House of Commons, 15 February 1871, Canadian Confederation with British Columbia

February 15, 1871 COMMONS DEBATES 1


Wednesday, February 15, 1871

The SPEAKER took the chair at 3.00 pm.
A MESSAGE was brought by René Kimber, Esquire, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:―
His Excellency, the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this Honorable House in the Senate Chamber.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, with the House, went to the Senate Chamber:― And being returned:
Mr. Speaker informed the House, that during the Recess, he had received the following notifications of vacancies which had occurred in the representation of the electoral districts of Missisquoi, Quebec (City) East, Cumberland, (Nova Scotia) Bellechasse, Saint-Hyacinthe, Colehester, (N .S.), Richelieu and Restigouche; and that he had issued his Warrants to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery to make out new Writs for the Election of Members to serve in this present Parliament for the said Electoral Districts:
Adolphe Tourangeau, Esquire, Member for the Electoral District of Quebec East; Louis Delorme, Esquire, Member for the Electoral District of Saint-Hyacinthe', George Moflatt, Esquire, Member for the Electoral District of Restigouche (New Brunswick); Leverett de Veber Chipman, Esquire, Member for the Electoral District of Kings; Georges Isidore Barthe, Esquire, Member for the Electoral District of Richelieu; and the Honorable Charles Tupper, C.B., Member for the Electoral District of Cumberland, having previously taken the Oath, according to Law, and subscribed before the Commissioners the Roll containing the same, took their seats in the House.
Ordered, That the Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald have leave to bring in a Bill respecting the administration of Oaths of Office.
He accordingly presented the said Bill to the House, and the same was received and read the first time.
Mr. Speaker reported, That when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor General this day, in the Senate Chamber, His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of
Parliament, of which Mr. Speaker said he had, to prevent mistakes, obtained a copy which he read to the House, as followeth:―
Honorable Gentlemen of the Senate, Gentlemen of the House of Commons,―
I have much satisfaction in meeting you at this, the usual and most convenient season of the year, and under the present auspicious circumstances of the Country.
The hope I was sanguine enough to express at the close of the last session that no further attempt would be made to disturb our frontier, was doomed to early disappointment. The Session had scarcely closed when lawless bands assembled within the United States in great numbers, and renewed the menace of invasion. They ventured to cross the border at two points, but were promptly met and repelled. So complete and humiliating was the repulse, that the invaders lost heart and hope, threw away quantities of arms, and fell back to encumber the villages in their rear, with their starving and demoralized masses. Our Militia rallied at the first call to arms with praiseworthy alacrity, and the spirit which pervades the country, swelled their numbers with volunteers from all quarters. The gallantry displayed and the success achieved, have been duly recognized by the highest Military authority, and honored in gratifying terms of appreciation, by Her Most Gracious Majesty. In maintaining the Militia on active duty, the Government incurred an outlay to a considerable amount beyond what was provided by the votes of last Session. The accounts of the entire expenditure for the defence of the frontier will be laid before you, and I feel confident that you will pass a bill to indemnify the Government.
My anticipations of success in regard to the Act passed for the Government of Manitoba, and the North West Territories, and in regard to the Military Expedition, which it was necessary to despatch, have been fortunately realized. The troops surmounted the difficulties of the long and toilsome route with endurance and intelligence. They encountered no armed opposition, and their arrival at the Red River was cordially welcomed by the inhabitants. The people of the new Province have, under the Constitution accorded to them last year, assumed all the duties of self- government, and every appearance warrants the hope that they are entering steadily upon a career of peace and prosperity.
The Legislature of British Columbia has passed an Address to Her Majesty, praying for admission into the union, on the terms and conditions therein stated. All the papers on this important subject will be submitted, and your earnest attention is invited to them. I hope you will think that the terms are so fair as to justify you in passing a similar Address, so that the boundaries of Canada, may, COMMONS DEBATES   2 February 15, 1871 at an early day, be extended from the shores of the Atlantie Ocean on the one side, to the shores of the Pacific on the other.
Should such an Address be adopted, it will be necessary for you to take steps to secure the early exploration and survey of a route for an Interoceanic Railway, with a view to its construction in accordance with the terms of Union.
The acquisition of the North West Territories throws upon the Government and Parliament of the Dominion the duty of promoting their early settlement by the encouragement of immigration. This duty can be best discharged by a liberal land policy, and by opening up communications through our own country to Manitoba. The means proposed for accomplishing these purposes will be submitted for your consideration.
Her Majesty's Government has decided upon referring the Fishery question, along with other questions pending between the two countries, to a joint commission to be named by Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States. On this commission Canada will be represented. This mode of dealing with the various matters in controversy will, I trust, lead to their satisfactory adjustment. Canada urges no demand beyond those to which she is plainly entitled by Treaty and the law of Nations. She has pushed no claim to an extreme assertion, and only sought to maintain the rights of her own people fairly and firmly, but in a friendly and considerate spirit and with all due respect to foreign powers and international obligations. The thanks of the country are due to the Admiral on the Station and those under his command, for the valuable and efficient aid which they rendered to our cruisers during the past season in maintaining order and protecting the inshore fisheries from encroachment.
The prospect of the adoption of an international currency seems, in the present state of Europe, to be so remote, that I recommend you to consider the propriety of assimilating the currency of the Dominion without further delay.
The extension to Manitoba of the militia and other laws of the Dominion, and their adaptation to the present circumstances of that young Province, will require your attention.
The decennial Census will be taken on the third day of April next, and it is believed that a more thorough and accurate system has been adopted than any that has hitherto obtained. It may be necessary to amend the Act of last session in some particulars.
Among other measures, Bills will be presented to you relating to Parliamentary Elections, Weights and Measures, Insurance Companies, Savings Banks, and for the Consolidation and Amendment of the Inspection Laws.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,―
I have given directions that the Public Accounts shall be laid before you. You will learn with satisfaction that the Revenue for the past year was in excess of what was estimated, and that the prospects for the current year are so encouraging that,
notwithstanding the extensive public improvements which are contemplated, you will probably be able to diminish the taxation of the Country.
The Estimates for the ensuing year will be submitted to you, and I feel assured that you will be of opinion that the supplies which you will be asked to vote can be granted without inconvenience to the people.
Hon. Gentlemen of the Senate, Gentlemen of the House of Commons,-
I lay these various and weighty matters before you, in full confidence that they will engage your mature attention, and I pray that the result of your deliberations may, with the Divine Blessing, prove conducive in all respects to the advancement and happiness of the country.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD moved that His Excellency's speech be taken into consideration tomorrow.
The House resolved to establish the usual Standing Committees, and adjournment was moved, by Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, seconded by Hon. Sir George-E. Cartier.


