UK, House of Lords, “Government of Canada”, vol 55, cols 227-272 (30 June 1840)
By: UK (House of Lords)
Citation: UK, HL, “Government of Canada“, vol 55 (1840), cols 227-272.
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GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Viscount Melbourne said, it now became his duty to recommend to their Lordships’ calm and impartial consideration, a bill which had been sent up from the other House of Parliament, entitled “An Act to re-unite the Colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, and for the government of Canada.” This bill came to their Lordships, recommended by the assent of the Special Council of Lower Canada, of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, by the opinion of those who had lately exercised her Majesty’s authority in those provinces, by the authority of Lord Durham and the present Governor-General, and by the petitions which had been presented to their Lordships from very many of her Majesty’s subjects inhabiting those colonies. It also came to their Lordships, recommended by the approval of the other House of Parliament, where, although it did not pass entirely without objection or remonstrance, yet it passed with so little of either, that he thought he was entitled to say, that it had received, if not the unanimous, certainly the general approbation of that assembly.
It was on these grounds, and with this justification, that the bill was now submitted to the consideration of their Lordships. He would be trifling with their Lordships if he were to waste a single word in pressing on their Lordships’ attention the great importance of this measure. Its importance spoke for itself, it involved the commercial interests of many of their Lordships’ fellow-subjects in that part of the world to which it related; it involved the character and reputation of the Legislature, and what was, if possible, more serious still, the future well-being and prosperity of those great colonies, and the happiness of that large and increasing population which Divine Providence had placed under our care, and committed to our superintendence. Under these circumstances he was sure it was unnecessary for him to say a single word with respect to the paramount magnitude and importance of the measure which their Lordships had now to consider. A remarkable spectacle was certainly presented when we looked back upon the course of the history of this country with respect to its foreign and colonial dependencies. Ever since this country, said the noble Viscount,
has been ranked amongst civilised nations, ever since it has been united under one monarch, its natives have spread themselves far beyond their own limits, and either from accident or from the spirit of enterprise which has animated them, have possessed themselves of large external territories and provinces. “About the year 1450 terminated that great struggle which had been so long carried on for no less a prize than the crown of France, and by the disastrous close of that series of wars this country lost those extensive provinces which had come under its dominion, either from the accident of their belonging to those who became our sovereigns, or from acquisition by marriage or by conquest. Those possessions were then lost, but not long after, and before the conclusion of that century, the discovery of the continent which is significantly and not inappropriately termed the new world, opened a new scene to the energy and activity of this nation, which was soon improved by it.
At various times, and in various modes, were founded those great settlements which we possessed in North America, and which were severed from the dominion of this country about fifty years ago, and yet while that severance was taking place, there was growing up in another quarter of the globe, in the great peninsula of Asia, a vast and mighty empire, which rose into existence, and was fostered under strange and extraordinary circumstances, and still remains under the sway of Britain. This, my Lords, is unquestionably a most remarkable, a most elevating, a most splendid scene. Whether it were decreed by the inscrutable will of Divine Providence that those great territories in North America should be severed from us, it is not for me to discuss, but I am willing to remind your Lordships, that the principal reason why the severance was occasioned, the principal reason why you lost both France and America, was not the energy of the enemy with whom you had to contend, but your own internal discords and dissentions which unquestionably facilitated the course that events then seemed inclined to take. And therefore, my Lords, I beg most earnestly to recommend the present state of Canada, and this bill, which has been brought in to remedy the evils arising from it, to your calm, to your attentive, to your deliberate, to your impartial, to your generous, and to your
patriotic consideration.” He thought it was unnecessary, the noble Viscount continued, to recapitulate all the various events which had led to the position in which England now stood, relatively to those colonies which the bill was intended to unite. It was unnecessary for him either to give a description of the territories, or to enter into the history of the country, it was equally unnecessary to recapitulate the manner in which these countries were acquired, the first measures that had been taken for establishing a government in them, the Acts of 1774 and 1791, the fidelity of the colonists during the two great crises of the American contests, or to relate how, unfortunately, in later times, a spirit of alienation had sprung up among them, occasioning various contests between the governors and the legislatures, which terminated at last in that outbreak and insurrection which induced their Lordships to pass that act which became law in the year 1838, suspending the constitutional act of 1791, and establishing in Lower Canada a government by the authority of the governor and a special council.
These subjects had been so much discussed, and were so fully stated in the papers which were before their Lordships, to which their attention had been repeatedly and forcibly called, that they must be perfectly well aware of the nature of the position in which these countries now stood. It had been admitted by all parties, that the act of 1838 was nothing but a temporary provisional article of legislation. In its own nature it was nothing else, and it was necessarily the duty of those who exercised the Government both in those colonies and in the mother country to consider of the speediest means of putting an end to the state of things thus established. Ministers had been accused of great tardiness in not having done that before, and it seemed to be generally admitted, that it was absolutely incumbent on them to provide another mode of administering the Government. That was the position of the question, and it was to provide for the free and wise government of those countries that the bill had been sent up to their Lordships, of which he would now beg leave to state the provisions. It empowered her Majesty to authorise the governor of Lower Canada to declare the re-union of those provinces, which had been separated by the exercise of his Majesty’s
prerogative in the year 1791, which separation, with all the provisions consequent upon it, was sanctioned by the act of that year. It repealed so much of the Act of 1791 as carried into effect the separation of the provinces, and provided that such repeal should not apply to any of the acts formerly passed by the colonial legislatures, and that the government should be carried on till the union was declared. It provided, that the government should be administered hereafter by one Legislative Council, and one House of Assembly, leaving the constitution of the Legislative Council, with the exception of giving the power of resignation to the members, exactly as it stood at present. It enabled her Majesty to appoint a number of councillors, not less than twenty, to retain their offices for life, subject to forfeiture in case of the commission of a crime, in case of absence from the province, and other circumstances enumerated in the bill. It then proceeded to make such regulations as were necessary for appointing the Speaker and conducting the business of the legislature. It enacted, that in the Legislative Assembly of the province of Canada the parts of the said province shall, subject to the provisions thereinafter contained, be represented by an equal number of representatives elected from places and in the manner provided in the bill. The whole number at first recommended was seventy-six, that afterwards proposed in the House of Commons was seventy-eight; and eighty-four was the number fixed by the bill as it now stood—forty-two for the one province, and forty-two for the other.
The representation was to be based as nearly as possible upon the present division of the colonies, with no more alteration than was absolutely necessary to carry into effect some of the new arrangements for the election of representatives. The boundaries of the cities and towns were to be settled hereafter by the Governor; and a power, very necessary in a country which was still in a great measure unsettled, was given to the Legislative Council to alter those provisions hereafter. The bill left the election laws of the provinces very much the same as at present. The qualification for voting was left untouched, but the bill demanded of those who were to be elected to the Legislative Assembly that they should be possessed of a qualification amounting in value to 500l. The 231
place and time of holding Parliaments was left to the discretion of the Crown; the session was to be held every year, and the Legislative Assembly was to be chosen for four years. With respect to the allowance or disallowance of bills, that matter, he apprehended, was left pretty much as it stood at present. A power was given to the Governor, very necessary in a country which was of such great extent, to appoint one or more deputy-governors, who should exercise their authority in those parts of the country in which they were responsible. The proceedings of the legislature, both in the Legislative Council and in the House of Assembly, were hereafter to be conducted in the English language. Colonial taxation would continue very much in the same state as at present; the revenue of the two provinces was to be alike; taxes were to be alike. A permanent provision was to be made for the officers of Government and of law, and a civil list was fixed, determinable five years after the demise of the Crown. The hereditary rights and revenues of the Crown would be surrendered in return for this civil list. With respect to any surplus revenue that might remain after the discharge of the civil list, it was to be appropriated to the establishments of the provinces subject to this most important rule, which he understood had never hitherto been observed in any provincial assembly, that no money grant was to be originated except on the distinct recommendation and proposal of the Crown.
He trusted he had stated the provisions of the bill in such a way as to be intelligible. There were often questions of detail which had an effect and bearing so important on the working of a measure, as to cause a difference of opinion which might not otherwise have existed as to the principle, but he apprehended that there were none of such importance in the present bill. The main principle of the bill, and that which their Lordships would have to determine on the present occasion, was, that there should be a reunion of the two provinces. There were, however, some points which, considering their great importance, it might be necessary that he should bring under their Lordships’ consideration before he touched on the principle of the measure. And first as to the constitution of the Legislative Council. Their Lordships were well aware that this Legislative Council had been a subject of discussion
with respect to this colony for many years past—that it had been for a long time a great bone of contention—and that it had been a matter on which every kind of observation had been made, and which had proved the source of much discontent. Their Lordships would perhaps hear with surprise that all these discussions had terminated in a recommendation that this Legislative Council should be retained on the same footing on which it existed at present. It appeared to him that this decision had been come to on very sound and forcible grounds. He would not enter at present into the general discussion on this subject; he would only say, that it had attracted great attention in the year 1791, when the general principles of government were much discussed in all parts of Europe, under circumstances which warmed the feelings and excited the passions, and influenced the opinions of all men.
