members should rather be founded on the divisions which existed previous to the act of ’29, than on those by which members were sent to the Assembly in later times. One of the subjects referred to by Mr. Huskisson as just matter of complaint, was the division of districts; and though an act passed the Assembly for the redress of this grievance, a greater outcry was raised than before existed, and the British race became still more indignant that they had not a fair proportion of representatives in comparison to their number in the population. It is proposed now, in order to reduce the numbers to those I have mentioned, taking generally the existing divisions, that there should be a member for each county and each town. It is intended that in Upper Canada, the towns of Kingston, Hamilton, Brockville, London, Niagara, and Cornwall; and that in Lower Canada, Montreal, Quebec, and the Three Rivers, should each send one member. The rest of the members for each province are to be returned by districts, which we have called counties. In no case have we placed together counties, which before the act of 1829 were separate, but in nine instances we have combined counties which were separated into two by the act of 1829. The result will be, therefore, that thirty-nine members will be sent by Upper, and thirty-nine by Lower Canada, making a total of seventy-eight. It is intended that the province of Gaspe, inhabited
chiefly by a British race, and which expressed a strong desire to be included amongst the counties of the lower province should not be separated from it. Four years have been the period hitherto established for the duration of the Assembly; and I do not see any reason for altering that practice. The next question relates to the laws, and the mode in which they are to be enacted. With regard to this question, it is proposed to give a general power to this Assembly only, but to reserve certain subjects for the assent of the Crown, such as those pointed oat by the constitutional act of 1791.
It is intended that the royal assent should not be given in those cases if either House of Parliament addresses the Crown, praying for its refusal. The subjects I refer to, include among others, regulations concerning the Protestant religion, and the Roman Catholic church. I next come to consider a most important subject, relating to a change proposed in the report of Lord Durham, with regard to the power of the Assembly. This question must, in its effects, deeply concern the whole future constitution and government of those provinces. It is proposed, in conformity with our own constitutional views and maxims, that money votes should not originate with the Assembly, but that a vote should never be given on such matters without a message from the governor, giving the Assembly the power of addressing him upon it. I think this a most important provision, and deeply connected and interwoven with the whole of the misfortunes which occurred in the lower, and with some of the difficulties which took place in the other provinces.
Another provision connected with this point, and one which I likewise think of great importance, regards what Sir George Murray called, when speaking of a colonial legislature, its civil list. The Assembly of Upper Canada having expressed a wish that a permanent appropriation should be made for the governor and judges, it is proposed to carry into effect that suggestion. It is also intended that with regard to the civil establishment, the civil secretary, and various other civil expenses, should be voted either for a period of years, or during the life of the Queen. These amount to a considerable sum. The governor-general has not been able to make an exact estimate, but it is thought that the charge for the governor and judges
will amount to 45,000l., and the other expenses of civil government to 30,000l, We propose for this purpose 75.000l., including in that sum 5,000l. or 6,000l. for pensions. Of course on the demise of the Crown the territorial revenues revert to the successor. I propose, too, what was likewise proposed in the bill of last year, that the duties included in the act introduced by the Earl of Ripon, and collected under the 14th Geo. 3rd, should become part of the Crown, revenue. As this Assembly will not then have the power of originating money votes, and as I should hope that an ample civil list for the purpose of carrying on the civil government of the province, and defraying the necessary expenses of the courts of justice will be granted, I think we shall take away one great source of contention between the Assembly and the Crown. It seems to me most important that when the Assembly put forward claims inconsistent with our monarchical form of government, we should remove as far as possible those sources of dispute which afford a real ground for contention. It seems to me, that partly from defects in the constitutional laws, and partly from the defects of administration, evils which could not have occurred in that regular form of constitutional government which we enjoy, have occurred in several of the colonies, and in none more than in Canada. It is, as I imagine, not only the theory, but the general practice of our Government, that to the Executive belongs the appropriation of money, the Ministers being responsible for what they think necessary for the public service, and the House exercising that control over the grant which they think necessary.
But in the colonies there is neither this division nor this control. On the one hand it is frequently the case, that persons intrusted with the confidence of the Governor are above all control by the Assembly, are totally regardless of the votes framed by the Assembly, and therefore escape that due examination and responsibility which persons holding important offices, to which great expenditure is attached, ought to be subjected. On the other hand, the Assembly not having that control which is proper and essential to the due performance of its functions, assumes the power which properly belongs to the Executive, and then, perhaps according to its own views, perhaps according to its own interests, but
more frequently in accordance with the interests of its constituents, proposes votes of money, and enters on a kind of expenditure not legitimate or beneficial to the public at large. Thus, while there has been no proper control on the part of the Assembly, and undue power vested in the hands of other functionaries, the people at large have lost the benefit of that kind of government which they were told should be established amongst them; and they have neither the power to prevent improper expenditure by the officers of the Crown appointed by the Governor, nor the security that their own popular Assembly will lay out the money and taxes of the people for other than special interests, or from local motives. That which I propose seems to have a great tendency to change this abuse.