On the motion for adjournment, Mr. MACKENZIE asked if it was the intention of the Government to bring down any correspondence regarding the fisheries before the discussion on the address of His Excellency tomorrow. It was desirable on so important a matter, if there was any correspondence relative to the appointment of the Joint High Commission that the House should have it before them, as it was quite impossible for them to avoid discussing it during the debate tomorrow. It was a matter of far too much importance to this country, looking at it simply as one respecting our national rights, that the House should pass durnbly over this portion of His Excellency's speech without discussing, to some extent, at least, the questions that everyone could see were involved in it. The Commission, for anything they might know to the contrary, might adopt some course that this Parliament might not think consistent with the national interests in this Dominion', and it was desirable that, at the earliest possible moment some expression of the opinion of public men in the country should be had on it. He took it for granted that the correspondence would be brought down.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD said it was not the intention of the government to bring down any correspondence or any papers of any kind before the answer to the address was carried. It was an unusual course and an exceedingly inconvenient one that the hon. member proposed. Care would be taken that the address to be moved should not commit any member of this House to the approval of the policy of the government on that or any other question. The government would, so soon as the House should address itself to business, bring down such portions of the


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1871. Edited by Norman Ward and Pamela Hardisty. Ottawa: Ministry of Supply and Services Canada, 2007. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.


Lauren Chancellor.

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