He was of opinion, that the government of a free community by one assembly was a matter almost impossible—at any rate it must be subject to great inconveniences, if not to great dangers; and if you were to have a popular government at all, he thought that you must have two houses of assembly, constituted in different ways and upon different principles, one of them not being subject to that popular control which he admitted to be useful to the other, and to be the spring of all good government. On these general grounds, he thought that those had come to a sound conclusion who had recommended the continuance of the Legislative Council in its present shape and form. It was impossible to read the report of Lord Durham, which, whatever opinion might be entertained as to some parts of it, must be admitted to be a very able and impartial view of the matter he was sent out to consider, and to state many truths respecting the condition of the Canadas in a very useful and powerful manner,—it was impossible, he repeated, to read the report of Lord Durham without being struck with the justness of his conclusions on this subject. What was it, then, that Lord Durham had said on the subject of the Legislative Council?— I am far from concurring in the censure which the Assembly and its advocates have attempted to cast on the acts of the Legislative Council. I have no hesitation in saying, that many of the bills which it is most severely
blamed for rejecting, were bills which it could not have passed without a dereliction of its duty to the constitution, the connexion with Great Britain, and the whole English population of the colony. If there is any censure to be passed on its general conduct, it is for having confined itself to the merely negative and defensive duties of a legislative body, for having too frequently contented itself with merely defeating objectionable methods of obtaining desirable ends, without completing its duty by proposing measures which would have achieved the good in view without the mixture of evil. The national animosities which pervaded the legislation of the Assembly, and its thorough want of legislative skill or respect for constitutional principles, rendered almost all its bills obnoxious to the objections made by the Legislative Council; and the serious evil which their enactment would have occasioned convinces me that the colony has reason to congratulate itself on the existence of an institution which possessed and used the power of stopping a course of legislation, that if successful, would have sacrificed every British interest, and overthrown every guarantee of order and national liberty.
It is not difficult for us to judge thus calmly of the respective merits of these distant parties; but it must have been a great and deep-rooted respect for the constitution and composition of the Legislative Council that could have induced the representatives of a great majority to submit with patience to the impediment thus placed in their way by a few individuals. Considering the feelings of Lord Durham and of those by whom his Lordship was followed on political subjects, he deemed the testimony thus borne to be strong testimony to the conduct and utility of this Assembly, and therefore hoping that the defects which existed, if any did exist, in the former constitution of the Legislative Council, and which impaired its authority, would be removed, he should contend before their Lordships, that it would be wise and prudent for them to continue the existence of the Legislative Council in these colonies. The future constitution of the House of Assembly he had already described to their Lordships. It might, and no doubt would, be observed, that they were giving an equal share of representation to a country the population of which was much smaller than that of the country to which it was about to be united. But the population of the upper province was not only continually on the increase, but was also a more opulent and energetic population. It was also impossible to frame a representative system entirely on the basis of population, and,
therefore, there were no grounds for objecting to the mode in which it was proposed to constitute the House of Assembly for the united provinces. With respect to the proposition for consolidating the debt of the two provinces, he must say, that the willingness with which it had been acceded to by both the province?, was a strong proof of the desire which they both entertained for the accomplishment of the union. Those who in Lower Canada had expressed their readiness to consent to it, took upon themselves a higher amount of debt than their share, and submitted themselves to a considerable pecuniary burden for the sake of the union. These were the principal points on which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships in the provisions of this bill. The main point, however, for their consideration was, whether it was wise, prudent, and expedient, to join these two provinces into one, and, to establish in them one central government. With respect to the authorities, he had only to observe, that Lord Durham had given his opinion very strongly in favour of the union of the two provinces. The opinion of Lord Durham went still further, for he recommended the union of all the British provinces in North America. That question their Lordships were not prepared to discuss that moment, and, therefore, it was unnecessary to dwell on it. A noble Lord whom he had then the pleasure of seeing seated on the cross bench, and who had administered the affairs of these provinces with the greatest prudence and energy, for which the country owed him an immense debt of obligation—that noble Lord, he knew, had given an opinion not much in favour of this measure. Yet, the authority of that noble Lord, as to the feelings of the inhabitants of both the Canadas on the subject of an union between them would be of great weight, he was sure, with their Lordships. That noble Lord (Lord Seaton, lately Sir John Colborne), in one of his dispatches had said— It is my intention to appoint ten additional members to the Special Council; and there is every reason to believe, that if the proposed increased number can be selected from the most influential persons in each district, the Special Council will be enabled to pass many important measures, which will afford general satisfaction, and be conducive to the welfare and future tranquillity of Lower Canada, with reference to the prospect of its union with the upper province. It is evidently desired by
the British portion of the population, that the union of the provinces should not be delayed. The French Canadians, who were strongly opposed to this change last year, are certainly by no means so adverse to it as they were; their opinion, probably, has been much influenced by the late insurrectionary movements. The Canadian party connected with the revolutionists express themselves decidedly favourable to the scheme of the union. In the upper province public opinion is much divided upon the subject; but I am persuaded most of the districts are looking forward to the union as a measure which will relieve them from their embarrassments, and prevent any interruption to their commercial undertakings. In a despatch, dated the 19th of August in the same year, the noble Lord had expressed a similar opinion— I still entertain no doubt that in the upper province the districts to the eastward of the river Trent and bay of Quinté are strongly in favour of measures being adopted for reuniting Upper and Lower Canada, and that the majority of the settlers to the westward of the midland district concur with them, although there are many of them altogether opposed to the project. In the lower province, I have already stated, that the population of British origin earnestly desire the union, and that the Canadian French population are not so adverse to the measure as they formerly were.
An opinion stronger than this as to the feelings of the people of the two Canadas on the subject of an union between them could not be quoted. He thought that their Lordships would agree with him that this opinion was of importance; for he readily admitted, that were this union repugnant to the feelings of the inhabitants of the Canadas, it would be most unwise to force it upon them. The present Governor-general, Mr. Thomson, went out with an opinion already formed in favour of the union, as he had been a Member of the Government which had recommended it. That opinion had since been confirmed by the feelings which he found prevailing there. He therefore said that the authority of those who had the best means of considering the subject were very strong in favour of this measure. He knew well that many objections might be urged against it. He knew, that it might be said that it was a large measure, and that it was unsuitable to the condition of the country. “Here,” it might be said, “is a country more than 1,000 miles long where all the chief positions are at a distance from each other, and that alone is unfavourable to an union between them.”
It might also be said, “Here are two countries, each speaking a different language, and professing a different religion, and the union of two such countries has never hitherto been successful.” Now, there were reasons to which he would not further allude in the present state of the two provinces, which completely overbalanced the principle contained in these two arguments and there was one great leading feature which made it advisable that the two provinces should be united together, namely their geographical position, and their situation along the banks of that great river which disembogued and emptied its world of waters into the great Atlantic ocean. The river St. Lawrence was the great point of union between these two provinces. There was an absolute necessity that Upper Canada should not be debarred from access to the sea.
There was also a necessity that the tolls on the river St. Lawrence should be levied by one and the same authority. These were always matters difficult of arrangement when the mouth of a river was in the possession of one nation, and its internal navigation in the possession of another; and it appeared to him that that consideration was in itself a very strong reason in support of the measure which had been introduced by her Majesty’s Government. He thought that the various reasons in support of this union had been well summed up in the luminous and powerful document from which he had already quoted some extracts:— The union of the two provinces would secure to Upper Canada the present great objects of its desire. All disputes as to the division or amount of the revenue would cease.
The surplus revenue of Lower Canada would supply the deficiency of that part of the upper province; and the province, thus placed beyond the possibility of locally jobbing the surplus revenue, which it cannot reduce, would, I think, gain as much by the arrangement as the province which would thus find a means of paying the interest of its debt. Indeed, it would be by no means unjust to place this burden on Lower Canada, inasmuch as the great public works for which the debt was contracted are as much the concern of one province as of the other. Nor is it to be supposed, that whatever may have been the mismanagement, in which a great part of the debt originated, the canals of Upper Canada will always be a source of loss, instead of profit. The completion of the projected and necessary line of public works would be promoted by such an union. The access to the sea would be secured to Upper Canada, The
saving of public money, which would be insured by the union of various establishments in the two provinces would supply the means of conducting the general Government on a more efficient scale than it has yet been carried on; and the responsibility of the Executive would be secured by the increased weight which the representative body of the united province would bring to bear on the Imperial Government and Legislature. That passage stated very clearly and forcibly the reasons why this union would be a wise and expedient measure. But whether this union, abstractedly considered, would with a country which had yet to be settled, be the wisest and the most expedient that could be devised, was scarcely worth discussion, for circumstances were sometimes more powerful than reasons, opinions, theories, and systems.
Circumstances might compel statesmen to adopt some measures, which, though not the best, abstractedly, were still the best under their influence and cogency. He, therefore, called upon their Lordships to consider what course was the best to take under the pressure of existing circumstances. The state of feeling in these provinces had been well described in a despatch addressed to Lord John Russell from the Governor-general of Canada, dated the 18th of November, 1839:— All parties look with extreme dissatisfaction at the present slate of government. Those of British origin, attached by feeling and education to a constitutional form of Government, although they acquiesced at the time in the establishment of arbitrary power as a refuge from a yet worse despotism, submit with impatience to its continuance, and regret the loss, through no fault of their own, of what they consider as their birthright. Those of the French Canadians who remained loyal to their Sovereign, and true to British connection share the same feelings. Whilst among those who are less well affected or more easily deceived, the suspension of all constitutional rights affords to reckless and unprincipled agitators a constant topic of excitement. All parties, therefore, without exception, demand a change. On the nature of that change there exists undoubtedly some difference of opinion. In a country so lately convulsed, and where passions are still so much excited, extreme opinions cannot but exist, and accordingly while some persons advocate an immediate return to the former constitution of this province, others propose either the entire exclusion from political privileges of all of French origin, or the partial dismemberment of the province, with the view of conferring on one portion a representative system, while maintaining in the
other a despotism. I have observed, however, that the advocates of these widely different opinions have generally admitted them to be their aspirations rather than measures which could practically be adopted, and have been unable to suggest any course, except the union, by which that at which they aim—namely, constitutional government for themselves—could be permanently and safely established. He implored their Lordships to look at the state of the province of Lower Canada. The British population, it appeared, were fearing the restoration of the constitution of 1791. The French Canadians were hoping for it. Under such circumstances, could there be peace, or anything like peace, in that province? Could they expect things to settle down into tranquillity when such feelings were prevalent? Could their Lordships restore the constitution of 1791? He was sure that they would unanimously answer “No.” Their Lordships, then, could not remain as they now were with respect to the province of Lower Canada. Could they remain as they now were in reference to the province of Upper Canada?
