House of Commons, 20 May 1873, Canadian Confederation with Prince Edward Island

May 20, 1873 COMMONS DEBATES 629


Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD moved the second reading of the Bill to readjust the provincial debt. He said in consequence of the resolution of the House last night in regard to the printing contract, there had been some delay in the printing of the Bill, but his hon. friend the Minister of Finance desired to move its second reading today.
Hon. Mr. CAUCHON said, without speaking at all of the question of the liabilities of the respective Provinces, some provision should be made by which Upper and Lower Canada should be treated on the same basis, and have as equal and fair share of compensation arising out of this distribution as the other Provinces.
He gave notice that on the third reading he would move, seconded by Hon. Mr. Dorion, in amendment to the fourth clause of the Bill, that the following words be added:-"Provided always that these last amounts go towards equalizing the debts and subsidies between all the Provinces, according to population, real or assumed, with which they entered Confederation."
Hon. Mr. WOOD said the Hon. Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Tilley) must keep a running account with the Provinces, and when the debt of any party exceeded that stipulated in the statute be charged that Province 8 per cent upon the differences, or vice versa when the amount was under the stipulated sum. It was an impossibility, notwithstanding the remarks of the Minister of Justice the other night to close that account.
Hon. Mr. TILLEY: You are right, we cannot do it.
Hon. Mr. WOOD said, speaking generally, he did not see that this would in any way settle the difference between Ontario and Quebec. He wished it would. (Hear, hear.) However, they had always managed to keep their tempers over the matter. He contended that the difference surrounding this matter would be as great as before. As to the advantages to the Provinces, it seemed to him it would be very small. Ontario and Quebec would each receive between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000, Nova Scotia over $67,000, New Brunswick over $60,000, British Columbia about $11,000, and that to Manitoba as small as $6,967. This was too little for that poor, small Province, and the Minister of Finance would require to make some provision for it. Increasing subsidies all round amounted to $13,386,934. The debt at Confederation was $77,000,000, and it might surprise those who had studied the matter thoroughly that it had now reached the sum of $82,000,000.
This was caused by subsidies to the several Provinces being treated as an usual charge upon the revenues instead of being capitalized and treated as a consolidated debt, as was the case in the old Provinces of Canada. Then there were $40,000,000 to be expended upon Public Works, $1,000,000 on the lntercolonial Railway, $20,000,000 on Canals and $30,000,000 upon the Canada Pacific Railway subsidies alone, without accounting for the sum voted the other day to New Brunswick, under the heading of compensation for timber dues, would amount to over $34,000,000. New subsidies, as he had already stated, amounted to $13,284,000, New Brunswick export duty $3,000,000, Prince Edward Island $7,704,000; that is to say a total of $226,683,700 of debt up to the present time. These items were so simple that they were easily calculated, and he did not see how his hon. fiiends could have arrived at the conclusion to which they pointed.
It was said the country was very prosperous which conclusion was arrived at upon the basis of the treaty, returns, imports and exports particularly. He reminded the hon. gentleman of the debts that followed the period of financial prosperity from 1846 to 1864, during which so many railways and public works were under construction. No doubt for a few years to come the expectations of the Finance Minister would be realized, but we were heading up against time, the tide turned and heavy burdens were being laid upon the country by this Government against the future. He reminded by asserting that our public debt was not a cent less than he had concluded, namely above $110,000,000.
Hon. Mr. TILLEY: If the hon. gentleman had gone on and extended all the obligations of the Dominion he might have greatly increased the amount of the liabilities of the country. By the bill the debt would be increased from $62,500,000 to $73,000,000. He hoped some means could be divided by which Ontario and Quebec would agree upon the assets.
Hon. Mr. DORION (Napierville) referred to the passing of the Act of Confederation, when it was expected everything would work smoothly; yet they had extended upon the first session of the second Parliament when it was proposed to have everything to place. It was prepared to give to New Brunswick a subsidy which was agreed to about $1,000,000, and which would be $800,000 more than they were entitled to by the figures of the Finance Minister himself When the Government were asked how it was they happened to take up the question, a reply was given that it was the member from Napierville who had proposed such arrangement two years ago. He denied that he made any such proposition. It was of a different nature.
The Finance Minister (Hon. Mr. Tilley) had shown that he was unable to grapple with the question of the settlement of the decision of the debt between Ontario and Quebec. If he could not deal with it let him appoint a committee to enquire into the whole subject. He held that under the Confederation Act, the Great Western and Northern Railway debts should go to the reduction of the debt of Ontario and Quebec, and he argued that, judging from what had been stated in the House, we would have a demand in a few years from the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Governments to hand over the railways in these Provinces to them.
Hon. Mr. WOOD: We will be willing to give them to them.
Hon. Mr. DORION (Napierville) said that taking into consideration the position of these roads he promised the Dominion would not raise much objection. He argued that the Government should take into their hands the settlement of the whole question of 634 COMMONS DEBATES May 20, 1873 amendments to the following bills, and asking the concurrence of the House in the same:
To incorporate the Canada Investment and Guarantee Agency. To incorporate the Merchants' Warehousing Company.
To empower the Montreal and Northern Colonization Railway Company, and to extend its line.
To incorporate the Labrador Company.
To grant additional powers to the Quebec and Gulf Steamship Company.
To incorporate the Goldsmiths Company of Canada.


