UK, House of Commons, “Government of Canada”, vol 54, cols 710-761 (29 May 1840)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Government of Canada“, vol 54 (1840), cols 710-761.
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GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Lord J. Russell moved the order of the day for going into Committee on the Canada Government Bill.
On the question that the Speaker do leave the chair,
Mr. Pakington rose, under feelings of greater anxiety and embarrassment than he had ever before experienced, to oppose the bill. Deeply sensible of the great difficulty and importance of the subject, he approached it solely through a paramount sense of public duty. He was not prepared to say, that at no future period the union of the Canadas might be practicable, but that at present such a step was both dangerous and impolitic. He should not, perhaps, have thought of adopting the course he was now about to take respecting the noble Lord’s bill, had he not found, upon investigating the subject, that the views he entertained upon it were supported by some of the greatest and most illustrious statesmen that had ever adorned that House or done honour to the country, and by, if not all, a very large majority of those public officers, who, at various times, up to the present time, and under the present Administration, had held authority in the Canadas. In stating his views to the House, he would not be tempted to deviate into any lengthened comments upon the history of Canada during the last few years, or to dwell upon the various causes which led to the rebellion in that country—a rebellion which had created so much distraction and disturbance in Canada, as now rendered it imperative upon the Imperial Parliament to interfere to settle the affairs
of that country. He would not infuse into his remarks more of party feeling than was unavoidable, for he did not approach the subject in any party spirit; but he could not avoid saying, that that rebellion was mainly to be attributed to the bad policy of her Majesty’s Government. Had it not been for their false system of conciliation, their long-continued system of depressing the loyal, and encouraging the democratic and republican factions in that country—had it not been for the bad policy generally which her Majesty’s Government had adopted in Canada—the rebellion, in his opinion, would not have occurred, and the distracted state of the country which followed it, would not now call for the interference of the Imperial Legislature.
Entertaining these opinions, it could not be a matter of surprise, that he should view with suspicion and with distrust any measure brought forward by the Government for the settlement of those difficulties which had resulted from their own acts, and for putting an end to those disturbances which their own bad policy had created. At the same time, he must take leave to say, that in regard to this measure, he did not mean to impute bad faith or insincerity to the Government. He believed that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, in introducing this bill, had acted in perfect good faith, and that the noble Lord was persuaded of the necessity and of the policy of the measure.
He the more particularly wished to make that statement, because some persons contended, that the Canadas had arrived at that period when they ought no longer to be held as colonies—when they ought to be allowed to separate themselves from the mother country, and to establish themselves in independence; and because those who entertained these views considered that this bill would tend to effect that separation, and, therefore, contended, that it ought to be passed. He did not believe that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, entertained such opinions, or that he was actuated by such an insincere and hollow policy. He did not believe that the noble Lord had introduced this bill with any such views, and he was most ready to admit, that the noble Lord was actuated by the same feelings on this subject as he was himself, and that he believed this measure calculated to effect the objects which he and every sincere lover of his country must desire to see
effected. In legislating upon this subject, the great objects which ought to be kept in view, were, in his opinion, simply these: —In the first place, it was their duty to legislate for the internal happiness and welfare of the Canadas; and, in the second place, it was their duty to legislate for the maintenance of the connexion which existed between Canada and the mother country. There was another object which I they ought also to keep in view, and in regard to which he hoped he might add, that the noble Lord would not differ with him in opinion, and that was, that their attention ought especially to be directed to promote the happiness and the welfare of the loyal and attached subjects of Upper Canada.
In legislating for the Canadas these were the three objects which he thought ought to be especially considered, and he must say, that after mature deliberation, he had been obliged to come to the conclusion, that this bill of the Government would not effect one of these objects, but that, on the contrary, it would be fatal to each and all of them. His first objection to the bill of the Government was founded on the enormous geographical extent of Canada. It was with him doubtful whether it was possible to govern with advantage so large a country by means of one Executive and of one Legislature. Was the House aware that the length of Canada was not less than 1,500, 1,100, and 1,200 miles? Did they reflect that the extent of Canada was nearly as great as that of China—a country which had a population of upwards of 300,000,000?
The length of Canada from east to west was nearly as great as that of the United States from south to north. The length of the boundary line of Canada was not less than 1,500 miles. Now, let him refer the House to the disposition which the people of the United States had shown on recent occasions to avail themselves of every disturbance which took place in Canada to destroy the connexion which existed between that colony and England; and he would then ask, whether it could be considered wise or politic to allow a country of such extent, and so near to a rival nation, to be exposed to those attempts, and to be left with only one Executive for its government? He could not think that such would be a politic course, and for himself he believed that it would be wiser to divide Canada into three, and to have for the administration of
its affairs three governments, rather than unite the provinces under one executive and one Legislature. But there was one other fact in connexion with this part of the subject to which he wished to call attention. For one half of the year the different parts of Canada were almost inaccessible to each other, and the communication betwixt them was almost completely interrupted. The lakes were frozen over, as well as the roads broken up, and if there was to be only one legislature, the members, in many instances, would be unable to attend. Disturbances, too, might break out in the distant parts of the country, and if there was but one executive, the greatest difficulties would be felt in carrying into effect the measures necessary for their suppression.
On this part of the subject he begged to refer to an authority whose opinions he was sure would be received with deference and respect on both sides of the House. He alluded to Chief Justice Robinson. In the pamphlet which Chief Justice Robinson had published, and in which he strongly protested against the union of the two provinces, it was said— No person who, like myself, has been for nearly thirty years traversing annually a large portion of Upper Canada, can possibly persuade himself that the great ends of civil government—safety and convenience—can be reasonably provided for under such an arrangement. If it be attempted, the change cannot last. The inconveniences to which it would give rise could scarcely be overstated. That was strong language; but, in addition to the testimony of Chief Justice Robinson, he would beg to remind the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies of a despatch of August, 1839, from Lord Seaton, in which the union of the provinces was not less emphatically condemned. In a despatch dated August 19, 1839, Lord Seaton said— I should further recommend that the governor or viceroy be empowered to appoint a deputy-governor to reside at Toronto, and form an executive council to transact the business of the districts to the westward of Midland District, under special instructions from the governor or viceroy. He would not enter upon the question whether the plan thus recommended by Lord Seaton was or was not an inconvenient one, but from what that noble Lord had thus expressed to the Government,
he contended that he was at liberty to draw the inference that in the opinion of Lord Seaton the greatest inconvenience would arise, in consequence of the enormous geographical extent of Canada, if that country was united under one government. He believed there was not a parallel in the history of the world of one colony of such an extent existing under one executive. He believed, that with the exception of Russia and China, there was not an independent kingdom of such an extent ruled by one executive as the colony of Canada would be were it united under one government. He thought, therefore, that the House ought to pause and to consider the matter well before it gave its sanction to this bill of the Government, by which the two provinces of Canada were to be united. It was impossible to overrate the importance of the question on which they had to decide. That question was, whether, looking to the amount of the population of the colony, and comparing the numbers of the two races by which Canada was inhabited, and whether, remembering the feelings by which those races were actuated, and the recent events which had taken place, and by which the colony was still distracted, and whether, considering the nature of this bill, it were possible a union (effected as was proposed) could, under all those circumstances, be conducive to the welfare, the happiness, and the prosperity of the people. Could they, under all those circumstances, expect to have an united legislature so constituted as to be able to carry on the government of the colony with advantage to Canada, and in such a manner as to maintain unimpaired the connexion of the colony with the mother country? That was the question on which they had to decide, and a more important one could not engage their attention. In considering this part of the subject, he was sure the House would permit him to refer to the high authority of Mr. Pitt. In 1791, when Mr. Pitt was advocating the separation of the two provinces of Canada, which the Government now proposed once more to reunite, that great statesman in one of his speeches said— If the province were not divided, there would be only one House of Assembly, and, there being two parties, if those parties should be equal, or nearly equal, in the Assembly, it would be the source of perpetual faction. If
one of the parties should be much stronger than the other, the other might justly complain that they were oppressed. Mr. Pitt had contemplated both branches of the alternative, and had shown, that whether one party predominated in the legislature over the other, or whether the parties were nearly balanced, the result would be equally at variance with the peace and prosperity of the colony. Let him remind the House, that the language of Mr. Pitt was far more applicable to the present times than to the times in which it was uttered. It was far more applicable to the existing state of parties in Canada than it was to the state of parties when the Act of 1791 was passed. Mr. Pitt had shown a remarkable foresight in the speech to which he had alluded, for his remarks were more applicable to the present time than to the days in which he spoke. Mr. Pitt had contemplated a future period when the British population would have greatly increased. In another part of his speech that great man said— He believed there was such a rooted opposition of interests, that if there was a constitution consisting of a House of Assembly in which the parties might be nearly balanced, the consequence, at least for a long series of years, would be a great degree of animosity and confusion. Such were the opinions of Mr. Pitt, and he hoped the House would next allow him to refer to the authority of Mr. Burke, whose language was still more applicable to the present state of things than even that of Mr. Pitt.
Mr. Burke said— An attempt to join people dissimilar in law, language, and manners, appeared to him highly absurd—to join, too, the conquerors and the conquered must give rise to much unpleasant feeling, and many invidious distinctions; he recommended that system of go-ment which tended to promote the good of the individual and the public, in opposition to that which attempted to methodize anarchy. Now, let him ask the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, whether he were not, by this bill, attempting to unite people dissimilar in law, dissimilar in language, and dissimilar in manners, an attempt which so high an authority as Mr. Burke had pronounced to be highly absurd? Was the noble Lord not attempting to join the conquerors and the conquered, and could the noble Lord expect,
if he was successful, that that union would not give rise to much unpleasant feeling? When Mr. Burke uttered the language he had quoted, he had not spoken immediately after a period in which the opposing races had been engaged in strife. He spoke thirty years after the conquest of Canada had been completed. But what was the state of things now? One party in Canada was now to be considered in the light of discomfited rebels, and it was not thirty years since the two races were engaged in the most desperate struggles. The blood which had been shed was hardly yet dry, the fires which had been lighted for the destruction of property were hardly quenched; and yet they were now, and so recently after those struggles, called upon by the noble Lord to unite the conquerors with the conquered. Let them look at the amount of population of each race, and he should take the numbers from the statement of the noble Lord opposite. The population of Canada amounted to 1,100,000, and of that number the minority of French Canadians was about 450,000. Keeping those numbers in view, he would call the attention of the House to the opinions which had been expressed by Lord Durham as to the character and feelings of that minority.
