House of Commons, 29 March 1870, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

756 COMMONS DEBATES March 29, 1870
Mr. Blake was not free from political bias and he could give them a means of accomplishing that object. He also argued that revisions that could take effect after the framing of the list would prevent all Government interference with the lists, but that was no reason why they should pass a defective law and he hoped that they would never have such a primary list. For the sake of uniformity they were to initiate what was called a policy of concession, but what he termed a policy of sacrifices; and the result would be that every Province would have a franchise which they did not like. (Hear.) They were each asked to sacrifice themselves in order that there might be a common sacrifice. (Laughter.) The question was whether they should look at the franchise on the ground of Confederation of the four Provinces already in union or to the accomplishment of the grand design first held before their eyes, and for the accomplishment of which the hon. gentleman formed his Government and went to the people upon, and on the necessity of the realizations of which he based the question of the continued existence of his Government. They were told by the hon. gentleman that the admission of Newfoundland was not a matter of years, but of weeks and months; but if it was true, as it had been asserted, and facts seemed to justify the statement, that a very large majority of the people of Newfoundland would, by that law, be disfranchised—by adopting that principle of uniformity, one of two questions would have to be decided—either that Newfoundland would not enter into the Union, or that an exception must be made in her favour. The hon. gentlemen opposite would not like to see Newfoundland stay out; but they could not expect the voters there to accept a system by which they were depriving themselves of all power in the Dominion. They must therefore be prepared to make an exception in that case. But would the Minister of Justice make an exception in the case of Algoma, the greater proportion of whose constituents would be disfranchised by that Bill. (Hear, hear.) Therefore if uniformity were to be decreed it must be decreed for all. The Government presented to the Confederation party in Newfoundland the difficulty of meeting their opponents on the question of disfranchisement. The people of Newfoundland would not vote away their political rights, and if he were a resident of that Island he would be one of those who would not vote away his political rights, which would be the case if that Bill became law. Then there was the Red River question. How would the people of that country look at the question of uniformity, and how would the people of British Columbia regard it? Gentlemen opposite inflicted many a serious blow at the fabric of Confederation; but none would prove great er than that scheme if carried into law. He hoped the House would let the law stand, as it was altered from time to time by the Local Legislatures. The question of expense was also a most serious one, and on that as well as on other grounds, he hoped the House would concur in the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Hochelaga. (Applause.)
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald moved that the Committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again on Thursday.—Carried.


Hon. Mr. Langevin presented papers connected with the road between Thunder Bay and Fort Garry.


In reply to the Hon. Mr. Holton,
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he could not tell at what time he would bring down the Budget until the Estimates were ready. They were almost ready to come down, and he was told to-day they would be ready to-morrow. It was absolutely impossible until he laid the Estimates on the table, to say when he could bring down the Budget.


Mr. Blake said a very painful rumour had been abroad as to the execution of a person at Red River. He wished to know if the Government had received any information on the subject?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the Government had no official or reliable information on the subject. All he could say was that they had received a message from a gentleman at St. Paul marked "private," stating that it was said a person named Scott had been shot by the Provisional Government. What was the foundation for the statement, he (Sir John) did not know.
Mr. Mackenzie hoped the Government had taken some means to procure accurate information, for if the person who had assumed authority at Red River had proceeded to the length of taking a Canadian life he hoped the Government would not fail to do their duty. He wished to know whether the Government had taken means to ascertain the accuracy of the statement.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said steps would be taken by the Government to inquire into the truth of the matter.


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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