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House of Commons, 9 March 1888, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

1888 COMMONS DEBATES. 111
[...]sentatives of the Government of Manitoba who are at present here, to an interview with him in relation to the difficulties existing between that Province and the Dominion. Now, as I understand constitutional government, the business of the country is carried on by the Ministers, who are responsible to this House and to the people for the acts which pass under the name of the Government, and hence under the name of Her Gracious Majesty the Queen; and if it is true, and I believe it is, that by the invitation of the Governor those gentlemen have had an interview with him on these matters, I would like to know whether it was at the instance of the Government or at the instance of the Governor himself ? If it was the latter, I should regret that, at the close of a long career, which has been satisfactory alike to the people and the Government, His Excellency should attempt to interfere with matters that pertain solely to his advisers, and for which they are responsible. Therefore, I would like to know whether the Governor has acted on behalf of his Government, or whether he has assumed a responsibility which, in my opinion, he has no right to assume ?
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I hope the hon. gentleman will renew his question when the hon. First Minister is here. The charge that the hon. gentleman makes, or supposes can be made, against His Excellency the Governor General, is one that should he met by the First Minister. For my own part, all I can say to the hon. gentleman is that we, as the responsible advisers of the Crown, are ready at all times to take the responsibilities of any act of the Governor General in matters of State; and His Excellency, to my knowledge, and I have no doubt to the knowledge of the House, has never exposed himself to be called to account for any interference that would not be in a constitutional way.
Mr. MITCHELL. It is not a question whether the Government assumed the responsibilty of the acts of the Governor or not. The question I put is whether the Governor performed this act with the knowledge and at the request of the Government of the day, or whether he assumed it on his own mere motion. If the latter, I hold that he is interfering with matters with which he has no right to interfere under the Constitution. Now that the hon. First Minister has come in, I would repeat the question to him.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. I may say that I was not aware, and I do not know that any of my colleagues were aware, that His Excellency had sent for these two gentlemen to talk over public matters. I had not heard of it until just this moment, but I take exception to the doctrine that the Governor General or Her Majesty cannot talk to such people as she or he may choose.
Mr. LAURIER. If my hon. friend for Northumberland will allow me, I would take exception to what he has said. Whether Mr. Greenway, or any other member or members of the Manitoba Government, were invited by the Governor General, or by this Government, to meet His Excellency, is of little moment, as the Government are the official advisers of His Excellency, and must be held responsible in either case.
Mr. MITCHELL. I do not object to holding them responsible for it. That was not the point. What I wanted to know was, whether His Excellency, on his own more motion, did this, because, if he did, I hold he was wrong?
Mr. LAURIER. The Government are the parties responsible
Mr. MITCHELL. There is another matter of some importance with which I think the House should be made acquainted before the Orders of the Day are called. It is this: I find in the Montreal Gazette the following :-
"NEWFOUNDLAND ASKED TO ENTER THE CONFEDERATION. "DELEGATES TO VISIT OTTAWA.
"The Proposition Well Received and Likely to be Accepted by the Ancient Colony.
"HALIFAX, N.S., March 8.-—[Special.]—The Halifax Herald will publish to-morrow a special cablegram from St. John's, Nfld., showing that practical steps have been taken to embrace the ancient colony of Newfoundland in the Canadian Confederation. The following correspondence was laid before the Newfoundland Legislature to-day :-
"The Governor General of Canada to the Governor of Newfoundland:
"March 6, 1888.
"It is considered by my Government that, if your Government approves, the time would be convenient for the discussion of the question of the admission of Newfoundland into the Federal Union, and that no difficulty would be likely to arise in arranging the terms. Under these circumstances could you send a. deputation to Ottawa, with power to negotiate? In our opinion the deputation should represent the Opposition as well as the Ministerial party. As the Canadian Session has begun, and may be short, I would suggest the expediency of the deputation sailing by the steamer leaving on the 19th inst.
"The Governor of Newfoundland to the Governor General of Canada:
"March 7, 1888.
"I have received your telegram and laid it before my Ministers.
"The question is now being discussed among the parties, and your correspondent has no doubt but that a deputation will be sent."
This appears in one of the numerous organs of the Government and I presume it to be correct. I think that as Parliament is in Session, before a communication of that kind should be sent to another colony the Parliament of Canada ought to have been taken into consultation on the subject. ln so important a question as that of admitting a remote Province like Newfoundland into the Union, the Government should not have assumed the responsibility of acting as they appear to have done, without having taken the Parliament of Canada into their confidence, while that Parliament is in Session. I would like the right hon. the First Minister to say whether there is any truth in the statement or not.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. It is true; those negotiations have taken place.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. Then I think the House has been treated with scant courtesy, very scant courtesy, indeed—hon. gentlemen on that side as well as on this— by a matter of that importance being first made public through the medium of one of those paid hirelings of the hon. gentleman. I think it is utterly discourteous and unconstitutional, and it goes to show that true constitutional parliamentary government is becoming utterly unknown in Canada. We have a one-man power, we have an autocrat here to do as he pleases; and to all practical purposes, the people of Canada would be better off if they would send 130 or 140 proxies to the hon. gentleman, and thus save expense.

THE ONDERDONK ARBITRATION.

Mr. POPE. I was not in a position the other day to answer the question put by the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Weldon), but I am happy to be able to do so now. The amount of the valuation of the rolling stock taken, under the terms of the contract, from the contractors of the western section of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia, is as follows:-
Eight locomotives and 185 platform cars ......... $199,535 00
Account for the transportation of the above from British Columbia to Chaudiere… ...... .. 22,028 19
Account for the repairs of the above ........ . 4,016 92
Total ...................................................... $225,570 11
Against that we have the following:- [...]

Source:

Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.

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Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

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