House of Commons, 11 June 1869, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

740 COMMONS DEBATES June 11, 1869
Hon. Mr. Dunkin [...] constitutional barrier in the way of their adding to those grants. Stress had been laid on the words "for the public service of Canada." These were not to be interpreted too rigidly. They could not be held as restricting them from voting a sum for the relief of public distress abroad. We could not withhold what the Union Act gave Nova Scotia; but we could give more if we pleased. The member for West Durham had referred to an Act of the Ontario Government voting money to Judges as ultra vires; but what was the main objection to that Act? He did not understand that it was said a Provincial Legislature could vote money only for provincial purposes; but the objection was that it had contravened a great object of public policy by putting Judges in the position of serving two masters. The Ontario and Quebec Legislatures had both of them voted money for the relief of distress in Nova Scotia and at Red River. No one could say that their so doing was unconstitutional.
Sir John A. Macdonald said those who were in favour of Confederation would vote against the amendment. (Loud cries of No, No). It was well that the veil should be removed and the position exactly understood. It was well that the member for Lambton, by seconding this amendment, had at last revealed his true position as an enemy to Confederation. (Cries of No, No, and ironical cheers.) That hon. gentleman had claimed to be a friend of Confederation and had made all kinds of professions on the subject. But when he found the key-stone of Confederation was about to be put in its place, without which all other efforts were useless, the hon. gentleman for party considerations, negated all his previous professions. Rather than see Confederation carried out by the present Government, to which he was opposed, he would insidiously, if not openly, oppose it. (No, No.) The object of Confederation was to bring all British North America into one Union. We were now incorporating the North-West, we were about to admit Newfoundland. All that remained was this measure to pacify Nova Scotia and hon. gentlemen opposite were found opposing it. If the gentlemen opposite were successful, then there would be a jubilee among anti- Unionists, and such classes in Nova Scotia, throughout Canada, and outside of the Dominion as well. Let them reconcile Nova Scotia —the very keystone of the Dominion. The people of that Province at ïŹrst refused to come into the Union, but now were about to be reconciled.
Mr. Le Vesconte—No, no!
Sir John A. Macdonald—The whole action of the Local Legislature showed that they accepted it. This very day the Treasurer of Nova Scotia had telegraphed that he hoped the grant was made, that he might get the money. (Great laughter.) There might be some few fossils like his hon. friend from Richmond, old tories like himself who did not care to change, but except a few like him the people of Nova Scotia had accepted it. A majority of the representatives of Nova Scotia in this House had accepted it, and the Government of Nova Scotia had accepted it. The simple question raised by this amendment was Confederation or no Confederation.
Hon. Mr. Holton—I thought that was settled long ago.
Sir John A. Macdonald—It was settled by law in 1867 against the desire and vote of that hon. gentleman and ever since he had done all in his power to obstruct it. The member for Durham West had contended that this matter was one to be settled by England. Hon. gentlemen would give up to the Imperial Parliament the control of our money and a different doctrine was laid down in the discussion on the Governor-General's salary. It was then decided by the member for Oxford South that for the Imperial authorities to interfere with us in that matter was to trample on the liberties of the people of Canada.
Mr. Mackenzie—Order. If the hon. gentleman seeks to make out his argument by dragging in matters foreign to this debate, I ask the interference of the Speaker.
The Speaker pro tem., Hon. Mr. Blanchet, said the Minister of Justice was out of order in alluding to a previous debate.
Sir John A. Macdonald said any gentleman going to the library and looking over the newspapers, would ïŹnd that such words were used in a certain Colonial Parliament with reference to the Governor's salary: but the question was whether this arrangement was a right one or a wrong one. If they admitted it was a right one they should place it in the hands of the Government to carry it out. This amendment was a mean motion—an attempt by a side wind to prevent the success of Confederation, instead of fairly meeting the question. The argument of the member for West Durham was hardly worth replying to. His 742 COMMONS DEBATES June 11, 1869 answer to it was that as a Parliament they had a right to do what they pleased with their own. They might draw it away if they pleased. It constituted the difference between a free and a servile people to retain or give up the control of their own money. Recently the colonists of Red River had been afflicted by a plague of locusts. Suppose a similar disaster were to happen Ontario, causing a failure of its crops and a state of famine, and it was proposed to vote money to relieve the distress; such a vote could not be made according to the argument which had been presented from the other side. He repeated that this was a blow at the Union, and looking at the division on the Newfoundland resolutions yesterday, there would be found the same lurking desire to impede the wheels of Confederation. If this motion carried there would be a jubilee among the avowed anti-Confederate rebels, and Annexationists of Nova Scotia, and it would be the cause of corresponding depression to those in that-Province who desire the Union to be successful. If the hon. gentlemen repudiated this arrangement which had been entered into with Nova Scotia, they would give a death-blow to Confederation, and on them, not on him, would rest the responsibility of so suicidal an act.
Hon. Mr. Holton made a motion of adjournment to allow a reply to be made by the gentlemen attacked by the Minister of Justice.
Mr. Mackenzie desired to say a few words in reply to the very extraordinary attack made by the Premier on himself, and also on those with whom he usually acted. He had never witnessed a more unjustifiable attack made in this House. It was no new thing, however, for the hon. gentleman to make such attacks. It was part of his tactics. Those who had sat in Parliament with that hon. gentleman so long as he had done could recall many instances in which, when worsted in argument, when he found the sense of the House was against him, and the leading men of his own party forced to take ground against the position he occupied, he tried to simulate passion and attempted to cover his weakness by hurling unfounded reproaches at his opponents. The hon. gentleman and his satellites had sought to defeat him at his election in '67 by calling him a disunionist; but, when he came here and assisted the Government in carrying the very measure necessary to the completion of Confederation, they complimented him as a friend of Union. Now, however, because he did not choose to accept the hon. gentleman's mode of settling this difficulty, which he looked upon [...]


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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