House of Commons, 16 February 1871, Canadian Confederation with British Columbia

COMMONS DEBATES February 16, 1871 7
[...] obtainment of the opinion of this House in reference to the important matters to be dealt with by the approaching International Commission. The Hon. Premier was soon to leave for Washington. No discussion of the fishery or other questions, to come before the Commission, would be of the slightest advantage if it were to follow the departure of the leader of the Government. He thought it was their bounden duty to strengthen the hands of their representative on that Commission by every means in their power. He proposed to do so by a resolution. If the Government promised him an early opportunity of doing so—say Monday or Tuesday, he would not stand in the way of the immediate passage of the address.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD promised the early opportunity solicited. He quite recognised the importance of these subjects, and the propriety of the discussion before he left for Washington.
Hon. Sir A.T. GALT said he was satisfied with that statement, as he believed fair play would be given him.
The matter then dropped.
* * *


Mr. LACERTE rose to propose the address in reply to His Excellency's Speech from the Throne. Taking up the various paragraphs, he spoke briefly on each, as usual, expressing concurrence in the different views therein set forth, and complimenting the Government on its administrative policy. He referred particularly to the Fenian enterprise of last spring, and the wise and vigorous efforts put forth for its overthrow. He hoped the House would fully sustain the Administration in this matter by voting the additional expenditure it was compelled to incur. He was glad at the prospect of the settlement of the fishery dispute, and believed everything would be done to protect Canada's interests. Fortunately the Red River trouble was ended, thanks to the judicious and conciliatory action of the Government, and to the exertions and bravery of the Volunteers. The Dominion was in a prosperous condition, largely owing to the wisdom of Ministers, who deserved the confidence of Parliament and the people. He had much pleasure in moving the Address.
Mr. KIRKPATRICK rose to second the motion. The topics of the speech well deserved the compliments paid them. Scarcely had the Parliament been prorogued last summer when hordes of miscreants from the United States suddenly assembled on our frontier to pillage and ravage our land. To add to the infamy and offensiveness of this outrage, those marauders chose for the time of their unwarranted operations, the day above all, dear to loyal British subjects, the Queen's birthday. The hostile movement was, thanks to the bravery and loyalty of our volunteers and the troops of the Queen, hurled back in disgrace from our border. He hoped and doubted not the House would cheerfully vote the extra expenses entailed by this attempted Fenian invasion.
The next subject of the Speech was the Fisheries, and it was but truth to say that the action of the Canadian Government in regard to them had met with the approbation of the whole country. The reference of General Grant to the action of Canada exhibited both ignorance and prejudice. The Dominion had but acted within its right, and it was certain The next subject in the speech was that of Manitoba. No better Governor could have been chosen than him who is now de facto, if not de jure in power. The improvements already witnessed in Manitoba prove the judiciousness of the efforts made to suppress disorder and rebellion, and set up the authority of Canada. The brave Volunteers who had been instrumental in securing those happy results, deserved the thanks of the country. When disbanded he believed they were entitled to grants of land in Manitoba. No better settlers could be chosen, and in justice to them, and in the interests of the Province, everything should be done to retain them in the North West.
The proposed admission of British Columbia and Vancouver Island was a subject of satisfaction to us all. The great scheme of Confederation was being rapidly consummated. Those great territories, so rich in natural resources, would be a great acquisition to Canada, and everything possible should be done to unite them to her by a Pacific Railway, grants of land, and, if possible, pecuniary contributions, should be made in aid of such enterprises.
There is little doubt that in this way they could be achieved. Immigrants were necessary to development of the great resources of the Pacific colonies, and good, rapid communications were indispensable to the attraction of immigration. The next subject of the Speech was the Fisheries, and it was but truth to say that the action of the Canadian Government in regard to them had met with the approbation of the whole country. The reference of General Grant to the action of Canada exhibited both ignorance and prejudice. The Dominion had but acted within its right, and it was certain that action was justified by the approval of the Government of England also. However, a Joint Commission had been appointed to consider the Fishery question and that relating to events connected with the last war, and from it he thought Canada had nothing to fear. He hoped, however, that the injury done to Canada by repeated Fenian raids would form one of the subjects discussed, and that indemnity for our losses thereby would be as rigorously required as was indemnity for the losses from the Alabama.
The improvement of our coinage system and other proposals of the speech would be cordially received. The interests of the country demanded such ameliorations. The general administration of the affairs of the Dominion had been beneficial, as its progress and prosperity amply testified. He could but concur in the closing aspiration of the Speech from the Throne, upon which the future happiness and advancement of Canada would largely depend.
Mr. MACKENZIE said that it was important in opening the grant inquest of the nation, that they should review the administration of affairs and foreign events, while abstaining from unusual criticism. Tremendous events had taken place since the last session, including those of a gigantic and disastrous war. It was but right he should express his sympathy with the sacrifices and sufferings of that great nation, being the friend and ally of England. He did hope that France would not suffer much either in feeling or February 16, 1871 COMMONS DEBATES 11 fight in our own quarrels. In our present position the feeling in favour of independence was spreading.
Hon. Sir FRANCIS HINCKS [excitedly]: No, no.
Mr. MASSON (Terrebonne): Yes, yes. The feeling was spreading. He appealed to the Government if they wished to continue the connection with England, as he did to enlighten the House on the intention of the Imperial Government, for Mr. Cardwell, a member of that Government; had recently delivered a speech the argument of which was that the colonies should in future act for the defence of England, or be feeders and not suckers.
Mr. MILLS said the Federal system made it necessary that each Province should have an independent governmental existence. Such could not be given to any Province by this Parliament. He had called attention to this fact last year, and was glad the Minister of Justice had changed his views in this respect. (Hear, hear.) As to the murder of Scott it was still competent for the Government of Canada to authorize the trial and punishment of Riel. The Minister of Justice had said that this Government had no power to cause the arrest of the murderers of Scott. This was not so. The Hudson's Bay Company were bound by the Imperial Government to transfer to Canada, for trial and punishment, persons guilty of higher crimes than rnisdemeanour. It was still competent for the Government of Canada to authorize the trial and punishment of Riel, and it was also competent for the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba to ask for extradition.
The second paragraph of the address was agreed to.
Hon. Mr. DORION on the proposal of the adoption of the paragraph relating to the admission of British Columbia, protested that he knew nothing of the merits of the terms of this admission, and declared his unwillingness to express blindfold any concurrence in the Govemment's Pacific Railway scheme. If it was to be one of the character of the Intercolonial Railway, he would give it his strenuous opposition. He could not approve of the wording of the paragraph.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD consented to a verbal alteration to meet the objection of the last speaker. The change was of a non-committal character, and thus modified, the clause was adopted.
The remaining paragraphs were read and concurred in without debate, and the address, being read a second time, was agreed to.
After the usual formal resolutions in regard to the address and its presentation, Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD gave notice of an address of congratulation to Lord Lisgar on the distinguished honour recently conferred upon him by Her Majesty.
The House adjourned at a quarter past nine.


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/.



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