House of Commons, 22 February 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba

[...] plimented the hon. member for Cumberland (Hon. Dr. Tupper) who had with grave dignity read the hon. member for Sherbrooke out of his party. But the Hon. Minister of Militia, on whose breath the government could be turned out, had in his statesmanlike speech said that he had no objection to the views of the hon. member for Sherbrooke on the subject of independence, though he did not want to place that gentleman in a position favourable to any movement—Fenian movement he might say- towards independence.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said he did not expect any Fenian movement on the part of the hon. member; as for the Fenians, his volunteers would take care of them.
Hon. Mr. Huntington said the hon. Minister of Militia had said the subject of independence should not be taken up by this Parliament, and apart from that he would be delighted to have the hon. member for Sherbrooke for his colleague. He would ask the Hon. Finance Minister and the hon. member for Cumberland, if he was to be ruined and degraded because he had expressed an independent opinion. The member for Cumberland had attempted to make a gulf between the hon. member for Sherbrooke and his party. He (Mr. Huntington) went on to charge the Government with slowness in proceeding with Confederation. He had not been an ardent confederationist, but he had accepted it and become anxious for its success, but the Government had not adopted measures for Confederation in Nova Scotia and the North-West, which the exigencies of the public service demanded. He had been aware a year or two ago, that disaffection existed at Red River among the half-breeds, and that they were afraid Canada was about to absorb their lands. He had been told that deputations had been sent to Fort Garry, to demand from the Governor an explanation, in order to know if their Territory was to be ceded to Canada. He did not know how much truth there was in all this, but he considered that it surely must have come to the ear of the Government. The hon. member for Cumberland had visited the country, and had ascertained in four days what the government did not know before that time, that there was disaffection, and he almost sympathized with the insurgents on account of the fairness and justness of the Bill of Rights which they had formulated. Referring to the Hon. Secretary of State, then President of the Council, he spoke of his affection for the people of Red River, and his gallantry in repelling aspersions upon the fairer portion of the population of that country, (laughter) but considered that his presence there was an induce 132 COMMONS DEBATES FEBRUARY 22, 1870 ment for the people to hold out in their demands. He went on to deprecate any cries of disloyalty, and said he would not enter upon the subject. He had no intention of making a movement in the House on the subject of independence, and had advised his friends that it would be improper and unwise to introduce a petition to Parliament upon that subject. He had expressed this opinion before, without compromising his honourable friends on his right or on his left. He had thought the grave question of colonial relations, was a fair one for discussion in this country, as it was discussed on the other side of the Atlantic. He had studied and discussed this question in a political sense, and as an orator and essayist. It had been widely discussed in England, and had called out an authoritative declaration that colonies, and Canada, when they wanted to go might do it, and the Imperial Government would place no obstructions in the way. He maintained that a man ought not to be ostracised because he favored independence. The Hon. Finance Minister was the apostle of perpetual connection, of perpetual colonial inferiority, but the time would come when independence would be a practical movement. Some parties in England—among them the Tory Standard—have recently asserted that the colonies had too much freedom, and that the British Parliament ought to regulate the tariff and other matters, so as to bring them more in consonance with that of the Empire. Would not the Hon. Finance Minister become a missionary for perpetual unity, and for the restricting, and the taking away of some of the privileges for which he had fought in the olden time? He earnestly desired the success of Confederation, but thought the only way in which Canada could become a great country, was when she gained her place among the nations of the earth, and then he predicted for her a glorious future.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he would detain the House only a few minutes, in reply to the extraordinary personal attack that had been made upon him by the member for Shefford. It was very unfair to charge him with having introduced this discussion. It was introduced by the member for Lambton, who had thought proper to make a private and confidential letter of his a subject of discussion in this House. He (Sir Francis) had been blamed for referring to a private conversation, but it should not be forgotten that the whole of this discussion arose from previous reference to his confidential circular. The hon. gentleman had charged him with putting himself forward as leader of the Reform party. He had done nothing of the kind. No doubt the Premier had considered he might have some influence with 133 Reformers from Upper Canada, with whom he had formerly acted, but he never attempted to occupy the position of rival or leader in the Government. They hoped to be able to bring down a thoroughly Canadian national policy, which would command the support not only of Reformers, but of all the Provinces. He had been charged with repeating private conversations, but the gentleman who had that conversation with him, was not a private individual. Mr. Young was a gentleman who took a very prominent part in public affairs, was formerly a member of Parliament, and had attended Independence meetings with the member for Shefford. The member for Lambton stated very positively that there was no such thing as annexation sentiments in the country.
Mr. Mackenzie—I say so still.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said his opinion was, that such sentiments did exist, and his opinions had been strengthened by this debate, and by the statements of the member for Sherbrooke, though that gentleman had endeavored to-day to explain it away.
Hon. Sir A. T. Galt—I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon. Does he say that I endeavoured to explain away my statements?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he would repeat what the honourable gentleman had said and they could judge. He said that at the present time Independence . would lead to annexation.
Hon. Sir A. T. Galt—Yes, quite right.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks—That is exactly what I say, too. He (Sir Francis) moreover could not look forward to any time when independence would not lead to annexation. He took it that the member for Sherbrooke occupied exactly the same position as Mr. Young.
