House of Commons, 19 June 1869, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba

886 COMMONS DEBATES June 19, 1869
[...] On the item for opening up communication with the North West, &c.
Hon. Mr. Holton objected to the Government asking for so large a sum as $1,460,000 for this purpose, as it was clear from their own statement that they did not expect to spend this summer more at the outside than some $200,000 or $300,000. This was the statement of the Minister of Public Works last evening. It was the intention of the Government apparently to offer in the London market the bonds of the Dominion guaranteed by the Imperial Government to the extent of ÂŁ300,000. This sum was to pay off the Hudson's Bay Company, and in connection with these bonds it was probably the intention of the Government to offer an equal amount of Dominion bonds unguaranteed. The object for which this latter loan was sought would be declared in the prospectus in which the loan was offered. But the appropriation on which this half of the loan was based would be cancelled by the time $200,000 or so had been expended and the remainder would then probably go, contrary to the terms on which the loan was negotiated, to replenish the exchequer of the Hon. the Finance Minister, and assist him perhaps in recouping the former loan under the Imperial guarantee, which he had undertaken to recoup. Regard it in what light he would, he (Mr. Holton) looked on so large an appropriation for an indefinite purpose, as being unsound in the last degree. If the hon. gentlemen were prepared with a bold policy for opening up and setting that country he would be prepared to consider it. But, instead of securing the adoption of such a policy the course the Government were now pursuing would result in the Dominion being bled to death by these annual expenditures of a few hundred thousand dollars to the accomplishment of no purpose beyond that of depleting the Treasury and crippling our resources.
Hon. Mr. Rose said that the hon. member was aware that without taking this step the Government could not get power to borrow the amount needed. He quite agreed with the hon. member as to the desirability of a bold and comprehensive policy with reference to the opening up and settlement of the North-West, and for that purpose asked a sum which would probably be more than enough so as far as this year's expenditure was concerned. When the Government had to go on the market for the ÂŁ300,000, for the purchase of the territory, it would be extremely unwise in them not to take advantage of this, and raise some more on their 887 own unguaranteed debentures on account. The hon. gentleman made some further explanations, which were inaudible in the gallery, except that he said, that in entering on this new territory the Government had really no idea of what amount they would require to spend.
The item was concurred in, and the four following items.
On the item, $8,000 for Emigration,
Mr. Mackenzie asked further explanations.
Sir John A. Macdonald explained that the Government, in furtherance of Emigration, had appointed as Emigration Agent Mr. Moylan, an Irish Catholic gentleman, who had been a long time in the country and had ample experience in Ireland as well as Canada. It was proposed to give him ÂŁ300 a year and an office. A sub-agent was also to be appointed in the North of Ireland. It was proposed to appoint a Protestant agent. A Scotch agent would also be appointed; Scotch emigration being, as a rule, of the very best class. Mr. Allan, of the Montreal Steamship line, had been spoken to to find a suitable man.
The item was concurred in.
On the item, $20,000 for Collection of Customs,
Mr. Mackenzie said that he thought the expense of collecting the revenue of Halifax, 10 per cent, was too much. The Minister of Customs had promised to take steps to reduce the expenditure at an early day. It was also charged by an hon. member of that House that for out-port services a number of useless appointments had been made for purely political reasons. It was charged that a number of men were appointed to such positions where no revenue was collected.
Hon. Mr. Tilley replied that there were no out-port officers at all in the port of Halifax. There was no port nearer than Tangier where any such officers were employed. He believed that in Halifax and other ports persons had been placed in the offices at a later period of life than ought to have been the case. He hoped to get rid of these, as they were inefficient, but did not see his way to doing so at present. As to the cost of revenue collection at Halifax, it was 5 and 10 per cent, as stated. He was satisfied that a reduction in the out-port service might take place, for, do what he could in that direction, hon. gentlemen would see that for the first year 888 COMMONS DEBATES June 19, 1869 of Confederation the cost of the service under discussion was $24,000. This year it was proposed to reduce it to $20,000.