Before doing so, he wished, however, to state that he did not consider the authority of that noble Earl as one on which much confidence could be placed. He regretted the mission of the noble Earl to Canada, and he considered that mission unfortunate for Canada, unfortunate for England, and unfortunate also for the noble Earl himself. The report of the noble Lord he looked upon as containing a tissue of misrepresentations. That such was the case was not matter of opinion. It was the fact, for it had been refuted in every important particular to which it related, and he should, therefore, cite the authority of the noble Earl with caution. The only part of the report which was to be relied on was, he believed, that portion of it which spoke of the feelings of the two races in Canada. Before referring to the report, however, he wished to call attention to a despatch written by Lord Durham to the noble Lord opposite, and dated the 9th of August, 1838. In that despatch the noble Lord said— The first point to which I would draw your attention being one with which all others are more or less connected, is the existence of
a most bitter animosity between the Canadians and the British, not as two parties holding different opinions and seeking different objects in respect to government, but as different races engaged in a national contest.” (Again) —” And the sentiment of national animosity has been aggravated to the uttermost, on both sides, by that excessive inflammation of the passions which always attends upon bloodshed for such a cause. In the report, the noble Earl said— Nor do I exaggerate the inevitable constancy any more than the intensity of this animosity. Never again will the present generation of French Canadians yield a loyal submission to a British Government.
Never again will the English population tolerate the authority of a House of Assembly, in which the French shall possess, or even approximate to, a majority. Now, was this, he would ask, a true account of the feelings of the Canadians towards each other, or was it, like the rest of the report, utterly without foundation? For himself, he was disposed to think that it was a correct description of the feelings which existed; and, if it was a correct account of the feelings of the French Canadians, could it be just or politic, he would ask, to unite such a people as an incumbrance to the loyal subjects of Upper Canada? He sincerely trusted the House would not consent to such a union when it would only be productive of the bitterest animosities. The comparison of numbers, however, was, in his opinion, a fallacious test of the merits of the case, and it was one which ought not to be relied upon. The disaffected were not yet driven entirely from Upper Canada. Had the hon. Member for Kilkenny no friends still remaining in the colony? Before the recent disturbances, the hon. Member had many friends in Upper Canada, not a few of whom had run away from the province in order to avoid the most unpleasant of all sudden deaths.
But, notwithstanding that pacification, there were many persons in that province still opposed to “the baneful domination of the mother country.” On this point, he begged to refer the House to the authority of Sir George Arthur. In a despatch, dated the 2nd of July, 1839, Sir George Arthur said— I have all along informed her Majesty’s Government, that it is absurd to think of Upper Canada as containing a whole community of loyalists. There is a considerable section of persons who are disloyal to the core —reform is on their lips, but separation is in
their hearts. These people, having for the last two or three years made ‘a responsible government’ their watchword, are now extravagantly elated because the Earl of Durham has recommended that measure. Here was another proof of the truth of the character which he had given of Lord Durham’s report, which was still working out the greatest mischief in Canada. Let him ask, if any man could doubt that that minority of disloyal subjects to which Sir George Arthur alluded would return their representatives to a united legislature, or that those representatives would make common cause with the French Canadians, who were hostile to the connexion with the mother country? Could it be doubted that those representatives would unite with the representatives of the French race, and that they would ever be found ready to urge forward the most democratic measures?
In following out this particular line of argument, let him ask if there were not ample grounds for the dissatisfaction of that minority according to their particular views of the case? What were the grounds alleged for the rebellion which had so recently taken place in Canada? They were the following, and he would appeal to the hon. Member for Kilkenny for the correctness of his statement. The first complaint was the want of what they termed a responsible government. In the second place, they complained of the constitution of the Legislative Council, and demanded that it should be made elective. In the third place, they required that the total revenues of the colony should be placed under the control of the Legislature of the province. Now, was the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, prepared to grant those demands? No; the noble Lord, in a recent despatch, had refused every one of them. He had refused what was called a responsible government, or to place the whole revenues under the control of the Assembly, and by the present bill the noble Lord had refused to make the Legislative Council elective. No less a sum than 75,000l. per annum was put by this bill out of the control of the local legislature altogether. He gave the noble Lord great credit for withholding all these concessions. But would not the refusal produce its results in Canada; and would not the three old grounds of discontent be revived? He would not speculate on the dissatisfaction which existed in these colonies, but he would take the
House of Assembly to be reconstituted in this present year, and he would ask the noble Lord, whether there was any man alive who could be certain that the first House of Assembly convened under this bill would contain a majority in favour of British connexion. He believed it to be impossible for any man to take it on himself to speak with certainty upon this subject. Sir G. Arthur said, in a despatch dated the 15th of October, 1839, that The Republican party had become much revived of late, and that the loyal party were so jealous of any measure that would give an ascendancy to their opponents, that it was impossible to act with too great caution.
The country needed peace; and it was of great importance that a body of loyal emigrants should go over to Canada from this country, that so possession might be secured before important legislation began. There was one other authority with which he begged to fortify this position, and he entertained a deliberate opinion that he could refer to none that was entitled to greater weight in that House—he alluded to the authority of Sir Francis Head. Great as were the public services of Lord Seaton, he (Mr. Pakington) believed that the people of this country were mainly indebted to the great moral struggles of Sir Francis Head for the fact, that Canada was at this moment an integral portion of the British dominions. Sir Francis Head had all along expressed the strongest opposition to the project of uniting the two provinces — a project which he said he felt convinced would be attended with the most dangerous consequences. He would now call the attention of the House to two extracts from despatches lately transmitted by Mr. Poulett Thomson.
In the despatch with which the right hon. Gentleman sent over the Clergy Reserves’ Act to this country, he said, that To leave this question of the union of the provinces undetermined would be to add to the sources of discord already existing, a new element of strife; for among the various evils existing in Lower Canada there was one now wanting—namely, religious dissension. Again, in a very recent despatch, in which he sent over the ordinance respecting the seminary of St. Sulpice, he said — Hitherto the province has been free from religious dissensions, but I have observed with regret during the late discussions a spirit of intolerance which cannot fail, if continued, to have the worst effects,
Let him ask whether it were meant to add to the division of parties existing in Canada, a frightful source of religious discord? The great majority of the population of Lower Canada had been hitherto Catholic, while that of Upper Canada was Protestant. By the union of the two provinces, they would produce as nearly as possible, an equipoise, and thus introduce a certain source of animosity—of that bitter religious discord which, looking to the great wealth of the Catholic Church in Lower Canada, and to the comparative poverty of the Protestant Church in Upper Canada, as well as to the increase in the wealth of the Catholic Church in the lower province, arising from the recent ordinances connected with St. Sulpice, would probably lead to the utter destruction, and would at all events be productive of the utmost injury to the Protestant church in Canada. This was another grave consideration against the union of the two provinces. In confirmation of this view he would read the protest against the proposed measures which had been entered on the journals of the Legislative Council by the Bishop of Toronto. It was as follows:— Because the union places the Protestant population of both the Canadas under a Legislature virtually Roman Catholic, and with an injurious, unjust, and unconstitutional distinction—viz., that while the rights and temporalities of the Church of Rome are secured by law against all attempts from local authority, those of the Church of England are continually liable to be interfered with by the united Legislature.
This was the testimony of an individual of the highest character, and of long experience in that country, and no one was more competent to form an accurate opinion. He could not dismiss this subject without adverting to some of the arguments which had been adduced by the supporters of the measure. One of the noble Lord’s arguments was, the necessity of watching over the interests of the loyal British population of the lower province. No one was more alive to this consideration than he (Mr. Pakington) was; but still he contended that the interests of these individuals were identified with those of the province generally, and that whatever remedy Parliament might think proper to provide, the loyal inhabitants of the lower province would readily concur in. Another argument was, the alleged necessity of restoring the representative system. No one was
more anxious for this than he was. But, as its restoration at the present moment would be exceedingly dangerous, he held it to be their bounden duty to withhold it. Another most important point was the mode in which the Government distributed its patronage. Who was unacquainted with the gallantry of Captain Drew, exhibited at a most critical period? Yet he had been treated with utter neglect by the Government. As to the appointment of Mr. Robert Baldwin to the office of Solicitor-General, he would say nothing against that individual; but every one knew the position which he had occupied at the breaking out of the rebellion in Upper Canada. As he was opposed to the immediate restoration of the representative system, he might be told, that since he objected to this, he ought to point out some other course.
Now, he did not hesitate to state, that, in his opinion, the far better course would be to annex Montreal to the upper province, and to govern Canada according to the constitution of 1774 by the Governor and Council, not permanently, but until the English language shall have been learned, English laws adopted, and the population so far modified as to be prepared for a participation in the privileges of the British constitution. Many of those who were most conversant with the affairs of Canada were disposed to think it the best mode of meeting the case. He now came to that argument in favour of the union which had been more dwelt on than any other—namely, that the Canadians themselves were in favour of this project.
This had been urged during the brief discussion on the second reading of the bill. If the Canadians’ opinion had been so expressed, it would be, undoubtedly, entitled to great weight; but he did not believe that such was the fact. The petition which had been presented that evening by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, was signed by nearly 40,000 inhabitants of Lower Canada, and was against the project of union. In fact, he believed that the Lower Canadians were entirely opposed to this union. It was impossible to leave out of the calculation so important an element as this. But neither were the inhabitants of Upper Canada unanimously in favour of the union. He did not believe there was a shadow of a doubt that public opinion was greatly divided upon this subject in the upper
province. He would now turn to the feelings of the Legislature, because in the lower province no great weight could be attached to the opinions of the special council. At the time that they were consulted there was not more than one-half of them assembled, on account of the impracticable state of the country. Passing, then, to the Legislature of Upper Canada, the House of Assembly had now sat for upwards of four sessions: during every one of these sessions they had turned their attention to the subject of an union. In 1837 the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly concurred in a general address against this project.
The governor’s answer was: — Her Majesty’s Government does not consider the union of the two provinces a fit matter to be recommended to the consideration of Parliament. In 1838 the Legislative Council of Upper Canada again drew up a very able report deprecating the union; and the House of Assembly, also, he believed, drew up a similar report. In 1839 the subject was again taken into consideration by the House of Assembly, who agreed to the project under certain conditions. In 1840 they again consented to the union, and, the conditions having been rejected by her Majesty’s Government, they passed an address by a considerable majority, in which were laid down as the conditions the very same terms to which the Government had before refused to accede.
The first condition was, that the seat of government should be in the upper province. He must say, that the course which had been adopted by her Majesty’s Government in reference to this matter was neither ingenuous, wise, nor politic. They knew the importance which the House of Assembly in Upper Canada attached to this point, yet they cautiously avoided any mention of their intentions. He did think that he had a right to ask the noble Lord to state what was really the intention of her Majesty’s Government. Mr. P. Thomson had held out that the seat of Government might be one year in one province, and the next year in another. This was a system which it would be utterly impossible to carry into effect. Justice Robinson had said:— To remove the seat of government wholly from Upper Canada would not only be contrary to the declared sense of the legislature of that colony, but it would be laying the
foundation of certain discontent, and that to a degree that could hardly be exaggerated. If they insisted upon fixing the seat of government at Montreal, they would be withholding from Upper Canada the leading, condition from which its inhabitants had never departed. It was his opinion that grave doubts might be entertained whether Mr. Poulett Thomson had not availed himself of the means which his position as Governor-general gave him to obtain a forced consent to this proposed union from the legislature of Upper Canada. He thought that he was perfectly justified in saying that we could not consider the indication given by the legislature of that province as a proof of its voluntary assent to such a measure.
