House of Commons, 10 June 1869, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland


Thursday, June 10, 1869

The Speaker took the chair at three o'clock.
Hon. Mr. Langevin brought down a return to the Address for a statement of all expenses connected with the survey and management of the Intercolonial Railway since the 1st April, 1868.
Hon. Mr. Cameron (Peel) introduced a Bill to amend and extend the charter of the Ontario Bank.
Sir John A. Macdonald moved that the House meet on Saturdays during the remainder of the session, at 3 o'clock, and that the business be Government orders. Carried.


Hon. Mr. Rose brought down a message from His Excellency, recommending to the favourable consideration of the House resolutions as to a loan of ÂŁ300,000 to pay the Hudson's Bay Company, and ÂŁ300,000 for opening up the North-West.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Rose. the House resolved to go into Commtitee of the Whole tomorrow to consider the said resolutions.


Hon. Mr. Rose moved concurrence in the resolutions reported from Committee of the Whole on the subject of the union of Newfoundland with the Dominion of Canada.
Mr. Blake rose to move an amendment having reference to that portion of the resolution, which applied to the acquisition by Canada of the public lands of Newfoundland. He would not wait till that resolution was moved, considering it material that amendments should be submitted at once, inasmuch as if it succeeded it would displace the whole of the present scheme, which would have to be re-arranged upon some other basis. He was opposed to the acquisition by Canada of the public lands of Newfoundland. He was decidedly opposed to the loss by Newfoundland of the public lands. The British North America Act provided that the public lands of each of the Provinces which were by that Act united should be retained by those provinces. He believed the policy carried out by the Act in that respect was unquestionable.
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In the ïŹrst place, if the public lands of various Provinces were under the control of the General Government, a General Government might not suit the wishes of each Province; and the attempt to manage the lands of the different Provinces on different principles, might also prove antagonistic to local feelings. In the second place, the distance from the seat of the General Government of the lands taken under its control, would be so great as of necessity to weaken the hands stretched out so far, and to induce a management less careful and less susceptible of being controlled by the public opinion of the Provinces, than would be the management by the Province itself. In the third place, the distance and the larger functions of the General Government would necessarily increase the cost of the administration of the public lands. And, lastly, however prosperous the administration might be, there could be no question that any attempt by the general Government to reap a revenue from the public lands of the Province or to apply the fruits of that prosperity to general or other than Local purposes would involve a feeling of dissatisfaction in the Province concerned. These were some thought not all the reasons which occurred to him why, from a Canadian point of view, it was right that the General Government should abstain from assuming to itself the public lands of the Provinces. Then as regarded the Province itself he thought it of great importance, of exceptionally great importance, in the case of Newfoundland, that their own lands should be retained in their own hands, having regard to the distance of the Province from the Seat of Government and to the comparative smallness of its representation. Here it was, to say the least, not at all unlikely that the policy which, at this distance, might be adopted with reference to the lands of Newfoundland, might be distasteful to the people of that Province. If any chance existed, and he should be sorry for a moment to cast a doubt upon the chance of those lands assuming, not from their agricultural qualities, but from the possible development of their mineral wealth great additional value, it was obvious that that value was more likely to be promoted by local administration on the spot. The position of the Local Legislature and the Provincial institutions of Newfoundland would, to his mind, be overborne and almost destroyed if they abstracted from that Legislature this function. The population of that Colony was small. It did not largely exceed the population of the Municipal Corporation, one of the divisions of which he represented in this House. The municipality of Northumberland and Durham had a popu lation exceeding 100,000, and the population of Newfoundland was estimated at 130,000 souls.
Sir John A. Macdonald: That was in 1861. It is now estimated at 145.000.