I propose, that the direct power which the Assembly hitherto had with regard to money votes should be taken away and a more wholesome practice, substituted. I think, at the same time, it will be necessary, without any positive enactment (for it would be impossible to introduce such a provision into the bill) but by the rule of administration which will be established by the union, that the Assembly should exercise a due control over the officers appointed or kept in office by the Governor, and over the distribution and expenditure of the public funds. Many abuses have arisen for the want of this control. I am not now going to raise a discussion on a subject on which I expressed my opinion fully on the despatch on the table, and which excited so much agitation in Upper Canada a short time ago—I mean what was then called the question of responsible governors. I am not of opinion, as I have often declared, that the official servants of the Governor should be subject to exactly the same responsibility as the Ministers in this country, because the Governor’s orders issue directly from the Crown; and it is unjust that the representatives in the Assembly should Visit with responsibility those who are not the authors of the acts which they condemn.
But the practice has unfortunately prevailed that there has been one set of men enjoying the confidence of the Governor, forming very often a small party in the colony, distributing the revenues of the colony according to their own notions, and having the great skill and practice which long experience gives in disposing of the property and guiding the administration
of the people, while there have been men ambitious perhaps, stirring pehaps, but, at the same time, of great public talents, totally excluded from all share in the administration, which seems an unfortunate and vicious system, and, I think, that by the rule of administration, a better practice ought to be introduced. In conformity with this opinion, my noble Friend who occupied the situation which I now hold (the Marquess of Normanby) informed the governor of Nova Scotia that whenever a vacancy occurred in the council, he was to fill it up by a person selected from the majority of the Assembly, whom he thought properly qualified for such a trust.
The occasion of making an appointment arose soon after I succeeded my noble Friend, and the governor of Nova Scotia requested to know whether he were to act on the direction which he had received from my predecessor. I told him he was, and I know no better way of giving confidence to the provinces, and at the same time making the leaders of the Assembly practical men of business, than by appointing them to situations of official trust and responsibility. I have said you cannot lay down any positive rule for effecting this object, still less can you trust to the Legislature as your guide, because you never can adopt the advice which the members of the Assembly may give when it interferes either with the Imperial policy, or with the honour and faith of Parliament or the Crown.
I would not, then, by any means, lay down an inflexible rule on the subject, but I maintain, that a general system should be adopted, by which the leaders among the majority of the Assembly should be included in the executive government. In thus making the distinction I propose to make between the powers which are to regulate the Governor-general and those belonging to the Assembly, if I did not go further I should deprive the Assembly of the power of making useful local improvements. It has been the custom with respect to these improvements, such as establishing local courts of justice, to propose a bill to the House of Assembly, and to vote the money out of the public taxes. Instead of this, I propose that they shall be brought into more regular and uniform operation under the municipal government of these provinces. In Upper Canada there is already the form of a municipal government-there are townships and elective offices,
but they have likewise districts formed of two or more counties, which are attached to the local courts for the administration of justice. But the powers are extremely limited. With respect lo the power of taxation in Upper Canada, it extends to 1d. an acre on cultivated lands, and one-sixth of 1d. on wild lands. The obvious effect is, that there are holders of land to a vast extent whose taxes amount to an exceedingly small sum. I propose that the power of these municipal councils shall be increased, and that they shall be enabled to lay a tax of 3d. an acre upon all lands. There has been a report on this subject as regards Lower Canada, which shows how useful it would be to have some authority by which these local affairs should be governed.
As the matter stands, there appears to be in Lower Canada no such authority. I propose to transfer that authority which exists in Upper Canada—I mean the power of forming districts and settling the boundaries of such districts. There are, I think, fifteen in Upper Canada, and, perhaps, twenty-five in Lower Canada. These local divisions will be useful for such purposes as the improvement of the roads and the means of internal communication, and many others which cannot at present be provided for. I conceive it necessary that Parliament should provide for these things, because, as I have said, we propose, in another part of the bill, to take away the power of originating money votes. Another reason is, that as it is one of those subjects likely to lead to great difference of opinion between parties in Canada, I think it very desirable to lay down some fixed and established rules for the settlement of these districts. There is another subject which, does not, indeed, form part of the bill, but, inasmuch as it is a question of great importance, and materially affects the future government of Canada, I have thought it my duty to give it my special attention. I allude to the subject of emigration from this country. It appears that in both Upper and Lower Canada there are great difficulties in the way of emigration. The way in which the taxes on land are imposed, and the way in which the sales of land take place in Upper Canada, do form such obstacles to the emigrants when they arrive there, that they may, in a great measure, be assigned as the causes of that evil which has been so much Complained of—namely, that after going
from this country to Canada, the emigrants frequently pass over from that province into the United States, and there become labourers. I am convinced that some regulation to remedy an evil of this nature, is absolutely essential. With respect to the general principle of sales of land in the colonies, it appears to me that nothing is more sound or better proved to be so than the system of which Mr. Wakefield was the most able advocate—to enable a person to secure a certain portion of land.
