House of Commons, 29 May 1869, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba



Saturday, May 29, 1869

The Speaker took the chair at three o'clock.


Mr. Bowman presented a petition from 160 inhabitants of Berlin for the repeal of the duty on books.
Mr. Oliver presented a report from the Select Committee appointed to consider the best means of relieving the country from the existing plethora of American silver. The Committee expressed the opinion that, all private efforts to remove the silver from circulation having failed, the intervention of the Government had become necessary. They recommended that the plan adopted by the Government last year, by which $1,000,000 were exported to England, or any other plan which would have the same result, be resorted to until an amount equal to $5,000,000 should be withdrawn from the circulation of the country.


Sir George E. Cartier moved consurrence in the resoltuions reported from Committee of the Whole respecting the acquisition of the North West Territory.
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald said he did not take credit for having done anything by any act of his during his public life towards the acquisition of this Territory. He did not, however, object to the scheme, although he had doubts whether the hopes built upon it would be realized. But he wished hon. gentlemen on the Treasury Benches to satisfy him what they proposed to do with regard to providing access to the Territory. Had they any scheme by which those who assumed the responsibility of governing that Territory could reach it at all seasons of the year? A mere waggon road and water communication from Thunder Bay to Fort Garry would not satisfy the public. If we had not a winter road the country would be of no use. The Indians would very probably regard the influx of settlers as an invasion of their country, and what would we do in the event of our receiving in the winter-time "telegraphic intelligence," say by way of Pembina, that there had been a for512 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 midable Indian rising? Would it be necessary to maintain a standing army there to guard against such consequences, or were the settlers to be left unprotected? He did not mean to oppose the resolutions; but he thought the country would like to know what provision was made against the eventualities to which he had alluded. He did not think the means we had at our disposal arising from the ordinary revenues of the country would be at all adequate for undertaking a railway or canal. Was it proposed to borrow money in order to provide a practicable route?
Mr. Mackenzie said before these questions were answered he would suggest the propriety of confining the discussion at present to the resolutions actually before the chair; which were for the purpose merely of acquiring the Territory. Other resolutions would no doubt have to be submitted to provide for gaining access to the territory and governing it, and it might be as well to reserve till then the discussion of the question raised by the member for Cornwall.
Sir George E. Cartier said the member for Lambton had taken the correct view of the matter. When these resolutions passed an address would be sent from here, and we would then have to wait until effect was given to it by an Order in Council, or a proclamation by Her Majesty; and it would be necessary also to have an Imperial Act granting the Imperial guarantee. But meanwhile, as soon as the address passed, the Government would bring a measure before the House to obtain authority to form a Provincial Government in that part of the Territory which might be deemed fit for cultivation, in order that as soon as the Queen's Proclamation issued no time might be lost in laying out townships for settlement. It would also be necessary for the Parliament of Canada to make adequate provision for establishing, as soon as possible, a suitable communication with the country. There were certain provisional communications which might be established almost immediately, and the question of permanent communication, which would require a larger expenditure of money, would also have to be considered after the Provisional Government was established and further information obtained as to the resources of the country, and what parts of it were most suitable for cultivation. The Government would then be better prepared to come down next session with a measure on the subject.
Hon. Mr. Smith alluded to the statement of the Quebec Conference, that this territory 513 was not to be added to the Dominion until the financial conditions of the Federal Government was such as to admit of it. The finances of the Dominion were clearly not in that condition at present. The people of the Maritime Provinces certainly were led to expect that this burden would not have to be shouldered till they were better able to bear it. There was very little doubt, too, but that the expenditure in opening up that country would be necessarily enormous, more than could be borne, and, in his view, the Government had been altogether premature in this measure. The ÂŁ300,000 asked for at the outset was but a small amount compared with that which would be needed for the opening up and governing of that country. For one he was dissatisfied with the course adopted by the Government on this point.
Hon. Mr. Tilley denied that any advocate of Confederation in the Maritime Provinces, and especially in New Brunswick, had ever stated that this Territory would not be assumed until some indefinite period in the future, when the Dominion would be very rich, any more than they pretended the Intercolonial Railway would be postponed until the annual revenue would bear the cost of it. No such statement was ever made by him, at all events. He always spoke of that Territory as one which would be absorbed in the Confederation before 1871.