In proof of that position, he would not refer to the pamphlet of Sir F. Head, on which he had already expressed an opinion, but to the speech which had been delivered last year by an able and distinguished public officer of Upper Canada, Mr. Hagerman, on this subject. Speaking of the union of the two provinces, Mr. Hagerman then Attorney-general, said:— So strongly do I feel the fatal consequences of this measure, that were I permitted to approach my gracious Sovereign, I would on my bended knees implore her Majesty to withhold her assent from it. And yet, after that speech it now appeared that Mr. Hagerman felt it incumbent upon him to give his assistance by his vote to carry that union into effect. Mr. Sullivan had also made a speech last year against this union of the two legislatures; but this year he had discovered reasons which induced him to support it. What construction could he put upon facts like these, except that Mr. P. Thomson, as Governor-general, had used very strong measures to overcome the resistance which these gentlemen had intended to offer to this proposed union? He would merely remind the House, that Chief Justice Robinson in his pamphlet, the Bishop of Toronto in his protest, and Mr. Hagerman as a member of the colonial legislature, had all recorded their strong objections to this measure. He had now announced the grounds on which he objected to the measure proposed by her Majesty’s Government, and in consequence of which he felt it to be matter of duty to meet this motion with his most decided Opposition, He had endeavoured
to show that the geographical extent of Canada was so great, that it could neither be useful nor beneficial to govern the two provinces which composed it by a legislative union; he had endeavoured to show that the discordant materials which must meet in an united House of Assembly were so numerous, and so various, as to afford no reasonable expectation that the new Legislature could act harmoniously together; he had endeavoured to show that the religious effect of the union must create a fertile source of discord and animosity, and must ultimately be productive of great injury to the Protestant church in that country. He had endeavoured also to show that there was no adequate necessity for incurring the risk of so dangerous an experiment.
Under these feelings, if he stood alone, he should persist in his amendment, supported by a feeling of public duty honestly discharged, and by the satisfaction which he should ever derive from having recorded his opinion of dissent against a measure which he looked upon as the inevitable forerunner of discord and dismemberment. If on this subject he was in error, he had the consolation of knowing that he was in error with such great men as Pitt and Burke, and with some of the most competent and enlightened authorities that had ever been intrusted with the administration of Canada. He therefore called upon the House to pause before it gave its assent to a measure which he could not designate in any other language than that which he had already quoted from Burke,—namely, as a rash and dangerous attempt to methodize anarchy. The hon. Member concluded by moving as an amendment, that the House resolve itself into a committee on this bill on this day six months.
Mr. Gladstone concurring as he did in many points of the able speech which his hon. Friend, the Member for Droitwich had just delivered, and thinking, notwithstanding the opposition of those Gentlemen who were so clamorous for the division, that this subject had not met with all the attention which it deserved, and that the country was indebted to his hon. Friend for having done all in his power to obtain for it additional attention, and not being prepared to concur in his hon. Friend’s motion, but, on the other hand, feeling himself bound to support the motion proposed by her Majesty’s Government,
felt himself called upon to explain the reasons by which he was actuated in following the line which he had thus chalked out. If hon. Members were considering in private what measure would be most expedient for the settlement of the government of the Canadas, it might be susceptible of doubt whether the union of the two provinces was in the abstract the best measure that could be adopted. That question, however, was not then before the House. The question before it was a proposition for the union of the two provinces; and it came before the House backed by great authority both on this and on the other side of the water. It came before the House backed on the other side of the water by the concurrence, not only of the Special Council of Lower Canada—a body to which he was inclined to ascribe more weight than his hon. Friend seemed inclined to give it—but also of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada and of the House of Assembly of that province. On the other hand, he had read the pamphlet which Sir F. Head had addressed to the House of Lords on this subject; and he agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that the zeal, faithfulness, and ability, with which he had administered the government of Upper Canada, under circumstances of great difficulty, entitled his opinions to be heard with respect, and not to be received as they had been by a few individuals in that House—he did not allude to the noble Lord opposite, or any of his immediate supporters — with contemptuous cheers.
The opinion of Sir F. Head was, that the assent of the inhabitants of Upper Canada had been gained to this measure by the inducements which had been held out to them by her Majesty’s Government, and more particularly by the influence exercised by Mr. P. Thomson as Governor-general. He had himself no doubt that Mr. P. Thomson had exercised that influence, which Sir F. Head was accused of having exercised over the elections of 1836, to gain the support of the inhabitants to this union. He differed, however, on one point from his hon. Friend. On examining the records of Upper Canada, he could not find any proof that the assent of the council had been gained by the influence of Government. In looking, too, at the votes of the House of Assembly last year, he found that his hon. Friend had not been
quite accurate in the description which he had given of them. He saw that in one of its resolutions the House of Assembly had declared last year that it could not accede to the union of the two provinces, except on certain terms, which it considered to be indispensable. It then stated what those terms were, and it now turned out that they were the very terms now conceded by her Majesty’s Government. He must, therefore, think that this measure came to the House of Commons recommended by the vote of the Special Council in Upper Canada, and by the sanction and assent of the constitutional representatives of the people in Upper Canada. He had said before, that viewing this measure as an abstract measure, and speaking on it with hesitation and diffidence, and trembling whilst he touched the great interests involved in it, and using such lights as were in his power, he did not look upon it as the best measure that might have been produced. He thought that they could not anticipate from the Legislature which they were now providing for the united provinces, any long period of harmonious action in legislation. He was inclined to ascribe a great portion of the difficulties, but certainly not all the difficulties, which encumbered this part of the question, to the report of Lord Durham, and that not to the report of Lord Durham on the whole state of Canada, but on one specific point, which he would briefly mention.
He concluded that it was easy to anticipate that when the united Legislature assembled, “responsible government” would be the war-cry, in which the French Canadians, and the British Republicans in the upper province would cordially unite. That lesson had been read to the people of the Canadas, by the report of Lord Durham. Lord Durham had passed censure very liberally upon the acts of all his predecessors in the government of Canada. He wished that posterity might not see cause to pass a kindred censure on the administration of Lord Durham; and he said this frankly in the absence of Lord Durham, because he knew that the noble Lord would be ably represented in that House by his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard. Now, what was it that Lord Durham bad said on “responsible government?” He had treated it as a claim, the equity of which it was impossible to doubt. He had blamed the French representatives of Lowes
Canada for having directed their attention to objects comparatively unimportant, and had bestowed unqualified praise on the acuteness of the Liberal party in Upper Canada, because they had always maintained the necessity of having a responsible Government. Hon. Members must be aware that it was quite possible for him to quote largely from Lord Durham’s report on this subject.
In page 29 of that document, Lord Durham spoke of the control over the revenue, and of the attempts of the colonists to obtain a voice in the choice of those who were to superintend the destination of it. This was his language:— The powers for which the Assembly contended appear in both instances to be such as it was perfectly justified in demanding. It is difficult to conceive what could have been their theory of government, who imagined that in any colony of England, a body invested with the name and character of a representative Assembly, could be deprived of any of those powers which, in the opinion of Englishmen, are inherent in a popular legislature. And again Lord Durham said— The wisdom of adopting the true principle of representative government, and facilitating the management of public affairs, by intrusting it to the persons who have the confidence of the representative body, has never been recognized in the government of the North American colonies.
Lord Durham also said — The Reformers of Upper Canada paid little attention to the composition of the Legislative Council, and directed their exertions to obtaining such an alteration of the Executive Council as might have been obtained without any derangement of the constitutional balance of power; but they well knew, that if once they obtained possession of the Executive Council, and the higher offices of the province, the Legislative Council would soon be unable to offer any effectual resistance to their meditated reforms. He would now proceed to quote the authority of Lord Durham on another point—namely, on the importance of the question of the union of the two provinces to the securing a good and responsible government. In page 111, after recommending the union of the provinces, Lord Durham used this language:— But while I convince myself that such desirable ends would be secured by the legislative union of the two provinces, I am inclined to go further, and inquire whether all these objects would not more surely be attained
by extending this legislative union over all the British provinces in North America; and whether the advantages which I anticipate for two of them might not, and should not, in justice, be extended over all. Such an union would at once decisively settle the question of races; it would enable all the provinces to co-operate for all common purposes; and, above all, it would form a great and powerful people, possessing the means of securing good and responsible government for itself. Now, in a British House of Commons, where we were familiarized to the name and practice of responsible government, it might appear a strange thing for him to choose responsible government as a matter which he designated objectionable. In treating of responsible government as a matter unsuited to the condition of a colony, he was not advocating any doctrine peculiar to himself. Responsible government meant nothing more than an independent legislature. He was willing to be bound by the terms which the noble Lord had used in one of his recent despatches to the Governor of Canada; and in alluding to that despatch, he could not refrain from expressing his opinion, that the noble Lord had handled the subject of it with admirable good sense and clearness. The noble Lord had used this language — The power for which a Minister is responsible in England, is not his own power, but the power of the Crown, of which he is for the time the organ. It is obvious that the executive councillor of a colony is in a situation totally different. The governor under whom he serves, receives his orders from the Crown of England. But can the Colonial Council be the advisers of the Crown of England? Evidently not, for the Crown has other advisers for the same functions, and with superior authority. He admitted that the privilege which Parliament possessed in limiting the choice of ministers by the Crown was the security of every liberty which the people enjoyed. But if the Colonial Assembly possessed the same privilege, why was this called the Imperial Legislature? He recollected well a speech made by a right hon. Gentleman opposite, some years ago, on the motion for a repeal of the Union with Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said, that to talk of a permanent union between two countries each possessing an independent Legislature, was one of the most visionary ideas that ever entered the mind of man, and yet this self-same visionary idea was what the report of Lord Durham had
recommended as the best means of perpetuating the union between Great Britain and her colonies. What would be, and what had been, the effect of this recommendation? Before the mission of Lord Durham, “responsible Government” was the cry of the party in the Canadas hostile to British institutions. It was considered a mark of disaffection to British supremacy, and the British Government had always treated it as such. But Lord Durham now said, that this cry was not only compatible with British connexion, but that it was the best means of perpetuating it, and, therefore, under the cover of seeking the best means of perpetuating British connexion, he had no doubt that the disaffected inhabitants of Canada would attempt, and ultimately effect, their schemes for severing that connexion altogether.