It does not force him into the auction mart, and he has not to contend with those who wish to obtain a tract of land which they do not mean to cultivate, but it enables him to obtain, at a certain rate, a fixed small portion of land—thus tending generally to increase the population, to render districts more thickly inhabited, and give an increased value to all land, besides imparting an increased strength to the population. With respect to the mode of carrying out this principle into practical effect, I do not wish to say more at present, especially as the governor-general has said he means to address a dispatch to me upon the subject. But I do think, by the introduction of a few principles of acknowledged soundness, and by taking care that the administration of the Crown lands in Canada shall be public, open, well and properly conducted by competent persons of established integrity, we shall make a great and a most desirable change in the state of Canada within a few years. Of course we must rely upon the concurrence of the House of Assembly; but I rejoice to observe that this subject was a feature in the address of that body, to which they attached the highest importance. I have now stated the general details of the plan.
An Hon. Member—The qualification?
Lord J. Russell—I do not propose to alter the qualification of electors which at present exists, nor, as I before said, do I propose to alter the duration of the sittings of the House of Assembly, but I do propose—which I certainly omitted to state—that there shall be a qualification for those elected. I propose that those persons shall be in possession of 500l. in land, not 500l annual income. These, sir, are the main and leading propositions, both of the bill and of the course of policy I shall propose to the House. In making this statement, it is my wish to lay before the House the views I entertain, and the views which
her Majesty’s Government have been induced to take with regard to a subject of the greatest importance, upon which some petitions have been presented to night, and with respect to which I have laid upon the table of the House a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. I allude to the question of the clergy reserves, and I hold in my hand a despatch from the governor-general which accompanied that bill. The House is aware that by the act of 1791, one-seventh of the land to be granted, was set apart for the Protestant clergy. Power was given to the provincial Legislature to repeal that act; but it must be laid upon the tables of both Houses of Parliament, and the consent of the Crown cannot be given for thirty days after, and not then, if an address of either House of Parliament shall object to it. The subject has been repeatedly brought under the notice of the Legislature of Upper Canada—once lately, by a dispatch from the Secretary of State to Sir John Colborne. The opinion of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada upon this subject, has very little varied during a long course of years. Their opinion has, generally speaking, been in the first place, that the clergy reserves ought not to be set apart solely for the clergy of the church of England. As little are they ready to agree that these reserves should be set apart solely for the church of England and Scotland in conformity with what was declared by Lord Lyndhurst and other authorities to be the meaning of the act of 1791. The general language held in the Assembly with respect to these reserves has been, that they ought to be given to ministers of every Christian denomination; but so much difficulty is found in the way of attaining this object, that other schemes have been proposed.
It has been thought that the reserves ought to be given for the purpose of education, and, in some cases, to the building of places of public worship. In 1825, when Lord Bathurst was colonial secretary, the House of Assembly passed certain resolutions in favour of appropriating the clergy reserves to educational purposes, and to the erection of places of worship. A bill to that effect was brought in and carried, by a majority of 19 to 17. An address was also agreed upon, by a majority of 21 to 9, for the appropriation of the reserves to purposes of internal improvement. In 1829 and 1830
an address was agreed to for their appropriation to the promotion of education, and the general improvement of the province. In 1831 it was resolved, that to give the reserves for the support of one church was unjust and impolitic, and they should be devoted to the advancement and the erection of places of public worship. In 1832 and 1833 bills were brought in proposing the appropriation of them to education. Those bills were, however, lost. In 1835 there were similar measures. In 1836 it was proposed to devote the reserves to purposes of general education, and in 1838 it was proposed to devote them to the maintenance of the Christian religion in the provinces. In 1839 various plans were proposed, one of which was, that the amount should be under the control of the local Legislature.
With respect to the nature of the plan proposed by the Governor-General, and agreed to by a large majority of the House of Assembly, he proposes, first, that those sums of money which are now given for life, and which are placed on the territorial revenues, should be placed upon any sums to be derived from the clergy reserves. The church of England and the church of Scotland are to have half of the sums that may be derived from the same, or any rents to be derived from the appropriation of the clergy reserves. He goes on to say that the remaining half shall be divided among other denominations of Christians in the provinces for certain uses, such as registration in proportion to the number of those sects. There can be no doubt that this is a question upon which a very strong feeling has existed in Canada—so strong, indeed, that I have heard from more than one quarter that part of the insurrection which took place three years ago in Upper Canada was to be attributed far more to the excitement that prevailed upon this topic, than to any wish to separate the colony from the Crown.
There are various opinions prevailing, but all of them are against the reserves being entirely appropriated to the church of England. There is a strong feeling, not only in Canada, but on the continent of North America, against the established church having there superior rights and privileges. Entertaining that opinion, they of course could not agree that there should be any peculiar privileges, or such a large distribution of these clergy reserves to the established
church in Upper Canada; because, according to the accounts I have heard, the number of the members of the church of England does not amount to one-fourth of the entire population of the province. The Wesleyan Methodists have strong objections to any part of these reserves being appropriated to Roman Catholics—a feeling which does not seem to have been participated in so strongly by the members of the church of England. But however that may be, it is certain that in the Legislative council and in the House of Assembly the great majority of members of the Church of England voted in favour of this bill.
That is stated in the despatch. I would rather, on the whole, say that lam content with the distribution just made by the authorities in Canada, than say that on abstract grounds that settlement is the best that could be made. Various reasons maybe urged against that settlement, but I do not think they could be urged with equal weight to that of preserving the peace of the province. It seems better that that which has most disturbed and divided the people should be, if possible, settled by the various branches of the Legislature, without the interposition of Parliament. For my own part, if I had to propose any scheme for the settlement of this question, I admit I should find it difficult to form one which, on the one hand, should meet with the concurrence of Parliament, and on the other, which should not be met by the decided disapprobation of the people of Upper Canada. It is not at this day, after so long a period since the act of 1791 was passed that you can successfully argue with a people composed of many different sects, and living on the borders of the United States, upon the abstract merits of a church establishment.