Mr. Blake proceeded to say that the functions which would be left to the Legislature of Newfoundland to discharge were almost exclusively of a municipal character, and if they took away from it the management of its lands, he failed to see why they retained in Newfoundland the expensive machinery of a legislative body. Therefore the policy of the Union Act in regard to public lands while eminently sound as to all the Provinces, appeared to him with reference to this Colony above and beyond all the other Colonies sound, and he thought a misfortune would be inïŹ‚icted both on the Dominion and on Newfoundland, if we took away from that Colony the management of its lands and assumed it ourselves. He objected, also, that there was no necessity for this arrangement. The proposed barter of the public lands of Newfoundland for $150,000 a-year, was a sham bargain. The Dominion would never reap pecuniarily and directly any advantage from these mines and minerals. The development of the mineral wealth of the Colony would promote the prosperity of Newfoundland, and, through it, the prosperity of Canada; but to attempt to derive a revenue from it, would be to strike a ïŹ‚at blow at the prospect of mineral development at all. If we did our duty by Newfoundland, in properly developing her mineral wealth, we could not expect to derive a revenue from those lands. Under these circumstances, if the choice were between our giving $150,000 a year to Newfoundland and taking her lands, and our giving $150,000 a year to Newfoundland and leaving her lands, he would unhesitatingly vote in favour of the latter of these two propositions. He believed the prosperity of the Colony would be largely enhanced by the adoption of the latter alternative, and the pecuniary results to Canada, would also be largely enhanced by it. He had considered as attentively as he could what was the relative duty of those proposing this amendment and of the Government under those circumstances, and it had occurred to him that in proposing this amendment. it was not his duty to embarass the negotiations, by preserving what in their views had been the alternative terms of admission, but that they ought to conïŹne themselves to asserting and endeavouring, if they could, to induce the House to agree to the proposition that the Union should not be 696 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 upon the basis of these lands being acquired by Canada, leaving to hon. gentlemen opposite with whom the duty rested, if the House should affirm this view, of entering into such negotiations as would result in bringing down to the House a proposal based on retention of lands by Newfoundland. He therefore moved the following amendment: "That by the British North America Act of 1867, it is in effect provided that each of the Provinces by that Act united, should retain its public lands; that the public lands of Newfoundland proposed to be purchased by Canada at the price of $150,000 a year, or $3,000,000, do not pay the expenses of management; that the public lands may be managed more efficiently, economically and satisfactorily by the Province in which they are situated than by Canada; that there is no good reason for a departure from the principles of the British North America Act involved in the proposed purchase; that the House, while prepared in settling the terms on which Newfoundland should be admitted into the Union to give its earnest consideration to any exceptional circumstances in the condition of that Province, is of opinion that these terms should be so re-arranged that Newfoundland would retain its public lands." Seconded by Hon. Mr. Halton.
Hon. Mr. Tilley agreed that by the provisions of the British North America Act each Province controlled its own public domain, but he was speaking in the presence of members of the conferences of Quebec and London, who knew as well as he did that the proposition was made that the management and control of public lands should be vested in the Dominion. It was urged at great length, cogent reasons were advanced at the conference at London especially that the public lands should not be in the hands of the Local Governments. The General Government having control of emigration, &c., it was felt that in order to give effect to such schemes as they might propose, and to secure uniformity of system, that the public domain should be administered by the Dominion Government, that they could manage it more judiciously and wisely than the local Governments. The majority decided that the land should remain, as far as the four Provinces were concerned, in the hands of the Local Legislature. But it was not so with Newfoundland. In the case of that Province, they themselves suggested that their lands should be placed in the hands of the Dominion Government.
Mr. D. A. Macdonald—Why?
Hon. Mr. Tilley—One of the reasons, he did not hesitate to say, was that there might be a ïŹxed sum for local matters which they could not be sure of, if the lands were under their control and management; and, now that this proposition had come from Newfoundland, he did not hesitate to say, from his experience, from the difficulties we had with reference to settling wild lands, emigration, and with regard to the resources of the Dominion, that it was in the public interest that all Canada lands should be placed in the hands of the Dominion. But the Constitution had settled this otherwise in the case of the Provinces in Confederation. With reference to the nature of the agreement, he desired to say a word or two. He desired to state why he thought Parliament should assent to this proposition, and why the people of Newfoundland had a right to expect that it should not be rejected. The arrangements made at Quebec were subsequently aïŹ‚irmed and conïŹrmed by the Dominion. In the ïŹrst place the arrangements then made differed little from the general principles contained in the London resolutions respecting the other Provinces. The proposition that $150,000 should be paid for the land of Newfoundland was assented to by an overwhelming majority of the Parliament of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Holton—We had never said the London resolutions.
Hon. Mr. Tilley—We had them in the Act of Parliament subsequently affirmed. It was aïŹ‚irmed not only by the Canadian Parliament, but by people of New Brunswick at the polls, and subsequently by the Legislature of Nova Scotia. Having shown that the principles of the London Conference were endorsed throughout the Dominion by the leading members of the Conference, all but one having been elected at the general election, the honourable gentleman went on to regret that the followers of Hon. Mr. Brown, a leading member of the Conference, had not taken the view of this question which he had, and would doubtless have done. In his Confederation speeches, and the articles which he had written with his own hand, no doubt that honourable gentleman had strongly urged the advantages of having Newfoundland in the Union on the terms of the Quebec Conference. That the sum proposed to be paid to Newfoundland was not regarded by them as a bribe, or as offering extraordinary inducements to them to enter Confederation, was evidenced by their taking four years to arrive 698 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 at their present conclusion. As to the sum the Dominion would lose, he did not think anything like what honourable gentlemen opposite imagined. Calculations carefully made of the whole imports of 1867, under the Canadian tariff as it stands, but omitting what was imported that year from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario, showed the amount to be $663,393.63.
Mr. Mackenzie wished the details. This was an important statement and might have an important effect on the House.
