House of Commons, 4 June 1869, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

[...] might elapse between the issuing of the proclamation and the convening of Parliament.
Mr. Blake asked if this was the only Bill which was to be introduced on the subject. Did the Government think there would be sufficient time to consider a measure of such magnitude? The President of the Council, who was so much opposed to this measure at one period, was now among those who were pressing it on, when members were almost leaving for home.
Hon. Mr. Howe said that the business could be got through well enough if hon. gentlemen on the other side would not waste so much time in wrangling.
Mr. Mackenzie thought the President of the Council ought to be the last man to complain of taking up the time of the Dominion; for if any person took up the time of the House, not perhaps talking nonsense, but something which had no bearing on the subject, it was that hon. gentleman. (Hear and cheers.) The President of the Council was not to be the judge of what was important and what was unimportant. (Hear). The House was told the other night that the measure just introduced was a great one on which to expend our thoughts. For his part, he thought the discussion of such a measure only a waste of time and would not enter on it.
The second reading of the Bill was ordered for Tuesday.


A message was brought down from His Excellency enclosing copies of minutes of the Privy Council of Canada and delegates from Newfoundland, on the subject of the union of that colony with the Dominion, and copies of the resolutions adopted as the basis of such union.
Another message was sent from His Excellency transmitting copies of minutes of a meeting of the Privy Council of Canada on the subject of the admission of Prince Edward Island into the Dominion of Canada, which His Excellency recommended to the consideration of the House.
Hon. Mr. Rose moved for a committee on Tuesday next, to consider the resolutions on Newfoundland. He explained the resolutions seriatim. It was proposed that Newfoundland should receive ïŹve per cent interest on the difference between its actual debt and the 614 COMMONS DEBATES June 4, 1869 amount with which it would be entitled to come into the Union according to population as compared with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It was also proposed to allow the colony an annual subsidy of $35,000, and an allowance of eighty cents per head until the population should increase to 400,000; the same arrangement as that made with the other Maritime Provinces. In consideration of the surrender of its mineral and wild lands to the General Goverment, there was a further payment to be made of $150,000 per annum. The 8th resolution referred to a local matter—a water company in St. John's—for $400,000 of the bonds of which the Government of the Province was responsible, and it was provided that the Local Government should retain the power of imposing a water rate on the inhabitants, and tonnage and coal dues in the harbour of St. John's on vessels supplied by this Company with water. It was provided in the resolutions that the Government of Canada should assume all the charges in the Province of Newfoundland which are borne by it in the other Provinces. The union of Newfoundland with Canada would take place on a day named by proclamation, which proclamation should also contain the names of the four Senators to represent the Province in the Senate of Canada. The Militia Law of the Dominion was to be modiïŹed on its operation in Newfoundland to meet the peculiar circumstances of the population, and the Dominion Government would be pledged to use its inïŹ‚uence with the Imperial Government to maintain a garrison at St. John's.
Hon. Mr. Holton said that in the new Constitution, under which we hoped to live, a Railway formed a very conspicuous feature, rather a novel one to him; but the hon. the Minister of Justice is fertile in expedients, and we have in that Act, as the foundation of his policy, a railway. In the revised edition of the Constitution, now proposed, a steamboat line forms a prominent feature (Hear, hear, and laughter.) His hon. friend had earned an additional claim to immortality by this feat. (Laughter)
Sir John A. Macdonald—Perhaps the hon. gentleman is not aware that the motto of the Macdonalds' is—"By Sea and Land." (Laughter.)
The motion carried.
Hon. Mr. Rose moved that on Tuesday next the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on the resolutions respecting Prince Edward Island. Those resolutions, of course, did not embody any conclusive arrangement, but were rather an authority for opening negotiation with Prince Edward Island on terms which the Government were not without hope would result in completing the Union of the British North American Provinces on the seaboard at least. The Island was owned by some 62 individuals, to whom it was originally granted by the Crown at a merely nominal rent, and as their titles obstructed the Union it was thought they ought to be extinguished.
Mr. Mackenzie thought the hon. Finance Minister ought to have informed the House what correspondence there had been with the Prince Edward Island Government or any one else respecting so extraordinary a proposition. By whom was the correspondence originated? It was very desirable indeed that Prince Edward Island should join the Confederation, and any reasonable proposition leading to that end would receive his cordial assent; but it was quite possible that the annexation of this Island might be purchased too dearly. In its present shape the proposition was just another Seignorial Tenure business, and one he would have nothing to do with.
Sir John A. Macdonald said there had been no correspondence with the Government, or any one in Prince Edward Island, on the matter. The subject of the admission of Prince Edward Island into the Union had been frequently debated. The terms proposed on both sides were pretty well canvassed, and will be canvassed again when we go down. It was clearly worth while for the Government of the Dominion to make an effort to induce Prince Edward Island, the last fraction of British North America, to enter the Union. (Hear). He hoped the Government would be accorded a hearty support by honourable gentlemen.
Mr. D. A. Macdonald wondered where the present movements for the acquisition of territory and their organization were going to end. Were the Government to go on purchasing up Colonies in this way? It was absurd, had been opposed by him from ïŹrst to last, and would continue to get his opposition.
Hon. Mr. Galt did not agree with the honourable gentlemen who had just spoken. He (Mr. Galt) believed it would be a great misfortune if Prince Edward Island did not join in 616 COMMONS DEBATES June 4, 1869 Confederation. He objected, also, to the honourable member for Glengarry speaking of the people of the Maritime Provinces as having been purchased. By the next session of Parliament, he hoped to see all the Provinces spoken of in the Union. (Cheers).
Mr. Young questioned the advisability of the Dominion Government taking the initiative, and making the ïŹrst advance in securing the admission into the Union of Prince Edward Island. The Government delegation to that Island would do much more harm than good.
Mr. Blake asked if it was understood that public faith would be in no way pledged to these resolutions before Parliament meets?
Sir John A. Macdonald—Certainly.
Hon. Mr. Holton instanced these resolutions as another proof of the extreme fertility of resources possessed by the Minister of Justice. His (Mr. Holton's) admiration for that hon. gentleman was unbounded. First, their Constitution was burdened with a railway, then it was amended by two or three steamboat lines, now it was to be amended by a provision binding us to re-purchase the rights of certain land-holders in Prince Edward's Island. (Laughter) He had never heard of such a Constitution.
Sir John A. Macdonald could not compliment the hon. gentleman on his study of Constitutional history. Agreements similar to those alluded to by the hon. member formed a portion of the Constitution of Great Britain and Ireland.
Hon. John SandïŹeld Macdonald could only account for the Government delegation going to Prince Edward Island by remembering that Gen. Butler had lately been there, and was pretty well known, (laughter), and that the Premier was determined to head off that official. He approved the resolutions but derided what the Prince Edward Islanders would call reasonable terms.
The motion was carried.


Hon. Mr. Rose then moved that on Tuesday next the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on the subject of an additional subsidy to Nova Scotia.
In answer to Mr. Blake, [...]


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1869. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1975. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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