Paley expressly says, that if the majority of the people do not belong to the establishment, the establishment changes places. So, on that principle if the majority of the people in Canada be Presbyterians, that ought to be the religion of the establishment. Whatever my wishes may be, and whatever I may have thought possible thirty or forty years ago, I am bound to say that I do not think you can at this time impose upon the people of Canada an established church from which the great majority of the people dissent. I am speaking in the sincere wish to maintain these provinces in connection with the mother country, and I
think you must be prepared somewhat to bend your opinions—somewhat to relax in your views of a policy which may be agreeable to you, and which may be stable in this country, if you desire to conciliate the opinions and predilections—no less strong—of the people you wish to govern. I have no hesitation in saying, in answer to a question put by an hon. Member the other evening, that the view of her Majesty’s Ministers is this—that unless Parliament shall interpose, they will offer their humble advice to the Sovereign to give her royal assent to the bill passed by the House of Assembly with respect to the clergy reserves.
I think that by so doing we shall take away from the future united Legislature one great source of discord, and establish a harmony on this particular subject, upon which the minds of the people in the provinces have been so long and so much engaged. I think that then their wishes and views would meet with a ready and attentive ear from the Sovereign and from the Parliament of the country. In all I have stated, in all my views, both with respect to the bill I have to propose to bring in, and those other questions upon which I have nothing at present to offer, it has been my earnest wish to adopt principles which tend to ensure the permanent connexion of those provinces with Great Britain. It has been one of the proudest of all our national boasts that wherever we have established colonies we have made them fit to manage and enjoy those institutions which were once peculiarly our own—that we gave them an education fitting them to become freemen, and to govern themselves according to those maxims, which as Englishmen, we most revere. In the able work on America by Mons. de Tocqueville, he says, The political education of the people has long been complete; say, rather, it was complete when the people first set foot upon the soil. It was no doubt a proud and exalted feeling of the importance of his country that caused Cicero to exclaim “Civis Romanus sum.” It was enough for a man to declare that, and he gained privileges all over the globe. But, however, great and proud that boast may have been, it was only temporary: it was occasional, and lasted only so long as the legions of Rome were able to enforce the terrors of her empire. But with respect to the United States of America, it is a boast
that will for ever endure, that England sent forth her sons upon that soil with an education, with habits, and with feelings which have fitted them to become the parents and progenitors of a free and mighty people. You gave them that from which they will now never swerve—you gave them the love of free institutions, and you taught them the way in which the love of free institutions can manifest and exercise itself. It is my belief that you may maintain the connexion with the colonies of British North America without imposing terms which they would feel it incumbent upon them to resist, and that they may be made to add to your great, ness and strength without a wish on their part to take their station on the globe as an independent nation.
I believe—and it was also the opinion of Sir James Mackintosh, that the colonies, on looking at the circumstances of their situation, will see nothing to envy in those who are without the superintending power of the mother country, for they will recollect that with respect to the burthens that press upon us—with respect, for example, to all those votes which have been proposed to this House during the last month, for the purpose of maintaining the expenses of the Government and the charges of defraying our armaments by land and sea; with respect, I say, to burthens such as these they will recollect they are free from them. The arm of Great Britain protects them—the power and reputation of this mighty empire will shield them if they should be attacked. They have the opportunity of applying the produce of such taxes as they may see fit to impose upon themselves to the promotion of their own internal improvement, to the advancement of education, to the general welfare of their province. I am convinced that if you pass such a bill as that which I propose, with any such alterations which a mature consideration may suggest as necessary to make its provisions satisfactory—I say, if you can pass such a bill, and establish a permanent free constitution in British North America, under which British settlers may, on their resorting to those regions, peaceably and quietly live, you will add strength to your empire, and you will rule over subjects on the other side of the Atlantic to the full as loyal to their Sovereign as any inhabitants of the British islands. You will be establishing no form of slavery on those
distant shores, but you may rest assured that while your power and reputation will be extended, their freedom and happiness will be secured.
Mr. Hume could not allow the motion to pass, without making some observations on what had fallen from the noble Lord. The noble Lord, at the conclusion of his speech, spoke proudly and fairly of free institutions. He was also occupied for a considerable time in pointing out, that nothing but misrepresentation and misgovernment had prevailed in Canada, for the last fifteen or twenty years. He had spoken of this in that glowing language he was so capable of using, but he wished to ask, whether this bill established anything like free institutions—whether a people, living at such a distance, should have all their regulations framed by individuals in Downing-street—and how the noble Lord could flatter himself that the public, either here or in Upper Canada, entertained the hopes he had expressed? He asked the noble Lord whether he had not pointed cut that, for fifteen years, whether the people of that province had not, by large majorities, passed a bill with a view to settle that question, which the noble Lord stated to be most important—and whether these bills, the expressed wish of nineteen-twentieths of the population, were not rejected? This the noble Lord had given as an instance of the beautiful result of our establishments and education in other parts of the world. What did the noble Lord ask the House to do now?