Anticipating that we must not look for breathing time after this united Legislature was once constituted, and that we should be involved in angry feuds with the colony on the absorbing question of responsible Government, he was not over sanguine in anticipating advantage from the measure then before the House. But, he was bound to say, that he believed, that her Majesty’s Government had been actuated by honest and patriotic motives in proposing it, and he knew of no other plan which was not more open to objections even than the present. In his mind, it required far other grounds than those now stated to justify their interfering in the war of parties on colonial subjects. He would never consent to our taking such a course except on grounds of imperious duty. The only instance in which that course had been taken (and he now alluded to Jamaica, but without any intention of alluding to the success of the interference), was one in which, rightly or wrongly, it was believed by hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, that constitutional principle left them no option. But except such cases, he thought it most important, that in all our colonies, and especially in those of British North America, the House should present a united front, and when the difference between abstract plans was not very great, he thought large sacrifices should be made to preserve that united action. He was, therefore, fully prepared to vote for the project of the noble Lord, and though he thought, that in certain details it might be found susceptible of improvement in
the Committee, yet, even if it remained unaltered, he could not say, that he thought it ought to be rejected by the House. It appeared to him, that the problem of the relations between the North American provinces and this country was altogether one of the most difficult and delicate ever submitted to any Legislature, because the question they would have to determine in a thousand various forms, and which would continually recur upon them, was this—in what manner, and how long, shall we maintain a connexion between societies which, though still politically one, yet are not socially one, but of which the original elements differ in many most important particulars? No one could look at the colonial laws respecting succession and distribution of property, the habits and employments of the colonists, their feelings with regard to aristocracy, and the principles entertained respecting national religion throughout our North American provinces, and fail to see, that there are great differences, original and inherent, in the elements out of which society is composed, which must render exceedingly difficult the regulation and the maintenance of the union between a country essentially aristocratic in its feelings and principles, as he believed England to be, and countries in which some of the elements of society certainly seem to tend towards democracy as their final consummation and development. It seemed to him, that the maintenance of our connexion with the colonies was to be regarded rather as a matter of duty than one of advantage. He could understand much better the doctrine, that there was a duty incumbent on Great Britain with respect to the colonies, than the doctrine of those who said, that upon the mere balance of advantages, or as a case of political necessity, we should maintain the connexion. He thought, that so long as we retained the colonies as receptacles for our surplus population, we remained under strict obligation to provide for those who left our shores at least what semblance we could of British institutions, and a home as nearly as might be like that which emigrants had left, and to which they continued to retain a fond attachment. Upon this ground he should always be glad to see Parliament inclined to make large sacrifices for the purpose of maintaining the colonies as long as the
union with the mother country was approved of by the people of these colonies. But he conceived, that nothing could be more ridiculous, nothing could be more mistaken, than to suppose, that Great Britain had anything to gain by maintaining that union in opposition to the deliberate and permanent conviction of the people of the colonies themselves. Therefore he thought, that it should be a cardinal principle of our policy to regard the union between Great Britain and Canada, and her other American colonies, as dependent on the free will of both parties. He also thought it of great importance, that it should become thoroughly known and understood by the loyal people of those colonies, that we look to them as our fellow-labourers in the work of maintaining the present connexion, that they must not leave Parliament in the position of a mere imperial authority, imposing by force the yoke of British connexion on a reluctant population, but that they must be active and cordial co-operators, understanding that it is their part to contribute at least as much to the perpetuation of the union as Parliament could on its part. So long as the colonists testified their earnest desire to continue the connexion so gloriously evinced by the people of Upper Canada and other provinces, on the recent painful occasion of the rebellion, Parliament ought to grudge no efforts and no sacrifices for the purpose of maintaining the present relations; but that was the only essential condition on which the interference of Parliament should rest. He thought the chief practical difficulty which the executive Government would have to encounter, would be to determine between the real and permanent convictions of the people, and especially the well-informed part of the people, and those temporary clamours of a few, temporary delusions even of the many, of which the history of the colonies had not been without example, and the recurrence of which was, of course, a danger to be anticipated more or less in every society where there were popular institutions with a very extended franchise. It would also be a great problem of statesmanship at a future period, when those growing societies should have attained to such a degree of maturity as to be truly fit for self-government, to fix upon the period when the connexion with the parent state should be severed. But Parliament should make it distinctly known that they
would not consent to interpret the clamour of a minority into the expression of the permanent conviction of the well-affected part of the population, and they ought to tell the loyal and well-affected people, that they should be our co-operators in the work of maintaining the union, and that on them we should rely as much as upon ourselves. He hoped he had now sufficiently explained the grounds on which he should give his vote in favour of the plan brought forward by her Majesty’s Government. If there were any other project by which the difficulties that presented themselves to his mind could be evaded, then it might be his duty to resist the bill, but as there was no such plan, no other course was left to him. He was the more confirmed in it when he saw that such a person as Chief Justice Robinson, a man of long experience, of resolute character, and opposed in politics to the present Ministry, could offer in its stead nothing but a long series of alternatives, out of which he was unable to choose any one as best.
Combining other testimonies with this, the only result he could obtain was, that the case was one which did not admit of easy and conclusive solution, that a choice of difficulties was the only prospect open to Parliament. Preserving a temperate and conciliatory policy, with united action in Parliament, establishing in particular, a liberal system of government, making non-interference the rule, and interference the exception, we should maintain at the same time, with a firm hand, the supremacy of the British Legislature, and its right to assert that supremacy, as well as to determine the cases in which it should be asserted, recognising therefore the necessity of having an executive unity throughout all portions of the empire, and consequently repudiating as one of the shallowest of all possible delusions the doctrine of responsible government as connected with the perpetuation of the union.
Mr. C. Buller had some objections to the details of this bill, but as the hon. Member for Droitwich had brought forward the general question by opposing the principle of the bill, he might be permitted to say that to that principle he gave his most cordial support, and he believed that the bill generally was framed in so wise and judicious a manner as to secure to Canada the advantages of good government, with all the prospects of advantage
which might result from a union. He was glad when a great question, pregnant with the most important consequences to England, was brought before the House, that he could congratulate the House on the evidence of the honest determination of all parties to consider the question without reference to party interests, which was furnished by the speech of his hon. Friend who had just sat down. To be sure he must qualify the praise, as in duty bound, with regard to the compliments which the hon. Gentleman paid to Lord Durham, and those who acted with him.
He must say that the hon. Gentleman had allowed a little too much party phraseology and perhaps personal party feeling to interfere with the judgment which he pronounced on the report of Lord Durham. He did not wish to enter into the controversy on the great and difficult question of responsible government there—that controversy was not to be settled there. The arguments of Lord Durham had been stated at great length, and he thought his hon. Friend would agree with him, that they showed no want of care or of consistency, and that there was no want of earnestness in impressing them. The question could not be fully discussed in that House, but he would say he wished his hon. Friend had paid a little more attention to things, and less to words. If he did so he would find that after all there was no very great practical difference between the supporters of that doctrine and those by whom it was denounced in unequivocal language.
He believed that in his views he coincided with his noble friend Lord Durham. He was perfectly free, for his own part to say, that so far as practical results were concerned, he agreed as cordially in the despatch of the noble Lord, the present Secretary for the Colonies, as his hon. Friend opposite could possibly do. The Reformers of Upper Canada, who had been so much misrepresented—the Reformers of Nova Scotia—the popular party generally—the vast majority of the intelligent inhabitants of all the Colonies, had practically supported the doctrine of representative government long before Lord Durham approved of it; but when it was announced by him he never supposed that it could be affected by a change in positive law. Lord Durham merely announced the principle of responsible government, as that one on which the government of every country
having representative institutions must be conducted. Word it in what way they might, either boldly and intelligibly like Lord Durham, say that if you hope to have representative government work harmoniously, you must carry on the executive by those persons who have the confidence of the majority of the representatives, or involve the meaning in the unintelligible vagueness which he must charge against his hon. Friend, in talking of maintaining unity between the imperial and colonial governments, and at the same time preserving harmony between them; in either case they would come to the plain common sense truth, that if they wished to govern any colony peaceably, they must govern it on principles and by men approved of by the people of the colony, and that otherwise the colony would be a scene of interminable confusion and anarchy, such as had followed every attempt to work representation without a responsible executive.
Was he complaining, or did Lord Durham, in his report, complain of a system which had worked well? Did their presumption go so far as to find fault with institutions which produced perfect satisfaction, or to suggest improvements in colonial government, to bring it into accordance with any theory of government? On the contrary, Lord Durham said, that he did not find one government which worked well. He found in every one the hazard of collision between the executive and the representative, and he preferred to remove the evil by the same principle which common sense had led to the adoption of in England. He (Mr. Buller) had always said, that the union of the Canadas carried responsible government with it as a necessary consequence. It seemed to him to be indispensable, that if they collected the representatives of eleven hundred thousand people in an assembly, that they must necessarily exercise an influence over the executive government. It would be found necessary to bring the executive into harmony with the wishes of the people. In fact, responsible government, call it by what name they chose, was the necessary consequence of giving representative institutions to a large number of people. He need hardly advert to the denunciations which the hon. Member for Droitwich uttered against the report. Little argument, no proof, and great strength of language were the weapons which the hon. Gentleman employed. The hon.
Gentleman had complained of interruption from him. The only interruption was laughing when the hon. Gentleman delivered his opinions. He certainly thought, that when the hon. Gentleman came to denounce the arguments of a person occupying the position of Lord Durham, it would have been more in accordance with the modesty with which which he prefaced his observations—if in support of so much strong assertion he had attempted to offer something in the way of proof. His noble Friend’s report was condemned by the assertion that it had not met with the approval of the hon. Member for Droitwich; but his noble Friend might console himself that it had met with the approval of sensible men of both parties, and of the majority of the colonists, even without the seal of the hon. Member for Droitwich. The hon. Member thought, that danger would result from the plan proposed by the bill. He should have very little respect for the sense of a Minister, who should propound a plan for the settlement of the North American colonies, and venture to say, that there could be no danger in its adoption. With the present discord between the two races, the power opposed to the Government on the frontiers, it was perfectly absurd to suppose that any change could be made without danger. But when a person came forward to oppose a plan like this—a plan sanctioned by almost every one who had practically considered the subject, with the brilliant exception of Sir Francis Head—a plan which was at the same time approved of by the Legislature of Upper Canada, by her Majesty’s Government, and by the heads of the Opposition, he thought it incumbent on Gentlemen so opposing, to propose some plan free from danger. But the hon. Member for Droitwich had no plan but to keep up the present suspension of the constitution. Talk of the suspension of a popular government as compatible with a British population in Lower Canada‡ Immediately after the insurrection, and just when the British Government had protected them from the tyranny of the French race, the British population of Lower Canada hailed with gladness any measure, however arbitrary, that relieved them. But was it to be supposed, that that population would be contented to be governed by an arbitrary form of government? Would that population consent to have laws made for them, to
have taxes raised, and their money spent, without their having a voice in the choice of representatives? Whoever supposed so, knew very little of the character of that population. He had some experience of their character, and he must say, with the utmost respect for them as a British people, that a more high spirited, and in consequence a more turbulent British born people he never knew in his life. He should have very little respect for persons of the English race who, under a bad constitution, exhibited no discontent. Talk of such a people submitting to arbitrary government without discontent‡ Did those who held such notions know anything of the character of the population in the eastern townships of Lower Canada, or of what race they were sprung? He had seen a curious letter, showing the proportions in a population of 800 men, who volunteered from a frontier town. Two hundred were Americans who had crossed the frontier; two hundred were native Canadians, but of American origin; and all had relations in America. The greater part of the remainder had recently come from the mother country, 150 being Irish. Was it to be supposed, that such people would long consent to be ruled by a Government in which they had no representation?
