House of Commons, 18 March 1870, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

[...] habiliments of the Government even to those satin breeches, which seemed at this moment the great topic of conversation in Ontario? (Great laughter.)
Mr. Bolton said, he was prepared to yield many points in a measure of compromise; but the question of the ballot was one which was very popular in New Brunswick, and the removal of which would be regarded as a great injury, and he hoped the Government would consent to allow the ballot to be still enjoyed in New Brunswick, though in all other respects, the law might be made uniform in all the Provinces. Such a course would be no injury to the other Provinces, and would allow New Brunswick to continue to enjoy what they considered a great boon. In other points the people of New Brunswick would yield their opinions if they would be allowed to retain the ballot.
Mr. Ross (Victoria, N.S.) During the eight years that I had the honour of a seat in the Parliament of Nova Scotia, I had no desire to be considered anything more than one of its silent members, and here also, I have no desire to take up the time by imposing my ideas on the attention of the House, but the franchise of the country is a matter in which we are all interested, and I would like to say a little on that subject. I have examined carefully the Franchise Act now before the House, and find that at least one-fourth of my constituency will be disfranchised by it, and that will apply to the whole Province of Nova Scotia. I was pleased to find the Minister of Justice state that he had no doubt but the Bill would be largely amended in committee; and I hope it will be cut up, dissected and disembowelled, so that when it passed its various stages very little more than the name would be left. The present franchise has worked well in Nova Scotia, and there is no desire to have it changed. If, then, the Government desire to have the franchise under their own control, all that they have to do is to appoint their own officers to prepare the rolls, and then they will have all the guards necessary to have everything they require. In this progressive age, when Conservative England is extending the franchise in all parts of the Empire, will it be said that in her name have been curtailed the responsibilities and privileges already conferred on the people? Once you confer the franchise on a people, taking it away again will be considered and resented as a grievance. It is quite evident that the Government have abandoned all hope of having Newfoundland brought into this Union, or to have the intend 532 COMMONS DEBATES March 18, 1870 ed franchise extended to that Province; for, under its operation, you would not poll 8,000 votes outside of St. John's and Harbour Grace. The simultaneous polling Act was first introduced in Nova Scotia by the present Judge in Equity, and its operation has proved a great blessing to us in preserving peace and order, and preventing riots and bloodshed in many counties where political feeling ran high. Taking this great blessing away from us will be doing us a great injury, and one that is calculated to restore trouble and confusion, when all this would be avoided by permitting us to retain this beneficial feature in the Act refused. If the Government will not extend this Act to all parts of the Dominion, I hope they will allow it still to be retained in Nova Scotia. The hon. member from St. John stated what a loss it would be to England if the present Prime Minister would have lost his election; but, suppose that he was to be removed by death, would not the Government of England go on the same as ever, and would not the country prosper as if he never had existed? Suppose that the member from St. John would be defeated at the next election—a calamity we would all have to deplore—but if such a thing could be possible, what then but that the people of St. John would have returned another member—certainly not one possessing as much eloquence or as much military experience—but possessing more independence than the present member. Great men change sides, and are removed; and many think that if some of the members of the present Government were cast aside that better men would replace them; but one thing certain is, that the prosperity of the country would not be retarded, should some of them at any time lose their seats at an election.
On motion of Mr. Fortin, the debate was adjourned.
The House then adjourned at 12:35 am.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1870. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1979. Original scans accessible at:



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