He told them that her Majesty’s Ministers would advise her Majesty to give her sanction to this bill, not that it was in his opinion right, but because a certain majority in Upper Canada had passed the bill, and the noble Lord said (which to him was most astonishing) that if that bill passed, the question would be settled in Canada. He asked the noble Lord, was this bill right or just to the people of Canada, which was passed by a packed Assembly, and to which the greatest possible dissatisfaction at this moment existed, and nothing that the House could do in withholding, or in allowing the Ministers to give her Majesty’s consent to that bill would promote peace. He told the noble Lord he was as much mistaken in expecting peace from that bill as he was in passing his revolutionary resolutions of 1837. Three years had passed, and what was the noble Lord about to do? He was about to
concede, as the only means of conciliation, that which was asked in 1837, and might then have been conceded with effect. He told the noble Lord he was as much mistaken in the effect of the Clergy Reserves Bill as he was in the effect of those resolutions. On the contrary, it would be, to the last hour that Canada had its present Government, a source of discord. Would the noble Lord allow him to tell him the members of the Church of England at this moment in Upper Canada were not one-tenth of the population? Did not the noble Lord think this measure was contrary to the feelings of the Canadians, and that it would promote discord and disaffection? He was not disposed to go back to the numerous cases of impropriety in the proceedings of the Government in Upper Canada, but he had no hesitation in saying, that if the noble Lord or his predecessors had been disposed to give that which they were now disposed to give, they would never have heard of civil war or disaffection in any part of these provinces. He held in his hand a paper containing an address of the Speaker of the House of Assembly in 1830, stating what they wanted, and it was impossible for any man on seeing that paper not to lament mismanagement which had kept those provinces in a state of discord.
The reports and the committee to which the noble Lord had referred all pointed out those things. The noble Lord said, “the Queen’s Government had no desire to thwart the Representative Assemblies of British North America in their measures of reform and improvement.” That was not so, because up to the year 1837 they had invariably thwarted all attempts at reform and improvement. “They had no wish to make those provinces the resource for patronage at home.” Nothing could be more creditable than this. And he said, therefore, when he saw that address, and read in a newspaper the message of the Governor-general, dated Toronto, January the 14th, that “he had received her Majesty’s commands to administer the government of these provinces according to the well-understood feelings of the people, and paying to their feelings the deference which was due to them,” and that “it would be the earnest desire of the Governor-general to discharge his trust in accordance with these principles,” that had such a message been delivered at any time prior to 1837—we should have
had no civil war, but every thing would have been peace and concord. Every Assembly for the last twenty years had asked that their wishes should be attended to. Those provinces had been made a source of patronage from first to last, in the shape of grants of land and sinecure offices, and interruption of those improvements which had been attempted in the laws of these colonies. The noble Lord had talked of the free institutions of this country; but the noble Lord seemed to have forgotten that in all our colonies those institutions had been hampered by the British Government, and even in America itself, on the British origin of whose people the noble Lord appeared so much to pride himself, it was only after an open resistance to our authority that free principles had become triumphant.
Canada would not be tranquillized with a cost less than from 5,000,000l. to 6,000,000l. Yet Government could from the first have settled all the difficulties of the question by yielding to the just claims of the Canadian people. Lord Glenelg, though an amiable man in private life, was the person who led the country into all those embarrassments, and yet, instead of having been immediately removed from office, as the source of all those evils, he had been rewarded with a pension of 2,000l. a-year. At the time of the extraordinary course taken by Sir Francis Head in Upper Canada, one of the individuals whom he (Sir F. Head) had violently removed from office was a Mr. Baldwin, and that gentleman had been sent over to submit to the British Government the real state of Canada.
Yet what would the House think of the manner in which the colonial affairs were administered, when it was told that Lord Glenelg had refused even to see this Mr. Baldwin after he had taken such a voyage, for such an express purpose. This incident he merely mentioned to show that the Government now were about conceding nearly all that had been then required for the peaceful settlement of the colonial affairs. If the demands or suggestions of Mr. Baldwin had been then attended to, if the truth had been heard and acted on, all the evils that had since occurred would have been spared. They were all, however, aware that when matters were proceeding so far, Sir Francis Head had to be recalled. He was glad to perceive, as he did by some newspaper, that Mr. Baldwin had recently been made Solicitor
General; and he would venture to say no single appointment could be made by the noble Lord which would get him more credit in the country, in consequence of the deserved esteem in which that gentleman was generally held, and the confidence which was placed in him by the people. He differed from the noble Lord in many of the details of the proposed bill, but he would take a future opportunity of explaining at greater length the reasons why he did so. He asked, however, was the bill what the colonies demanded? They wanted the control of their own resources. They wanted to have the power of controlling the civil list to such an amount as they thought proper, and the authority to regulate the annual supplies for all the ministerial and executive expenditure?