Hon. Sir A. T. Galt—I disclaim, altogether, any responsibility attaching to me for this conversation, which the Minister of Finance had with Mr. Young. I had nothing whatever to do with it. I do not share those views, and never have expressed them; and I beg the Honourable Finance Minister not to mix me up in the conversation he had with Mr. Young, in which Mr. Young stated to him that he desired annexation to flow from independence.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks went on to say, that he had great respect for Mr. Young, and was his personal friend and would not say a word to injure him. With regard to the letter which the member for Sherbrooke referred to last night, containing expressions of his views on independence, sent to the Governor General, to 134 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 be transmitted to England, he hoped that if that letter was read before this House, the answer also would be read. He protested against the letter being read without the answer.
Hon. Sir A. T. Galt—I shall ask permission to read the letter.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said there was one sentiment of the member for Shefford with which he cordially agreed, and that was that the people of this country were thoroughly loyal, and therefore he felt no danger would arise from the views of which the gentleman was the exponent. That gentleman had referred to the position of inferiority and disability under which the Colonies laboured. He did not believe that we occupied an inferior position. His strong objeciton to independence was that it would deprive us of monarchial institutions. No one would imagine that we were going to set up a monarchy here, and the only form of Government we could establish under independence would be that of our neighbours in the South, and he was sure they would agree with him that monarchial institutions were far superior. We enjoy practically all the independence any people could desire, and combined with that, we had the benefit of these institutions, which he sincerely believed were the best which any people could possess. It was idle to try to persuade us that we were labouring under any disabilities. We were not, and he sincerely hoped he would never see the day when any other flag should wave over us than that of England.
Mr. Mackenzie said, in reference to the Finance Minister's statement, that he (Mr. Mackenzie) had introduced a private circular into discussion, that it had been discussed a week in the newspapers (including Sunday, on which it was written), before it was spoken of in the House, and was public property.
Mr. Dufresne did not intend discussing the different paragraphs of the Address; but he wished to draw the attention of the House to the one relating to the North-West; he considered that question to be the most important one at issue. He regretted that the Government had selected Mr. McDougall as Lieutenant Governor of the North-West. When Commissioner of Crown Lands he had been sent to the Manitoulin Islands to negotiate a treaty with the Indians, and all recollect what trouble and disaffection he created in trying to carry out his mission. With this still fresh in their memory, the Government should have made another choice. The Indian tribes are linked together by the same ties that bind us, and 135 what affects the interests of one affects them all. The name of Mr. McDougall was sufficient in itself to create an insurrection of the Indian tribes and the half-breeds inhabiting the North-West. He believed the Government were honest and sincere in trying to carry out the Confederation Government scheme; but they must regret to-day, as all the members of the House do, that so unfortunate an appointment should have been made. The member for Lanark accused the French Canadian settlers of having been the first to rise in insurrection, but the accusation was unfounded. The French Canadians had proved their loyalty on many occasions; it was once said by an eminent statesman, now deceased, that the last shot which would be fired in Canada in defence of British interests, would be fired by a French Canadian, and he might add, that the last drop of blood which would be shed for the same cause, would be that of a French Canadian. The Government had made a great mistake in selecting the member for Lanark, but the evil could still be remedied. Let the Government appoint as Lieutenant Governor of the North- West an able, efficient and popular man, let him be selected irrespective of his nationality, and let his first duty be to conciliate the Catholic Clergy who enjoy such an immense power and influence over their co-religionists. He also wanted to draw the attention of the House to the fact that in the House there are members who are receiving large salaries, for services rendered as Commissioners; he could not object to those gentlemen, whom he highly esteemed, but he thought it was a very bad precedent.
Mr. Scatcherd complained that the debate was not on public questions, but on personal differences. The reciprocity question, and the obtaining of a market for the products of the farmer certainly merited some consideration, but they had been past by. He had supposed that the acquisition of the North-West Territory, and if acquired, the construction of a railway to open it up, might surely have engaged the attention of the House, for if the railway was not built, Canada would be better without the Territory; the enlarging of the canals, and improvement of internal navigation, to increase trade and commerce, were subjects for discussion of more importance, than whether the Minister of Justice had kept faith with two or three gentlemen whom he had admitted to the Cabinet, and who had themselves deserted their party to take office. Such matters were of no importance to any one but themselves. He held that the question of whether any member holding views in favor of independence was loyal, was like arguing whether any one in favor of Fenianism in Ireland was loyal, the 136 COMMON DEBATES February 22, 1870 difference being only that those in favor of independence were less dangerous, because they were not so strong, (hear, hear). If any one desired annexation, the road was not so long but that he could go and enjoy its blessings on American soil (cheers). What was the use of arguing whether the Finance Minister, who had been serving his Queen for 15 years, should be admitted to the Cabinet? It was not his past they had to look at but his future conduct. Charges equally strong had been made against the Ministers of Justice and Militia, and the member for Sherbrooke, by the Reform party, as had been made against him, (Opposition cries of "no, no"), but yet they did not disdain to enter into coalition with them. But it has been said the Minister of Finance had usurped the name of Reformer. If he had declared himself the leader of the Reform party in Ontario he must differ from him. The real leader of the party there is George Brown, (MacFarlane emphatically, "no, no"). The honourable member who said no, was mistaken. He thought the Finance Minister had done more for Reform than probably any other man in the Dominion, and that he did not assume too much in writing the circular. He saw Banking measures referred to in the address. He held the scheme brought before Parliament last session by Mr. Rose was sound, and the best that had been proposed, and had it come to a vote he would have supported it. He thought the people of the North-West had been too severely condemned for their conduct to the member for Lanark, for this country had no right to acquire that territory without consulting the people. Having done so, he could not see how they could expect different conduct from them. An Attorney-General and a Surveyor-General were taken from Canada, surveys being run before the land was acquired, than which nothing could be more odious to the people. All the Provinces had been consulted before the union, and so ought Red River. He did not believe that the few thousand half-breeds should be called savages, and their interests not consulted. He intended to deal with the Government and their measures as they came forward, and not with them for their past acts.
