UK, House of Commons, “Canada”, vol 53, cols 589-590 (6 April 1840)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Canada“, vol 53 (1840), cols 589-590.
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Lord J. Russell took that opportunity to answer a question which had been put to him the other night with regard to the state of the seminary at St. Sulpice, Montreal. When the inquiry was made, he had not been aware of all the facts of the case; but having since received a despatch on the subject from the Governor-general of Canada, he should conclude by moving that it be laid on the Table. A good deal of discussion had taken place on the subject, and a motion was made in regard to it so long ago as in 1826. At that time, Lord Bathurst wrote a despatch requiring that a judicial decision might take place upon certain questions connected with the claims of this seminary. It appeared that the ecclesiastics of St. Sulpice had certain seignorial rights to Montreal, and possessed various privileges, parochial and educational, throughout the district. The question of their incorporation was not settled at the time Lord Gosford was in Canada, but the commission
appointed to investigate the subject had come to the opinion, that though there might be doubts in point of law, there was no ground in equity for disputing the general claims of this ecclesiastical corporation. Lord Seaton afterwards proposed an ordinance with the view of enabling those interested in the seminary, and persons holding property under them, to free their lands, if they so wished, but that was not carried into effect by Act of Parliament. The present Governor-general, also, proposed an ordinance on the subject, which had not yet been sent to this country. He meant, however, to propose to the special council, that the ordinance should contain certain provisions found in the report made by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, when he was in Canada with the Earl of Durham. At the same time, he was sorry to say, the Governor-general stated in this despatch, that a good deal of religious feeling had been mixed up with the discussions which had taken place on this subject. Undoubtedly, the ordinance proposed originally by Sir J. Colborne, and afterwards by Mr. Governor Thomson, had been objected to, either, he presumed, upon the ground that the Roman Catholics should not be treated with the same degree of consideration in point of justice and equity as others of her Majesty’s subjects, or that they had been treated with too much partiality. It appeared to him, however, to be a mere question of contested property, and so it was treated by Lord Bathurst, Sir George Murray, Sir J. Colborne, and Mr. Governor Thomson; he did not see how it could be considered in any other light. The noble Lord then moved, that there be laid before the House a copy of the despatch recently received from the Governor-general of the Canadas upon this subject.