The colonial administration should be made to act in unison with the House of Assembly, as the House of Commons in England did with the Government. A power analogous to that to which he alluded did not exist in Canada, for the best measures introduced for the general good were stopped and thwarted by the Legislative council. They only asked to be allowed, a privilege similar to that which the House of Commons here had—the control of their revenues, and the settlement of the question of the clergy reserves. Was it possible for any person who might emigrate there, and determine upon spending his life in the colony, to be satisfied if he did not possess those advantages? The object of the union of the two provinces was said to be with a view of strengthening the connection with England; but did any one think such a result would follow, unless the united Assembly had the complete powers which any one single assembly should have. There was a great majority of French Canadians, and, from what he could learn, they were much wronged by the allegations made against them; but, although this union might press heavily upon them, he hoped they would not oppose it, because one good government was cheaper than two, and, therefore, while he expressed a hope that the union might take place, he also hoped the noble Lord would give proper and constitutional powers to the united assembly, by adopting which plan alone, peace or contentment could be expected in those colonies. Did he believe, however, that they would, if this was not granted, assemble two years without demanding
the control of their own affairs? The interference of Downing-street would still create discontent, and, if the Assembly of the United Canadas was fairly elected, they would not submit to the treatment which a part of the bill in question proposed. The question of the clergy reserves would be one of the chief bones of contention; it would be most difficult to settle, and, for his own part, he would recommend that the question should be left untouched, until the united Parliament of both the Canadas could settle it. He would conclude, protesting, on the part of the colonies alluded to, against the conduct which had been pursued towards them by the British Ministry for the last twenty years; and expressing a hope that the present Government would take a warning from the example of the previous Government of the Canadas, and do nothing which would again endanger the peace and tranquillity of those colonies.
Sir R. Inglis rose to protest against the latter part of the noble Lord’s speech which related to the clergy reserves. The hon. Member for Kilkenny, in his elegant phraseology, told them that the Church reserves, as settled by this bill would be a “bone of contention;” he, however, was satisfied that that House and the other House of Parliament would not so far neglect their duty, as to suffer that bill to remain a part of the law of the land. What had the Assembly to do with this matter? Were they dealing with property of their own? Property made over to the Protestant clergy could not mean Popish clergy. Suppose, that, instead of this property having been made over to the Protestant clergy, it had been made over to the corporation of London. Where was the legal difference between an original grant by Act of Parliament and by charter to a Protestant clergy, and the property being made over to any given corporation in England? In either case was it not equally clear that it was not the intention of the granter that the Legislative Assembly should exercise any authority whatever over it? Could it be contended by any person who had read the debates at the time when the clergy reserves were first set apart, that it had ever entered into the contemplation of any person whatever, that they were to be applied to any secular purposes whatever, or to any other uses than the support of the Protestant clergy? The bill on the
table never could produce peace in the nature of things, because it was founded on injustice. They had no right to expect any blessing to attend a measure which deprived any individual or public body, and most of all, the Church, of that property which belonged to it. The common bond of religion was the best security on which the Crown could rely for the permanency of its possessions, and this bond the bill proposed to weaken. Though the colleagues of the noble Lord had not undertaken his defence against the attack made upon him by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, still he trusted they would take some occasion to reply to the attack which had been made upon a late Governor of Upper Canada. Had the hon. Member for Kilkenny read Sir F. Head’s despatches? Had he not rather derived his information from certain gentlemen now happily expatriated from the Canadas? Protesting against being supposed to be bound by the recommendations which the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial department—recommendations which the noble Lord admitted were not founded on his own conviction, but, upon a desire, (which according to the hon. Member for Kilkenny would be frustrated) to promote the peace, tranquillity, and prosperity of these colonies—he should not further detain the House, but should reserve his observations, for the future stages of these measures.
Mr. Pakington said, that although it might be improper to enter into the details of a bill not yet before the House, yet he took so much interest in the measure which had this night been brought under its consideration, that he could not refrain from saying, that with regard to one of the measures, that for effecting the union of the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, he entertained grave and serious doubts whether it would be productive of all those advantages which the noble Lord seemed to anticipate. With regard to the Clergy Reserves Bill, he begged to say it met with his strongest and deepest disapprobation. He could not avoid thus early expressing his entire condemnation of the principles upon which that bill was founded. Though he admitted he had seen the provisions of the bill, he would abstain from going into them until the House was fully cognizant of them. The House had, however, heard from the hon. Member for Kilkenny that this bill relating
to the clergy reserves was not calculated to restore peace and harmony in those colonies. He was of the same opinion, because he thought its provisions would create dissensions amongst the numerous sects which would be admitted to a participation in the clergy reserves. Besides this, he held the bill to be founded on impolicy and injustice, for he believed the majority of the people wished to retain the means of supporting the Protestant as the standard religion of the colonies—not in any intolerant spirit, but with a view to the maintenance of that Christianity, without which the prosperity of no country could long be secure. The bill was a departure from the solemn promise made by the Imperial Legislature in the statute of 1791, and as such it was a measure of spoliation and destruction. There were two or three questions which he wished to put to the noble Lord on this subject, and he would either put them now or postpone them to another occasion., if more convenient. The first question involved a matter, as he conceived, of great importance, and he thought, that however the noble Lord might differ from his views on the Clergy Reserves Bill, at all events the noble Lord would admit, that whatever measure might be passed on that subject, there ought not afterwards to be any doubt or difficulty as to its legality. He, therefore, wished to inform the noble Lord that serious doubts had been expressed to him as to whether the passing of the bill by the provincial Legislature was consistent with the laws and constitution of the colony.