Could they remain as they now were in reference to this, their own country? Was there not impatience in the House of Commons? Was there not impatience even among their Lordships? It was not long since they had passed a bill suspending the constitution of Lower Canada, but they showed at the same time what their feelings were, by clogging that bill with numerous restrictions, which rendered it quite ineffectual for the purposes for which it was framed. He thought at the time, that those restrictions were the most absurd that could be invented, because, if Parliament were prepared to pass that bill at all, it ought to have passed it with the necessary powers.
His opinion on that point might be worth nothing; but of this he was certain, that neither Parliament, nor the country, would be satisfied with the continuance of the present state of affairs in Canada. He doubted whether they could continue the law suspending the constitution of Lower Canada, supposing that they should be of opinion that it would be wise and expedient to continue the suspension. Then the only course left to their Lordships was, to accede to the proposition which was now made by her Majesty’s Government, which was assented to in both the provinces, and which was, unquestionably, agreeable to the English majority of those provinces, It
was on these grounds that the course proposed for adoption was in itself wise and good—that it was not liable to great objection—and that it was the only course which could be taken to settle a question which imperiously pressed for settlement—it was on these grounds, he repeated, that he now called upon their Lordships to take this bill into consideration, and if they adopted it, he trusted that it would lay the foundation for a wise an enlightened, a liberal, and a free government in those provinces.
The Duke of Wellington said, that having had referred to his judgment the question of the defence of these provinces, and having been of necessity engaged in the consideration of their constitution, their resources, their acts, and their proceedings, and having the highest regard for the people which inhabited them, and the sincerest wish to secure for them a permanent union with this country, and feeling how important that union was, to the power, the influence, and the prosperity of the British empire, he felt most anxious upon this measure, and he therefore intreated their Lordships to give him their attention for a few minutes.
He would first make a few observations as to the last point in the address of the noble Viscount, where he stated that it was absolutely necessary that they should come to a decision upon this question, and finally settle the government of these provinces. Now, this was exactly the point upon which he differed with the noble Lord opposite. In his opinion, the time was not come at which they could with safety make that settlement. He felt quite sure that they had not got the better of the temper which had occasioned the insurrection in these provinces, nor of the desire to encourage it in a neighbouring country. His wish, therefore, was, to entreat the noble Viscount to take full time to consider this important question before he hurried it through Parliament. Indeed, he felt quite sure, that the bill would require some considerable alterations in the Committee of their Lordships’ House. He thought that they would require to summon the Legislature of Upper Canada again; and he felt convinced that they would find, before the Session was over, that they must take it on their own responsibility, to suspend this measure to some future period. He felt the greatest anxiety upon this subject He knew that
he had the misfortune to differ upon this subject from many in that House, and in other places, for whose judgment he entertained the highest respect; but he had observed in this country, for some length of time, a growing desire to get rid of their North American dominions—a desire that they should become republics. This desire prevailed amongst a very large party in this country. He was aware that there were also others, for whom he entertained the highest respect, who felt a desire that the separation should take place, tranquilly if possible, but that, at all events, it should take place. In his opinion, these Gentlemen were mistaken. It was his decided opinion that, considering the resources and the power of these colonies, this country would sustain a loss indeed, if they separated from her.
For this reason, he implored the noble Lords opposite, not to adopt this arrangement, if they were not quite certain—which he was sure they could not be—that it would work for the good government of these colonies, and unless they ascertained in the first instance what would be the real working of the system which they were about to establish. Let it be remembered, that, if they could not sustain their power in the Canadas, they must necessarily lose all their dominions in North America. Considering the variety of these possessions, by whom they were inhabited, the great differences of religious belief which prevailed amongst them—the differences, in short, of every description—they could be considered, in point of fact, as having no one common interest whatsoever, except the great river, to which the noble Viscount had adverted. But it should not be forgotten that the advantage of the exclusive enjoyment of this river depended on Great Britain.
What Upper Canada stood most in need of, was a good and secure communication with the mouth of the St. Lawrence, which would secure to it the means of enjoying the full advantages of that river, together with the lakes communicating with it. As to the union of these two provinces, this was a subject which had been under the consideration of Parliament since 1822. The proposition had been rejected in another place by the influence of the Opposition of that day. Another decision had been lately come to, upon that question by the Government of the noble Viscount opposite. Notwithstanding that,
in a dispatch from Lord Glenelg to Sir F. Head, the noble Lord had said, that “this was a subject which was not at all in the contemplation of her Majesty’s Government—a subject, in fact, not to be thought of at all. This was in 1836. The report of the committee had recommended, not the union of the Canadas, but the union of the five provinces, including all her Majesty’s dominions in North America. The union of the two provinces had been mentioned for the first time in her Majesty’s message sent to Parliament in the course of the last Session, to which, at first, nothing more than the usual answer was returned—that the subject would be taken into consideration when it was submitted to Parliament.
The measure was not submitted to their Lordships, but to the other House, and was withdrawn by her Majesty’s Government. The question had never been submitted to the noble Lord, the Governor of Lower Canada, nor to Sir G. Arthur, the Governor of Upper Canada. In truth, the latter had declared, in more places than one of his despatches, his satisfaction that the subject was not disposed of in the last Session of Parliament. This opinion of Sir G. Arthur’s, was recorded in the month of September or October last; and since that time they had had still further accounts of disturbances on the frontier, while every where there appeared to have been agitation of the question of “responsible local government,” rather than of the project of union. If that question had not been imprudently mooted by the Government, they would have heard very little of the union. By far the greater number of the addresses (as their Lordships would readily perceive by reference) had relation to the question of “responsible local Government,” and not to the question of union. Her Majesty’s Government sent out the present Governor-General of Lower Canada to submit this measure to the consideration of the province. He stated, in very clear terms, the conditions upon which this union should be based. On the 16th of October a new system of administering the patronage of the colonial Government was adopted—a system which appeared to him the most extraordinary procedure which had ever been adopted by any public men, under any circumstances whatever. The very man who was known as the advocate of “responsible local Government” was the
man who was sent out to carry this measure into effect. At the present moment the cry in Canada was, “The flag of Lord Durham and responsible Government.” It was he whose name was universally used throughout those colonies as the patron of local responsible government. What happened on the arrival of this despatch of the 16th of October? If they were to have the opinion of the Legislature of Upper Canada, it should be their real opinion; it should be the opinion of that Legislature which enabled Sir Francis Head to get the better of insurrection—that Legislature whose Speaker aided Sir Francis Head in commanding the troops; these should be the men whose opinions should be taken as to the union of the two provinces—men who having put down insurrection in their own province, afterwards marched into the adjoining province, and enabled the noble Lord who was now seated on the cross bench to check rebellion, and driveforth a foreign banditti, which had come to burn and plunder within her Majesty’s dominions.
The despatch of the 16th of October went out, and an immediate change took place in the whole tone of society there. A few days after its publication, “Responsible Local Government” became the universal cry. It flew like wildfire over both provinces, and was adopted in the addresses from the district of Glengarry, where it had never been heard before. He had suspected how this matter was; and wished to have the answers of the governors of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward’s Island, to this despatch. From those answers, which had just been laid upon their Lordships’ table, he found that precisely the same thing had occurred in these provinces, and in Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward’s Island an elective council was very distinctly demanded, in accordance with the terms of the despatch of the Secretary of State. He would say, that the Secretary of State, who was supposed to know what was passing in the province, in writing such a despatch was certainly mistaken. Wherever it went, it had been received and responded to by an address for local responsible government, and it was in that way that they had received answers on the subject of the union. The two subjects were considered together, but their Lordships might depend, that local responsible government and the sovereignty of Great Britain were completely incompatible.