Hon. Mr. Tilley said the statement was not made on his authority but on good authority, and he would hand in the paper with the details. Again it had to be borne in mind that previous to Union the tariff of Newfoundland, which was lower than that of any of the Provinces at that time, yielded more in proportion than any other Province in the Dominion. If that continued to be the case, and if even under the higher tariff of Canada it yielded $4 per head as might be fairly expected, that would amount to nearly $600,000. The hon. gentleman argued that under no circumstances could the loss be very great, and proceeded to look at the question from another point of View. Take, he said, the whole of the butter, biscuit, and other products of Canada as well as her manufactures to a large extent, and we ïŹnd that even though large reductions in the imports of woollens and leather should take place in Newfoundland, there would still be left $525,000. If this were the case certainly the loss of the Dominion could not be very great. Another calculation was this: Apply the tariff of last session to the imports of 1867 and it gives $219,185.48. The inference is that after Confederation, inasmuch as there is no doubt that they will continue to consume more goods than in Canada, we will still be left a handsome sum coming into the Treasury annually from that Island. The hon. gentleman next defended Newfoundland from the accusation recently made. He denied that Newfoundland was a pauper community and showed from her banking returns that not only did the masses of the people deposit more largely in Banks than was the case in the other Provinces of the Dominion, but that the general condition of the trading community was healthful. During 18 years in business in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Bank of British North America never lost a dollar. He noticed the fact that almhouses and similar institutions were supported by the Legislature, but that last year they had abolished all grants to able-bodied poor. He also noticed the economy in the administration of affairs, which, notwithstanding a large expenditure for rebuilding St. John's, and widening the streets, after the ïŹre of 1846, left the debt of the Province but a million, and urged that as a large consuming population, the people of Newfoundland must be an immense accession to the Union. He wished he had the power and eloquence of the Hon. Mr. Brown when expatiating on this subject. (Hear, hear.) If that honourable gentleman were on the ïŹ‚oor of the House today, he would take larger, more liberal, and more able views of this question than were taken by honourable gentlemen usually following him. The Minister of Customs having deprecated viewing this question from a practical point of view, proceeded to take credit to the representatives of New Brunswick for having to a man voted for the acquisition of the North-West Territory. They did not stop to ask the question: What had they in that North-West Territory to contribute to us? but though not directly interested, they felt that the Dominion at large would be benefitted, and cheerfully voted for this great land purchase. As to the proposition now before the House, it only carried out a portion of the same great scheme of Union. He hoped hon. gentlemen from all sections would cheerfully support it.
Hon. Mr. Galt was strongly in favour of continuing the work of Union and consolidation so happily begun on this continent. The present terms offered by Newfoundland, should, he urged, be accepted, as they were substantially those adopted by the Quebec Conference, and subsequently by the Parliaments of Canada, and New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, and they were terms not unreasonable or unjust in any respect whatever. He took issue with the member for West Durham in his proposition that the land ought to be in the hands of the Local Governments. He believed the public domain ought to be under the control of the Dominion. It ought to be at the disposal of the only Legislature which could have a uniform policy on emigration and settlement. The hon. gentleman argued, too, that if the mineral lands were placed at the disposal of the Dominion they would endeavour to extract from them their $150,000 a year, and the industry of Newfoundland would be depressed. Precisely the contrary result would in his (Mr. Galt's) opinion follow. If the lands were left in the hands of the Local Government they had to depend on them for the means of local administration. It was clear that no liberal policy would be in their power, whereas it would be in the power of the Dominion Parliament, to deal as liberally as it pleased with them. Besides the 700 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 hon. member for West Durham, in arguing as he had done against this land purchase by the Government, appeared to have altogether forgotten his vote the other night with reference to the North-West Territory. There was a land purchase in a country situated twice as far off as Newfoundland, and twenty times as large. (Hear.) He entirely approved of the course of the Government in following out the policy of the Quebec Conference.
Mr. Stirton objected to the doctrine that all who endorsed the Quebec resolutions should always abide by them. Under what circumstances were these resolutions adopted? Under the statement that the resolutions must be adopted in their entirety or not at all. But already the Government themselves had violated that compact in London and subsequently, and it was absurd to endeavour to force hon. gentlemen to cling to it, merely because it suited the occupants of the Treasury Benches. He would vote for the amendment, believing this land purchase to be one which the country would not sustain. At the same time, he was not at all desirous to throw any obstacle in the way of Newfoundland coming into the Union. He hoped to see that Union speedily and satisfactorily completed.
Hon. Mr. McDougall considered that the amendment proposed by his hon. friend was contrary in principle to the votes that gentleman had heretofore given. He thought the hon. gentleman who had last spoken was not acting consistently with his former Union principles, because the terms to which he objected were essentially the same as those for which he had formerly voted. If his hon. friends opposite were really sincere in their professions of a desire for Union they should not take objection to the terms agreed to by the Quebec Conference. It was true that the lands of Newfoundland were not so valuable as those of the Northwest territory, but if we were to complete the work of Confederation such a consideration should have no weight. He would ask the hon. member for Wellington South if the principle he had laid down was ever followed in the County Council. The opposite principle was almost invariably followed, and the more productive parts of a county were called on to assist in the development of the less productive parts. This principle should be applied to the development of the Dominion if we ever were to become a great and united Confederacy.