After recess,
Mr. Young said that up to that moment the speech of the hon. member for Lambton has been unanswered, and, in fact, was unanswerable. It must be apparent that the position of 137 the Government was different now from what it had been last Session. He thought that it was impossible that the people of Ontario could not but see that the professions of the Government had not been carried out, and that the agreement entered into at the last elections had been broken. The cry they went to the country with was that party differences were to be sunk and that however objectionable the policy of the Minister of Justice had been in the West, the Reformers of Ontario had a guarantee of the presence of Reformers in the Cabinet—but they found that almost from the commencement of the Government a deception was practised.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—How and in what respect?
Mr. Young said that there had been many deceptions practised, and when they found two of those who had supported it and had been within the Ministry, were now on the floor of the House in opposition, it seemed pretty clear proof that some deception had been practised. It seemed to him that the true point was whether the Government were to go to the country on the ground of a certain representation of the Liberal party in the Cabinet, and then not to carry out the agreement. They might write over the portals of the Cabinet, as a caution to those Liberals who entered it, the warning, ,"Let those abandon hope who enter here." If it could be shown that any of the members of the Government hampered Mr. McDougall's entrance to the North-West Territory, or in any way raised obstacles, directly or indirectly, to the peaceable acquisition of the country, then that Minister had lost the right to a seat in the Cabinet. He did object strongly to the false faith which had been kept by the Government to the Liberals of Ontario. With regard to the Finance Minister, he was not acquainted with the gentleman before he left the country; but he was acquainted with his history, and he knew of his ability. But when his old friends saw the manner in which he entered the Cabinet, when not a single member of the Government had said that he was pleased with the entrance of the hon. gentleman into the Cabinet, they would not consider that his entry had been worthy of approval; and if he only obtained the approval of Mr. Ferguson, he did not think his influence would amount to much. He held in his hand the speech of the Minister of Justice on the vote of the House of want of confidence against the present Minister of Finance, in which he said that in his Government he had more Walpoles than Pitts, and it had debauched the moral sense of the country, besides having questionable transactions in the public property. He 138 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 (Sir F. Hincks) had not entered into the charges against himself that had been published in the newspapers.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks—Of course, in The Globe, I suppose?
Mr. Young said that he should only be too happy to hear those charges denied, but they had not been successfully cleared up; and yet it was to such a man that Sir John A. Macdonald had entrusted the most important part of the public service. He could not but apply to him in that office the quotation of Mr. Baldwin, that "Confidence was a plant of slow growth; when once it was broken, it was difficult to restore it." Then, with regard to the policy of the Government, they had violated the Constitution in their grant to Nova Scotia; and the Ontario Legislature had passed resolutions asking that Imperial legislation might be taken which would prevent such acts in the future, and there was no doubt that the example would be attempted to be followed by the other Provinces at present in the Confederation. This would account in some measure for the disturbances at Red River. The conduct of the hon. member for Cumberland, in regard to the grant to Nova Scotia, was answered, and he thought that if a different course had been pursued in regard to this matter, the difficulties that had been experienced in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island would have been overcome. He was astonished to find that the Government had taken credit for economical management of the Dominion; and he was astonished even more to hear the hon. mover of the Address refer to it. He would like to know where the economy of the Government was to be found. Was it in the creation of new Cabinet officials, and in the way the Intercolonial Railway was being managed? He was afraid that instead of economy the very opposite course had been pursued. The public debt of the Dominion, after payment of the expenses contemplated, would amount to $120,000,000, and would entail a heavy taxation of the country. If they put the same duties upon articles entering the Dominion as the Americans did, they would be in fact cutting off their noses because the Americans did theirs. (Laughter.) He would go for any national policy which would benefit Canada; but he did not approve of a tariff which would place them in the same position as America.
Hon. Dr. Tupper said that his equal tariff referred to articles which now went free, but which should then be placed on an equal footing with the American tariff.
Mr. Young said that he would support any measure which would place Canada on a proper footing, if it was endorsed by the leaders of the House.
Mr. Jones (Leeds and Grenville)—I will endorse it. (Loud laughter.)
Mr. Young then passed some strictures on the Militia Bill, and on the Banking Bill which he said was withdrawn amid the ridicule of the House. Gross inaccuracies in the public accounts appeared time after time, and the Government had agreed to pay $1,500,000 for the North-West Territory, and had sent up a Governor who could not enter the Territory. In conclusion he had considered the whole of the acts of the Government, and he, after careful consideration, did not think them calculated to promote the prosperity of the nation or the cause of Confederation.
Several members rose, but gave way to
Hon. Mr. Langevin, who said that he was not present when the hon. member for North Lanark spoke yesterday; but he had read his speech, and found that he had stated that the insurgents of the North-West Territory were encouraged in that course by the hon. Secretary for the Provinces, and that those sitting near and behind him sympathised with him. He wished to ask the hon. member whether, in speaking, he referred to members of the Cabinet who were Lower Canadians.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said if they were to go into the discussion opened up by that question, it would be better, perhaps, if it were postponed until they had the papers before them. He was not prepared to go into the question till the papers were before the House.