He did not blame the present constitution of the Special Council. It was the lamentable consequence of the suspension of constitutional government. One practical evil of the Special Council was, that all power was necessarily-placed in the hands of a few inhabitants of Montreal, and of other towns, and there was no representation of the country population. Did they suppose that the inhabitants of the eastern townships would submit long to such an arrangement? There was one thing which would have a peculiar influence in preventing it. He meant the interference of the present Government with local affairs. There was not a road or a bridge in the eastern townships for which they had not to go to the Special Council. The vast inconvenience of that alone would be sufficient to make the present system unendurable. Let it be recollected, that events might be near which would render it of the utmost importance that England could rely on that population. She would receive no cooperation while the colony was governed by arbitrary force. But it was needless to argue against the continuance of arbitrary
government, since all parties agreed that it could not be maintained. It was certainly possible that in the united Legislature, the opponents of British connection might be in a majority. But if the opponents of British connection obtained a majority, upon what ground, with a majority of the representatives of the two Canadas opposed to British connection, could that connection be kept up? The hon. Gentleman had said, that he did not attach the slightest importance to the opinions of Lord Durham, and the only proof that he afforded that these opinions should not be respected was, that they did not agree with the opinions of the hon.
Gentleman himself, nor with those of Sir Francis Head. But then, when the hon. Gentleman discovered a matter in which Lord Durham’s opinion coincided with his own, he said that it was a point to which, on that account, they should pay the greatest attention. It had been said, that the French would never be reconciled to the British connection. He agreed so far in the opinion as this, that recent events had made such an impression on the present generation, that they could not calculate upon a cordial co-operation from them. He thought that so long as the French were in a majority in Lower Canada—so long as they indulged in the mischievous notion of a French nationality—so long they might calculate on an opposition from them to the Government.
But then he appealed to those who had a knowledge of the French under an arbitrary form of government—he meant the French accustomed to the old form of French despotism —he appealed to those who knew the character of the Canadians, whether it was not correct to say, that as there were no people more inclined to make a bad use of success, so there were no people that would succumb more quietly, when a majority declared against them? When they once showed to the Canadians a British majority, who spoke the English language in the united Assembly, they would find that, from that moment, the French would abandon all hopes of nationality, and the instant they abandoned it, he believed that the only fear would be, that they might become the too pliant instruments of Government, rather than be prepared to oppose it. This bill provided for the welfare and security of a majority of the British race. But then the hon. Gentleman apprehended that the French would
unite with the British against the supremacy of this country. He had seen no grounds for entertaining that apprehension. The past conduct of the British in Canada should be at least a defence for them against that imputation. But the simple argument was this—that every one who was favourable to the principle of responsibility in Government, must be an enemy to the British connexion. And in connexion with this assumption, he had heard language that ought not to have been used, applied to one most respectable gentleman. All such attacks, he affirmed, were the mere ebullitions of party misinformation on the subject. The hon. Gentleman opposite was the only one, with the exception of those connected with some two or three of the Toronto papers, who had ventured to make an attack on the character of Mr. Baldwin, the present Solicitor-general for Upper Canada.
Now, on this point, he reverted to Sir Francis Head’s pamphlet, not of this year—not that he held that he was bound to show that Sir Francis Head had any one consistent idea for two years; but then, when he came to speak of the character of others, it was right to say, that when Sir Francis Head, or others, sought to run down the character of Mr. Baldwin, and when Sir Francis Head lifted up his hands and eyes (meant in his pamphlet) against the appointment of Mr. Baldwin as Solicitor-general, then it was right to say, that it was only last year that Sir Francis Head had taken great pains to separate Mr. Baldwin (the son) from his father, Dr. Baldwin, and yet who was, he dared to say, a very respectable gentleman, although set down by Sir F. Head as very dangerous, because he had once known Mr. M’Kenzie, and was therefore supposed to be a participator in his schemes; but then as to Mr. Robert Baldwin, Sir F. Head declared that he was so moderate, and so unexceptionable a man, that he himself had put him into the Executive Council. Even of the whole party that were opposed to the family compact, it was universally admitted, that one of the most moderate and loyal was Mr. Robert Baldwin, and through the whole of the insurrection, and the troublous times that followed, not an aspersion was ever cast upon Mr. Robert Baldwin. The only fault to be found with him was this— that he was too sensitive, that he took alarm at the conduct of those with whom he had been
before acting, and, instead of remaining to set an example to others, withdrew from public life; and therefore his own influence did not produce the excellent consequences that might naturally have been expected from it. Then there was another argument used by the hon. Gentleman against the union;—it was this, that it was not desirable, from the relative proportion of Catholics and Protestants in the province. But he would tell them that let them use what arguments they pleased, they could not alter those numbers; and whatever attachment hon. Gentlemen might have to their own religion, he begged of them to let the Canadians settle this question amongst themselves—let them not fling the horrid bone of religious contention amidst a community to which hitherto it was but little known.
He entreated of the House not to introduce that topic amongst them—it was the only thing that could lead to disaffection, and he assured them that if they present this to the people of Canada as a religious question, they would put it in such a shape as would unite the people of Upper and Lower Canada against the British connection. If the union were to split upon that rock, it was a rock, which the folly of persons here would place in its way. He did not enter into all the details of this question, because it was impossible to prognosticate what would be the result of those details. There was, he had to remark, one great argument for the union, it would give a majority to the British population, it would constitute a legislature influenced by British feeling— it would create a general and a national spirit, and it would inspire the people with a confidence in the stability of their own institutions, and make them exert themselves for the maintenance of institutions of which they would feel proud. In no place had he ever seen a stronger feeling of nationality than in Canada—there pervaded throughout the strongest feelings of pride in their descent or connection with the British nation. From Nova Scotia to the extremity of Upper Canada, that feeling had been acted upon. It was a feeling that they ought to cherish, and it was a feeling on which they might rely. Instead, then, of acting as if they looked on such persons with suspicion, and by so doing, exciting their discontent, they ought to rely upon the nationality and loyalty of the Canadians of which they
had given proof—and not give way to suspicions that he believed to be wholly imaginary. He had to add, that the plan before the House was not that which Lord Durham had proposed, for instead of the union of the two provinces, his noble Friend had proposed to unite the British provinces altogether. He was sorry to say, that this view was so large and so novel, that the government were to be excused for not immediately adopting it. What had been proposed by his noble Friend was the best of two alternatives— and then, if it were not possible to do that, to unite the two Canadas. This, however, was now the only practical measure before the House. He believed that the uniting of the two provinces would be followed by the union of all the other provinces. When Lord Durham was in Canada, he was waited upon by delegates from the different colonies, who agreed with him on this subject; and if his noble Friend had been allowed to continue in Canada, he was sure he would have made great progress before now in that union. Thinking that the present measure would lead to that union, he hoped that the House would come to the decision of adopting it.
Mr. Hume said, as it was his intention to vote for going into committee, he would not trouble the House at length. He would state, however, that resolutions had emanated from every county in Upper Canada expressive of their approval of the union. He understood, indeed, that the majority of the people had agreed to the union, in the belief that Lord Durham’s Report, which held out the hope that a responsible Government would be conceded to them, would be adopted. Nine-tenths of the people of Upper Canada supported the union on that principle alone. He did not well understand the arguments of the hon. Member for Newark with respect to the governing power and responsibility divided between the colonies and the mother country. His complaint against the bill was, that it did not hold out that security to the popular branch of the Legislature, which had all along been promised. They were about to take from the people, by that bill, the management of their revenues. But he hoped in committee, the noble Lord would see the necessity of making an alteration on that point. There would be no security unless they gave to
the people of both provinces a governing power, nor would they be able to keep those colonies much longer, unless they conciliated their good will. The colonies had always been a source of patronage to the Crown, and the civil list proposed by the present bill would be the means of extending it. If the noble Lord expected to keep the people of Canada in a state of tutelage by the present bill, he assured him he would be disappointed. It was better, however, that the attempt, imperfect as it was, should be made; and he should vote for going into committee, in order that the bill should be made perfect.
Mr. Colquhoun said, the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had stated that if the Canadians were united, they would have a responsible Government. That was no very gratifying prospect for his side of the House. He would remind the hon. and learned Member, that Lord Durham had stated that a large section of the people in Lower Canada, namely, the French party, were filled with the deepest hatred towards the English nation. He would beg also to remind the House of a passage in Lord Durham’s report, in which, speaking of the Reformers of Upper Canada, he said, they had a great desire to assimilate their institutions to those of the United States. Many persons said this was a most partial report. He did not say that, but merely that he had heard a report of Lord Durham’s being partial to the Canadians.
But what said Sir G. Arthur?—that he had all along informed the Government the Reformers of Upper Canada were unfriendly to this country. Was that party inconsiderable? Sir G. Arthur said it was very considerable, and that he was desirous of a police to penetrate the intentions of this hostile party. What said Lord Seaton? That in Lower Canada responsible Government was the watchword of every rebel, and Sir G. Arthur said the same of the Reformers in Upper Canada. He put it to the hon. Member, if this were so, what would become of the harmony of the united Legislature? But as the noble Lord declared through Mr. P. Thomson he was not prepared to concede a responsible Government, it was plain he would not do so unless he were compelled to it—therefore the hon. Member appeared to him to be looking to that numerous party in the Canadas, who would force this responsible
Government. He took the hon. Member’s own admission, and drew from it the conclusion that they must be prepared for an event which would produce the severance of Canada from this country. There was another remark to which he would advert, namely, that all these important improvements in the province would be suspended if they established such a preponderating majority in the assembly, as he feared they would by this bill. His hon. Friend adverted to the feeling towards the province that was manifested in the bill. He had, some time ago, held some conversation with a member of a large mercantile house in Quebec, and had asked him what were the feelings of mercantile men with regard to the proposed union of the Canadas. His statement was, that they were decidedly favourable to the union, and on being asked on what grounds they were thus favourable, he stated, as the petition which Mr. P. Thomson had sent home, stated, that they did not pretend to enter largely into political questions, but they were told by Mr. P. Thomson, a great authority on commercial matters, that if they agreed to the proposed union, it would lead to increased emigration, increased investments, and the improvement of the rivers, roads, and canals, that he had held out them the hope of the whole chain of these magnificent lakes being thrown open to steam navigation, so as to supply them with the produce, not only of one soil, but of Michigan and the United States, and of the whole of that mighty range.
Some Hon. Members—Hear.