Mr. McDonald (Lunenburg) explained that a much larger number of vessels come into Halifax in proportion to the amount of $8,000, than into other ports like Montreal, where the importations were carried on in larger vessels than was the case at Halifax. The number of vessels at Halifax being much larger the expense of collection was of course greater. As to the charge that a number of elderly persons had been taken into the Customs Department in that Province, the Minister of Customs was mistaken. There were old men of 76 and 80 in the service, but they had entered it 40 years ago, were miserably paid, and were in fact unable to leave. Some provision should be made for such men.
Mr. Jones dissented from the idea that persons who had grown grey in the service of this country should be provided for by the country. Clergymen, farmers, mechanics grew grey in the service of their country, but no one proposed to pension them out of the public funds.
Mr. Chipman said the common feelings of humanity prompted men to provide for servants who had grown old in their services, and even for their support. The Government should act on the same principle.
Mr. Harrison said that in different trades there were arrangements, by making small contributions, to make provision for their old or infirm members. A similar arrangement should be made with reference to the employees.
Hon. Mr. Wood pointed out that the principle of life insurance was open to the civil service. He was opposed to the present system.
The item was agreed to.
On the item, Purchase of Red River Territory $1,460,000,
Mr. Mackenzie suggested that the Government should take means to issue, for the benefit of intending settlers, information as to the topography of the country, and the means to be adopted to secure a location. He suggested also the propriety of procuring for distribution a certain number of copies of Russell's very valuable work, which, he remarked, contained more information than any other as to the Territory.
Hon. Mr. Gray expressed his high approval of Mr. Russell's work, and his concurrence in the suggestion that a number of copies be procured for distribution.
Hon. Mr. Dunkin approved the suggestion, and desired also that it should be distributed in the French language.
Mr. Jones (Leeds) made some remarks as to the policy which should be adopted in opening up a route to the Red River. He recommended the Government to be very cautious about spending much money on the mixed land and water route from Lake Superior to Fort Garry. Such a route could not be open for more than four months in the year. He pronounced the country known as the fertile belt to be utterly unfit for agricultural purposes.
Sir George E. Cartier—Did Sir Isaac Newton say anything about it? (Laughter.)
Mr. Jones—Not directly but indirectly, in shewing the influence of the planetary arrangement on high latitudes. (Laughter.)
Mr. Simpson from his personal knowledge coincided with the views of Mr. Dawson on the question of route. He thought there was no chance of getting emigrants in by way of the United States. They would be beset on their way by agents with all sorts of inducements to get them to settle short of their destination. He hoped the Government would press forward the works recommended by Mr. Dawson. It was premature at present to consider the question of a railroad.
Mr. Chamberlin pointed out that even if the route from Lake Superior, as part of main line of communication, should ultimately be abandoned, it would be valuable as a colonization road to the valuable lands in the vicinity of Rainy Lake.
Hon. Mr. McDougall, with reference to the suggestion of the member for Lambton, did not see how he could meet his views as to circulating the publication to which reference had been made. He shared in the high appreciation of that work which had been expressed, but that work was now in course of sale, and all who desired to make themselves familiar with the character and resources of the country would procure the work. A large edition would be published of the report of the Committee on Emigration; and Mr. Dawson's evidence, embodied in that report, would give, he understood, very clearly the information desired. But as a general rule he 890 COMMONS DEBATES June 19, 1869 thought the giving of such information should be left to private enterprise. The Government, at least, should be careful in putting its imprimatur on the statement which would guide immigrants in deciding as to the place of settlement. The Government during the summer would take some further steps to ascertain by examination the character of the country. It had got into the newspapers that as Minister of Public Works he proposed shortly to visit the territory. He hoped, with the assent of his colleagues, he might be able to do so, and he trusted he might be accompanied by the Minister of Public Works of Ontario, which would receive a large addition to its domain.
Hon. Mr. Holton—How?
Hon. Mr. McDougall—By the settlement of the boundary of Upper Canada. He believed the boundary of Upper Canada extended further into the territory than its jurisdiction had ever gone, and he presumed that Upper Canada would find it easier to deal with the Dominion Government in such a matter than with the Hudson's Bay Company. As regarded the practicability of the route from Fort William, that was a settled matter. He thought there could be no question that it was the duty of the Government to open up the route that would afford the speediest access to the territory, and postpone action as to the permanent and more expensive communications until they had better ascertained the character of the country, and the best modes of reaching it.