Hon. Mr. Langevin said, if the hon. member was not ready now to make good his words he should not have used them. In fairness to an old colleague who had been for years in the Government with him, he should have answered the question he put to him or withdraw his statement. A paper in this city some days ago published an article in which his (Mr. Langevin's) name was freely used, and some accusation was then made against him which the hon. member had made last night against some member sitting near the Secretary for the Provinces. He was accused of having encouraged and promoted insurrection in the North-West country. That was a grave accusa 140 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 ion to be made against any public man, and had it been made in Parliament he would have nailed it at once. He now took the earliest opportunity of stating, in his place in Parliament, that the report to which he referred was false and a base calumny, (hear, hear). It had been stated that when Mr. Provencher was sent to meet the insurgents he held a conversation with them at River Sale, and they then told him that they were encouraged by members of the Government at Ottawa, and his (Langevin's) name was used. Out of the whole population of the North-West he knew only three individuals, Governor McTavish, Vicar- General Thibault, and Colonel De Salaberry. Colonel De Salaberry and Revd. Mr. Thibault were in Canada at that time, so that the only one then in the territory that he knew was Governor McTavish, who was reported at that time to be on his death bed. The only communication he had ever held with Mr. McTavish was at Ottawa, in presence of the Minister of Militia and the member for North Lanark. He had never communicated either directly or indirectly by himself or by any one else with any one in the North-West on any matter whatever. If he could have been guilty of violation of his oath of office, as this charge implied, he would never have been where he is, nor should he occupy the position he now holds. He felt strongly on this point because the charge was a serious and malicious one and had been made when he could not at the time reply to it. The member for North Lanark had refused to name whom he referred to in his accusations, and therefore he would say that his denial applied also to the statements of that hon. gentleman; and he would add that he was authorized by his colleague, Mr. Chapais, to make, in his behalf, the same denial.
Hon. Mr. McDougall was glad to have heard the distinct denial from the hon. gentleman of the charges made against him, but he disclaimed any responsibility for these charges, nor was there any reason why he should be called on or be expected to justify the statements made in the public press. He had no relation with any newspaper, and more especially with any newspaper in Ottawa. He had a case to maintain and he would maintain it; and he desired to be on good terms with the Ministry on this question. If they honestly desired to carry out Confederation and to establish as soon as practicable their authority in the North-West, he would defend them and help them to carry out their policy; but, on the other hand, if it appeared to him and to the judgment of his friends in this House that their policy was not calculated to accomplish this object, but likely to encourage those in resistance to 141 authority, then he would oppose them, and, if necessary, vote to turn them out of office. When he had suggested last night that it would not be prudent to publish all documents just now, some of the Government supporters had reported that there was something in them which he desired to conceal. On the contrary, there was not one word which he was ashamed of as a public man, but he had felt it his duty to place in the hands of the Government all the information, confidential and otherwise, that had reached him; and such being the character of the correspondence in the hands of the government, he did not think it would serve public interests to publish it all at the present time. With reference to the report concerning the Minister of Public Works which had been referred to, he would say that when he first heard that report he denied it as utterly incredible. He then explained the origin of the story; how that Mr. Provencher had parleyed with the insurgents some two or three hours; they told him the course taken by Mr. Howe when he was in the Territory, had encouraged them to revolt; and not only that, but that another member of the Canadian Government had ordered them to persist in their demands till they secured them. Provencher denied this, and asked for the name. They answered they could not give the name, but if he would mention the names of the members of the Government, they would tell him if it was one of them. Provencher mentioned the names of three French members of the Cabinet, and they said he was one of them. He (Mr. McDougall) denied at the time this statement, and subsequently he thought the solution of the matter might be found in the fact that the Minister of Public Works had a brother, a high dignitary of the church, and that, perhaps, in correspondence with the clergy of the North-West his name might have been taken among the people to be that of the honourable Gentleman. He then went on to read the report of his remarks last night, as published, showing that all he had said was that the insurgents relied upon the Secretary of State for the Provinces, and some gentleman near him, for assistance. That statement was strictly correct. They did rely upon the assistance of these gentlemen, and in the speech of the Minister of Militia last night he had argued that there was great justification for those who had taken up arms, and while he censured the loyal Canadians and others who were ready to risk their lives in defence of his own Government, he had not a word to say in condemnation of those who had taken up arms to resist his representative; and when reports of the troubles manufactured by American sympathisers were published, all over the country, the Government, though in full possession from him of correct informa 142 COMMON DEBATES February 22, 1870 ion, never took any pains to lay that information before the public. An attempt had been made to misrepresent the position of affairs, but he would endeavour to put it in its true light. The French half-breeds were not the only residents of the country; there was a large population there who had no sympathy with Riel, with disloyalty or annexation. At the Riviere Sale, at the time of th conference with Riel, there were 90 men, all French half-breeds, ready armed, under Mr. Wm. Dease, to contend with their countrymen in support of Canada, but on account of the position of the Hudson Bay Company, whose officers were hors de combat, or winking at Riel's movements, they disbanded. He was afraid they would find many persons of influence, if not in the House, at least in the country, sympathizing with objects against the interests and wishes of the Dominion. The hon. gentleman had provoked the remark, but it seemed strange that if there was no sympathy for the insurgents, their messenger Colonel De Salaberry, fresh from the offices of these gentlemen, should be found repeating the slanders about the Manitoulin Island after his (Mr. McDougall's) back was turned. Fortunately, some of his party who had been left behind heard him instilling stories into the ears of the poor innocent half—breeds, and poisoning their minds against him. His words had been taken down, and could be produced in evidence to prove the encouragement, as well as sympathy given them. They should have sent a missionary of more judgment and discretion, and one who was urged by other views and feelings than those of hostility to the Government of Canada and its Representative in that distant land. He had reason to complain that he had not met with a hearty sympathy from some members of the Government, but that a desire had been shown to turn the movement into another direction, than that to which the people of Canada, French and English, would, he felt confident, insist it should take. (Cheers.)
