House of Commons, 18 February 1870, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

Mr. Mackenzie said that the first thing required of a man when he changed from the Liberal side of the Government side was, to abuse the Globe newspaper, (laughter). It was satisfactory to find so old a member, so willing to come into the traces of the first Minister of the Crown, and abuse the Globe. It was a well known fact that thirty-two or thirty-three Liberal members had been brought to the House, and, in defiance of this gross accusation, he could say that they had not given factious opposition, but had at all times preferred to meet the Government in an open, manly way. He would now ask the reason why the Union cause had not in the slightest degree advanced. It was simply because this combination, this coalition was formed, not to advance the Union cause, but to advance a political party to a position which they might occupy, we were told, for years to come by the influence of the expenditure for the construction of the Inter- colonial Railway. He would venture to say that if the Liberal party had been in power from that time to the present, there would have been at this moment a completed Confederation of all the Provinces of British North America. But after this Parliament had provided the most liberal terms for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island they had been rejected, and other Provinces would not join the Confederation; and he held that it was because the Government of Canada was distrusted, that the people of the East and West, and North and South declined to have any political association with them (hear, hear). He would now proceed to discuss the measures which the Government saw fit to take, in order, apparently, to secure the results they promised long ago. He recollected that during the elections he had been told that if the Government secured a majority in Parliament there could not be a doubt the union of the Provinces—union with the Maritime Provinces, would be a certainty, and union with Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island would be a matter not of years or months, but of weeks. He had moved for correspondence that he expected would show the state of advancement of this union, but to his extreme surprise he was told that no correspondence had taken place (hear, hear). Referring to the negotiations for admitting Newfoundland, he (Mr. Mackenzie) contended that the Government had taken entirely wrong ground in offering to assume control of the public lands of that island. These public lands were claimed by the Anti-Confederates at the late election to be of immense value, and the mineral lands to be perhaps the most valuable upon this Continent, and that the Canadian Government would get the entire benefit of these riches. He maintained that the Federal Government should have nothing to do with 62 COMMONS DEBATES February 18, 1870 these lands, and this was the view of the people of Newfoundland. With regard to the accession of the North West, he did not intend to enter upon a discussion of a personal nature, but he had heard reports respecting language said to have been used by the Hon. Secretary of State, which he must characterize as unwise in the extreme, and unworthy of his position as the delegate of Canada to that country. These reported expressions were only in entire accordance with his (Mr. Howe's) utterances in this House, where he had said that the single State of Minnesota could turn out more men in a week than the whole Dominion of Canada, to take and keep possession of this Country. The indulgence of such expressions and sentiments was not part of wisdom or statesmanship, or prudence, especially on the part of a minister of the Crown. The hon. gentleman must have known something of the condition of the country, and of the feelings of the people, but he had taken no opportunity of giving any information to Mr. McDougall. He had not endeavoured to intercept Mr. McDougall, to give him information, but had allowed him to go on to Pembina, where he played such a wretched and humiliating part. He had seen recently the instructions which had been given to Mr. McDougall, but they were without date, and he would like to know when they were delivered to him.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said Mr. McDougall had seen a copy of the preliminary instructions on the 28th of Sept., before he left Ottawa, and they had been forwarded to Mr. McDougall at Toronto.
Mr. Mackenzie asked Mr. McDougall when he received the preliminary instructions.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said he had seen the instructions on the 28th of Sept., at Ottawa, and a copy had reached him at Toronto two days afterwards.
Mr. Mackenzie thought Mr. McDougall seriously to blame for not proceeding at once to discharge the object of his mission (laughter). He should at least have endeavoured to get there before the breaking out of the insurrection. He blamed Government for not carrying out the agreement with the Imperial Government and the Hudson's Bay Company, and maintained that this conduct gave encouragement to the adventurers in the Red River Territory, who had misled the people, and who desired to profit by some new arrangements.


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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