That was not his opinion alone—it was the opinion also of the noble Lord, the author of the despatch of the 16th of October, and of another despatch, written with the greatest ability, on this very subject of local responsible government. Such, then, was the state of this question as it stood at present. Their Lordships had not yet got the opinion in regard to this measure of the Legislature of Upper Canada—of that Legislature which had co-operated with this country so effectually in the war of 1812, and which by its exertions had carried this country through a period of great difficulty and danger, and had by its vigorous efforts raised a monument to its honour equal to that which any nation of the world could boast of. It was impossible for him to express the strong sense which he entertained of the exertions which this body had made on that occasion—exertions which had enabled them to defend their own country and to sustain the military honour of Great Britain against the whole power of the United States. The opinion of such a body was entitled to great weight with their Lordships, but it was not their opinion which they had got. If any opinion had been obtained at all, it was only after the publication of the extraordinary despatch of the Secretary of State to which he had called their Lordships’ attention. But, although such was the real state of the case, the noble Viscount had, notwithstanding, stated, that they had the opinion of that body in favour of the union. They had no such opinion. The noble Viscount had also said, that they had the opinion of the noble Lord the late Governor-general of Canada on the principle of a union. That noble Lord, however, had not given his opinion on the abstract principle of a union. What the noble Lord had done was only what he had done over and over again—that was to say, he had given his assent to carrying into effect the details of a measure on which he entertained strong feelings of disapprobation, or in regard to which he, at all events, felt a strong reluctance. He had often opposed measures in that House as strongly as he could, and had afterwards been an active party in carrying into execution all such details as were considered necessary for giving them effect. Such was the course he had pursued on the question of the abolition of slavery. He had opposed
that measure to the utmost of his power on every stage of its progress, but he had afterwards, when it had become law, supported as actively as any of their Lordships all those subsidiary measures which were considered necessary to carry into execution in the West Indies that great measure which Parliament, in opposition to his opinion, had declared to be expedient. Indeed, he had invariably followed such a course; and the noble Lord the late Governor-general of Canada had done nothing more than what he himself had always done under similar circumstances. The noble Lord had merely done what he was bound in duty to do as Governor-general and Commander-in-Chief in Canada—that was to say, the Government having intimated its intention to propose a measure for the union of the two provinces, the noble Lord had given his opinion as to the details, which were in his opinion necessary to give it effect. Such was the course which the noble Lord had taken, and he for one regretted that the noble Lord had not given his opinion on the abstract principle of the bill. The noble Lord was now present in that House, and he would no doubt consider whether it would be right to express his opinion upon that principle. For himself, feeling strongly for the honour and for the advantage and prosperity of this country, and being most particularly desirous not to run the chance of losing those valuable provinces, he would entreat the Government to pause before going further with this measure.
He would implore the Government to consider the matter well, and to reflect and see whether it was absolutely necessary to incur the risk of losing those provinces by the adoption of this measure, if such was likely to be its effect. And if there was a risk, he would entreat the Government and their Lordships not to adopt this measure, for they might depend that other alternatives could be devised which would answer the ends which all had in view, and which would at least be safe, and enable them to secure the upper province, and if they did secure that province, they would have the whole. The Government by this measure was going to form a legislature composed of members of three or four different nations, differing in language and religion. In Canada there were twelve different Christian persuasions. Besides, the Roman
Catholics, and members of those different persuasions would meet in the Assembly which would be formed under this bill; and could they expect that, under such circumstances, there would be harmony? In that Assembly, where their talents would acquire for them power and influence, those different persuasions would meet, and their Lordships would remember that it was such influence which led to the misfortunes in which Canada had been recently plunged, which had overthrown the constitution in Lower Canada, and which would have overthrown the Government in Upper Canada but for the activity of the governor of that province, and the great ability with which he had conducted its affairs, and but for the loyalty also, he must say, of the Legislature of the upper province. The activity and ability of the governor, joined to the loyally of the Legislature and of the people, saved the province at that time; but he would beg the Government not to rely on the same chances occurring if such an assembly was formed as would be established under the provisions of this bill. He had now stated his opinions on this measure to their Lordships, and he did entreat their Lordships to attend to the advice of the noble Viscount opposite, and to consider well the state in which this question stood, and to act in regard to it with calmness and deliberation.
He would not recommend their Lordships not to allow the bill to go into Committee, there to give its provisions the fullest consideration for the bill must be amended, at least so far as to call together the Assembly of Upper Canada again, but, he sincerely hoped their Lordships would consider the whole measure well, before they adopted or rejected it. He had formed his opinion after long consideration. He had fully considered the resources of Canada, and the action of such governments as these. He knew well that such provinces were sources of great influence, power, and prosperity to this country, and he should deeply lament if the country should suffer the disgrace of losing them. He could not, after all the consideration he had been able to give the subject, vote for this bill, but their Lordships in deciding on it must look to other opinions, to the opinions of other Members of that House, and of the other House of Parliament, and not to his only. If their Lordships did so, and if they fully and impartially considered
this measure, then, if the Government thought proper still to take the responsibility of it upon themselves, in God’s name let them do so, but, for himself he must say “not content” to this bill.
The Earl of Gosford observed, that with respect to this measure, he had no hesitation in expressing his opinion that it was a dangerous experiment. He was fully aware of the misapprehensions which had gone abroad with respect to the state of Canada, and he had reason to know that many even of their Lordships were impressed with the idea that the French Canadians were in a state of organized resistance to the dominion of this country and to British connexion. By whomsoever those opinions might be entertained, he for one must consider them fallacious. He did not believe, that in any of the colonies of this country, her Majesty had more loyal subjects than the French population of Lower Canada.
If the few which were misled were to be considered as the population, there might be some reason for holding such opinions, but such would be a very unfair conclusion. He could assert from his own knowledge, that the great body of the French Canadians were loyal and disposed to maintain the connexion with this country. Rebellion and revolution were hateful crimes, but let them see what were the causes of the late outbreak. One single district alone on the banks of the Richelieu river had been affected with discontent. That district had been the scene of the most violently contested elections, and bitter animosities had in consequence sprung up. On the north bank of the St. Lawrence only one outrage had taken place—he should rather call it an improper assembly—and that had happened in the county of the Lake of Two Mountains, which had also been the scene of strongly contested elections. In all the upper districts the greatest tranquillity had prevailed, and, at the end of three weeks, the whole country had been tranquillized. With respect to the measure before the House, who could say it was just? They gave to a population of 200,000 or 300,000 the same representation which was given to a population of 700,000 or 800,000. Besides that injustice, they were to saddle the debt of the upper province upon the lower province, which had no debt of its own. Could any thing be more arbitrary and unfair
than such a proceeding? The debt of the upper province, it ought to be remembered, was contracted without the sanction of this country, and yet they were going to saddle it upon a country which had no debt of its own. He was convinced that a great mass of the people were hostile to a union upon such principles. He was not, however, one of those who thought that the period would never arrive when a union of the two provinces could be effected, but he had no hesitation in saying that that period had not yet arrived. He thought, that by a firm and impartial government much good would be effected, and under such a government circumstances might arise which would render an union safe.
If the government provided for by the 31st George 3d were established, he had no doubt that such a government would work satisfactorily; and, if such a government were established, care ought to be taken that the two provinces adopted every measure possible for the improvement of the navigation and of the communications between the upper and lower province. He thought, that with such measures, and with a fair and impartial government, trade and commerce, and prosperity and happiness, would be the results, and under such circumstances they might bring the people together with some chance of happiness and harmony. Under present circumstances, however, the case was very different, and he feared, that union at present would not produce harmony or satisfaction. These were the sentiments which he had long entertained, and which had been confirmed by the communications he had had with Canada.
He had received a letter from a leading member of the Assembly of Lower Canada in reference to this subject of a union, to which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships. In that letter, it was stated that a union of the upper and lower province, so as to throw the French population into a minority in the united Legislature, would be a ticklish operation. It was added, that a certain part of the representatives of the upper province would join the representatives of the French population, and that was a fact well entitled to the consideration of their Lordships. He opposed this measure upon two grounds—first, because he thought it founded on misrepresentation; and, secondly, independent of that, because he thought it most unjust.
Lord Ellenbrough entirely agreed in every word that had fallen from the noble Duke. He was convinced that in passing this bill, Parliament would be committing an act tending to the separation of our North American colonies. And yet, in what position were their Lordships placed? In the House of Commons this great question had not attracted so much attention as it deserved; not one-fourth of that House had voted upon the question whether the bill should pass. There were for it 156, and against it 6, and that being the case, it was impossible not to say, that the general feeling of the House of Commons was favourable to this measure. The absence of some Members and the votes of those who were present made that perfectly clear. They had likewise the approval of this measure by the majority of the Assembly of Upper Canada, who, however, took some time to arrive at the conclusions they did.
But then they were told, and they saw, that the result of this measure would be to make them the lords of Lower Canada, and they were also told that one of its conditions was, that the surplus of the revenues of Lower Canada should go to the payment of their debt. It was not, then, surprising that men not being practical statesmen should have been led away by such delusive expectations as these. There might have existed in their minds, as he regretted to say there existed but too much in the minds of the people of this country, the remains of those feelings of hostility towards the people of Lower Canada, which were the consequence of the events of the last few years; and he felt that their Lordships were not now called upon to legislate in that temper of fairness and impartiality in which alone measures of this important character ought to be adopted. This being the state of things, what hope had he, if he joined the noble Duke in saying “not content” to this measure, that its rejection this year would be a final rejection? If he thought it would be a final rejection, no one would more heartily join in voting against the second reading of the bill. He feared, however, that it would not. He feared that the power of the House of Commons, the feeling of the people of this country, and the misled opinion of a large portion of the people of Upper Canada, would inevitably press the question again before the House, and Ministers being unanimous
in its favour, would drive them, however reluctant, into an acquiescence. It must be recollected, that in order to preserve a hold over our North American colonies, we must present an undivided front to them. We could not, with a division between the two Houses of Parliament, attempt to govern those colonies. What, then, must be the effect of their Lordships rejecting this bill, if that rejection were not to be final? The Assembly of Upper Canada must be again called together, and the question must be again discussed under increased feelings of excitement and exasperation. But what also would be the condition of the feelings of the people of Lower Canada, if one House of Parliament were to decree their subjugation, and the other to interfere for their freedom and protection? When the vicinity of the United States and the feelings of the people there were taken into consideration, there was reason to suppose that a state of things would arise which would make legislation hereafter very difficult, and prevent them from coming to a conclusion that might conduce to the happiness, the prosperity, and the peace of those colonies. He was opposed to this measure on the grounds stated by the noble Duke. He was opposed to it because he thought it the most imprudent, the most fraudulent, and the most unjust, measure that had ever been proposed to Parliament, and at the same time the most erroneous, because not one of the objects it professed would practically be effected by it.