Hon. Mr. Langevin said that the member for Lanark had brought an accusation founded on conversations that had taken place between Mr. Provencher and the half—breeds, and without other proof than the word of these men. He said he did not believe such reports, yet on public occasions, he had made these accusations against his colleagues and members of the Government. What would he say if he had 143 brought charges against him, founded on newspaper paragraphs, and referred to ridiculous accusations of that kind which had appeared? If he (Mr. Langevin) made any accusations, he should take care to bring proof with the accusation. Even last night he (Mr. McDougall) brought an accusation against the government that its members had been guilty of encouraging rebellion.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said he made no such accusation.
Hon. Mr. Langevin said he was not warranted in bringing such accusations, which were calumnies from beginning to end, (hear, hear). The hon. member had said he was, perhaps, mistaken about the person, and that it might be a namesake of his (Mr. Langevin), a relative—his brother the Bishop, (hear, hear). The honourable member knew that he, a dignitary of the church, was not in the country and could not answer the charge.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said he had made no charge.
Hon. Mr. Langevin—No charge? It was an accusation of the most serious character without the slightest proof. The Bishop of Rimouski had left home two months or so before the other Bishops, and before there was either trouble or rumour of trouble, and he had not written a single line to any one in or about the Red River country. It might perhaps, be against another namesake of his not so high as the Bishop but also in the church, and to whom the hon. member had alluded. He would say at once that against him also the charge was groundless.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier confirmed the statement of Mr. Langevin.
Mr. Magill said that the address was more remarkable for what it did not contain than for what it did. There were two subjects of great importance to which no reference was made: the improvement of our Inland Navigation, and the rearrangement of our fiscal policy, so as to procure a home market for our products by the proper encouragement and protection of our manufacturing interests. The people of the West are becoming alive to the subject, and a growing determination for proper legislation is rapidly on the increase. The Dominion and local governments appear anxious to encourage immigration to our shores, but unless measures can be adopted to procure employment for the immigrant on his arrival in this country, the expenditure incurred will prove a foolish outlay. As it is there is plenty of scope for field labour, but if they induced the mechanic and 144 COMMON DEBATES February 22, 1870 the manufacturer from the busy hives of industry, employment must be found for them also, by a wise national policy. This cannot be done by breaking down all the barriers of protection for our own people, and throwing our markets open as a common, to be used by our neighbours when it may suit their convenience, who by hostile tariffs almost entirely preclude us from their markets. The improvement of our magnificent chain of inland communication, is deserving of the most serious consideration, and no time should be lost in enlarging the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals, so that Seagoing Ships of large dimensions, could discharge their cargoes in our Lake ports without previously breaking bulk. In reference to the question of independence which had been freely spoken of on the floor of this House by one or two honourable members, he had a few remarks to make. He regretted that any sentiments such as he had heard should have been uttered on the floor of a Canadian Parliament. The propagation of such sentiments tended to make the people discontented. We possess independence of the most ample form, our laws and institutions are framed by representatives of our own choice, we are now an integral portion of the greatest Empire upon earth, as much so as London, or Dublin, and as much entitled to the powerful protection of the Empire as either of them, (hear, hear). Those who think we would be made great by such a change would find out we would be made less. The independence advocated by the honourable gentleman referred to would be the most abject slavery (hear, hear), to suppose that a country like ours with its extended frontier and populated by four millions of inhabitants, adjacent to the grasping Republic with forty millions strongly imbued with the "manifest destiny doctrine" is simply absurd. He believed that if he were guilty of advocating independence in the sense referred to, he might justly be accused of advocating what amounted to a transfer of allegiance, and which he could only characterize as disloyalty, and which if successful would terminate in annexation to the United States, and strip us of the highest glory of which it is possible for us to feel proud- that of being allied to Great Britain. In an economical point of view it would be undesirable. We would then be under the necessity of not only maintaining an army, but we should also have to maintain a navy of considerable strength to protect our commercial marine, whose sails now whiten every sea, (cheers). We should also be obliged to send ambassadors to the various foreign courts—at great expense. These services were being now performed by the Mother Country on our behalf, and without any contribution from us. Under these circumstances he concluded that there was no people 145 that enjoyed a larger amount of independence, or civil and religious liberty than the people of this Dominion, or no country where life and property were more secure. With regard to his position, in relation to the Government, he said that he would not give them a factious opposition, but would be governed by the description of measures which they might introduce, and if they failed, in his judgment, in this respect, he would endeavour to replace them by others who could more fully realize the importance of their position and the requirements of the country. In reference to the North West question, he thought the action of the hon. member for Hants was not such as he could approve, judging from the admissions made by the hon. gentleman himself. He condemned his conduct in passing Mr, McDougall on the prairie so cavalierly, without in any way advising him as to the state of affairs at Red River, but acted as if he had wished him to grope in the dark, instead of informing him as to the true state of affairs there when he left. His conduct, also, in ordering to be taken down a flag which had been hoisted in anticipation of the spread of Canadian rule in this territory, he considered most reprehensible, especially when perpetrated, not only by a Canadian Minister, but by one charged by our Government with important duties in that country. The hon. member found them in a state of chronic discontent, but he tells us—when asked why he did not address the people, in order to remove the fears and unjust opinions they entertained in regard to the intentions of the Canadian Government—that he was fearful of disturbing the harmony prevailing among them.
