House of Commons, 7 March 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba



Monday, March 7. 1870

The Speaker took the chair at three o'clock.


Several petitions were presented, asking for the imposition of a duty on coal and other articles imported from the United States.


Also, a petition from Baptists of the Lower Provinces, asking for the establishment of an Asylum for Inebriates.


Hon. Mr. Dunkin presented the first report of the Committee on Immigration and Colonization, recommending the reduction of the number of members required to form a quorum.


Mr. MacFarlane presented the second report of the Committee on Standing Orders recommending the extension of the time for receiving petitions for one week.


Mr. Morrison introduced a Bill intituled: "An Act to provide for the amalgamation of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and the President, Directors and Company of the Gore Bank". Referred to the Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce.


Hon. Mr. Carling introduced a Bill intituled: "An Act to incorporate the Detroit River Transit Company". Referred to the Committee on Railways.


Mr. Mackenzie said that before going on with the "questions" by members, he wished to bring a matter to the attention of the House. He said that on Friday last the report of the Committee appointed to look over the North- West papers, was brought down. He understood that the correspondents of some of the newspapers had got possession of some of the papers connected with that report. It would be well if these gentlemen should understand that these documents should not be published 254 COMMONS DEBATES March 7, 1870 before they were laid before the House, and that no newspaper should get them before the House did. If the practice of allowing the press to have the use of these papers was to be continued, it was only fair that they should be given to all the newspapers at the same time.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said, as he understood the matter, these and all other papers were brought down for the use of the members of the House and no person should get them before them. The prime object in getting down papers was for the use of the House. That the information should be given to the public, through the press, was a secondary consideration.
Mr. Mackenzie said the members of the press were not to be blamed, because, as a rule, they had been allowed to get possession of these documents as soon as they were brought down; but, in this case, where eliminations were to be made, it was not expedient that they should have been taken away. However, the general rule authorized the press correspondents in their attempts to get the ordinary papers.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said this was an exceptional case.
Hon. Mr. Wood asked if he had understood the leader of the Government to state, that when papers were brought down to the House that they were not then public, and had not the members of the press a right to get them and print them? He had always understood that papers were published, and were public property as soon as they were brought down to the House.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said that these papers were given to the press as a matter of practice, but still the principle should not be violated, that the House should have the complete control of papers laid on the table.


Mr. Benoit asked whether it was the intention of the Government to abolish, during the present session, the duties imposed by the tariff of 1868 on cattle imported specially for the improvement of the breed?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he must return an answer similar to the one he gave last week on a kindred subject, namely, that the policy of the Government on this and other matters of the same kind would be declared at a future period of the session.


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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