What practically was the object of the bill? It was not in reality to give liberal institutions to Lower Canada; but under the pretence of giving them, to disfranchise the French population. It had for its object to exchange for the Governor-general and representative of the Queen, the Government of the majority of the people of Upper Canada, and to plunge into eternal disfranchisement a whole people on account of an offence committed two years ago by a portion of that people. This he considered grossly unjust. And in what manner was it unjust? In that which h.nl been stigmatised by Lord Durham as an electoral fraud. Look at the stale of representation as proposed for Lower Canada. One little county containing 2,300 inhabitants was to return one Member; six counties, containing a population of 33,000, returning English representatives now, were to return six Members; and
two French counties, which were to be consolidated, and contained a population of 30,000, were only to return one Member. The moment the Assembly met under such a system as that, there must be one universal declaration of indignation on the part of the French population at having been defrauded of their fair share of representation. That which was unjust could not be good, and what could be more unjust than to give to the people of Lower Canada the government of the people of Upper Canada? Nothing could be worse than the Government which it was proposed to give to the people of Lower Canada. They were to be placed under the hereditary and absolute domination of the very people who had always shown themselves most hostile to them. Whatever the offences of a portion of the Lower Canadians might have been, they were entitled, both as a matter of justice and as a matter of policy, to good government; but he greatly feared that the legislation of the English majority would be guided by neither fairness nor impartiality when applied to the affairs of the Lower Canadians. But even supposing that the proposed new government were all men of equal purity, and impartiality, and ability, only think of the difficulties with which they would have to contend.
It was impossible for any man who had read the papers on the table, and who had confidence in them, to come to any other conclusion than this: that for the purpose of giving an equally good government to the Upper and to the Lower Province of Canada, it was essential that the government should be, in all its principles and all its details, absolutely different the one from the other. In Lower Canada, it was impossible, for instance, consistently with the ends of justice, to have trial by jury; and equally so to have unpaid magistrates or municipal institutions. There was not the maturity for’ these things. Could the House expect from an assembly, constituted as he had described, that all feelings of personal and national animosity would be dismissed from their minds? and above all, when they looked to give good government to Lower Canada by such an assembly, the thing was impossible. Even by means of the agency of impartial statesmen, the thing would be most difficult; but when they proposed to leave the matter to persons who did not take statesman-like
views, and who it was impossible could be impartial, he contended that, if the bill passed, it could not produce the effects that the noble Viscount had stated. He was of opinion, that it was the duty of her Majesty’s Ministers, before they brought forward this bill, or any measure of the kind, to have taken proper steps to ensure its success in the colony; and, above all, to secure a due and impartial administration of justice. Indeed, Lord Glenelg directly stated this, and even Lord Durham, in one of his despatches, declared, that the first thing to be done was to ensure a pure administration of justice. When, therefore, noble Lords proceeded to talk of theoretic forms of Government, they neglected that which was before all constitutions, and for which all were ostensibly framed, namely, to secure a free administration of justice; but here a constitution had been prepared for this colony, under which it was impossible that it could exist.
But supposing that all classes of persons in Canada were most anxious for the adoption of such popular institutions—if even that country was covered by railroads, was it possible, considering its extent, and its vicissitude of climate, that its affairs could be satisfactorily adjusted, and managed by one assembly? But in the want of almost all means of communication, in the deficiency of roads, in the entire absence of railroads, in the imperfection of water communication in some seasons, and the utter want of it at other periods, it was impossible that an assembly so constituted could do justice to the people whose affairs they were called upon to govern and to legislate for. In addition to this, such an assembly would have duties to perform which, in this country, were left to inferior powers.
There were duties of a more various and extensive character than the legislature of this country—and above all, looking to the habits and feelings of the population which the Assembly would have to govern—should intrust to any body of persons constituted as this would be. He contended that it was, under any circumstances, almost impossible to settle such a matter in a satisfactory manner by such proceedings; but it was absolutely impossible when they regarded the constitution of the proposed Assembly, and the habits and the feelings of the people of Lower Canada. But, after all the tricks and frauds contained in this bill, it was clear
that the French Canadians might, and probably would, return three-fourths of the number of the Members of the Assembly to be elected by Lower Canada. In order to secure a majority of the Assembly to be elected in favour of the connexion, and upon whom they could rely on account of their attachment to this country, they must take steps to secure the election of at least more than three-fourths of the Members from Upper Canada. But what was the state of things, with reference to the elections in Upper Canada?
For five Sessions, the majority returned to the House of Assembly in the Upper Province were adverse to the connection with this country, and it was only by the great and meritorious services of Sir F. Head—to whom a just tribute had been paid by his noble Friend the noble Duke, and who by his exertions in 1836, saved Canada to this country, that a majority had been returned which were favourable to the continuance of the connexion. If, however, under this bill, they failed to carry such an absolute majority in Upper Canada, there was an end of the union of the colony with this country. This was capable of clear and demonstrable proof—it did not rest on theory, but was founded on clear and obvious fact. Looking, therefore, to where they must have a minority, and to the uncertainty of securing a majority in the other province, he felt that they were proceeding in a most uncertain and dangerous course.
He would not dwell upon the letters respecting the proposed change in the tenure of office, after what had fallen from the noble Duke on this subject, for in all his remarks he entirely concurred. Looking, therefore, on this bill as one pregnant with injustice to Lower Canada, and treating that province as it did as a conquered country; and believing also that the practical effect of the measure would be to cause a majority in every Assembly elected under it to be hostile to the continuance of the connection with England. He could not, therefore, say content to this bill, and the only consideration which induced him not to divide against it was, that he feared, by doing so, he should not be working its final rejection, and that such a course might only eventually lead to its adoption, at a time, and under circumstances less favourable than the present.
The Marquess of Lansdowne would not trouble the House with more than two or
three observations in reply to what had fallen from the noble Baron. Although the noble Lord had thought it consistent on the present occasion to dwell, he would not say in exaggerated terms, on the objections and opposition which he entertained to the present measure, he declared that he should not vote against it, but allow it to be read a second time, and go into Committee. The proper time for many of the objections of the noble Baron to have been urged would have been in Committee, and when they arrived at that stage ample opportunity would be afforded of discussing those objections, and of considering what weight they were entitled to. He should not have risen on this occasion entertaining such feelings, but he could not refrain from alluding to the course of argument adopted by the noble Baron against the principle of this measure—objections not merely against the union proposed in this measure, but against all unions, and all adjustments of the differences existing in the province by their being brought by any measure under the same form and system of government.
The noble Lord also, in attempting to prove that injustice had been done to the population of Lower Canada, and that they had been defrauded by not having a larger proportion of members to be elected by the assembly given to them by this measure, had been obliged to have recourse to returns having connexion with the population, and had rested his argument on them, but he could not help feeling very strongly, that the noble Lord would be the last person who would apply the same rule to ell other questions of union, and it was a principle which that House had never been induced to apply in some of the most important and beneficial measures which had been before it, would the noble Lord be induced to say, that a great error had been committed in the union with Ireland, because the Parliament had not taken the number of the population for the adjustment of the number of Members to be returned, and that because Parliament had not apportioned the Members to the thousands or tens of thousands of the people of that country, as compared with the number of Members returned for England, therefore that Ireland could not have proper attention paid to her interests, or proper justice dealt out to her by the united Parliament. The whole of the arguments of the noble Lord
went to show, that the minority elected under such a system could have no share, and no interest in the Government of the country to which they belonged. Was this then the result of the experience of the noble Baron? Did the noble Lord not know, that a large and powerful minority—although occasionally subject to defeat—which they would, perhaps, under feelings of excitement, sometimes designate the tyranny of the majority, having justice and sound principle, and good conduct on their side, were sure ultimately, in the degree in which this justice extended, to make progress and gain ground, and thus take a share in the general conduct of affairs?
The noble Baron, also, in the latter part of his speech, seemed to contradict the observations which he made at the commencement of it. The noble Baron said, that although the people of Lower Canada had been grossly defrauded by this measure, by having such a small number of members allotted to them in proportion to the population, that with the disposition that would obtain there, the members that would be elected would form a large proportion of the assembly, all of whom would be anxious for a separation from this country, and the noble Baron also referred to former elections in Upper Canada, with the view of showing that a large number of members from that province would be returned under this bill which would unite with the members from the other province to promote a separation. If, however, they took the comment which the noble Lord added, it would appear that he thought that a majority would be secured by the support which the powerful party in Upper Canada would receive from the Government at home, and by the distribution of offices that would take place amongst those favourable to the British connection.
He entertained strong objections to proportioning the number of Members to the numerical ratio of the population; and until he heard the noble Lord he had thought that there was hardly a Member of their Lord-ships’ House who was favourable to this departmental distribution of the members of the popular branch of the Legislature. He had not thought that any noble Lord considered it one of the best parts of the French revolution thus to divide the country into departments, and to take the number of heads by which to apportion the number of representatives. Although
this bill was not framed or calculated on this erroneous and theoretical basis, he believed that under the principle that had been adopted it would be found that all classes would be truly and fairly heard in this assembly. There was, however, another observation which he felt called upon to make, although the matter had not been alluded to by the noble Baron, but it was one which was notorious to all the world, and which bore on the objection which the noble Baron had taken with respect to the proportion of the number of Members to the population. It was, that while the population of the lower province was stationary, and was almost inactive, and where comparatively few improvements had taken place, while in the other there had been within the last few years a rapid increase in population and wealth, and where commerce and agriculture were daily extending, and while the growing resources and the prosperity of the province were constantly being developed, which was also promoted by the tide of emigration which floated there, he could not help feeling that that division of the country would soon greatly surpass the lower province in population as well as wealth.