Mr. Colquhoun—If hon. Gentlemen would wait a few moments, they should hear the rebound. He entirely agreed with all this, but his question to the Gentleman, and which he now put to the House was this: What security had they for a stable Government? What security had they, during these wretched squabbles about responsible Governments and attempts at organic changes, which the hon. Member for Newark told them would infallibly result, that the whole strength of the province would not be engrossed by them? Then what became of the stability of Government—of commercial improvement? — They would have a majority in the united Assembly who were called Reformers, or men desirous of responsible government, but whom he called republicans, but whether so or not, who would act on the same principles they had hitherto acted on in the local Assemblies;
they would put together these two parties, the French party from Lower Canada, and the Reforming party in Upper Canada, and he asked what would they do on those questions on which commercial enterprise hung? What would they do with regard to feudal tenures and primogeniture, until they got rid of which no improvement would be possible in these provinces? It was known the French party would not agree to their removal, but then the Reforming party would. Were they sure of that?
Did they not know of compact alliances founded on the abandonment of certain principles to carry others into effect, or to keep certain persons in place? One part of the Reformed party in Upper Canada, were opposed to the law of primogeniture, while the others were in favour of it. Then could not terms be easily made between the two parties? “We will join you in destroying the law of primogeniture, and you shall join us in destroying feudal tenures? If the Government were sure of this, he hoped they would be provided for it. Now, what was the case with respect to emigration? There had been the strongest opposition both among the Reformers in Upper Canada, and among the French party against the introduction of emigrants in either province. Such was the state of the Legislative Council that they sought to place the Crown lands in Upper Canada under their own control, in order, as Sir Francis Head said, to purchase them cheap for themselves, and sell them again to others.
With regard to the roads, there were certain parties in Lower Canada who agreed in the construction of roads. Lord Durham said, there was the most profligate jobbing on this subject, and that the money voted for that purpose served only to line the pockets of the Commissioners, or their political partisans. He found a provision in the bill, which was one of the most atrocious instances of jobbing he had ever heard of. It was that which created a District Council, which would consist of about thirty members, who were to have power to assess lands at what rate and to what purpose they pleased. Who could tell what serious consequences might result from this? Would not the infallible result be that which had been asserted—to swell the fortunes of political partisans, while the roads would be neglected. And if the object of the Reformers was assimilation to the United States, it seemed to
him their natural course would be to obstruct all public improvements—to wear out all parties—to continue the struggle for a responsible Government between the assembly on the one side and the Government on the other, till all parties would agree at last, that it was the result of the baneful domination of the mother country, and desire to be separated from that which they supposed to be consequent on monarchical government, and take refuge in that which was first called responsible government, but would end in a republic aiming at last at complete severance from Great Britain.
He confessed it seemed to him infinitely wiser to continue to Upper Canada, the Representative Government which now belonged to it to continue Lower Canada, as it was till they had identified the people, and improved them by education, had altered the tenures, and repaired the roads, canals, and rivers, and made them sensible, by these great commercial advantages, of the benefits they derived from the mother country, which, if they acted wisely, would not take long; that it would be an infinitely better and more statesmanlike course, to press on these practical improvements under the present Government, which, though it was called despotism, was no more so than that which was practised in the East and West Indies, than to urge them into a state which the hon. Member for Liskeard called a responsible Government, and the hon. Member for Kilkenny one of strife and disunion, but which he (Mr. Colquhoun) could look forward to with no other feelings than those of apprehension and alarm.
Viscount Howick said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had given them a conversation which had taken place between himself and a gentleman, who seemed, he thought, much better to understand the condition of the colonies than did the hon. Gentleman. He wished the hon. Member had felt the force of the arguments he had so well repeated, because when he came to what he was pleased to call the rebound of the argument, he confessed he was at a loss to feel the force of it. The hon. Member had offered some reasons against the measure now before the House, and having done so had proceeded to lay before them a plan of his own. He thought the objection to it was simply this—that no man who had taken the trouble to read the
various papers which had been laid on the Table of the House could form any other opinion than that it was utterly and altogether impracticable. Neither Upper Canada nor Lower Canada would consent to the system of government the hon. Gentleman proposed. With respect to Upper Canada, he could not forget the existence of those differences which they were told continued to divide the people of the colony, and to induce them to seek union with the powerful republic near them. With respect to Lower Canada the case was still more striking.
The hon. Member for Liskeard stated the utter impossibility of procuring the people of Lower Canada to submit to the continuance of the form of government which now existed among them, and when the hon. Member asked why, if they called it a despotism, they allowed such a system to exist in the East and West Indies, the answer was, that the inhabitants of those countries in their present state were unfit for any other. With respect to the measure before the House, he wished to make a few observations. He concurred in much that had been said by the hon. Member for Newark, and it did not occur to him, that if they were to consider in the abstract what would be the most desirable system of government in Canada, the union of the provinces would be, that which he should prefer. He admitted, that there was considerable force in the main objection urged to that union—for instance, the great extent of territory was a considerable objection. He considered, that the difference of race also was an objection to the proposed union; but this he believed, that no system of government could be proposed for these provinces which was not liable to still greater objections. If the French Canadians had pursued a more temperate course, if they had not I broken out into absolute violence, if the unfortunate events of 1837 had not occurred, then he should have considered that this union of the provinces was not desirable, as being likely to force on the people of Lower Canada the adoption of British habits in a harsher manner than could be perhaps wished, Had the French Canadians, instead of having had recourse to measures of violence, trusted to the justice of the British Parliament, they would have saved themselves much suffering, and the future Government of the Colonies might have
been provided for in a manner less distasteful to them. But it was now too late; after what had occurred there was no mode of restoring constitutional government to the colony, except by the erection of an Assembly, in which the French race should be in a minority, and the only fair mode by which that result could be produced was the one proposed by the present bill. Both the hon. Member who had just sat down, and the hon. Member for Newark, had stated, that they anticipated great difficulty in carrying on the mode of Government proposed by the bill, because it went to establish responsible government. On that point, he differed from both the hon. Gentlemen. He had observed, that throughout these disputes, great inconveniences had arisen, and great dissentions been created from the unfortunate use of general words, without any clear definition being given of their meaning. This had been the case as regarded both parties in Canada, but the principles laid down in the recent dispatch by his noble Friend would, he thought, go far to put an end to that evil. If by responsible government it were meant, that the Executive Government of the colony should be directly responsible to the Colonial Assembly, he was of opinion that responsible government so defined would be incompatible with the maintenance of Colonial Government. But he believed, that if the Government at home, as well as the authorities in the colonies, were to pursue a system of protective government, guided by a conciliatory spirit, and a desire to consult the wishes of the people, then such a form of government would answer the object that those who were loudest in their clamours for a responsible government had in view.
The hon. Gentleman had said, that a great majority of the people, while they called for responsible government, were only anxious to throw off all connection with British Government. If the majority were desirous of throwing off the British connection, it would be impossible to carry on any government against the wishes of the great majority of the people, and even if it could be so carried on, it would not be desirable. If so large a majority were averse to any connection with this country, it was utterly unimportant what system of government we might establish there, or what sort of measure the House might pass; because, be that measure
what it might, the result must be the same, and connection between the two countries must inevitably cease. But if this were not the case—if the majority of the people of those colonies, although, perhaps they were desirous of going much farther in the introduction of democratic institutions than the hon. Member or himself, or the House generally might be inclined to approve, were yet anxious that the connection between the two countries might continue—in that case, he believed, that the connection would continue to the certain benefit of this country, and of the colonies themselves. In carrying on the Government of Canada we must be prepared to give them a government differing in many respects from that which was established among ourselves, and we must exhibit a disposition to go to great lengths for the purpose of conciliating the people of Canada. He was disposed to agree with the hon. Member for Newark in the distinction which he had drawn between the passing cry of the moment and the deliberate sense of the people. When the deliberate sense of the people was ascertained it ought not to be opposed—and if that feeling were in favour of a more democratic form of government, he saw no reason why in the management of their internal affairs, the wishes of the people should not be acceded to as long as they did not produce a clashing with the authority of this country.
He did not anticipate all the dangers from this measure which the hon. Member seemed to expect. It was bad policy when any portion of the people of a colony were desirous of any reform which we might deem it inexpedient to grant at once, to turn round upon them and say, you wish to separate yourselves from the mother country. When they imputed such ideas to persons who were asking for reform, it not unfrequently happened that the imputation itself was the cause of such persons ultimately entertaining the very ideas which, in the first instance, had been unjustly imputed to them. The fair mode of conducting such discussions was to patiently listen to the complaints of the colonists, to argue the point calmly with them, to state the objections to the proposed reforms; but let not either party impute motives to the other. Let the colony avoid accusing the Government of tyranny, and the Government avoid accusing the colony of the desire for separation. If colonial differences were
discussed in this temper, they would find very few but what might ultimately be settled in a satisfactory manner. He greatly rejoiced to see the sound principle of Government adopted by his right hon. Friend who was now the Governor-general of those provinces. He was glad he had not adopted the tone of the hon. Member for Droitwich, and excluded from office every person who held opinions of which he did not altogether approve. If he had done so, every Gentleman must admit that it would be impossible to continue the connexion with this country. He was inclined to advocate a general oblivion of the past, although with regard to the appointment in question, he believed the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard was perfectly correct, that the appointment of Mr. Baldwin was one which on no one principle could be disapproved of, but was an appointment which was perfectly just and fitting. He would not detain the House longer than to state that he entirely concurred in the bill of his noble Friend, which he anxiously hoped might pass into law, and from the speech of the hon. Member for Newark, he was happy to find that all parties concurred in a desire to bring this bill to a satisfactory termination, so as to put an end to those troubles which had too long afflicted that country.
Mr. O’Connell would only detain the House a few moments. His object was simply to protest against the bill. He would not wish to speak with anything like emphasis, but he protested against this bill because it contained two distinct principles of injustice—first, on the ground of the unequal representation of the people of Lower Canada as compared with the Upper Province. That portion which was the most populous had only the same share in the representation as that portion which was the least so. The second injustice of which he complained was a pecuniary one. Lower Canada was unencumbered. Now, by the proposed union, it was intended to spread the debt of Upper Canada, which was exclusively its own, over the entire of the united country. But the worst of all was, that they were about to do this without consulting the wishes of the people. It might be said that the Legislature of Upper Canada had consented, and so far they had the semblance of popular approval; but this was done at a most unfortunate
time. The country had not yet recovered from the insurrection into which it had been plunged—he believed solely by the folly and absurdity of Sir Francis Head. So far from the preservation of Canada being due to him, as had been said by the hon. Member for Droitwich, he believed, if Sir F. Head had not been as destitute of common sense as any man who ever filled a public situation, they would not have had any insurrection at all. With regard to Lower Canada, they had had no assent whatever, as this measure had been brought forward at a time when there was no Assembly representing the people in existence. He much deplored the folly and wickedness of the Lower Canadians when they were in the possession of the Legislature, to resort to arms and appear in treason against the Crown, and, by treason, against the country, by open insurrection.