Mr. Brown advocated prompt action in the interests of the settlers in the North West, as well as of the people of Canada. The settlers in the Red River section had for years appealed to the Imperial and Canadian Governments in vain for a change of government. And they had the further mortification of seeing that while England and Canada neglected the British subjects there, the Americans protected their people. They had established a consulate there, and in many ways showed a due care for their fellow citizens—while they were doing this, what was the state of affairs among the British settlers? A cruel and grasping monopoly oppressed and kept them down, and even illegally fined and imprisoned them. Facts of this nature he could establish by an affidavit which showed that very great injustice indeed had been perpetrated by the Hudson's Bay Company. Hence it was that he implored hon. gentlemen not to delay, but to take the most prompt and energetic action in order to bring about a new state of affairs in that country. As to the question of route, by way of Minnesota was a very good one, but it was not advisable that emigrants should 514 COMMONS DEBATES May 29, 1869 be sent around by that route while a much shorter one could be made across our own Territory. After speaking some time on the subject of route, Mr. Brown said in reference to the people of this country leaving for the United States many causes had been assigned, but there was one which he might mention, though perhaps it might appear invidious to do so. In the county he had the honour to represent there was a gentleman, a member of the Legislature, who had for years encouraged people to leave the county of Brant, and settle in Arkansas. If the American Government could secure emigrant agents, within the very walls of our Legislature, it was no wonder that people left this country, (hear, hear).
Mr. Ferguson desired to say a word or two in reply to the member for Westmoreland. To begin with that gentleman's opposition was too late. An agreement had been signed for the purchase of the Territory, but undoubtedly the ÂŁ300,000 to be paid as purchase money, would be so much thrown away unless followed up by the expenditure of much large sums for the opening out of the country. He felt very well satisfied with the mission of the delegates to England on this subject, and thought they deserved every credit. The hon. gentleman advocated the making of good roads into that country, and strongly urged that very soon something better than waggon roads should be constructed to open up communications with the North- West. He hoped the Government would not only borrow as much money as would enable them to purchase that Territory, but also a sum sufficiently large to establish a good permanent line of steam communication. The Territory which they had acquired was magnificent, and would be cheap at one million instead of ÂŁ300,000. He believed that to-day the Americans would gladly give twenty millions of dollars for it.
Mr. Thompson. (Ont. N.) strongly advocated the construction of a railroad to open up this splendid North West. By judicious expenditure such as this a very large and yearly increasing emigration to that country might be promoted; but if the tide of travel were left to find its way there by the roundabout way of Minnesota, much of it would be lost by the way. He viewed this question of easy access to the North West as one of the greatest importance, and trusted that it would be dealt with by the House in no niggardly spirit of economy. The question of protection of the emigrants also required to 515 be dealt with by the Government, and would, he hoped, receive every consideration at their hands.
The resolutions were then concurred in, and
On motion of Sir George E. Cartier seconded by Hon. Mr. McDougall, it was resolved "that an address embodying the resolutions be presented to Her Majesty, and that a select Committee, composed of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George Cartier, Hon. Mr. McDougall, Hon. Mr. Tilley, Hon. Mr. Chauveau and Dr. Grant, be appointed to draw up such address." The address was then introduced, read a first and second time, and ordered to be engrossed; and a message was ordered to be sent to the Senate acquainting that body that the address had been passed, and requesting their concurrence.


Sir George E. Cartier moved the second reading of the Bill respecting Patents of Invention, from the Senate. It was, he said, the same in many respects as the Bill adopted by the House last Session, with an additional clause enabling a person in New Brunswick or elsewhere in the Dominion to obtain under the new measure a patent which could cover the whole territory in the Dominion, provided that he was a British subject, and that the subject matter of the invention had not been already used in any other part of the Dominion. To some extent, also, this measure amended a provision of the former law applicable to the late Province of Canada. By that law it was necessary that an applicant for a patent should be a British subject; but by the present measure, a residence in any of the Provinces for a year or more, irrespective of being a British subject, entitled a person to apply for a patent. Under the former Bill, a person introducing an invention from any foreign country except England or the States, could get a patent for it here. That provision of the law was now set aside, as the present moment, when negotiations were expected between ourselves and the States in regard to reciprocity, was hardly the time for conceding to the Americans any advantage. Nothing could be done in that way until they had established more reciprocal commercial relations between the two countries.
Mr. Mackenzie desired to ask an explanation on one point. It was said that patents in New Brunswick were to be made to cover the whole Dominion. Before the effect of such a law could be judged it would be nec-


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1869. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1975. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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