Hon. Mr. Holton asked if he was to understand from the Minister of Public Works that he considered Ontario inherited the claim of Canada to a part of the territory, a claim which covered nearly the whole of the desirable part of it.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said the pretension was that the River Mississippi formed the western boundary of Upper Canada, as fixed by the Act of 1774. The Mississippi rose in American territory; and the question as to the extension of the line it formed would have to be determined by local considerations. But it was also claimed that the fertile portion of the North-West formed part of Canada under the old French regime, and was therefore not included in the charter of the Hudson's Bay Company. But it was never contended that that formed part of Upper Canada.
Hon. Mr. Holton, threw out especially for the consideration of the Member for Cornwall the suggestion whether the Province of Ontario, under its present able and economical Government, might not with advantage to itself and to the whole Dominion, undertake this work of opening up communication with the North-West, colonizing it, and annexing it for the time being to Ontario, with the proviso that at some future time it might come into the Dominion as a separate Province.
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald, as Premier of Ontario, would have no objections to undertake the outlay of the money that was now being voted by this House (Laughter.) He did not suppose his hon. friend meant that Ontario was to provide this money.
Hon. Mr. Holton—You can raise money by selling the lands.
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald said the Province of Ontario had already lands enough on hand and was satisfied With its present condition without extending its domain in the meantime. The chief benefit that Ontario got from Confederation was that it had now the management of its own affairs, and he was afraid it would only result in loss and disaster if it were to enter on the large speculation suggested by the member for Chateauguay, of annexing and opening up the North-West. As regarded the boundary he hoped they would not have so much trouble in that matter with the Dominion Government as they had had with regard to getting the arbitration between Ontario and and Quebec proceeded with. He believed that matter would have been sooner settled if they had referred it to the Emperor of Russia or King of the Belgians. (Hear, hear.)
The item was concurred in and the two following items.
On the 3rd, Advances by the Government during the Fenian Raid to St. Catharines, $800.
Hon. Mr. Holton asked an explanation respecting a claim so extraordinary on the face of it.
Hon. Mr. Rose said it was the amount expended by Capt. Schofield on behalf of St. Catharines in feeding the troops during the raid, which amount he was made personally responsible for in an action, and in order to relieve him the Government placed this amount in the estimates.
have brought it before the House at the time as a matter of privilege, instead of waiting to go to the library and fortify himself with authorities.
The Speaker said the language used by the member for Cornwall was capable of two constructions. The construction that occurred to him at the moment was one which conveyed a severe reflection on himself. He had no doubt now, however, that the hon. gentleman's language was used in a different sense, and he begged to express his regret at having misunderstood him. (Hear, hear.)


On motion of hon. Mr. Rose, the Amendments made in the Senate respecting the Insolvency Act were read and amended.


The House went into Committee on the following Bills which were read a third time and passed.
Act respecting the Inspection of Steamboats, for the greater safety of passengers by them. Sir John A. Macdonald.
Act respecting inquiries and investigations into Shipwrecks and other matters.— Sir John A. Macdonald.
Act to provide for the Temporary Government of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory when united with Canada.— Sir John A. Macdonald.
Act respecting the Admeasurement and Registration of Vessels, from the Senate.- Sir John A. Macdonald.
The following Bills were Considered in Committee and reported:-
Respecting Prompt and Summary Administration of Criminal Justice in certain cases. — Sir John A. Macdonald.
Respecting the Punishment of Juvenile Offenders— Sir John A. Macdonald.
With the consent of the House Sir John A. Macdonald moved that Monday be a Government day, and that the House meet from 11 till 1, 3 till 6, and 7:30 till the adjournment; With the consent of the House His Excellency, the Governor-General, would prorogue the House on Tuesday or Wednesday—Carried.
The House adjourned at 12 o'clock.


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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