Hon. Mr. Anglin said that it was quite possible that in the Quebec Conference the resolution to give the ÂŁ30,000 was adopted as a payment to the Province to carry on its local affairs. As to the statement that it was proposed in London that the Dominion should assume all the lands, he never heard of it before. It would have been contrary to the understanding generally arrived at, and it was well there had been no enactment. He had, it was true, taken a different line in this debate from that used by him in his speeches in New Brunswick, but this was owing to his not having accepted the situation of the period alluded to. Since he had occupied it these arguments had all been taken out of his mouth.
Hon. Mr. Gray had understood the member for West Durham to argue not that this sum of $150,000 should not be given to Newfoundland, but that her public lands should not be taken as an exchange. He (Mr. Gray) did not see how hon. members could justify themselves to their constituents if they supported such a proposition, and gave Newfoundland this exceptional privilege, not extended to the other Provinces, of receiving so very large a sum without any consideration. The resolution left it optional with Newfoundland to retain her land. He would prefer that she would, but he would rather take her with this encumbrance than leave her out of the Union. Already there was a low murmuring of discontent at the departure from the conditions of union proposed with reference to Nova Scotia, and who could tell to what height that might grow, if $150,000 a year were to be given to Newfoundland, without receiving the consideration which was stipulated in the resolutions of the Quebec Conference.
Hon. Mr. Wood thought the important question was this—what sum would be required by the Newfoundland Legislature to carry on its local service? That sum being once ascertained, Canada should freely give it. He thought it mean and unpatriotic to enter into a very minute calculation of dollars and cents. He did not think the amount estimated by the Minister of Finance was too large. He did not expect that for some time the revenue we would receive from Newfoundland would equal the expenditure we incurred on her behalf, but by opening a new market to us, and by stimulating the industry of the Island, and increasing its population, the Union would be indirectly of great advantage to the Dominion. The only part of the scheme he objected to was this—as to public lands, he would much prefer that Newfoundland would keep her own lands, and with that view he would not object to the special subsidy being made $185,000 instead of $35,000.
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Sir John A. Macdonald said if he believed Mr. Blake's amendment carried out the views expressed by the hon. gentleman who had just sat down he would almost be disposed to accept it, but he looked upon it as intended to defeat the whole scheme for union with Newfoundland. The hon. gentleman had himself stated that he moved it as an amendment to the ïŹrst resolution because, if carried, it would alter entirely the basis of the arrangement. The hon. gentleman said he would rather give the $150,000 and not take the lands, than give the $150,000 and take the lands; but he took care not to place it in his amendment, and if the amendment carried, and the Government proposed to increase the subsidy by $150,000, there would be another amendment declaring that any such proposition would be an injustice to the other Provinces.
Mr. Blake said he did not have it in contemplation to move any other amendment, nor was he aware that any hon. gentlemen on his side had any such intention.
Sir John A. Macdonald was glad to hear that the hon. gentleman was in favour of the $150,000, but there were others who entertained different views. They had heard the member for Wellington South declare that he was not now bound by the agreement of the Quebec Conference. It was evident that in bringing forward this amendment the member for West Durham had been put upon by others who were not so sincere in bringing about the admission of Newfoundland on these terms. Newfoundland was situated differently from the other provinces. She had no internal resources; her wealth was mainly derived from the sea; and when these resources failed them they had no agricultural wealth to fall back upon like the other provinces. Therefore there was in this respect a necessity for Newfoundland to have some definite and certain source of revenue from her crown lands. If the lands remained in the possession of Newfoundland they had not the means of developing them; but if they were handed over to the Dominion something could undoubtedly be made out of them. A Mr. Bennett owned a mile square of land in the region of the copper mines and he had refused ÂŁ250,000 sterling for it, and there was positive evidence that at least three other square miles were of equal value. Newfoundland was not able to open up these lands, but the Dominion was in a different position and was able to take means to ascertain what the wealth of the land and minerals was. The Province it would be observed, retained the power of determining within a year, whether it will relieve us of the payment of this $150,000 and keep its lands. He hoped they would. (Laughter).
Hon. Mr. Holton—So do I. (Laughter).
Sir John A. Macdonald—If, however, the Dominion found that the lands were not proïŹtable, there was surely no reason why at some future period they could not be returned to Newfoundland.
Mr. Blake—You cannot after, in the agreement of Union, you assume their management.
Sir John A. Macdonald then argued there was the consideration of national policy. Newfoundland possessed the key to our front door. It might be considered chimerical, but he believed there was something in the report of Mr. Sandford Fleming in reference to the shortest highway between this continent and Europe. He believed that the time would come, in our day, when the route across Newfoundland would become the great highway of passenger traffic. He would repeat that if his hon. friend really wished, as he professed, to give the Crown lands to Newfoundland, and also the $150,000, then he should move a distinct resolution to that effect. The only effect of his present amendment was to disturb the basis of the entire arrangement, and probably postpone the admission of Newfoundland into the Dominion for an indefinite period.