If, therefore, they adopted the proposition of the noble Lord for the adjustment of the number of the representatives to the population in this manner, they would have to make a new arrangement within the course of a few years; and if the noble Lord should happen to be in office three years hence, either himself or one of his colleagues would have come down to Parliament to have a re-adjustment of the members of the Assembly, so that justice might be done to the people of Upper Canada, who, by their extended commerce, their wealth and enterprise, as well as by their greatly increased numbers, were entitled to a greater share in the representation. Before he sat down he must correct another error of the noble Baron. The noble Lord stated that he would not take upon himself the responsibility of rejecting this measure which had been sent up by a very large majority of the other House, and he added that it was evident that it had not had proper attention paid to it in that place, as the number that attended at the division on it was by no means large. Now, was it not the case that, when measures met the pretty general consent of both parties, and when it was obvious that
they would be passed, very many abstained from attending the House? But he would ask, whether the leading Members of either side were absent when the bill was considered, or whether there was an absence of authority in support of this measure? Was the noble Baron prepared to state that the leading persons who entertained the same political opinions as himself, and who generally took a share in the debates in another place, were absent, or abstained from taking part in the discussion?
The fact, however, was, that this bill passed through all its stages with almost unanimity, and was not opposed by those persons whose characters or abilities he was sure the noble Lord would be the last to depreciate, for he might be assured that they would have taken the sense of the House of Commons on this bill, if they expected any of those crying evils and certain dangers to result from it which the noble Lord declared would inevitably flow from its adoption. Was it not clear, from what had taken place, that this measure came backed with the support of the high authorities to which he had just adverted? The only Assembly which now existed in Canada which could influence the popular opinion, was the House of Assembly in the upper province; by this measure the election for the Assembly would be extended to Lower Canada, and thus a free constitution would be secured to both those provinces.
The noble Lord alluded to the former opinions that obtained in the House of Assembly in the tipper province. Undoubtedly a great change of opinion had taken place in that Assembly within the last few years; and, as he believed, it had resulted from reflection, and from feeling that the Government and the Parliament of England were disposed to do them justice. On this point he could not help adverting to two most able dispatches which had been written by his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, and which had been adverted to by the noble Duke. The first of these was dated the 14th of October, and was followed by that of the 16th of October, and in them the importance of giving free institutions to the people of the colony was clearly shown, as well as the duty that existed of making the officers of the local government responsible to the representatives of the country, and that it was impossible to give satisfaction to a people who had once
been accustomed to free institutions, unless this were done. He did anticipate danger from restoring a general House of Assembly, but he believed, that, by the union that was proposed of the provinces, the general sources of prosperity for that extensive country would be rapidly developed, and that this object would be advanced by the establishment there of one central government, and, by giving the people a greater share in the municipal government, so that these might be carried on in conformity with their local feelings and usages, and thus trusting the people with the management of their own affairs when confined to particular districts, and uniting all parts of the country for trade and commerce, and for general government, so that if the country should at any time be attacked by a foreign enemy, they would be enabled to offer an efficient and successful resistance.
He could not allow that two years’ consideration were not sufficient to enable their Lordships to consider the difficulties of this subject and to provide a remedy, and he could not allow that the House of Commons had been guilty of any negligence in passing this bill, as he believed, that this measure, and the union of the two provinces, were looked for with the greatest degree of impatience by the people of Canada. He would not occupy the time of the House with any further observations, as the noble Lord had stated, that he would not divide the House on this subject.
The Earl of Ripon felt, that this was a measure, the result of which was very questionable; and, if it failed, the effect would be irreparable, and, as the noble Duke staled, the colony of Canada would be lost. He, however, did not wish to press this objection to a greater extent, as he had taken the resolution of not voting against this bill. There were many practical reasons which induced him to doubt what would be the operation of this measure in a country of such immense extent, and which was so deficient in the means of communication, and in which there existed such a difference in the laws and in the administration of justice in the two provinces, as well as in the habits and the feelings of the people. These, in his mind, constituted great difficulties in the way o a union between Lower and Upper Canada and occasioned painful feelings in his mind as to the probable results of this measure It was stated that the people of Upper
Canada felt that they would all share in the advantages that would result from this measure, and from the proposed union; but if they regarded Lower Canada, an opposite principle existed. This principle was avowed and dwelt on in Lord Durham’s despatches, and it was irreconcileable and incompatible with the feeling of harmony which they were told was to be generated between the two provinces. What would be the situation of the French part of the population under this measure? They would always feel, that this act was adopted as an act of coercion on them; and with whatever feelings the rest of the Legislature might be actuated, it would always operate on their minds and produce such conduct on their part as to make the power of the government permanently weak.
The noble Marquess stated, that while the advance of the English in the upper province, both in wealth and population had been rapid, the condition of the French in the lower province had remained almost stationary. This was certainly true, but it must be remembered that the latter had had none of the advantages of emigration; and, no doubt the necessary increase of the people that would take place from this source, followed by the cultivation of numerous districts, would ultimately lead to the preponderance of the English over the French population. There would, however, remain a strong feeling in the minds of the latter population, that injustice had been done to them, and they would continue irreconcilable to the connection with this country. He felt, that the very fact of the union had been called for and was proposed on a principle which was unjust, and this very circumstance made him doubt the propriety of this measure. Under the circumstances, however, which had been adverted to by his noble Friend, he should not oppose the further progress of this bill.
The Duke of Wellington had no intention to attack the Legislature of Upper Canada in any of the observations that had fallen from him; he, however, was not aware of the existence of any papers that gave an unbiassed opinion of the Legislature of Upper Canada in favour of this union.
Viscount Melbourne—Yes, yes; there is a distinct declaration on the subject.
The Duke of Wellington—With respect to the proposed income for the future officers of the government in Canada, he would merely say, that many loyal subjects
who held offices, and to whom the country was indebted for the greatest exertions during the late outbreaks in the colony, had, in consequence of what had occurred, resigned their offices, and among others the Solicitor-general of that colony. He had made no charge of corruption against the governor of Upper Canada. What he said was, that the relations between the governor of Upper Canada and its legislature were altered, and that the governor went down with a proposition to them cut and dried—with his bill all ready—after having informed them that, under the new arrangement, all those who did not support it, would go out of office in June.
Lord Ashburton said, after what had been stated by the noble Duke and the noble Baron near him, he did not mean to trouble their Lordships at any length. He did not complain of the course which had been taken upon the present occasion; but he did complain, that all the discussions which had taken place on this subject, had been conducted as though Parliament was only looking to the interests of Upper and Lower Canada, without at the same time directing its views a little to the great interests of the mother country, as connected with her colonial system. On a former occasion, he had stated his opinions on this subject, and those opinions which had been referred to in the course of the present debate led him not only to set a high value upon colonies of this description, but also to set an equal value upon the interest of this country.
The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Melbourne) had stated that he thought this was matter of growing opinion in this country; for his (Lord Ashburton’s) own part, he should be glad to believe such was the case, but certainly he had seen little in the conduct of either House of Parliament to induce that belief. Not undervaluing these colonies—not undervaluing the vast extent of the commerce with them—not undervaluing the great interest the country properly took in her children (he might call them) who were planted there, he still was of opinion, that the Imperial Parliament was constantly mistaken, looking to the peculiar description of the population there, in supposing these colonies were for ever to be governed from Downing-street. If such were not the opinions of the people of England, a repetition of them here would not do much
good; but as the debate of to-night had not shown the difficulties under which Parliament laboured, and as the nature of colonies of this description, and the difficulty of governing them, had not been clearly explained, he could not refrain from offering a few observations for the consideration of their Lordships. He believed, if ever there was a question in which this and the other House of Parliament were most anxious to set aside all party consideration for the purpose of really establishing a good system of government in these colonies, that question was the present. But scarcely had any noble Lord spoken in the course of the present debate who had not introduced some new opinion on this subject.
This showed the difficulty of the question. Again, no two Governors who had ever been sent out to these colonies, had come home with the same opinion as to what ought to be done; nay, they hardly agreed as to facts, still less as to the course which ought to be pursued with a view to a remedy. Commissioners had been sent out, one Governor after another had gone and come home, and the result was endless reports, endless variety of opinions, and the Legislature was left to find No end, in wandering mazes lost. The noble Earl opposite who had spoken, and who had been out as Governor to Canada (the Earl of Gosford), had referred to the French Canadians as being an amiable, single-minded race. He could say, that unless they were greatly changed from what he had himself known of them formerly, he concurred in that opinion; but as to the power of governing them, and keeping them as a colony (which formed a most important feature in the difficulties of the question), the noble Earl stood almost alone in the opinion that such power could possibly be maintained.
Lord Durham, in his report, said the spirit of nationality inherent in the French portion of the population was such as to make it impossible, and in that opinion all, with the exception of the noble Earl opposite, agreed. These very circumstances and facts, brought up again to his mind very strongly the question, whether it was possible from any measure the Imperial Parliament could apply, really to govern and keep those provinces as colonies. The strongest argument, however, against opposing the present measure was,
that nobody seemed to have any other plan to suggest. It was impossible to set up the old system of an independent Legislature; the feeling of the colonists was against it, for though the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Gosford) had said, that the disposition to rebellion had only been exhibited in one or two provinces near Montreal, still it was admitted, that there existed in other provinces a systematic determination to work and worry the Government at home, and eventually to get rid of British domination. That being the case, he came to the consideration of the value of these colonies, and the value of the power of governing them from Downing-street.
