House of Commons, 15 February 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba



Tuesday. Feb. 15, 1870

The House having met at three o'clock, was summoned by a message from His Excellency, to meet in the Senate Chamber. Having attended and being returned.


Mr. Speaker informed the House that during the recess he had received communications; he also informed the House that during the recess the Clerk had received from the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, Certificates of the Election and Return of the following Members, to fill up vacancies which had occurred during the recess:-
Of John Lorne McDougall Esq., for the South Riding of the County of Renfrew.
Of Barthelemy Pouliot, Esq., for the Electoral District of L'Islet.
Of the Hon. Sir Adams George Archibald, for the Electoral District of Colchester (Nova Scotia).
Of Julius Scriver, Esq., for the Electoral District of Huntingdon.
Of the Hon. Sir Francis Hincks, K.C.M.G., C.B., for the North Riding of the County of Renfrew.
Of the Hon. Christopher Dunkin, for the Electoral District of Brome; and
Of the Hon. Alexander Morris, for the South Riding of the County of Lanark.
The newly elected members having previously taken the oath, were severally introduced and took their seats.
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 follows:-
Honourable Gentlemen of the Senate, Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
I recur, with confidence, to your advice, and have much satisfaction in being enabled, on the present occasion, to summon you to the 2 COMMONS DEBATES February 15, 1870 discharge of your public duties at the period of the year most convenient to yourselves.
The circumstances under which we meet are in many respects auspicious. The bounty of Providence crowned the harvest with abundance, and made the Fisheries unusually productive; in many districts existing industries have been enlarged, and new enterprises have started into activity, furnishing fresh avenues for commerce, and additional employment for our people; whilst every day new sections of the country are being opened to the labours of the husbandman. The trade and wealth of the Dominion are on the increase, and the equal administration of the laws maintains, as heretofore, the enjoyment of a general sense of security.
I have watched, with much anxiety, the course of events in the North-West Territories. Unfortunate misapprehensions of the intentions with which the country was sought to be acquired by Canada have led to complications of a grave character. With a view to their removal, I have thought it desirable to exhaust every means of conciliation, before adopting other measures; and the latest advices lead me to expect that the groundless alarms entertained by a portion of the inhabitants, have given place to a desire to listen to the explanations which I have caused to be made to them. Efforts made in the spirit which has animated my Government throughout, can scarcely fail to accomplish an equitable and peaceful solution of the existing difficulty, and thereby secure the speedy incorporation of the North- West Territories with Canada, an object so earnestly desired by the Empire and the Dominion.
As the Act for the temporary Government of the Territories when united with Canada, will expire at the close of the present Session, a measure providing for their Government will be submitted for your consideration.
The Charters of most of the Banks of the Dominion were, last Session, extended for a limited period, with the view that during the interval the questions of Banking and Currency should receive the consideration which their importance demands. A measure intended to ensure safety to the community, without interfering with the legitimate operations of the Banks will be submitted for your consideration, and will, I trust, be found calculated to place those important interests upon a sound and stable basis.
The Laws in force on the subject of the Elective Franchise, and the regulation of Parliamentary Elections in the several Provinces of the Dominion, vary much in their operations, and it is important that uniform provision should be made, settling the Franchise and regulating Elections to the House of Commons. A measure upon this subject will be submitted for your consideration.
Under the operation of an Act of the Imperial Parliament, passed in the year 1869, to amend the laws relating to the Coasting Trade, and Merchant Shipping in British Possessions, a period of two years is given to the Legislatures of the several Colonies of the Empire to make provision for the regulation of the Coasting Trade. In the absence of legislation on the subject, within the period named, the provisions of the Imperial Law will be in force. The extent and value of our internal commerce, render legislation on this subject desirable, and a measure with regard to it will be submitted for your consideration.
The creation of a Court of Appeal under the powers conferred upon you by the Union Act, is a matter deserving your attention. A measure will be submitted to you for the establishment of such a Court, and for conferring upon it certain original jurisdiction.
The year 1871 is that in which the next decennial Census is fixed by law to take place. As there are different laws on the subject in the several Provinces, it will, therefore, be necessary to pass a General Act, to establish a uniform and accurate system throughout the Dominion. Steps have already been taken to secure the co-operation of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; and, I trust, a Census upon one system will be made simultaneously in all Her Majesty's British North American Possessions. I need not expatiate on the importance of the information which the tables of the Census are calculated to afford, as, in addition to their interest and value on general grounds, it must be recollected that upon them depends the readjustment of the Parliamentary representation.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
I have directed that the accounts of the last year shall be laid before you. The Estimates for the present financial year will also be submitted. They have been framed with every regard to economy, compatible with the efficiency of the Public Service; and you will, I trust, be of opinion that the Finances are in a satisfactory state, and that the people can, without inconvenience, afford, for the service of her Majesty, 4 COMMONS DEBATES February 15, 1870 the supplies which it will be the duty of my Government to ask you to vote.
Honourable Gentlemen of the Senate, Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
The Act respecting the Militia and Defence of the Dominion has not failed to engage my attention. The high spirit and loyalty of the people are placed in a clear light by the fact that the Active Militia have, voluntarily, come forward largely in excess of the quota required, as well as by the zealous attendance of the various Corps at the annual training in the camps, and by the promptness with which they assembled in force, at the call of duty, on more than one occasion, when Fenian marauders threatened the peace of the country.
I have observed, with great satisfaction, the efforts which have been made in several of the Provinces of the Dominion to foster and encourage immigration to our shores. The continued progress of great public works, in many portions of the country, will afford the opportunity of early employment to intending immigrants, and I look forward with confidence to the addition of a large and valuable class of settlers to our population during the coming season.
During the Summer and Autumn I had the opportunity of visiting different parts of the Dominion. I proceeded first to Quebec, thence to the Maritime Provinces; and at Halifax, I had the honour of receiving His Royal Highness Prince Arthur. Subsequently I attended His Royal Highness in a tour to the Province of Ontario. Everywhere the great capabilities of the country, and the proofs of vigorous industry made themselves apparent, and it became my pleasing duty to report to Her Majesty's Government, as the result of my observations, that the inhabitants of the Dominion are well contented with their position and prospects, and that the wish nearest their hearts is to avail themselves of the franchises and full powers of legislation, which they possess, in order to build up, as a portion of the British Empire, institutions of their own choice, by laws of their own making.
I now leave you to the labours of the session, with earnest aspirations for your complete success.
On motion of the Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, His Excellency's speech was ordered to be taken into consideration tomorrow.


Resolved, That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by [...]


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1870. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1979. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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