Hon. Mr. Howe said that he never ordered the flag to be taken down.
Mr. Magill said he was glad to hear the hon. gentleman say so, but he understood him to say the reverse. However, he said that if he did not order it down, he should not have allowed others to take it down, (hear, hear).
Hon. Mr. Howe explained, that he had not ordered down the flag, nor had he made any public remark on the subject. The flag was hoisted, he understood, not in honour of Canada, but in honour of himself personally.
146 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870
All he had done on the subject was, to decline to take up his residence in the House of the party raising the flag, who was known to be disloyal.
Mr. Bown said, that he had friends who were prisoners in the North West, and anything said by him might be of serious consequence to them. In reference to the conduct of the honourable Secretary of State in the Territory, he said that from what he had been informed of the case, he had been until lately inclined to believe a good deal of what had been said in the House on the subject. Before coming down . to Parliament he had made up his mind to enquire as to the sources of these reports, and he found out that the hon. gentleman, in his journey, had been accompanied by a Mr. Sanford, and a Mr. Turner, gentlemen who had trade relations with the North-West. Their friends there were Mr. Bannatyne and others well known to hold anti-Canadian sentiments in the settlement, if not leaders of the rebels in Winnipeg. He took up his residence at a hotel, the parlor of which was occupied also by his travelling companions. As soon as his entry into the Territory was made known, a circle was made round him to prevent his meeting Canadians, or those interested in Canada, and to prevent them from holding private or confidential interviews with the Hon. Secretary of State. What he was reported to have said was given out as taunts against the friends of our country, and as proof that he was in favor of their cause, rather than that of Canada. As far as he (Mr. Bown) could ascertain, none of these reports could be traced to the hon. gentleman, but were traceable to Mr. Bannatyne, or Mr. McKenny. The object of these gentlemen evidently was to sow the seeds of discord between the Secretary for the Provinces and the friends of Canada in the Territory, and to excite feelings of distrust against him in Canada and amongst his colleagues, and thus strengthen their own cause, and he was sure that the reports circulated would be found to have originated with those opposed to the entry of the Canadian Governor. He (Mr. Bown) and his friends had done all they could to make the reception of the Governor agreable, and he was sorry that the feeling there was against him. As to Governor McDougall's course of action he would say nothing under the circumstances, but he had considered it his duty to state what he knew of Mr. Howe's action.
Mr. Bodwell said he had supported the Finance Minister previously, until he saw the report that Sir Francis said at a meeting in
North Renfrew that he was willing to accept the sauce of a Conservative, and to serve in office under the Leader of the Conservative party. He regretted to see a gentleman who had served so well in other Colonies, now serving under one who had charged him with being steeped to the lips in corruption. He had not the confidence of any body of the Government supporters, and certainly not of the members of the Reform party. He hoped to have seen that a change would have taken place in the policy of the Government on the accession and the appointment to office of the hon. gentleman, but he had been disappointed. He condemned the policy of the Government with regard to the Intercolonial Railroad, which, he regretted to see, was supported by the Finance Minister. He thought that the Railway would be an engine in the hands of the Government. He was in favour of such liberal grants of land to railroads as were given by the United States. The Minister of Justice said that the policy of the Government was not changed in regard to Banking, yet Mr. Rose had been compelled to withdraw his Bill last session. He (Mr. Bod- well) was sorry to hear such a declaration. The disturbances at the North-West reflected, he thought, upon the Government, and he did think it strange that no further endeavours had been taken by the Government to promote the peaceable entry of the Governor into the Territory. He was surprised to hear that the Minister for the Provinces did not feel it his duty to take any more active measures than he had done. (Hear, hear.) He did not know whether the Minister of Finance expected to obtain the support of the Reform party to the policy of Protection shadowed forth. He personally did not think it likely that those who had spent their lives advocating Free Trade, would now, at his bidding, support opposite principles.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said that this was but one of the many assumptions made about the financial policy of the Government.
Mr. Bodwell said that it was a matter for comment. With regard to the question of Annexation, he thought that the idea of nationality was looked upon by the Government at home; and he threw the charge of being Annexationists, made against the Reform party, back into the faces of those who made it, as being entirely without justification. Sir F. Hincks entered the Cabinet as a Conservative. He had nothing to say against it; but if he entered as a Reformer, he ought to have stepped out and assisted those who were endeavouring to carry Reform principles. He should support any good measures of the Government; but must confess 148 COMMON DEBATES February 22, 1870 as to the present constitution of it that he had no confidence in it.