The party who actually broke out into rebellion were deserving of the worst punishment; but the people were not all guilty, and he thought they had already been sufficiently punished by what they had suffered from that time to the present. He would briefly advert to Lord Durham’s report, which, after giving every possible virtue to the French Canadians, stating they were a mild and benevolent race, possessed of good qualities as men and as Christians, recommending that they should be swamped by the people of Upper Canada, and annihilated as a people. They had not been consulted on this proposition of the Government, and the petition which had been presented by the right hon. Gentleman that evening was the only effort made by them to get their opinion expressed to the House. The consequences must naturally be disaffection, and a weakening of the tie between the two countries. He would say, restore the Government of Lower Canada before you carry this bill any further. They did not know what the effect of doing justice might be. He believed that his objections to the bill would be re-echoed throughout Canada. All the Canadians wanted was good government. The soil and climate was the same as that of the United States; an imaginary line only separated the two countries, and yet on one side of that line an acre of land was worth 5d., and on the other side it was worth 10l. The acre of fivepenny land was aristocratical, the acre of 10l. land was under democratic institutions. On the aristocratic side of the
line was a desert, on the democratic a garden. Could they be surprised if the people, seeing those things were favourable to democratic institutions? Hon. Members talk of the dissension produced by differences of race and religion. On the other side of the line, the same differences existed without producing any dissensions. He would sit down protesting against the bill on the ground of its injustice.
Lord John Russell believed that the Government were under great obligations to the hon. Member for Droitwich, for having shown, on two occasions, that the decided sense of that House was in favour of the union of the provinces. On the first, occasion, the hon. Gentleman had refused to go at great length into the question, but had stated his general hostility to the measure, and in the course of the short debate which had ensued, the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, had declared his intention of voting for the union. On the present occasion, the hon. Gentleman had gone at greater length into the question, but he had not produced such an effect upon the House as would induce them to accede to his views—he had, on the contrary, produced a speech from the hon. Member for Newark, more entirely in accordance with the plans and views of the Government than even the speech of the right hon. Member for Tamworth on a former occasion. The chief opposition to the present bill, in addition to that of the hon. Gentleman, had proceeded from the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and he did not imagine that the hon. Gentleman opposite would concur in the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman on that subject. With regard to the first objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman, namely, that the representation was unequal, as compared with the population of the two provinces, his answer was that the representation was founded on the principle usually adopted on the American Continent, not the exact state of the population at the time the constitution was granted, but what it was likely to be in the course of a few years; because if this were not the case in a country possessed of large territory, and in which a considerable influx of people was likely to arrive—if it were not so based, the very injustice would be committed which it was wished to avoid. With regard to the debt, that debt had been incurred by Upper
Canada, at no gratuitous and unnecessary expense, or on charges for the sole benefit of Upper Canada; but in public works, which if continued from the upper province, so as to open a communication with the St. Lawrence, could not be considered for the sole benefit of Upper Canada or Lower Canada, but for the benefit of the united province. He would refer to the conversation narrated by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, as to the value of those works; and he agreed with his noble Friend, that that was the only part of the hon. Member’s speech in which he showed any acquaintance with the subject. The hon. Gentleman spoke with considerable ability, and he believed the only reason why he had not exhibited the same ability throughout in speaking on the subject, was, that the hon. Member had not studied it, nor paid any attention to it whatever. Had the hon. Member done so he would surely never have recommended the government of a portion of the continent of America in a manner suited only to a despotic government, and which would never be submitted to by Englishmen, who always, sooner or later, would, wherever they might be placed, insist on having the benefits of those institutions which they were used to have the benefit of at home. With regard to responsible government, having expressed himself upon that subject so decidedly on another occasion, he did not deem it necessary to say more about the subject at present. He would only say that when an Assembly considered that certain institutions and objects would be for the benefit of the country, and that these objects were not incompatible with imperial interests, that it must be considered a folly not to accede to their wishes rather than refuse them on account of any supposed incompatibility with their own peculiar notions. On the other hand, he never could admit that where the dignity of the Crown was concerned, and the interests of the country were involved, any opinion of a Colonial Assembly was to overbear the opinion of the united Parliament. He conceived that the proposed measure would lead to a general spirit of harmony and conciliation between the inhabitants of the two provinces. The hon. Member for Kilkenny, in his speech, had alluded to the events of 1837, he was surprised that the hon. Member was not by this time convinced that he had been mistaken in the views which he had advocated at
that period. It would be allowed, he thought, that it was desirable to keep up the connection between the Canadas and this country; but if the Government had yielded to the suggestions of the hon. Member for Kilkenny in 1837 — if they had allowed Mr. Papineau to govern in the lower province, and Mr. Mackenzie in the upper, he was persuaded that the connection to which he had alluded would be dissolved, and that the ties between the provinces and the mother country would immediately have been broken. It would not be necessary for him to enter into any argument on that subject, and he would say no more about it. He wished, however, to allude to the case of an individual whose name had been introduced in the course of the debate; he meant Mr. Baldwin, who had been placed in a very important situation by the present Governor-general of Canada. The Governor-general had transmitted an account of the gentleman in question, in which he stated that Mr. Baldwin’s sentiments, though popular, were perfectly compatible with principles of allegiance and devotion to the Crown. He would not detain the House any longer from going into committee, and he felt exceedingly rejoiced that on a subject which involved so many difficulties, and after so much discussion, and so many dangers, they should be in a condition which manifested so little excitement, and so complete an absence of party feeling. The noble Lord concluded by reading a passage from a despatch of Sir George Arthur, received a few weeks before, to the following effect:— There is a natural excitement felt here for the result of the union on the Clergy Reserves’ Bill; but there is otherwise no general excitement in the country, and the community at large seem more desirous of repose than of further agitation. I do not, therefore, know a more auspicious moment than the present for carrying the details of the union into effect, if that measure should be agreed to by the Imperial Legislature.
Mr. Ewart thought we ought to legislate for Canada, on the principle that she would one day become independent of the mother country. The more slight our control, the more firmly she would adhere to us. If we reckoned on her assistance, we must govern her gently.
House in Committee on the bill.
On Clause 4, Mr. Hume wished to know what security
there was that the Canadians would have a better Legislative Council now than they had before. This clause gave them none. He thought it would be advisable, even on the suggestion of the hon. Member for Liskeard, that a portion at least of the Council should be chosen by the people, as in Trinidad.
Lord J. Russell—In Trinidad there was no representative assembly, and therefore it was considered expedient to allow some members of the Council to be elected. With regard to the present proposal, it was made in accordance with the views of the present Governor-general, confirmed, as he said in one of his despatches, by all the authorities he could approach, both in the Upper and Lower Province, as well as by the opinion of Lord Seaton. He believed that the former differences between the Council and Assembly arose rather from an opposition of political opinions, than from the fact of the councillors being for life. No such dissensions would have taken place had the Council been nominated so as to include those only who agreed with the majority of the assembly.
Mr. C. Lushington said, it was with considerable hesitation he opposed the exclusion of any fellow subjects from the enjoyment of political rights and dignities, but he felt bound, as a means of promoting the welfare of the state in general, and of the Canadas in particular, to press this proposal on the consideration of the committee. He grounded his motion on the entire inability of the clergy to discuss political questions with calmness, more particularly where the wealth of the Established Church was concerned. The clergy were notorious for incapacity as statesmen and legislators. The opinion of a celebrated historian (one of their great favourers and partisans) was too well known for him to quote at length; but he begged the committee to look to recent instances in which the weakness of the clergy as legislators, was manifested in the most deplorable manner. He was afraid that the illustrations which he should have to adduce would not be very palatable to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he should endeavour to make his statements in as inoffensive a manner as he could, consistently with giving the best effect to the strongest topics in support of his case. In 1838, a bill for the improvement of church discipline was introduced into another
place, which had the sanction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was concurred in by the majority of the Bishops, but which was exceedingly obnoxious to a right rev. Prelate, who was notorious for his political pugnacity. He declared, that if the bill passed into a law he would not obey it; that he would require his clergy to act according to the old law, which that bill abrogated; that if they disobeyed he would reprimand them, and that on the second offence he would excommunicate them.
The hon. Gentleman then quoted the speech, which was as follows:— He plainly and openly, then, declared, should this bill pass into a law, that if a clergyman in his diocese conducted himself criminally, he would call on that clergyman to answer to him for his actions, on his oath of canonical obedience. Over the clergyman’s civil state he had no power; but he had power over him in a spiritual point of view, ‘and,’ said the right rev. Prelate, ‘before his master and my master, I will remind this erring clergyman of his folly or his vice, I will reprimand him for it; and if he will not obey the remonstrance, I shall proceed to that sentence which this bill tells me I shall not pass —I shall proceed to excommunicate him.’ He never heard of a lay Lord proceeding that length. It was a declaration unprecedented in his view, except by the audacity of Thomas-à-Becket.
The question of Socialism was brought under consideration by the same right rev. Prelate, and the details dwelt upon were exceedingly disgusting and loathsome. It was said in a public journal, that the Lords defiled themselves by noticing it. Again, when the Canada Reserves’ Bill was brought in, the Prime Minister was not allowed to finish his description of it. He was interrupted by the highest ecclesiastical peer. Take another instance. The Clergy Reserves’ Bill was approved by all parties in Canada, except the ecclesiastical. The Bishop of Toronto, a member of the Legislative Assembly, after the measure passed, sent a declaratory address to his diocese, recommending petitions to be forwarded against the bill, for the mere purpose of stirring up religious animosity. The consequence was, that his conduct was not only reported to the home Government, but he received a severe reprimand from the Colonial Secretary. In 1837, the Bishop of Australia asked to be allowed to discontinue his attendance as a member of the Legislative Council, and
Lord Glenelg consented to his request. The Government having concurred in that representation, he did not see why they should oppose his motion, which was to the effect that no ecclesiastical person should be summoned as a member of the Legislative Council. The hon. Member concluded by moving the insertion of the word spiritual in the clause, which would attain his object.
Lord J. Russell could not agree to the proposition for an absolute exclusion of the clergy, however desirable it might be to enforce it under certain circumstances. He thought the speech of his hon. Friend, a revival of that which he made some years ago, in prefacing a motion respecting the House of Lords, rather than as one pertinent to the present discussion.
Mr. Hume—If the Government dispensed with the attendance of the Bishop in the Council of Australia, why not in that of Canada?
Sir C. Grey—In Australia there was but one Bishop, whereas in Canada there were several. It was best to leave the matter to the discretion of the Governor.
Lord J. Russell said, he wished to be understood as assenting to the principle, that it was not generally desirable to have clergymen in the Council, though he felt bound to oppose a motion of so sweeping a character as the present.
