House of Commons, 25 April 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba

1180 COMMONS DEBATES April 25, 1870


Mr. Mills moved resolutions respecting the admission of the North-West, already published.
Hon. Sir George-È. Cartier asked that the resolutions should stand over, as the whole policy of the Government would be brought down this week, and then there could be a full discussion.
Mr. Mills said he felt constrained to go on.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said he would then, after the speech of the hon. member, immediately move the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Mills then proceeded, and spoke amid continued interruptions, which rendered him nearly inaudible. He said that two years ago certain resolutions were introduced into that House on which were to be founded certain Orders in Council for the purpose of admitting the Territory into the Union. He objected at the time to those resolutions; but when there was offered an opportunity for a compromise it was received with approval by all parties.
When referring to the manner in which the Company had acquired possession and control of the Territory, and the revolt of the American Provinces in 1775, the interruption increased.
Hon. Mr. Howe appealed to the hon. member not to proceed, many members were evidently not in a disposition to hear the hon. member. The Government were anxious to hear his arguments, but they could not under the present circumstances.
Mr. Mills said he was sorry to see two things, first, that the Government had lost control of the House, and, secondly, that the policy of the Government on the North-West question had not been submitted to the House at a period of the session when it would have been in a condition to fully consider it with that fullness which the House designed. The reason for the motion coming forward at the present time was that one private day was taken by Government, and private members had not been able to reach their motions on the notice paper at an earlier period. It was only now he had had an opportunity of bringing up this question, and he thought it better that the House should give attention to this question then than it should be deferred to another and later period. He wished to see the federal system honestly and fairly carried out. He held that in order that the federal system might be fairly carried out in the North-West, it was necessary they should set forth some terms and conditions on which that Territory should be transferred. The people of that Territory should have had security, that when they got a certain amount of population they should have conferred on them the same powers of self-government as those shared by other Provinces in the Confederation. The Government were still in the wrong, and this House was still in the wrong, because neither of them had done what the theory of their system required, because they had not given the people of Red River any security whatever, or laid down any proposition to induce them to believe that in future they would stand on an equal footing with the other Provinces of the Dominion. In the case of those people, the spirit of the Union Act had not been carried out. The expressions used to other Provinces, not yet in the Union, were the same as those used towards the North-West Territory, except that in the other cases they were promised the full rights conferred on those Provinces which were already in the Union. He thought that the inhabitants of the North-West Territory should have some self- governing powers conferred on them. He had no fear of the North-West people becoming Americanized, for their experience in Canada 1182 COMMONS DEBATES  APRIL 25, 1870 proved that when Americans became permanent settlers among them, they became Canadians. He should not further trespass upon the time of the House.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said the question would have to be discussed on all its merits very shortly. He hoped that the discussion would close there.
Mr. Mills said the views he had expressed were those he had expressed two years ago, and it was only his duty to himself that they should be entered in the journals of the House, which would not be done if the question were not put.
Mr. Mackenzie said the Minister of Militia admitted he intended to move the adjournment of the debate. Personally, he (Mr. Mackenzie) had no objection, provided the hon. gentleman could give the House some intimation when the Bill to which he referred would be brought down.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said the Government expected to be ready by the middle or end of the week, to come down with their policy.
Mr. Mackenzie—The Government are not prepared to name any day?
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said the Government were considering and debating upon that most important question, with as great a diligence as possible, and hoped in a few days to be ready to come before the House with a policy.
Mr. Mackenzie said he was sorry the explanation was not more explicit. The House was aware that almost every second day for the past three weeks he had asked the Government when the ordinary papers would be brought down—papers which must precede the action of the House. On Friday the House was informed that the papers would be brought down on Saturday, and on Saturday that they would be brought down today, but now the Minister of Militia, was not able to say whether they would be brought down this week. It was the most serious matter that could occupy the attention of the House, and it was most unsatisfactory to hear that its consideration was put off to a period so indefinite.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said that the member for Lambton might expect that before a discussion took place the papers would be in the hands of the members. Great progress had been made on Saturday last with regard to those papers, and they would be ready very shortly.
Hon. Mr. Holton—And that the Minister of Justice promised, on Friday night, that the papers would be brought down on Saturday.
Mr. Mackenzie—It was stated they were printed on Tuesday last.
Hon. Mr. Holton said that they had not been read by all the members of the Government, but would be brought down on Saturday evening.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier—No; they were to be considered.
Hon. Mr. Holton—The House had been waiting very patiently—too patiently—
Mr. Mackenzie—Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Holton—had been waiting too patiently in view of the importance of this subject, by far the most important which has or can come before the House this session. The House knows, but not sufficiently, that very extensive preparations for a military expedition are now on foot. I do not think that—with Parliament in session—so important a step as that ought to be taken on the responsibility of the Government without consulting Parliament. While I do not desire to continue this discussion after the resolutions introduced by my hon. friend, the member for Bothwell, I desire the Government to understand that tomorrow, when the orders of the day are called, I shall call the attention of the House to the preparations now on foot; and will ask the Government to state to the House under what policy these military preparations are being made. The Government must not commit and this House must not commit the country to a military expedition to the Nor'-West without taking the sense of the House when Parliament is in session. Such a thing had never been heard of before in any free country, as that a Ministry should involve the country in incalculable expenses, and in consequences no man can conceive, without submitting their views to Parliament.
Hon. Mr. Wood said that unless a Constitution guaranteed by the Imperial Act was to be given to the North-West there was clearly a violation of the British North America Act.
The debate was adjourned on motion of Hon. Sir George-È. Cartier.


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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