The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Melbourne) upon opening this question that night had led their Lordships through an eloquent and entertaining account of the history of this country with respect to its foreign possessions. He desired no better facts and circumstances to exemplify his views of the uselessness of maintaining colonies of a certain description than the statement of the noble Viscount; for, according to him, it was a lamentable misfortune that this country had ruled in Gascony, in Normandy, and other provinces of France acquired by the conquests of Edward and Henry. He thought, that if England held those provinces at the present moment, the good sense of the nation would induce them to say, “We have enough to do to manage our own concerns, and must leave those provinces to govern themselves.”
He thought further, that with the experience this country had now acquired, if the population of the state of Pensylvania or of New York were to send a petition (if the thing were possible), praying this country to resume its sovereignty over them, the good sense of England would make the same answer, and say, “Govern yourselves—we have enough to do.” Therefore, after having established a colony of which Great Britain had reason to be proud—a colony at present comprising a population of between 1,400,000, and 1,500,000, the time might come when self-government was necessary and when separation from the mother country must take place. The first difficulty was to ascertain the proper time for that separation, and the next was, to effect it on friendly terms. These opinions he had expressed on the subject of colonization generally two years ago, and he
thought the greatest possible mistake was, not early to have given these colonies to understand, that the moment the feeling of their population was ripe for separation they should have it. This had not been done, and rebellion had arisen; the loyal part of the population had taken part with this country; blood had been shed, and with this contest the difficulties of the question had increased. At present there existed in the Canadas all the elements of discord—the French population were irreconcilable to English authority, and it was impossible for any government that might be formed in the United States to prevent the borderers from taking part in the frontier conflicts. The noble Lord concluded by saying, that as no clue had been given to get out of these difficulties, as no suggestion had been made by those who opposed this bill, which induced him to think it possible for this country to hope to govern these colonies in tranquillity, he should not negative the motion for the second reading of this bill.
Lord Brougham said, notwithstanding the course which this debate had taken, and the perfectly fair line of proceeding adopted by his noble Friend the noble Duke opposite, and by the noble Baron, and although it was probable that many other opportunities would arise for discussing the principle of the bill while its details were in Committee, yet, as this was the stage appointed for the consideration of the principle, he felt that it would not be inconvenient if he were now to state the view which he took of the question, more especially with reference to the course which, two years ago, he, with little support from their Lordships, had thought it his duty to take with respect to this subject. What he would have to say to their Lordships on the present occasion would embrace two views of the subject; first, whether this measure, in itself, and with reference to the time of its introduction, was justifiable; and, in the next place, looking rather to expediency than to strict justice, what might be expected to be the future consequences of it. As regarded the first of these points, their Lordships would at once perceive that he was about to refer to that which had been already broached by more than one of their Lordships, which had not been avoided by the noble Viscount who opened the discussion, and which had been alluded to by the noble Duke—the question of how
far the consent to this measure had been obtained of those parties whom it was designed to join in legislative union. That their consent was necessary he considered indisputable. Fifty years ago they received a constitution, after they had been full forty years the subjects of this country. He admitted, that strictly and legally speaking, they were not at that time entitled to the exercise of legislative rights, but this country then granted them that constitution which they had enjoyed for about half a century. Yet their Lordships were now called upon by this bill, without having, as he should presently show, the consent of the colonies, to abolish the constitution so granted to them, and to unite in one legislature two colonies, to keep which separate, to give them separate constitutions, and separate legislatures, was the fundamental object of the Parliament which granted it.
The real question therefore was, had we or had we not the consent of the inhabitants of the colonies to this measure? Now, the speech of his noble Friend the noble Duke opposite appeared to him to demonstrate that the consent of the constituted authorities in the Canadas had not been obtained to this bill, and that the consent of the people had not been obtained, as far as there were any means of judging what their feelings were. He ought to apologize for entering into this part of the subject after the speech of the noble Duke; but the question of consent appeared to him so material, and to go so completely to the foundation of the measure as regarded its justice, that he could not forbear stating one or two circumstances which appeared to him to prove, that not only had the consent of the Canadian people never been given to this measure, but that it never would be given.
First, their Lordships had been told to look to the acts of the Legislative Council, which were supposed to be indicative of the wishes of the people. But had they their consent? Why, not twelve months ago they sent over to this country, not to consent, but to dissent on the part of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and it was on the express grounds of that protest having arrived that his noble Friend, (Viscount Melbourne) answered his objections to deferring the measure from the last to the present session. But, suppose that since that protest there had been a change in the opinion of the body from which it emanated, he begged to ask
since when had that change been effected? Why, since the despatch of his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, and the announcement it contained of the measures which did not make it convenient for that body to hold out. The despatch directly and immediately tended to produce a change in the body which before had dissented and protested against this measure. But was the consent of the people of the two provinces to supply this defect? Certainly not. To say that they had the consent of the Legislative Council, whether of Upper or Lower Canada, was saying neither more nor less than that they had the consent of the councillors, whom they vested with authority, to this measure. That accounted only for the consent of the Minister at home and the officers he appointed abroad. Then had they any consent of the Assemblies? It was said they had the consent of the Assembly of Upper Canada. Since when had the Assembly of Upper Canada given their consent to this measure? Twelve or fifteen months ago it was just as much against it as the Legislative Council. Certainly, changes had taken place since that time in their opinion; he wished to avoid alluding to all invidious and party topics; but the circumstances under which that change of opinion had taken place tended to take from its weight.
That Assembly was elected upon a dissolution, of which he wished to avoid saying anything, which took place in 1836; by some it was very much praised; by others it was much blamed; he should say nothing either way. In 1836 that Assembly was elected; but its title to continue in existence expired with the demise of the Crown; and if nothing further had passed in 1837, it would have ceased to exist as a legislative assembly. But it passed an act in the nature of the Septennial Act; of that act, whether justifiable or not, he would not argue any more than that it was absolutely necessary in the reign of George 1st; and in the first year of this reign, in the colony, as in the first year of the reign of George 1st in this country, such an act might be wise and necessary in Upper Canada. But such an act derogated from the authority of that Assembly to effect so extraordinary a measure as the incorporate union. The existence of that Assembly was continued beyond the period for which it was elected—beyond the period allowed by the law
under which it was fleeted, and its existence was only continued under a law made by itself, contrary to that title under which it derived its original existence, and its right to make that law. Suppose he took an analogous case in the union of Scotland with this country, and suppose that union had taken place ten years later than it did, and that instead of the measure passing in 1706, it had been brought before Parliament in 1716, and that the act of the legislative union with Scotland had been an act of the Parliament during the period of its own extended existence, he appehended that it would not have had that weight and that authority which it had. On this ground, therefore, he attached much less weight than he otherwise might, to the opinion of the Assembly of the upper province as indicating the opinion and speaking the sense of that province.
With respect to the province of Lower Canada, they could not have the assent of its representatives, because the constitution of the lower province was suspended, because the act of two years ago, relating to that province, still continued in force, and for the present abrogated the Assembly of Lower Canada. And, without the legislative opinion of the people of Lower Canada, they took the step of incorporating it with Upper Canada. If he were asked whether the opinion of the people might not be all the while in favour of the measure, though they had no organ to represent them and speak their opinion, his answer was, let them look at what had transpired two or three years ago, and at the stale of opinion in the Assembly of Lower Canada. Could any man who heard him command his countenance enough to tell him that if that assembly now existed, it would hesitate an instant in answering the question unanimously by a negative?
That Assembly was divided in the proportion of seventy to eighteen before the last dissolution, and on an appeal being made to the inhabitants whether they agreed with the seventy or the eighteen, the majority was increased instead of being diminished, and the proportion made eighty to eight, or something of that kind. No man, therefore, could doubt what the Assembly, if now in existence, would say to such a question as this. They did not think, perhaps, that the Assembly would disagree to this measure on being called together and asked.
Why had they6not called them together to give an opinion? Because calling them together would be only getting a refusal, and they would rather rest on as little doubt as possible than on an absolute certainty against the measure. He wished now to say a few words with respect to the future expectations which opened upon us. It was said, that there were forty-two representatives for each province—eighty-four altogether; and he wished to call attention to what appeared to him the unanswerable consequence of this attempt at amalgamating these two almost heterogeneous and irreconcileable masses of people.
Suppose they had the same kind of proportion amongst the forty-two Members who represented Lower Canada as there was in the old Assembly whilst separate; it was perfectly clear, that that large majority, added to those of the forty-two members of the upper province who held similar opinions, would give so great a preponderance against colonial subjection as would make it extremely difficult to continue that subjection at all. But, suppose the distribution of the franchise was such as to give an unnatural preponderance to one class over another, was this likely to produce peace and satisfaction? Was it not more likely to shake the government of the mother country? There was another view, that when the two races were brought together into one assembly they would not have all the members of Lower Canada take one line, assisted by the minority of the representatives of the other, but that there would be a division on another principle, namely, French as against English.