Mr. Mills spoke at some length of the issues of the last election. He said both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance admitted that an opposition was necessary while at the same time they were endeavouring to annihilate the opposition by a coalition of parties. The Minister of Finance went farther, and maintained that after a coalition, party distinctions in the coalition are an absurdity. He said this was not the position taken by the Finance Minister upon entering the Cabinet, for he informed the country that the Minister of Justice had been graciously pleased to permit him (Sir F. Hincks) to bring another reformer with him into the ministry. It was clear then there was no fusion in the ministerial camp. If the position taken by ministers was correct, he (Mr. Mills) would ask how was it possible to differ about the construction of the Cabinet? How could they differ as to whether there should be two reformers or three, or two conservatives or three, seeing these distinctions were terminated by the coalition of 1867? He said the ministry had all along been like an Eastern Court, into which the hungry from without were eager to be admitted, and the holders of insecure places within, were anxious to hasten into profitable retirement. He spoke of the organization of the machinery of government, and maintained that ministers had confounded a Privy Council with a Cabinet Council. He expressed a doubt as to the necessity of a Privy Council, but argued that as the law provided for its establishment, that leading members of the opposition ought to have been made Privy Councillors, so that they might be in the position of leaders of Her Majesty's opposition in England, having the right to give advice to the Governor General when the exigencies of the public service justified such a course. He next spoke of the innovation made in the constitution by the Nova Scotia Act of last session, and said the government had proceeded as if the Union was a Legislative and not a Federal one. He condemned the policy from the beginning as to the acquisition of the North-West. He maintained the members of New Brunswick had been tricked into placing the location of the Intercolonial Railroad in the hands of ministers, to save the Minister of Customs the humiliation of being opposed by a large majority of the New Brunswick members. He next referred to the position of Sir F. Hincks. He said Byron called Rome the "mother of dead Empires," and that the Minister of Finance was the resuscitated leader of a defunct party; that he had been made the forlorn hope of a government in danger of dissolution, but instead of giving renewed hope, he 149 had awakened sedition. He said the hand of time in scattering its snows upon him had not damped the ardor of this venerable relict of a well nigh forgotten race of dead warriors. He said the member for South Lanark although a conservative was most anxious to smoke the pipe of peace with the opposition. He (Mr. Mills) had twice referred to the saturnian age of '64. He said, last year the member for Lennox and the hon. member for South Lanark were like Castor and Pollux "who fought so well for Rome," but now when the conservative element was strengthened in the Cabinet, for there was still no fusion, the alliance of "the great twin brothers" was broken, and the defection in the conservative ranks increased. He denied that the Receiver General had any followers. He said the Receiver General (Mr. Morris) was made by the Minister of Justice, for he was truly one of his people. He criticised the position of Dr. Tupper, and held that his present position was an admission that he had been unmindful of the interests of his Province when the Union was established, and concluded by expressing the opinion that Canada would ultimately become a part of a great British Confederacy.
Mr. Oliver trusted the Government would come down with an efficient measure to secure the markets of the Maritime Provinces for the rich agricultural fields of Ontario. The delegation to the West India Islands, to ascertain the markets there, and their report, had cost the Government a lot of money, but nothing had been done. He maintained that with good markets, we should be independent of all other nations. He did not consider the Volunteer Bill was suited to the country, and maintained that the success of the Volunteer force was due to the exertions and liberality of the officers, and patriotism of the volunteers. He thought the expenses of officers of the staff ought to be curtailed. With reference to the North-West, he contended that a road ought to be made to that Territory, or else it would be lost, and the whole object of Confederation would be lost. He would give the ministry fair support or hearty opposition, according as their measures commended themselves to his judgment.
Mr. Jones (Leeds and Grenville)—Considering the peculiar political combinations which have taken place, I deem it my duty to my constituents, to the members of this House, and to the people of this Dominion, to define my position in relation to the different parties into which the political community is now divided. But before doing so, I wish to correct an error which was made in the report of my speech delivered in this House on Friday evening last. Now, I am represented in the city papers as 150 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 having stated "that the Reformers acted most extravagantly when in office." I certainly did not make use of this language; what I did say in speaking against a Coalition form of Government was "that when the Reform element was fully represented in the Cabinet by Brown, Howland and McDougall, the extravagance of the Government was as great, and even greater, than it has been since with only one Reformer in the Ministry", and mentioned by way of illustration that when the Reform element was fully represented, as before stated, the claims of the Grand Trunk Railway for increased postal subsidy were submitted to arbitration and the amount increased from $70,000 per annum to $167,000 per annum. It was also at this time that the claims of the contractors for the construction of the Public Buildings at Ottawa, were submitted to arbitration, by which means $90,000 were allowed to these gentlemen over and above the amount which they had already received—the cost of this one arbitration amounting to $30,000. And during the time public money was squandered in this way there was scarcely a person to raise his voice in the House against such an appropriation, so demoralized had the Opposition become in consequence of the Coalition between the leaders of the opposite parties. I do not pretend to say but that a Coalition had not become necessary in 1864, so equal were parties at that time that it was almost impossible to carry on the Government on party principles, and the different appeals made to the country left the two political parties in about the same relative position. But the items of expenditure to which I have referred show the dangers to be apprehended from a coalition form of Government; a combination of parties which should never be resorted to except in cases of extreme necessity or when some great principle of State policy has to be carried into effect, and which one party alone is unable to accomplish. And I may state while on this subject that the Hon. George Brown, in my opinion, acted in a straightforward and honourable manner in relation to the Reform party of which he was leader. It appears he called his reform friends together and consulted them as to whether he should enter the government with the Conservative party, for the purpose of carrying into effect the great scheme of Confederation; and, as I have been informed, the whole Reform members of the House at that time approved