After recess,
Sir John A. Macdonald intimated that the Government would proceed this session with items 22 and 23, of the Bills respecting the Supreme Court, the Illegal Solemnization of Marriage, and Proceedings in Outlawry. These Bills would be sent to the Judges during recess for their consideration.


Mr. Mackenzie resumed the debate on the Newfoundland Resolutions. He said if he thought the amendment was susceptible of the interpretation given to it by the Premier, he most certainly should not vote for it. He was desirous of accomplishing the Union between Newfoundland and the present Confederated Provinces on as early a day, and on as just principles as possible. As a fruit of the Union of the Province from the ïŹrst he hoped to continue so to the last, and although Newfoundland was one of the smaller, and from the nature of her soil and her circum 704 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 stances one of the poorer Colonies of British America, she would meet with no ungenerous treatment at his hands. But while he said this, he must resent the attempt on the part of some hon. gentlemen to prevent a free discussion and deliberation on the subject in this House. The Minister of Public Works has attacked his hon. friend from Wellington South, because that hon. gentleman held himself free from any obligations with reference to this question in consequence of the course taken at the Quebec Conference. He (Mr. Mackenzie,) endorsed the language of his hon. friend from Wellington South, to its entire extent. The terms proposed at the Quebec Conference not having been then accepted, he considered that all parties were free to propose new terms. The gentlemen who were now so ably representing Newfoundland had not considered themselves bound by these terms, but had come here with entirely new terms; and if so, why should any member of this House be held bound by those terms. He had been amused to hear the Minister of Public Works speak of the inconsistency of the member for Wellington South. Nothing could be more grotesque than to hear the Minister of Public Works lecturing any gentleman for his inconsistency. That hon. gentleman had been found delivering opposition opinions on every possible subject at various periods in his history. (Hear, hear.) He regretted that the Minister of Customs should have imported into the discussion matter wholly irrelevant to the motion before the chair. He would not follow the hon. gentleman in his calculations as to the Customs further than to say that his ïŹgures were utterly incorrect. He was not surprised, however, that the Minister of Customs' reason should have made the mistake, when last year he made a mistake of nearly a million and a half on the probable proceeds of the Customs. He supposed his calculations as to the approximate income from Newfoundland would turn out about as correct as his calculations as to the Customs last year. As regarded the motion before the chair he could not conceive anything more inconsistent with the duties and obligations of the Dominion Government than that it should undertake the management of the public lands of Newfoundland. He could not understand how the member for Sherbrooke (Hon. Mr. Galt) could have ventured at the London Conference, as he told the House he did, to urge that the Act of Union should assign to the Dominion the Crown Lands of the various Provinces in violation of the terms of the Quebec resolutions. He (Mr. Mackenzie) did not hesitate to say that if the Quebec arrangement had been changed in that particular, Ontario at all events would not have accepted the Act. The Premier and the Minister of Public Works had taken ground to-night as to the position we occupied with reference to conclusions arrived at by the Quebec Conference. The Minister of Public Works said it would be an act of gross bad faith if we should recede to any extent whatever from the resolutions of that Conference. That ground might be tenable as applied to an act already consummated; it would be an act of bad faith for any of the Provinces to seek to alter any of the terms of Union between the Provinces united by the British North American Act. For this Parliament to take upon itself to abrogate any of the articles of Union between the four Provinces established by- that Act would be to be guilty of gross bad faith. It would be to assume duties never designed to be committed by the Imperial Parliament to this House. But the very thing which these hon. gentlemen were representing as a departure from good faith by gentlemen on his (Mr. Mackenzie's) side of the House, was now being attempted by those hon. gentlemen themselves in its very worst possible aspect. On his side of the House, they only proposed to void one of the conditions agreed to with reference to a Colony which did not choose to accept the conditions then offered them; but hon. gentlemen opposite proposed to change the conditions on which one of the Provinces now had an existence as a member of this Confederation, and that not only by the authority which created the Confederation, but by an Act of this Parliament. (Hear.) It did not lie in the mouth of hon. gentlemen, who proposed so extraordinary a measure as that, to accuse the member for West Durham and those who supported him in this matter, of being guilty of bad faith. (Hear.) Those hon. gentlemen, when in London, had agreed to granting additional subsidies to the Provinces, a matter which was not in the Quebec resolutions. They agreed to give Ontario an additional subsidy at the rate of 5 3/4 cents per head; Quebec 6c; Nova Scotia 10c, and New Brunswick 19c per head; and now they asked the House to agree to another departure from the scheme of the Quebec Conference, by giving an additional subsidy to Newfoundland of 28c per head; and yet, because hon. gentlemen on his side thought it would be better that the Crown Lands of the Colony should be left in the hands of the Local Authorities, they were accused of endeavouring to break up the compact entered into at Quebec. Nothing could be more absurd. He was quite willing to confer with the representatives of Newfoundland in order to ascertain from them what was necessary for that 706 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 purpose. He desired that the union should be consummated on such terms, that the people of Newfoundland should be in a position to work in amity with the rest of the Dominion, and in a way conducive to their own prosperity. But he held it to be derogatory to the position of this House that they should be held in effect, that they were precluded from discussing what these terms of union should be. The Minister of Public Works and the Premier said they were surprised that the member for West Durham should object to our acquiring the public lands of Newfoundland, after voting for the acquisition of lands in the North West territory. There was no analogy between the two cases. In the North West territory there were at present no constituted authorities as there were in Newfoundland, and it would not be pretended that after a Government was established in the North West, we would administer its lands from Ottawa. But if the Dominion assumed the public lands of Newfoundland we would have a land ofïŹce established here requiring a special department for the purpose. At present these were administered very economically. The Surveyor-General received ÂŁ400 sterling, and the extra expense was $6,000. According to these resolutions the Surveyor General and his staff would be under the control of one of the Departments at Ottawa.