The Committee divided on the amendment: — Ayes 29; Noes 83: Majority 54.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Martin, J.|
|Broadley, H.||Moreton, hon. A. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Collier, J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Evans, G.||Stock, Dr.|
|Evans, W.||Style, Sir C.|
|Ewart, W.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Fielden, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Gisborne, T.||Warburton, H.|
|Hawes, B.||Ward, H. G.|
|Heathcote, J.||Williams, W.|
|Hector, C. J.||Yates, J. A.|
|Humphery, J.||Hume, J.|
|Lushington, rt. hon. S.||Lushington, C.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Adam, Admiral||Barry, G, S.|
|Aglionby, Major||Blair, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Blake, W. J.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Kemble, H.|
|Bowes, J.||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Brabazon, Visc.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Buller, C.||Lowther, hon. Colonel|
|Cavendish, hon. G.H.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T.B.|
|Chester, H.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Clay, W.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Cochrane, Sir T. J.||Morris, D.|
|Courtenay, P.||O’Brien, C.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||O’Brien, W. S.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Denison, W. J.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Dundas, D.||Parker, J.|
|Fort, J.||Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Glynne, Sir S. H.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Gordon, H.||Power, J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Rawdon, J. D.|
|Greene, T.||Rice, S. R.|
|Greenaway, C.||Rolleston, L.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir C.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Seymour, Lord|
|Hayter, W. G.||Shaw, right hon. F.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Sheppard, T.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Smith, R. V.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Hope, G. W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hoskins, K.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Howard, P. H.||Townley, R. G.|
|Howick, Viscount||Turner, E.|
|Hughes, W, B.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Hurt, F.||Wilde, Sir T.|
|Hint, W.||Wynn, right hn. C. W.|
|Ingham, R.||Wyse, T.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||TELLERS.|
|Jackson, Serjeant||Dalmeny, Lord|
|James, W.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
Clause ageed to.
On clause 10,
Viscount Howick said, that although he concurred with the bill generally, under all circumstances, he thought this a defective part. He had not spoken until the preceding clauses had passed, because he thought, under existing circumstances, it was impossible those clauses could be mended. The committee, however, must bear in mind the practical difficulties in the constitution of the Legislature. The councillors only held their offices during pleasure, and were removable by the Crown, therefore, they stood more in the situation of advisers to the Governor than in any other capacity. That was the original constitution. Of late it had, indeed, been varied, but he questioned whether beneficially so. It was impossible to create a Council of this kind, which should have the weight and importance that the House of Lords had in this country. It was an institution
entirely different, and was subject to this great inconvenience. It happened sometimes that when the Governor and the Assembly were agreed with respect to measures about to be passed, there was a difficulty with the Council, He had concurred in the clauses, because he thought a judicious selection of councillors would for some time prevent practical difficulties from arising. He had stated thus much, because, if he should be hereafter in Parliament when the question of altering this part of the act should arise, he did not wish to be considered bound by what should now pass to adhere to the present arrangement, which he considered purely provisional.
Mr. C Buller said, it would be impossible to propose any alteration that should have a chance of satisfying all parties.
Clause agreed to.
On clause 15 being proposed,
Mr. W. S. O’Brien protested against the clause as unjust, on the ground of the population of the two provinces being unequal, and equal representation being given.
Sir Robert Inglis said, that he objected to the bill, because an equal number of representatives was given to the upper and lower provinces. The hon. Member for Limerick wished to have a larger representation for Lower Canada, merely because the number of the population was greater. Now, he (Sir R. Inglis) held that population was not the just basis of representation, and looking to property, and, above all, looking to principle, he held that Upper Canada, being more nationally English, should have the preference.
Lord John Russell considered they were bound to give equal representation to each; province. The noble Lord then intimated, that within the last two days he had received a despatch from the Governor-general, suggesting the propriety of assigning two representatives to the county of Lincoln, and that in consequence of that despatch, he should on the report propose the division of the county in question into two ridings, each sending one member, and that no member should be given to the town of Niagara.
Mr. E. Ellice complained that the town population was not sufficiently represented. There were seventy-eight members in all, and it was proposed out of those only to give eight or nine to the towns.
It should be considered that those towns were the seats of the commercial interests of the colony, and that they were increasing in magnitude owing to the altered state of Canada. The towns, moreover, were likely to furnish a better set of representatives than the country; in them there was more intelligence and more union, and their representatives were as likely to be independent as those of the country. When the committee arrived at the seventeenth clause, he would throw out a suggestion, that Toronto and Kingston should each have two representatives instead of one, and he thought that Lower Canada should also have the same advantage, by giving to the two principal towns there two representatives each. He had no objection to the alteration in the county suggested by his noble Friend, but if his noble Friend proposed to add to the county constituency, he (Mr. Ellice) would propose to add Sherbrooke to the bill.
Mr. C. Buller was inclined to agree with the hon. Member with respect to giving additional representatives to Toronto and Kingston. He thought that the cities of Quebec and Montreal should have a fair representation in proportion to the amount of population.
Mr. Hume said, that if the large towns were to return two Members, he hoped they would be divided into wards.
Clause agreed to.
On Clause 27, proposing a qualification for members of the House of Assembly of 500l. in land.
Mr. Hume objected to the clause. In the first place he thought the qualification too high; in the next place, he did not see the necessity of any qualification at all.
Mr. Hawes suggested that the qualification should extend to personal property as well as to property in land.
Mr. Edward Ellice observed, that 500l. in land in the Canadas was not so high a qualification as the hon. Member for Kilkenny might imagine.
The Committee divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill:— Ayes 94; Noes 27:—Majority 67.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abercromby, hn. G.R.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Adam, Admiral||Barry, G. S.|
|Alston, R.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Bewes, T.||Maule, hon. F.|
|Blackburne, I.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Blair, J.||Morris, D.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||O’Brien, C.|
|Boldero, H. G.||O’Brien, W. S.|
|Broadley, H.||O’Ferrall, R. M.|
|Buller, C.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Cavendish, hn. G. H.||Parker, R. T.|
|Chalmers, P.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Clay, W.||Pigot, D. R.|
|Collier, J.||Plumptre, P.|
|Crompton, Sir S.||Ponsonby, C. F. A. C.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Power, J.|
|D’Eyncourt, right hn. C.T.||Price, Sir R.|
|Rawdon, J. D.|
|Divett, E.||Rice, E. R.|
|Duffield, T.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Du Pre, G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Ellice, right hon. E.||Rutherford, rt. hon. A.|
|Evans, G.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Evans, W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Gordon, R.||Sheppard, T.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir C.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.||Smith, R. V.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Somerville, Sir W.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Stanley, hon. W.|
|Heneage, E.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Henniker, Lord||Stock, Dr.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Style, Sir C.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Hodgson, R.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Hope, G. W.||Verner, Col.|
|Hoskins, K.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Howard, hon. E.G.G.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Howick, Viscount||Welby, G. E.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Wilde, Sir T.|
|Hurt, F.||Winnington, H.|
|Hutt, W.||Wood, C.|
|Ingham, R.||Wynn, rt. hn. C. W.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Wyse, T.|
|Jackson, Serjeant||Yates, J. A.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||TELLERS.|
|Maher, J.||Parker, J.|
|Martin, T. B.||Tufnell, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Marsland, H.|
|Aglionby, Major||Muntz, G. F.|
|Blake, W. J.||Pechell, Captain|
|Craig, W. G.||Redington, T. N.|
|Dundas, D.||Rundle, J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Strutt, E.|
|Ellis, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Ewart, W.||Thornely, F.|
|Gisborne, T.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Hawes, B.||Wakley, T.|
|Hayter, W. G.||White A.|
|Hector, C. J.||Williams, W.|
|Hutton, R.||Johnson, General|
|Langdale, hon. C.||Hume, J.|
Clause agreed to.
On Clause 40,
Mr. C. Buller approved of making the
English language the legal language of Canada, but there seemed to be something in the clause below the dignity of legislation on a great constitutional question. He did not see why a translation of papers for the use of Members, or of the law, might not be printed for the use of those who did not know the English language.
Lord John Russell said, that it was necessary that there should be a legal record of everything, and that was all that he required to be in the English language. He did not mean to prevent translations.
Viscount Howick thought, that much hardship might be imposed on the members of the legislature itself, who might not know the English language, if all printed documents for the use of the house were required to be in the English language, and he, therefore, earnestly requested his noble Friend to agree to the amendment.
The Solicitor-General said, that the clause related only to formal proceedings on matters of record, and did not interfere with interlocutory matters, nor did it appear to him to prevent any copy being translated into French for the use of members or others.
Sir C. Grey suggested that a proviso should be added that nothing in the clause should prevent the Legislature from ordering any translation to be made.
Sir R. H. Inglis observed, that this was the only clause that he would like to keep in the bill, because he was anxious as far as possible to introduce the English language, notions, and feelings. They ought to propagate the English language wherever there was English law.
Lord John Russell wished for time to consider the point, as he admitted that the words “and printed” were not in the bill sent from Canada.
Mr. Courtenay thought that the preservation of the English language was of great importance, for the difficulty of translating one legal language into another legal language was very great. Which was to be the original?—see the subtlety of the lawyers—see how they differed in construing one language, and what increased difficulties would there be if the lawyers were to construe languages.
Clause agreed to,
On Clause 51, and on the question that the blank be filled with 45,000l. for the purposes of the civil list.
Mr. Hume moved that the amount be 25,000l.
Viscount Howick supported the clause. The grant was not greater, in his opinion, than public policy demanded. He thought, however, that the salary of the Governor-General ought to be charged upon the consolidated fund rather than upon the revenues of the colony. As, on the one hand, it was desirable that the Governor-General should have a liberal salary, and, as on the other, it appeared that the colony were not desirous of giving it, it would be well to provide from the civil list such salaries as would ensure to the executive the means of performing its duty.
The Committee divided on the amendment:—Ayes 14: Noes 88;—Majority 74.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||O’Brien, W. S.|
|Aglionby, Major||Parker, R. T.|
|Bagge, W.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Wakley, T.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Wood, B.|
|Gisborne, T.||Hume, J.|
|Morris, D.||Williams, W.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abercromby, hn. G.R.||Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J.|
|Alston, R.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Archbold, R.||Hodgson, R.|
|Barron, H. W.||Hope, G. W.|
|Blackburne, I.||Hoskins, K.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Howard, hon. E. G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Howick, Viscount|
|Brownrigg, S.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Hurt, F.|
|Cavendish, hn. G. H.||Hutton, R.|
|Chalmers, P.||Ingham, R.|
|Courtenav, P.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Craig, W. G.||Jackson, Sergeant|
|Darby, G.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|D’Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.||Marsland, H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Martin, T. B.|
|Dundas, Sir R.||Melgund, Viscount|
|Dundas, D.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Murray, A.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Noel, hon. C. G.|
|Evans, G.||O’Ferrall, R. M.|
|Evans, W.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Pechell, Captain|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Pigot, D. R.|
|Gordon, R.||Ponsonby, C.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir C.||Price, Sir. R.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.||Rawdon, J. D.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Redington, T. N.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Rice, E. R.|
|Rushbrooke, Col.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Scholefield, J.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Verner, Col.|
|Shaw, right hon. F.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Sheppard, T.||White. A.|
|Smith, R. V.||Wilde, Sergeant|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Williams, W. A.|
|Stanley, hon. E, J.||Wood, C.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Wood, G. W.|
|Stuart, W. V.||Wyse, T.|
|Strutt, E.||Parker, J.|
|Style, Sir C.||Tuffnell, H.|
Clause agreed to.
Blank filled up with 45,000l. Bill passed through committee.
House resumed.—Bill as amended reported.