There were two points of doubt—one as to whether or not the Legislature of Upper Canada, under the provisions of the Act 23 Geo. 3rd, had any right to pass a Clergy Reserves Bill which should have a retrospective effect. The other point arose under 7 and 8 Geo. 4th, which provided that the proceeds from the sales of reserves should be invested in English funds; whereas the present bill proposed their investment in the colonial funds. These points, comprised his first question to the noble Lord. The second question had reference to the different denominations of sects which were to be benefitted by this bill; or, in other words, to have a share in the reserved lands. Would the noble Lord have any objection to lay before the House a list or return of the sects recognized by law in Upper Canada? The third question was, as to
what construction the noble Lord meant to put on the provisions of the statute of 1791, which required a Colonial Bill to lie thirty days on the table of both Houses of Parliament before it could receive the Royal assent. Did he mean it to be construed as thirty days of the sitting of Parliament, or thirty days including the adjournment for the holydays?
Sir C. Grey said, that there had appeared nothing upon the face of the noble Lord’s statements, or in the bills which he had laid upon the table, from which it could be argued that the Government bad paid the slightest attention to the threats of the Canadians; nor could it be perceived, on the other hand, that there was any tendency in the measure to sacrifice the rights of the French Canadians, or to attack in the sweeping manner that was asserted the tithes of the Roman Catholic clergy. These points being satisfactorily clear to his mind, he must say, there was nothing whatever in the bill to which he could not give his conscientious approbation and support, though it was entirely new to him in all its parts, and had been made known to him for the first time that evening. If there was anything he could wish to be altered or amended, it was the addition of some provision by which the colonists of a different religion should be located separately, each sect or creed having its own location apart from the other religious sects.
He could not say that that part of the measure relating to the clergy reserves would produce entire satisfaction, but he was certain that it would lessen the discontent which had so extensively prevailed in Canada on this subject. He could see so much of general advantage in the noble Lord’s bill, that he hoped the hon. Member for the University of Oxford would abandon his intention of proposing an Address to the Crown in opposition to it. When he was in Canada, he thought with Sir G. Robinson and other high law authorities, that according to the spirit, if not the letter of the act, the clergy of the Protestant Church of Scotland, as well as those of England, had an undoubted claim to a share of the revenues, and that it would be most unjust to yield to the exclusive claim which the latter had so tenaciously held respecting these lands. However, he did not think that the clergy of any other persuasion could make a legal claim. It had occurred to him then
that the best solution of the difficulty would be to sell the reserves as soon as possible, and then divide the proceeds fairly between the clergy of the English and Scotch Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic clergy were already amply provided for. Then if the Dissenters were reasonable, their clergy might be provided for in those ecclesiastical districts in which their congregations should be found to embrace the majority of the inhabitants, or they might have small provisions allocated to them out of the remaining waste lands.
He thought the Crown ought to be advised to concur with the colonial legislature in a measure which provided a decent maintenance for each dissenting minister, by attaching a certain quantity of land to his residence. The present was not the measure that he himself should recommend; but remembering the observation of the noble Lord, that it would be impossible to frame a bill which should meet the wishes of all parties at the same time, he thought they should bend a little in each direction, and yield up a considerable share of their individual opinions for the sake of the colony. There were in it members of many different religious persuasions it was true, but then, they were all living under a common constitution. The present measure seemed the best that had yet been devised to meet the necessities of the province; and he thought that, for the sake of its just and conciliatory character, they ought, to agree to pass it, especially as it had had the approbation of the colonial legislature.
Sir R. Peel said, if the House were at this moment to enter into a discussion of the subject, it would be in the absence of most important documents—in the absence of the enactments by which the noble Lord proposed, in case of the union of the Canadas, to carry it into effect; and next, without the knowledge of the provisions of the bill by which the colonial Legislature proposed to deal with the clergy reserves. It might be said, that, although they were not in possession of the bill, they were in possession of its general enactments, and they might discuss its general principles. But there were other documents not before the House: he meant those despatches from the Governor-general of Canada, which he presumed the noble Lord intended to produce. So that, reserving his entire unfettered discretion to consider this measure
in a manner suitable to the immense importance of the subject, and to the great interests involved in it, he was desirous of postponing the discussion with regard to the principles and details till the documents were produced—namely, the enactments to give effect to the measure, and the despatches of the Governor-general. His chief object in rising was, to ask of the noble Lord what he proposed to do with the clergy reserves of Lower Canada? The Legislature of Upper Canada had sent for the consent of her Majesty a measure respecting the clergy reserves of the united province, and he understood that if no dissent was signified in this or the other House of Parliament, the noble Lord was prepared to advise the Crown to sanction it, and he wished to ask the noble Lord, what course he meant to pursue with regard to the clergy reserves of Lower Canada?
Lord J. Russell said, that with respect to the clergy reserves of Lower Canada, and to the bill sent by the colonial Legislature for her Majesty’s assent, he conceived, that the proceedings of the united Legislature would be subject to the provisions of the act of 1791. He was not prepared to introduce any enactment with regard to the clergy reserves of Lower Canada. There would be reserved to the two Houses of Parliament the power given by the act of 1791, and for the Crown to refuse its assent.