Sir John A. Macdonald—Just as it will be with the land in Rupert's Land.
Mr. Mackenzie said he had already shown there was no analogy between the two cases. Comparing the former management of the Customs in New Brunswick, of the post ofïŹce in Nova Scotia, and various other branches, he found that everything which came under the management of this Government was conducted on an extravagant scale, and under any Government it would be impossible to manage her public lands situated 2,000 miles away as efficiently and economically as they could be managed on the spot. Some stress has been laid on the value of the mineral lands, but could an instance be shown where any Government had made money out of its mineral lands? The Treasurer of Ontario had stated that in the fall of 1867 he thought money could be made by the Government out of the mineral lands on Lake Superior, which were apparently far richer than those of Newfoundland, but he had since found out his mistake. The Ontario Government had found that in attempting to make money out of their mineral lands they only succeeded in preventing miners from going in, and so it would be in the case of Newfoundland. The conclusion, therefore, was inevitable, that it would be a wrong policy on the part of the Dominion to seek to acquire these lands. He was prepared to give whatever sum was necessary, on a fair calculation, to carry on the Local Government of the Island; but he was not prepared to assume the responsibility of these lands in order to give a premium to Newfoundland. It might be carried in spite of these protestations, but hon. gentlemen had no right to charge them, as the Premier had done, With endeavouring to prevent the union, because they did not choose to give up their own opinions on the matter.
Sir John A. Macdonald—You voted for it in 1865.
Mr. Mackenzie said that in 1865 the leader of the Government brought down the scheme representing it as in the nature of a treaty, which must be accepted in its entirety or set aside. There were various parts of it which he did not like; but, on account of these representations he felt bound to support it as a whole. But now this matter came up as a substantial proposition, and he considered the House was at liberty to deal with it as it chose. He repeated that he was willing to assume the responsibility of giving whatever money was necessary, but he did not wish to assume the responsibility of taking the lands. He did not anticipate that the revenue would be so great as had been represented by the Minister of Finance. But he was willing to set aside all considerations except one. that this was a British Colony which it was desirable to incorporate into our Union, and with that view he was willing to agree to any reasonable terms. He desired, however, that these terms should be subjected to deliberate examination and discussion in this House, and that they should be so satisfactory to both parties, that no difficulties should hereafter arise similar to those which had arisen with reference to Nova Scotia. (Hear, hear.)
Sir John A. Macdonald said when he spoke of the arrangements at the Quebec Conference, he alluded to the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. It was not so with reference to Newfoundland. The delegates from that Colony, not being charged with the power of entering into such a treaty, guarded themselves against incurring any such obligations, but they arranged that when Newfoundland chose to enter the Union, she should do so on certain terms.
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Hon. Mr. Holton—That distinction was never brought to the notice of the Canadian Parliament during the debate on Confederation extending over several weeks.
Sir John A. Macdonald thought the hon. gentleman was mistaken. Newfoundland, as regarded the resolutions of the Quebec Conference, was on the same footing as British Columbia at the Union in 1865, the New Brunswick Government having been defeated on the question, and the feeling being against it in Nova Scotia, the Newfoundland Government did not choose to submit Confederation to the people. Now, however, when they saw that Confederation was a fact, they came proposing to enter the Union on the terms of the Quebec Conference, one of which was that the Dominion should pay $150,000 to get the public lands in return. If this were refused they would go back with a charge against us of bad faith, and tell their people that we would not abide by the terms of the Quebec Conference, and then negotiation would fall through.
Hon. Mr. Holton said this was the ïŹrst time they had heard from the Minister of Justice the statement that the Quebec resolutions were not as binding in the nature of a treaty on Newfoundland as on any of the other Provinces, and they heard it now simply because the arguments in support of the amendment were unanswerable.
Sir John A. Macdonald read one of the Quebec resolutions to show that Newfoundland was looked upon as occupying a position different from that of the other Provinces.