Hon. Mr. TILLEY moved the House in Committee to consider certain proposed resolutions respecting the admission of Prince Edward Island into the Dominion of Canada, and the message of his Excellency the Governor General on that subject. He stated that the Government had been endeavouring since confederation, to get this beautiful and fertile Island into the Union.
The difficulty had always been that in consequence of their isolated position they could not receive an appropriation for local purposes, as they were entitled to, a debt having been incurred by the Island Railway. A deputation had in January been sent up to arrange terms of union. Another delegation had been recently sent up, empowered to enter into the final arrangements which were now submitted to Parliament. The great local works there having been now completed, there could never be any large local expenditure in the future, and it was in consideration of this fact that the Dominion Government had granted such liberal terms.
The House went into Committee, Mr. CHIPMAN in the chair.
Hon. Mr. TILLEY explained that the expenditure of the Island would be $480,000, and the receipts would, under the Dominion tariff, have been $441,898 last year.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE enquired what loss would accrue to the Dominion by having the Island Railway.
Hon. Mr. TILLEY did not think any loss would accrue to the Dominion.
In answer to Mr. Cartwright,
Hon. Mr. TILLEY said the railway was under contract and the Dominion would not be liable for any excess of these contracts, but that excess would be charged against the debt of the Islands. In reference to the tariff he said that the Island charged a duty of 11 1/2 per cent, on what the Dominion charged 15. Hon. Mr. WOOD advocated the assumption of the whole debt of the Island by the Dominion and the giving to the Island of all local works.
Afier some further discussion the resolutions were reported without amendment.
The report was adopted amid applause on both sides of the House.


The resolutions providing for the administration of justice and the establishment of a police force in the North West Territories passed through Committee.
The bill was reported with a trifling amendment, which was concurred in.


On motion of Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD the amendment to the bill to make better provision respecting Election Petitions and Contested Elections was read a second time.


Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD moved the second reading of the bill to make further provision for the extradition of criminals-Carried.
The House went into Committee adopted the bill with certain amendments, rose and reported, and the bill was read a third time and passed.


Hon. Mr. TILLEY moved that an Address embodying the resolutions with respect to the admission into the Union of Prince Edward Island be presented to Her Majesty, and that a Select Committee, composed of Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, Hon. Messrs. Langevin, Tupper and the mover, be appointed to draw up such address-Carried.
The Committee presented the address, which was read a first and second time, and was ordered to be engrossed.
On motion of Hon. Mr. TILLEY, the House went into Committee, adopted the resolutions, rose and reported, and a bill May 20, 1873 COMMONS DEBATES 635 founded on the resolutions was introduced and read a first and second time.
Hon. Mr. TILLEY introduced a bill extending to Prince Edward Island the Customs law of the Dominion. He explained that it provided that goods imported into the Island before the sales and brought back again to other parts of the Dominion afier the sales shall have to pay the difference in duty on being as bought back.
The Bill was read a second time.


Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD proposed to the House that they should meet at eleven o'clock on Wednesday.
This was agreed to.


In answer to Hon. Mr. Dorion (Napierville),
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD said the House would probably get through the business on Wednesday, and in that case he would move the adjournment of the House till some day in August.


Mr. KIRKPATRICK in the absence of Hon. Mr. CAMERON (Cardwell), moved that the bill to amend the law relating to promissory notes and bills of exchange be not now read a third time, but that it be referred back to a Committee of the Whole to make certain amendments-Carried.
The bill passed through Committee, and was read a third time and passed.


On motion of Mr. DUGAS the bill to change the limits of the Counties of Montcalm and Joliette was read a third time and passed.


Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD desired to give notice of a proposition that he should submit to the House at its next meeting. He was able to do so now though he was not able to do so a while ago. He considered that the life and history of Sir George-É. Cartier was mixed up with the history of Canada, and especially with the history of Confederation and believed that the country owed the latter to him more than to any other man in Canada, since it had been under British institutions.
He was quite unprepared to make a speech on the question, but did think that if ever there was an occasion which the House should show its regard for a great man now was the time, and if ever there was a man who deserved that expression of regard it was Sir George-É. Cartier. He should therefore propose, the following English precedent, that the funeral of Sir George-E. Cartier should be a public funeral, and that the country should defray the expenses connected therewith.
The House then adjourned at 1.30 am.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1873 First Session. Edited by David Farr. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2013. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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