Sir Robert Peel—Then the noble Lord proposed, with respect to the clergy reserves of Upper Canada, if neither House interfered, to give the consent of the Crown to the measure that night laid on the table, thus taking from the United Legislature of the United Province of Canada any power of dealing with the clergy reserves of Upper Canada; but, at the same time, the noble Lord proposed to leave to the United Province the power of deciding on the mode in which they should deal with the clergy reserves of Lower Canada, subject only to the disallowance by the Crown, according to the provisions of the Act of 1791.
Lord John Russell wished to put the House in possession of what he conceived was the state of the law with respect to the clergy reserves under the bill passed in Upper Canada. If the assent of her Majesty should be given to that bill, it would not in point of form prevent the United Legislature of the United Province
from legislating on the subject; on the contrary, the United Legislature would have the power of interfering with this Act if they should think proper, and might pass any new legislation, and any bill of the kind not requiring the operation of the provisions of the Act of 1791 might be assented to by the governor. He did not think that they ought to make any special legislation on the subject, and declare the present act permanent and irrevocable. If this Act were intended to be altered, either House might address the Crown to withhold its assent to the alteration, but he did not wish the present Act to be assented to on the motion that it was an irrevocable Act.
Sir Robert Peel—Supposing, then, that neither House should interfere with the Clergy Reserves Bill as sent from Upper Canada, and if the Crown should give its assent, the noble Lord thought that it might not be a final settlement of the clergy reserve question, even in Upper Canada; but, that, in the Union Legislature of the United Province an act might be passed to apply the reserves to the purposes of general education, or to secular purposes; but that such act would not necessarily have effect till it had been laid on the table of the House of Parliament for thirty days. Was that what the noble Lord meant?
Lord John Russell—Yes. He believed the United Legislature would have the power, subject to exception, as to certain parts of the property now in endowment. With regard to that portion appropriated to endowments, with respect to the rectories endowed by Sir John Colborne, he did not conceive that the Colonial Legislature would have the power to disturb the arrangement; but with regard to distribution of the remainder under this Act, one-half to the Church of England and of Scotland, and the other half in some other manner, he considered that it would be subject to review, or to new legislation in the United Colonial Legislature. The hon. Member for Droitwich had referred to the Act of 7th and 8th George 4th, which provided that the produce of the sales should be invested in the funds of this country, and asked whether the produce could be invested in colonial securities without an Act of Parliament? This was a question on which the Governor-general of Canada requested the Government to take the opinion of the law officers
of the Crown; they had done so, and the opinion of the law officers was, that without an Act of Parliament, the Act of the Provincial Legislature could not be put into operation. If, therefore, her Majesty should be advised to give her assent to this Act, it would be necessary to introduce a bill into that or the other House to give effect to the Act of the Provincial Legislature, and to enable the Crown to transfer from the funds of this country to Canada the proceeds of the sales of the church lands. The hon. Member had asked another question, as to when the thirty days would expire. This was a legal question, on which he had not asked the opinion of the law officers of the Crown. The words in the Act of 1791 were merely thirty days, without any explanation. He would, however, take care to inform the hon. Gentleman what was the opinion of the law officers; but he should be unwilling to give any advice to the Crown which should take by surprise either that or the other House of Parliament. He had omitted to state one part of the provisions of the bill which he had proposed, relating to the debt and revenue; he intended that the debt of the province of Upper Canada should become the debt of the United Province. The greater part of the debt had been incurred for public works undertaken by Upper Canada; perhaps a part of those works might be for the benefit of Upper Canada, but what had taken place generally was, that Upper Canada had been ready to submit to many burthens for the purpose of making good the intercourse between the more remote parts of Upper Canada and the stream of the St. Lawrence, which was of general benefit to both Provinces; whilst the Lower Province had not lent much assistance of late years for the purpose, and, in consequence, many works had lost much of their value. The debt, therefore, was to form a debt from the United Province, and he had no doubt that the United Legislature would make provision for carrying on the works. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that this was not the period when the principle could be fully discussed. He had laid several papers on the table of the House that evening, which would throw considerable light upon various topics, and he had received other communications of a confidential nature, but he would be glad to lay upon the table of the House
any further information of a general nature that he could give.
Mr. Pakington said, the noble Lord had omitted to answer two of his questions: whether the Legislature of Upper Canada could deal with the clergy reserves already allotted, and whether the noble Lord had taken the opinion of the law officers of the Crown upon that subject; and 2ndly, whether the noble Lord would lay on the table a return of the various denominations that were to avail themselves of this distribution.
Lord John Russell said, as to the first question, he had not taken the opinion of the law officers of the Crown; but, if the hon. Gentleman would put the question into a regular shape, there would be no difficulty in obtaining that opinion. As it struck him, the part which had been already given by way of endowment had become the property of the clergy, and was not now liable to be disturbed. With regard to the number of sects which would derive advantage from the settlement, he had received no explanation from the Governor-general, except that they were all recognized by different Acts of the Provincial Legislature; he believed that he could lay on the table of the House a copy of those Acts, but he had no specific information as to the number of the sects.
Bill ordered to be brought in.
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