Hon. Mr. Holton said the scheme of Confederation had been rejected by Newfoundland at the election in 1865, yet it was now proposed again to submit it to the people and thus defeat what had been declared unconstitutional as regards the other Provinces. The Minister of Justice had alluded to the course taken by the member for West Durham to moving this amendment, as if he were unwillingly playing into the hands of those who had opposed Confederation. This allusion made it necessary for him (Mr. Holton) to say, with reference to Confederation, that he had not been opposed to the Union of these Colonies on federal principles, but had opposed the scheme as immature; and many difficulties which had occurred in working it had shown the validity of the objections he had taken to it on that ground. Confederation, however, was carried. The Union of Colonies was the policy of the Empire, and he had yielded to the logic of events, and endeavoured in every way to promote the completion and prosperity of the Union. Carrying out that principle, he would cheerfully assist in having Newfoundland brought into the Union. He denied however, that we were bound by the terms of the Quebec Conference, and he denied that it was a wise policy to assume the responsibility of the public lands of Newfoundland.
Sir John A. Macdonald explained, in reply to some remarks of the previous speaker, that the three Provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia originally met for the purpose of making a treaty. The Provinces of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island sent delegates simply as spectators—not for the purpose of entering into a definite compact. The other three Provinces, however, made a solemn treaty, as he had stated, with the Canadian Parliament, after the Conference at Quebec. He was not sure whether Prince Edward Island was in the same position as the other Provinces, but he was certain that the delegates of Newfoundland did not con- der themselves a party to the treaty. It was simply agreed that whenever they choose to come in, they should do so on certain terms. In 1865 there was a disposition in the island to submit the Quebec resolutions at the polls, but the hostility to Union in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia created the impression that the measure would not be accepted by British North America. Now, however, it was felt that the difficulties in the way of the Confederation were rapidly disappearing, and that it was their duty and interest to form a part of the Dominion. Under the circumstances he regretted to hear the arguments he had heard advanced from the opposite side.
Hon. Mr. Rose said in reality the honourable gentleman opposite admitted the desirability of having Newfoundland in the Union, and there was no cavilling at the terms proposed, except in Newfoundland, as a separate Colony had something to say in the bargain, and what she had said through her Legislature and delegation was this, that she would enter Confederation on the terms of the Quebec resolutions.
Mr. Mackenzie said no, she wanted $150,000 for her land.
Hon. Mr. Rose said that was the case; but the difference was very slight. Being agreed that the terms are not unreasonable, why cavil at these small details. To show the value of Newfoundland to the Confederation, and 710 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869the importance of acquiring it, the hon. gentleman quoted largely from the remarks of the Hon. George Brown and Mr. Mackenzie during the Confederation debates.
Mr. Mills regretted that the $150,000 a year was to be paid for the land of this Island. Even if this item were concurred in, what guarantee was there that a further demand would not be made next year in lieu of the share of Newfoundland in the Intercolonial Railway and other great public works of the Dominion, from which she derived no direct beneïŹt? It was fair, of course, that she should get means to enable her to carry on her own local Government eïŹĂźciently, but there was no necessity for giving her an extravagant amount. For his own part he was most anxious to have Newfoundland enter the Dominion, but was also anxious that she should do so on equitable terms. Let her control her own territory, and develop it to the best of her own ability. It was for this he contended.
Mr. D. A. Macdonald said he had not voted for the $150,000 when the matter came before the Parliament of Canada, or he would be bound to vote for it on this occasion. The hon. gentleman had quoted Confederation speeches to show the value of Newfoundland to us and the great necessity existing for its acquisition. But for his part he defied any one to show him one word of truth in those speeches. (Order, order.) At all events the brilliant future drawn out for the country under Confederation was anything but realized or in course of realization. As to the land of Newfoundland, the true course would be to leave it with the Colony and give them the $150,000 if necessary.
Hon. Mr. Dunkin said that under the present circumstances the House was bound to carry out the pledge they had given to Newfoundland in the scheme of Union. Having once put our hands to the plough we could not look back now, and it was our duty and interest to work out the Union as rapidly as possible. This confederacy was incomplete without Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and we should offer them the best terms we could. We were bound to give them what was necessary to enable them to carry on there local operations, and he would say in all frankness that he did not consider the terms now offered, too extravagant. He thought though it was not necessary to hold the lands, yet the time would probably come when the colony would gladly take them back. He was of opinion that the lands were so much life to the Local Governments; but at present Newfoundland was in an exceptional position, and should therefore be treated accordingly to her peculiar wants. He did not think that the Dominion was running any risk in trying the experiment, for the present at all events.
Mr. Scatcherd said that he believed it was now necessary to carry out this Confederation faithfully, and not to consider matters in a niggard spirit. He considered it his duty, as a representative of the people, to vote for the resolutions, though he had, on a previous occasion, taken a position hostile to the Union. He was more hopeful that night of the future of the Confederation than he had ever been before.
