House of Commons, 27 March 1876, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan



TUESDAY, 27th March, 1888.

The SPEAKER took the Chair at Three o'clock.


Mr. BERGIN moved the adoption of the first, second and third reports of the Joint Committee on Printing.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. Will the hon. gentleman explain ?
Mr. BERGIN. It is simply the account for printing. The account for printing is the first one, the second one is the report of the said committee auditing the account, and the third, the report and the documents ordered to be printed last meeting.
Sir JOHN A.MACDONALD. It is a question of a quorum.
Mr. BERGIN. Yes, a question of a quorum.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. What is the quorum? Mr. BERGIN. Nine. Motion agreed to.


Bill (No. 68) to incorporate the Alberta Railway and Coal Company.—(Mr. Davis, Alberta.)
Bill (No. 69) to confirm a mortgage given by the Central Railway Company to the Central Trust Company of New York to secure an issue of debentures—(Mr. Weldon, St. John.)
Bill (No. 70) to incorporate the Montreal Island Railway Company.—(Mr. Desjardins.)
Bill (No. 71) to grant certain powers to the St. John's, and Iberville Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company.— (Mr. Vanasse. )
Bill (No. 72) to incorporate the New York, St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway Company.—(Mr. Wood, Brockville.)
Bill (No. 73) respecting the Stanstead, Shefford and Chambly Railway Company.—(Mr. Fisher.)
Bill (No. 74) to amend the Act to incorporate the Kincardine and Teeswater Railway Company.—(Mr. Rowand.)
Bill (N). 75) to incorporate the Ottawa and Parry Sound Railway Company.—(Mr. Ferguson, Renfrew.)


Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 76) to amend the Revised Statutes of Canada, chapter 50, respecting the North-West Territories. He said : I make this motion now for the purpose of having the Bill stand for a second reading at as early a day as convenient after the recess, The Bill is on the lines of the measure introduced by the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills) when he was Minister of the Interior. It provides that the North-West Council shall have the character of a legislative assembly, having not less than 21 nor more than 25 members. A schedule of the constituencies is now under consideration, and is not yet attached to the Bill. It is proposed that the nominated members of the council shall cease; but as there are at present no legal men in the council, nor is there much chance of there being many legal men in the first assembly, it is preposed that the Government may have power to appoint certain legal experts, not exceeding three, who shall sit and assist in the drafting of Bills, and have the power of discussion but not the power of voting, something like the representative delegates from the Territories in the United States Congress. That provision is intended to apply to the present term of the legislative assembly; it is hoped that in the second term some legal gentlemen may find their way into the assembly, and enable us to do away with that provision. It is proposed to extend the term of the existence of the legislature from two or three years. The qualification will remain the same, household suffrage with the addition of an income suffrage. The Lieutenant Governor shall no longer sit with the council or assembly, but shall, as in the Provinces, be a separate estate, and the assembly will be presided over as this assembly is, by a Speaker. There is an extension of the powers of the assembly which I need not trouble the House with now, but the subject will be fully entered into when the Bill is under discussion.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). What about executive councillors.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. We do not propose to have executive councillors. There is a proposition of that kind in one of the petitions of the North- West Council which is before the House, but after consideration those gentlemen are opposed to it themselves. They say that it is really a retrogressive step, rather than one in advance. These are the principal features of the measure.
Mr. LAURIER. I am not aware that the resolutions of the North-West Council with respect to this matter have been placed before the House. If they have not been, I suppose the hon. gentleman will place them before the House.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. Certainly.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). I am sure the House will be glad if the hon. gentleman would afford us some further information on this important Bill. The people in that country have made considerable progress in number and in the development of the country, and a government a little more approaching that of a Province than that which at present exists there is no doubt required; but in all our Provinces we have parliamentary responsible government, and I do not understand from the hon. gentleman's observations how he proposes that the executive government shall be carried on. The proposition he has made relates purely to matters of legislation. Does he propose that the Lieutenant Governor of the Territories shall have the power of vetoing the measures of the Legislative Assembly of the Territories? Does he propose that when the Legislature meets and passes a law which it believes to be for the good of the Territories, within the legislative limits assigned to it, the Governor in Council here shall 1888. COMMONS DEBATES. 455 have the power, by instruction, to disallow it? Does he propose that the Lieutenant Governor of the Territories shall have an executive council to advise him with regard to the administration of the affairs of the Territories? For you will observe that the powers possessed by the Governor in Council there, now are not purely legislative powers, but administrative and executive powers as well. How are those administrative and executive powers to be exercised? Are they to be exercised? by the Executive of the Territories, acting under the advice and approval of the majority of those whom the people have elected to represent them? Does the hon. gentleman propose they shall act on the advice which they may, from time to time, receive from the Government here? Now, I say that these are matters of the very first importance, and that before we are asked to take any step in advance in the legislative and governmental develpment of that country, we should note precisely what we are called upon to do; for it does seem me to be rather extraordinary to admit that the people of the Territory are so far advanced, by way of organisation, into a political and social community, as to make it necessary that they should have what may be considered a mature system devised for the purposes of legislation, and yet that the legislative and administrative affairs of the country should be in the hands of an irresponsible body. Certainly the power of legislation and administration should go hand in hand. If the community are entitled, and I am inclined to think that the hon. gentleman is doing right in recognising that they are entitled, to complete legislative control over those matters which are exclusively assigned to them, they should have equally independent control over the executive and administrative affairs of the Territory, within the same limits. They should be made commensurate with the legislative authority; they should be governmental to the same extent, and it would be a wholly anomalous condition of things for the executive and administrative affairs to be directed, not in consonance with the views of the majority of those whom the peeple have returned to the Legislature, but should be controlled by instructions given, from time to time, to the Lieutenant Governor from Ottawa. That would be simply Downing- street over again. It would be simply introducing into the North-West Territories precisely that condition of things which existed in Upper and Lower Canada before responsible Government was established. They had legislative bodies that represented the people, but they had an executive Government that represented Downing-street, and it would be rather a retrograde step to introduce any analogous system of government into the North-West Territories. I am sure the House will be anxious to know precisely what the hon. gentleman proposes to do in this matter.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. This is, perhaps, not the time to discuss, in extenso, the various questions which the hon. gentleman has raised. In the first place, I must tell the hon. gentleman that in the North-West they have a most holy horror of responsible government. The representations are, I may say, without any exception, against the premature introduction of responsible government. If the hon. gentlemen were in the position of the Minister of Interior, he would find that the one cry is: do not at all at present give us a government of that kind. I take it the assembly, although sitting separate from the Government, will have the same administrative as well as legislative powers which they had when under the name of a council. The relations between the Lieutenant Governor there and the Government here will continue to be the same as they were before this Bill was introduced—
Mr. MILLS. They cannot be.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD—or the same as between the Lieutenant Governors of the Provinces and the Gov ernor General. All these are important matters, and I am glad the hon. gentleman has called attention to these points. They will be discussed more conveniently after the Bill is in the hands of the hon. members.
Mr. MITCHELL. I can understand that a certain class of the people in the North-West should have a holy horror of responsible government, but, in my opinion, the experience of the past few years shows the people there should have a holy horror of bureaucratic government. I am glad this question has come up for discussion. It is a very important one, not only for the people of the North-West, but for the people of the whole of Canada, who are interested in seeing that administration of public affairs in the North- West should be a little different in the future from what it has been in the past.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). Now the Governor votes with the council, and if he happens to be in the minority he is outvoted and has to submit?
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). But the hon. gentleman proposes, by this Bill, to separate the Governor from the legislative body. What is his position? Has he any voice at all in the legislative assembly?
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. I do not think that he has much. I take it that the veto by the Lieutenant Governor is like the vote by the Queen. It is, in fact, gone.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). The Queen is advised.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. The utmost we could do, and I think it ought to be reserved to him, is to reserve that power.
Mr. LAURIER. Has he to sanction the Acts passed by the Legislature?
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. I think so.
Mr. LAURIER. That is a veto.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. Her Majesty sanctions all the Bills, but she never has in Her long life exercised the right to veto.
Mr. LAURIER. She has it in esse if not in posse.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). Her Majesty is advised by those who sit in both Houses. Now there is nobody responsible for the legislation. The Governor exercises no control Whatever in the initiation of measures in this assembly.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read first time.


Report of the Department of Agriculture for the year 1887.—(Mr. Carling.)


Mr. LAURIER. I now beg to renew the motion which I made yesterday:
That the warrant issued by Mr. Speaker for a new writ of election for the electoral district of the county of Russell. Ontario, as appears in the Journals of this House, on the 23rd January last, be withdrawn, and that Mr. Speaker do forthwith issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery to make a new writ of election for the said electoral district.
Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD. After considering, I have come to the conclusion that this motion ought to carry. The House knows that I consistently and persistently have pressed that such matters in connection with elections should go to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, and in two cases, the one the rather celebrated case of Queen's county, New Brunswick, and the other that of the county of Kent, there were points of law raised that had to be[...]


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



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