House of Commons, 17 November 1868, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

March 17, 1868 COMMONS DEBATES 355
[...] correspondence to 5th December had been brought down, then the Government stood convicted of having moved the address without having any proper basis for it whatever.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said the position taken by the member for Chateauguay seemed to be this—that the Government should have entered into some kind of negotiations, secret or otherwise, in order to ascertain beforehand what special terms and conditions ought to be adopted in bringing this Territory under the jurisdiction of the Government of this country. The Government had taken a different view, the Union Act declaring that the North-West Territory might be handed over to the jurisdiction of Canada on such terms and conditions as should expressed in the address of the two Houses of Parliament. The Government assumed that, in pursuance of that Act, what they had to do was to ascertain for themselves the terms and conditions on which they would accept the Territory, and having got the assent of both Houses to these terms, they forwarded the address to the Home Government, and now awaited their answer. An honourable gentleman opposite thought this Government was censurable, because no answer was yet received. Surely they were not to settle both sides of the contract. If the Imperial Government and Parliament had other terms and conditions to propose, we would have to pronounce upon them when presented to us. As regarded the delay, they hoped and expected that probably the next mail would bring the answer of the Imperial Government. The House knew that in England the Premier had retired, and another had taken his place, and necessarily delays and changes of policy would occur. This might account for some of the delay in answering the address, which he confessed he very much regretted. He did think there were high reasons of State why this question should be settled at the earliest moment; he thought so still, and he must say there had been no failure of duty on the part of this Government in urging the matter. As regarded what he had said during the last election, one could not be expected to stand by all the pictures of imagination which might be drawn during the heat of an election contest. (Laughter). He would say, however, that in Newfoundland there were several gentlemen occupying prominent positions, who took part in the negotiations of 1864, and who were still anxious that that Colony should enter the Union. It was well known what views were expressed by the Governor of Newfoundland, when recently in this country, and the newspapers of the last few weeks showed that there was a desire prevailing among a large portion of the people of that Colony to join their fortunes with ours. As regarded British Columbia, at a public meeting presided over by the Mayor of Victoria, resolutions in favour of Union were passed, and similar resolutions had previously been passed unanimously, he believed, by the Legislature. He thought, therefore, he had been justified in assuming, with overtures of this kind from the other Colonies, that the Union would soon be extended. Delays had occurred, but he believed that in a short time we would have formal proceedings, which would be a basis for action, and the extension of the Union, therefore, he looked upon as no myth.
Mr. Mackenzie pointed out that the visit of the Governor of Newfoundland and the action taken in British Columbia were subsequent to the speeches made by the Minister of Public Works to which he had referred. He was happy to believe that there was a desire for Union among a large proportion of the population of these colonies, but such unauthorized statements as those of the Minister of Public Works, admitted to have been made without any foundation, were calculated to do more harm than good, by raising hopes which must be disappointed to a greater or lesser extent.
Sir John A. Macdonald said the Minister of Public Works had not meant it to be inferred that the expressions used by the Governor of Newfoundland and the resolutions passed in British Columbia were the only indications the Government had had of a prospect of Union with those Colonies. He could assure the House they had had frequent communication of a very important nature, all tending in the direction of an extension of the Union long before these indications. They had had no official communications. The member for Lambton must know, or no doubt as a member of the Government would soon know, that official communications conveyed results, and that the most important portion of the public business was transacted by being made matter of arrangements and discussion in an unofficial form before the results were communicated in oflicial documents. His honourable friend was quite justified in stating he had reason to believe that Confederation would, ere long, be extended East and West.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1867-1868. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1967. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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