Mr. T. R. Ferguson was more hopeful tonight than he had ever been on the subject of Confederation. He was glad to ïŹnd hon. gentlemen on all sides agreed as to the necessity for completing this other link in the scheme of Confederation, the only objection offered being to land terms, and those objecting to this $150,000 a year, what was their cause? A most extraordinary one. It seemed to him they scrupled to give this amount and take the land, but offered to give $150,000 and give back the land at the same time. This was a specimen of the economy these hon. gentlemen wanted to practice. It was a pity their old leader, the Hon. Mr. Brown, was not as had been said on the ïŹ‚oor often, to keep his followers in order. (Hear.) He would vote against the amendment.
The House then divided on the amendment, which was lost; yeas 48, nays 94.
Hon. Mr. Wood, seconded by Hon. Mr. Anglin moved a very lengthy amendment, afïŹrming among other things that Newfoundland should retain all her Crown lands and receive a total of $185,000, in addition to the 80c per head for local purposes.
Mr. Mackenzie said the amendment was too comprehensive by half. It contained in reality several resolutions.
Sir John A. Macdonald said the amendment was out of order.
Mr. Blake agreed with the Minister of Justice.
The motion was ruled out of order.
The resolution and the two following were then carried.
The 4th resolution provided that in consideration of the transfer to the General Par 712 COMMONS DEBATES June 10, 1869 liament of the power of taxation, the sum of $35,000, and an annual grant, equal to 80c per head of the population shall be paid by the Dominion to Newfoundland for the support of its Government and Legislature, the grant of 80 cents per head to be augmented in proportion to the increase of population up to 400,000.
Mr. Mackenzie strongly objected to the grant of $35,000 as a departure from the principles adopted by the Quebec Conference, and a breach of faith with the public.
Mr. Blake also objected to the resolution.
It was then carried on a division.
The 5th resolution was carried.
On the 6th, which provided that before entering the Union, Newfoundland might reserve to itself all the lands and rights conveyed to the General Government, and that in that care Canada shall be relieved of the $150,000 payment.
Hon. Mr. Wood moved in amendment that the resolution be referred back to amend it by providing that the land therein mentioned should be given to Newfoundland.
The Speaker ruled the amendment out of order as the question it raised had already been decided in Mr. Blake's amendment,
The 6th and 7th resolutions were carried.
On the 8th Mr. Le Vesconte moved that the resolution be referred back in order to strike out the words "As well as the present duty on coal entering the said harbour," and also the words "Such duties on coal." His object was to prevent the imposition of a duty on coal.
Mr. Le Vesconte spoke against the resolution. Suppose it were necessary to make a large expenditure for improving the harbours in Newfoundland or any of the Provinces the dominant Province of Ontario might choose to impose a certain duty on some articles coming into these ports, while enacting at the same time that ïŹ‚our and other articles sent from Ontario, be exempt from duty.
Mr. Killam said that the present duty on coal was, in his opinion, a Customs duty. Even if it were not, what right had the Government of Newfoundland to impose an exceptional tax on one particular article, and not on another.
Mr. Blake argued that the imposition in this case was not in substance or form a harbour duty, and therefore did not come within the provisions of the British North American Act.
Sir John A. Macdonald could not see that this was any offence against the British North America Act; if we thought, as a Dominion Parliament, that the toll which was the security to this Company should be wiped away, and that they should be paid out of our own pockets, that would be a fair proposition.
Lost on a division, yeas 47, nays 91.
This, and remaining resolutions passed, and an address founded thereon was introduced, passed, and ordered to be sent to the Senate.


Hon. Mr. Rose at a quarter to 12, moved the House into Committee of the Whole to consider the resolutions on the subject of the arrangements having in view the admission of Prince Edward Island into the Dominion of Canada.
Mr. Mackenzie said he had intended at this stage to move an amendment, but as it was so late, it might perhaps be more convenient to defer it now, and move it at the concurrence.
The House went into Committee, Hon. Mr. Smith in the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Rose said the object of the resolutions was principally the admission of Prince Edward Island into the Union. After the address which had just been passed, it was evident that the Union would be very incomplete without Prince Edward Island. It had a low tariff and there would be great temptation to send in goods from that Island to the other Provinces. Its geographical position also was such that the Dominion would be very incomplete without it. Another very important reason why it should be admitted had reference to the ïŹsheries. The House was aware of the extreme value of the ïŹsheries belonging to Prince Edward Island: and it was known that no permanent arrangement could be made as to the ïŹsheries unless Prince Edward Island were a party to it. Prince Edward Island had very little debt. The principal part of it had been contracted in the purchase of estates from persons who held them under grants from the Crown of England on terms which had very materially retarded the settlement of the Island. The hon. gentleman went on to explain somewhat minutely the position of the land question in Prince Edward Island. He then explained that as the tariff was low, and the debt comparatively small, it had been [...]


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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