Let them not look upon that as likely to promote tranquillity, or to continue the colonial relation; because, if this were the result, it required no gift of prophecy to say, that there would be the worst possible feeling rankling in that Assembly. But a still more fatal feeling would be rankling in the country, and the greatest risk would arise to the stability of the connexion with the mother country. It might be naturally asked why he should feel apprehensive of the stability of a system that he, for one, set very little store by. Differing widely from the noble Lord (Lord Ellenborough)—agreeing only with his noble Friend (Lord Ashburton)—setting little, very little value on the importance of the connexion—holding that its disadvantages greatly preponderated
over its advantages, it might, he repeated, be naturally asked why he argued against the expediency of establishing a system which was extremely likely to put an end, at no very great distance of time, to our colonial relations in that quarter, and to subvert altogether our authority there? It was on the ground which he formerly had occasion to state to their Lordships, and which he should not therefore now enter upon at any length—namely, that it entirely depended (as was urged by the noble Lord who last addressed the House) on the manner in which the severance took place—on the events which preceded and accompanied the separation—on the frame of mind and the public feeling which subsisted on both sides at the time at which the event, which never could be very long delayed, occurred—whether such a change would be beneficial or not.
And his apprehension was, that this measure would be fraught with the mischief of enabling party there to produce the worst effects; of giving scope to the worst passions; of dividing man against man, and race against race; of exciting perpetual heart-burnings between the colony and the mother country; and that when the separation came we should be in the position of losing a colony, which those who set great store by such a possession might deem a greater loss than he perhaps thought it to be—which could not be converted into a natural ally, but whose inhabitants would become our open enemies immediately after ceasing to be our subjects. It was in that view that he regarded this measure as an inexpedient one. But he, on the other hand, felt bound to oppose it on the ground of justice. Though he certainly should have had other opportunities of discussing this measure in Committee, he thought it his duty to protest against its principle on the second reading. He should not, any more than other noble Lords, oppose the second reading, and though he had a very feeble expectation of amending it in Committee, he should give its clauses his best consideration.
Viscount Melbourne—His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) congratulated their Lordships on the absence of party feeling in this discussion. It was certainly free from all party heat; but he questioned the prudence with which it was conducted. Their Lordships might sometimes deem it right to support a measure
of which they did not approve in all its parts, but to condemn in violent language a measure which was principally to act by impression, and the success of which mainly depended upon the character with which it went forth, and at the same time not to oppose its further progress, struck him to be a course not very wise nor patriotic. The noble Duke said, it was not yet time to settle this question. Now, of all the objections raised to this measure, this surprised him most, for the Government were taunted on all sides with delay in taking any proceedings on this subject; and it was moreover urged that the position which they now held would not be long tenable.
And then the noble Duke assigned a period for this delay, which would prolong it ad Grœcas Kalendas; for the noble Duke would wait until he was certain of the working of this measure, as if it were not quite impossible that he could ever be perfectly certain of the manner in which a measure of this nature, relating as it did to popular assemblies, would work. It must be always, to a certain degree, an experiment; but that fact did not relieve them from the obligation of framing such measures as, on the best consideration they could adopt. The noble Duke referred to two classes of politicians in this country on the subject of Canada. He said there was one which was fast growing up, which wished (prompted in a great degree by the love of republican institutions) to see Canada governed on the model of the United States, and the other (which did not participate in such a feeling) looked on the speedy and amicable separation of the provinces from the mother country as likely to prove of advantage to both.
His noble Friends (Lords Ashburton and Brougham) went pretty nearly the whole length of the latter. He certainly did not agree with his noble Friends in that opinion; and though he did not feel justified in using the same expressions of strength and force on this view as the noble Duke, who was so conspicuously identified with the military glory of this country, yet he could assure the noble Duke that he could not feel more keenly the “disgrace of living to see that day” when the Canadas should be separated from Great Britain than he should. He should look on the loss of these colonies, by becoming independent of the connexion with the mother country, as a most grievous one, and,
above all, as a heavy blow to the character and reputation of this country. As to expecting an amicable separation, that was an event almost impossible. If we gave them up at all, it must be because we felt, that we were unable to keep them; and such an acknowledgment, he thought, would be very unfavourable to the reputation, and consequently to the strength, power, and influence, of this country. The noble Duke considered that there would be no difficulty in settling matters as to the navigation of the St. Laurence, just as the navigation of the Meuse and Rhine was regulated. Of course the noble Duke was better acquainted with the facts than he could be, for the noble Duke negociated the treaty respecting these rivers. But he should like to know was that matter settled yet? He rather doubted it. He knew it was one of the provisions of the treaty of Vienna, negociated by the noble Duke, that the navigation of the Rhine should be free, but he knew also that a question was raised as to what “the Rhine” meant; and there certainly could not be a stronger illustration of the difficulties which surrounded such questions than the instance of the Rhine which the noble Duke adduced. Questions arose, too, in the same way, as to the Danube and the Douro. The noble Duke said, this was not a new question; that it was brought before the House of Commons in 1822, and rejected then principally through the intervention of the then leaders of the opposition.
He did not know whether his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) was then a Member of the House of Commons, but he thought if he were, that he should have his confirmation to what he believed to be the fact, that it was in consequence of an assertion of Sir James Mackintosh that that bill was thrown out. But it was introduced at the latter end of the Session, and without notice to the Canadas. These were certainly, under the circumstances, the strongest objections to its passing. Besides, there had been no rebellion in the lower province: there had been no misconduct of the Assembly, a misconduct which he should ever maintain perfectly justified the suspension of their functions, and the measures which had been taken on that occasion. In 1836, likewise, when Lord Glenelg stated, that such a measure as an union was not to be thought of, the circumstances which subsequently
created its necessity had not arisen. The noble Duke laid great stress on a despatch of his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) dated the 16th of October, and he as well as his noble Friend (Lord Brougham) seemed to think that it nullified the whole proceedings of the Legislative Council of the lower and of the Assembly of the upper province. He attributed it to an effect almost Circæan, and laboured to show that it changed the very nature of the persons whom it addressed. He must say, that despatch did not in the slightest degree countenance the principle of irresponsible government, but was intended directly to counteract it. It was meant by it to say, “irresponsibility is perfectly inconsistent with your situation as colonists: but the government shall be carried on for the future more in accordance with your feelings than it has been.”
He saw by the correspondence which the noble Duke moved for, that that despatch was misunderstood in the colony, and that it was looked upon as intended to countenance the principle to which he alluded. It was not misunderstood, however, by the Governor-general; it was not misunderstood by Sir Colin Campbell or Sir J. Harvey, for the correspondence showed they attached to it its correct interpretation, and surely it was impossible to suppose that it could have had such an effect on those assemblies whom the noble Duke described in terms which they so well deserved, as to change their character and their whole mode of feeling, and to render that authority which was acknowledged to be good, before the despatch went out, of no effect whatever.
The Governor-general prepared this bill; he sent it down actually prepared to those bodies, who had the complete power of considering and passing it, and it was hardly possible that their authority should be so acted upon by a single document as to induce them to agree to a measure which they did not approve of. The noble Duke urged that there was great difficulty in bringing together into one legislature, persons from distant parts of the country, and having different religions and interests. He always thought that one of the advantages of a Legislative Assembly was, that it brought together representatives from all parts of the country; and, as to the Members professing a different religion, that was a strange argument to use in this country, where, at any rate, two religions
differing from that of the state were openly admitted not to disqualify a man for the representation. But, the noble Duke insisted that there would be twelve different denominations of Christians in the new Assembly. He would answer for it, that he could produce from the House of Commons, twelve persons differing from one another as to some point of religious belief.
He, therefore, could not think that this was a circumstance which would render this measure entirely inoperative. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) contended, that even in the upper province no consent was given to this bill, and he grounded this argument on the fact of Lord John Russell’s despatch to which he attributed the wonderful magic power of entirely weakening and overthrowing the authority of that Assembly. His noble and learned Friend further maintained, that their authority, even if honestly exercised, was of no use, for they continued by their own act the length of their duration. They were either right or wrong in that step, and, if they were justified in taking it, their subsequent acts were not invalidated by such a vote. It was impossible to deny, that after the Septennial Act was passed, the Acts of the Parliament which enacted it were as valid as those of any other Parliament which had not in the same manner prolonged its own existence.
Now, with respect to the lower province, he acknowledged that no consent was given there by any competent authority. He fairly admitted that to be so; but the province of Lower Canada had, by the conduct of its Assembly, and by its outbreak and rebellion, placed itself in a situation which obliged us to legislate for it without its consent, and produced a state of circumstances which rendered it necessary to take such measures as were essential to the preservation of the province and the consolidation of the Government, without waiting for that local and express consent which he certainly admitted was generally given in other cases of union. At the same time, he must remind their Lordships, that in the cases of both Scotland and Ireland, the Legislatures of those countries were subjected to an influence generally supposed to be a great deal more potent than any that could possibly flow from a despatch of his noble Friend. It would not do to scrutinise too closely the motives of public men at such junctures, or the
means adopted for carrying such great measures, but the union with Ireland was certainly carried when the public mind was not in a calm state for its consideration, and immediately on the eve of the rebellion. He contended, then, that they had the express consent of the upper province to this bill, and that the circumstances of the lower supplied the consent on their part; and as to its working well, it was impossible to anticipate how far it would succeed. All their Lordships had to look to was the constitution of the Legislature in a fair manner as regarded both provinces.
As to the disproportion in the number of inhabitants of each district sending Members to the Assembly, it could never be said, that this country proportioned its representation to the population alone; for if so, Rutland would not have the same number of Members as the West Riding of Yorkshire. The question was, whether, on the whole, the districts were not wisely and prudently arranged. He trusted, that on further consideration, their Lordships would take a favourable view of this measure; and that if they suffered it to pass, they would not, at least, impede its operation and mar the good results likely to flow from it by the character which they themselves gave it.
The bill read a second time.