of his joining the Government. Now the conduct of Mr. Brown on that occasion contrasts favourably with that of the Conservative Leader, the Conservative members of the House were never called together and consulted as to whether they would approve of such a combination of parties; but they were without any such consultation called on to sup 151port men who had been previously denounced to them in the strongest terms as Yankee How- land and Washington McDougall. And not only were these gentlemen taken into the Ministry with the Conservative leaders; but also the patronage of all the counties in Ontario represented by Reform Members who supported the Coalition, was exercised for the benefit of those Reform Members and their friends; and the Conservatives of those counties, who had manfully contended for their party in many a hard contest, were cast aside as persons whose services Were no longer required. Before closing my remarks, I wish to say a few words in relation to the North-West Territory, which has of late occupied so much public attention. I think the first error made in relation to that country, was in recognizing the claims of the Hudson's Bay Company, and in altogether ignoring the rights of the actual inhabitants, who were to all appearance to be transferred to Canada with the land, like slaves on a plantation. And the second and greater error committed by Mr. McDougall, was in announcing his intention of establishing a despotic government in that country, and giving as a reason for doing so, the scattered state of the population. Now the inhabitants of a country may not be numerous, and still entertain as strong feelings in favor of liberty as the inhabitants of a densely populated country. Canada contained but a scattered population when the people contended for responsible government, and secured it; and England was not densely crowded when the barons and people demanded the charter of their liberties from King John. I cannot endorse the war policy advocated by some warlike gentlemen in relation to that remote region, who wish to see an army sent into that country to annihilate the half- breeds. Do these gentlemen reflect on the nature of an Indian war, and the results likely to arise out of it. Once throw a fire-brand into that country and kindle the flame of war, and who can tell where the conflagration will end. Set the Indians on the warpath and who will be able to control their movements, and just as sure as they cross the boundary and commit depredations on the soil of the United States, so sure will retaliation take place, and instead of a war with the half-breeds we may experience the awful consequences of a continental war. Let us give those half-breeds, and others in that country, their constitutional rights; let us try the effects of conciliation, and let war in that distant country be the last resort, and only when all other reasonable means fail. I think Mr. McDougall made another mistake in sending Colonel Dennis to arm one portion of the population to fight against the other and certainly the reason assigned for selecting such a person to conduct a war must appear very 152 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 strange to persons acquainted with the conduct of that gentleman at Fort Erie, who left his command the moment the Fenians appeared, but I suppose Mr. McDougall made the selection on the principle-
"For he who fights and runs away, May live to fight another day; But he who is in battle slain, Can never rise and fight again."
I regret to see so many violent personal attacks made on the Honourable Minister of Finance during this debate. I was not an admirer of that gentleman's political course; but perhaps his past history will bear criticism as well as that of most of our Canadian politicians. For my own part I shall judge him rather by his present and future conduct than by his past acts, and I shall judge the Ministry by their measures. I am determined not to give an unpopular vote for the purpose of keeping them in power, neither will I give a factious vote for the purpose of defeating them. (Cheers.)
Mr. Chamberlin hoped that the subject which they had heard once more referred to in this debate would not be again heard. He referred to the question of independence. The member for Shefford had mooted the subject last session, and had afterwards gone into the Eastern Townships and spoken to the people on this subject, but any sympathy he met with was derived almost exclusively from the few annexationists there. The shrewd farmers could not be convinced that independence was not the half-way step to annexation. Referring to the member for Sherbrooke, it would be remembered that in 1850 he issued an annexation manifesto, and now to the profound regret of those who had admired and followed him, like himself (Mr. Chamberlin), he was again seeking a severance of connection with the Mother Country. He was then content suddenly to drop the annexation project and soon after to become the advocate of the Confederation of these Provinces. We might hope him as suddenly to drop independence and accept perchance the federation of the Empire instead. The member for Shefford had urged independence among the people, as a means of securing what he knew the people of the frontier desired to obtain immediately, not in a distant future—better trade relations. Therefore he 153 either mocked them or expected to carry the work forward at once. Now he says he is not in a hurry about it. And the member for Sherbrooke relegated independence to some dimly distant future day, although, last summer he made it one of the grounds of his refusal of office. He congratulated the hon. gentleman and the House on this change in their views, but was it statesmanlike to make appeals to this House and the country on merely speculative subjects, striving to make the public mind, already too much unsettled, still more so? That gentleman complained of being politically ostracised, but when a man advocates pulling down the old flag, the withdrawal of allegiance and severance from the empire and calls that loyalty, he might expect all political parties to shun him. He would not exaggerate the importance of that gentleman, but it was an undoubted fact that his independence speech, which was printed and circulated all over the United States, had aided, among other things, in inducing Americans to withhold reciprocity.
Hon. Mr. Huntington said the discussion of Independence had been forced upon them. The course of the honourable member for Missisquoi had been well known; when connected with the press of this country he had published ribald abuse of the Americans for years, calculated to excite their antipathies, and to rouse the most hostile feelings. It was very well to stand in a hostile attitude to the neighbouring republic, but as far as Reciprocity was concerned, he must not blow hot and cold.
Mr. Chamberlin said, that the charge that he had ever indulged in ribald abuse of the Americans had no foundation in fact.
Hon. Mr. Huntington said, he referred to the newspaper the honourable member published.
Mr. Chamberlin replied he was not responsible for every line that appeared in that paper during the war, for he was often absent. He was only responsible for its general tone and his own writings.
The remaining paragraphs of the address were passed.
The usual formal motions respecting engrossing the address etc., were adopted.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald moved that the address be presented to His Excellency by such 154 COMMONS DEBATES February 22, 1870 members of this House, as are members of the Privy Council  
The House then at a quarter to twelve adjourned.


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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