House of Commons, 18 February 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba

68 COMMONS DEBATES February 18, 1870
[...] leading public men of both the great parties, who had so long and so fiercely struggled with each other, than the fact that in the presence of a great necessity, they had forgotten what was due to party, in order that they might accomplish an important measure indispensable to the progress, properity and security of their common country. If there was any foundation for the statement of the honourable member for Lambton, as to the present critical condition of our country, he must see that the same necessity existed for the patriotic combination of those who in the first place sacrificed party considerations for the accomplishment of the Confederation of British North America. He was persuaded, notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. gentleman who had just spoken, that the great Reform party who had sacrificed so much at the shrine of patriotism since the inception of the measure, would not recede from the position they had assumed when they declared in the face of the people that they would forget for a time the duty they owed to party, and combine with those with whom, throughout their political career, they had been placed in a position of the strongest antagonism. It was only necessary to listen to the remarks of the hon. gentleman to see that the reasons which impelled the heads of the great parties in this country to combine and forget their previous hostility towards each other, still existed to impel them to preserve the same unflinching attitude which they believed the best interests of the people demanded. Did the hon. gentleman wish the people to believe that this question was settled, when he told the House in such forcible terms that the Province of Nova Scotia was still disaffected, and that the North-West Territory was in the midst of an insurrection? Was the hon. gentleman, under such circumstances, prepared to light the torch of party discord, and return to the state of things that existed before the formation of that political combination which had already achieved so much for the country at large? The House would not forget how, in the struggles for party ascendancy, denomination had been arrayed against denomination, nationality against nationality, section against section, until the credit of Canada was dragged down to the lowest ebb, and the credit of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also imperilled and, indeed, materially affected by the same causes. He regretted that the Hon. Mr. Brown, to whom honour would be ever accorded for the part he took in the inception of the Coalition which had brought about such great results, should have thought proper, at the most critical period of our political history, to withdraw his support and co-operation from a Government, framed upon principles so elevated and so essential to the best interests of the 69 country. From the very first hour they came into power, they had steadily kept in view the patriotic object which they had pledged themselves to accomplish. He had listened with the deepest attention to the criticism of gentlemen who had been former supporters of the Government as well as of those who were their persistent opponents. They had pronounced the efforts of the Coalition to advance the great measure of Confederation entirely ineffective. He defied those honourable gentlemen to show in what respects there had been a failure. He would like them to point to the pages of history and show where as much had been done in as short a time in the case of any similar measure of national importance. That measure had consolidated four millions of people who had been previously separated in different Provinces, embracing a territory of nearly four hundred thousand square miles exclusive of the North- West. The political systems of the Provinces had been changed and brought under one government, without a single blow being struck. Instead of resulting in failure, the combination of parties had led to the most magnificent success. In the Province of Nova Scotia a great change had been effected in a remarkably short time; it was only necessary to compare its present condition with that which it occupied when he first stood up to address that House, to see what the wise policy of the Administration had accomplished. A calm and impartial review of the present situation of the Confederation, from one end to the other, would at once show that a great revolution had been effected peacefully and successfully, through the statesmanlike efforts of the men who had combined with the most patriotic aims in view. As respects the North-West difficulty, he entertained the most sanguine expectations that it would be speedily arranged most satisfactorily. This opinion was based on information he had derived from the visit he had been able to pay that country, only a few weeks previously. He had the pleasure of passing some days within the territory itself, and some weeks in a section of country characterized by similar natural features and resources; and he must say that his opinion of the capabilities of the country had been considerably elevated. He had listened, with great pain, to the remarks that had fallen from the honourable member from Terrebonne. The position that that honourable gentleman had assumed, with respect to that delicate question, was untenable, and calculated to sacrifice the best interests of the Dominion. That territory afforded a field of immigration that could not be found in any other part of British North America. At an early day the House would have the satisfaction of knowing that, by the annexation of the North-West, they had not only strengthened
ests of the country, that the House should wait until the policy of the Government on so important a question was brought down and fully explained. If the Finance Minister succeeded in dealing with this great question in a manner satisfactory to the great commercial interests involved, he would obtain as he deserved the support of the House and the thanks of the country. After a calm and dispassionate review of the course pursued by the Government, he believed that a large majority of the House would agree with him in the opinion that the time had not arrived when power could be entrusted in the hands of the gentlemen opposite, without seriously retarding the great work of consolidating and extending the Confederation of British North America from Newfoundland to Vancouver's Island, and imperiling the best interests of all classes of our people. (Loud cheering.)
Hon. Mr. Huntington then reviewed the speech of the member for Cumberland. That hon. gentleman had no doubt good cause for congratulation. He had boasted that Nova Scotia had been conciliated, but though a few gentlemen had been conciliated, was there any more faith in the Dominion among the people of Nova Scotia?
Hon. Dr. Tupper said the people of Nova Scotia had as often as the opportunity offered, by large majorities endorsed the action of gentlemen who had joined the government, and more volunteers had offered themselves for enrolment than the Act required.
Hon. Mr. Huntington went on to refer to the North-West difficulties, and condemned the government's policy on that question. It was the same policy, the same want of foresight, that they had followed in reference to Newfoundland and Prince Edward's Island. There might be glory in future for Confederation, but the government deserved no creditthey were but carrying out the inevitable Imperial policy. The hon. member for Cumberland should be the last man to ask them to give [...]


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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