Legislative Assembly, 14 March 1866, New Brunswick Confederation Debates



HON. MR. SMITH brought in a Bill to revive and continue an Act in the Revised Statutes concerning the Export Duty on Lumber, and said he was desirous that the Rules of the House should be suspended in order to enable them to go into Committee on this Bill, as there was no provision at present for collecting this duty.
MR. MCMILLAN said, although it was a matter of importance which should be attended to at once, yet they should not go into Committee upon it in the absence of so many of the legal gentlemen.
HON. MR. SMITH would be glad to see every member in his place.
MR. WILMOT had very little doubt about the power of the Legislature, and he thought that it was absolutely necessary that this $60,000 which they had collected since the old law had expired should not be lost. It was an oversight it should be brought forward and remedied immediately.
Mr. MCCLELLAN said this oversight had been brought to their knowledge yesterday by the hon. member for York. (Mr. Fisher) and as there were legal questions involved in it there should be a call of the House, or have the consideration of the Bill postponed until to-morrow morning, which would be rushing the Bill through very speedily. HON. MR. SMITH said he hoped all political feelings would be thrown aside in discussing this subject, for it was desirable to pass this law as soon as possible, to prevent. law-suits being entered into by persons desirous of getting this money back. His hon. friend, Mr. Cudlip, had paid during the past year ÂŁ1100 as export duty on lumber, and another party in the County of Kent had paid ÂŁ300. These men say that this money does not belong to them, although they paid that money down ; but it rather belongs to every man who contributed to the production of the deals, because the price of deals was affected by it. This was not the first case of retrospective legislation. Some years ago three Commissioners were appointed in the County of Westmorland to construct a Canal, and these Commissioners, assuming they were properly appointed, went on with the work, and expended three or four thousand pounds ; but, in consequence of some legal difficulty, the case was brought before Judge Parker, and he decided the Government had no power to appoint them. Therefore, every man upon whose land they had gone could bring an action for trespass against them, involving the whole country in trouble. To prevent this an Act was passed in this House legalizing the acts of those Commissioners. That was a case similar to the present, and although it was exceptional legislation, it should be adopted when it tends to the public interest. He would now move that the Bill be committed.
MR FISHER said, passing a law for the future is one thing, and passing a law to cover all the past is another. It would be better to separate these two propositions. They had better provide a law for the future and let the other matter stand over a few days, until we have more time to consider it, for it is a question of great importance, and will be a precedent for future legislation. If this was a case of so much emergency, why did not they call the Legislature together in September, at which time they state they first discovered it ? They should have called the Legislature to DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866.15gether earlier, and not postponed it until this late period, when they knew at that time that a vast amount of revenue was jeopardous. It was only a few weeks ago that he discovered it, and it was no time now to go into a discussion regarding retrospective legislation, when they were already engaged in another discussion. If it is proper in principle it can as well pass five days hence. Let the action of public opinion act upon it. Let us have time to consider whether or no by adopting an ex post facto law, we launch a principle that violates every principle of right and wrong, and may alter all the contracts in the country.
MR. GILBERT was prepared to assist the Government in regard to passing a law for the future ; but the consideration of the great principle of passing an ex post facto law, making lawful what was before unlawful, would take up a great deal of time in the discussion. The case mentioned by the Attorney General was agreed to by all the parties interested in it. He would suggest to the Attorney General to exclude the ex post facto part from the Bill, and only legislate for the future, until they had time to consider whether this retrospective legislation would not take away the rights of parties and lead to it great deal of complaint.
MR NEEDHAM said it did not involve a great principle, and the sooner they passed this Bill the better. If they delayed this matter it might cost them trouble, for parties who paid this money might bring an action against the Deputy Treasurer, or the Treasurer who received it, and those officers must be protected, which would cause a great expense to this country. But they say it is not Constitutional to pass an ex post facto law, as if there could be any thing in the Constitution against it. There are hundreds of laws in England, and hundreds of laws in our own country that are ex post facto. The only thing that can be said is, that it is exceptional legislation, and done only in extreme cases, when the exigencies of the case requires it. If it was unconstitutional it never could be done. This Legislature has the power to pass this Bill, and after they pass it the Bill becomes law and cannot be unconstitutional. If the House is going to pass this Bill to legalize the collection of export duty, it is their duty to do it at once.
HON. MR CUDLIP —If the Government have committed an error in regard to this matter, they are responsible to the people for it. This act does not condone it. They were there to take care of the public interest, that no wrong should be done to the people. A great deal of this money would go into the pockets of the men who shipped the deals, and would be a clear profit to them. That money when paid, was considered to have been paid according to law. No man will pay this export duty now, and if they delayed the passage of this law it would open a door for itigation. He did not wish to get back the money he had paid, but he wished to see this ex post facto law passed in order to retain the money in the public chest.
MR. ANGLIN said his hon. colleague had stated nearly all of what he had intended to say. He was happy to see that some of the members of the opposition were disposed to deal fairly, in this case. If they passed this Bill no man could complain that injustice had been done him. A shipper going to ship deals will ask what are the charges, and adding those charges to the export duty, he will consider what he can afford to give for them. This money does not belong to the shipper. If it belongs to any one but the Province, it belongs to everyone that has been concerned in the transaction ; and it would be impossible, by any means, to divide that money among them all. This export duty is put on in the place of stumpage. Suppose a man cut logs on your farm without an agreement to pay stumpage. If you could obtain stumpage it would be doing that man no wrong. The law, it appears, is a Revenue Bill, but it is in lieu of stumpage. He had no interest in the matter, but he wished to have it settled. This oversight was very much to be regretted. If the Government were to blame he would take his share, for it was as much his business as it was the business of the President of the Council, or any other member, to look into the matter.
MR. LINDSAY said it was admitted by a member of the Government that they knew of it in September. Why, then, was not this Bill brought in the first day of the Session. If this question had not been brought up by the hon. mover of the amendment to the Address, it would not have been taken up until the Address had passed. If the Government had said on the first day of the Session that this law had expired, in consequence of being overlooked, and had brought in this Bill then, he would have given them credit for it. for he thought no time should be lost in passing this Bill.
MR. KERR said it was very evident that every Deputy Treasurer was liable to have on action brought against him for money received as export duty, if they delayed the passage of this Bill, for in many parts of' the Province there may be parties who think they are hardly dealt with, and they, discovering that something had been done contrary to law, may bring an action against the officers of the Government to recover their money. The passage of this Bill will not be the cause of any hardship to any individual. A retrospective law in punish a man might be considered a hardship, but this law to continue another law will do injustice to none.
MR. L. P. W. DESBRISAY said he took a. different view in regard to this from any he had heard expressed. He was against any export duty whatever, for it was his opinion that no expert duty should be imposed upon lumber shipped in this Province. He had always intended when a Bill came before them to revive that law to oppose it. This country ought not to trammel the exportation of lumber by imposing an export duty at all. It is said that is in the place of stumpage, but we have to pay mileage in place of stumpage ; we have to pay our ÂŁ20 a mile for the ground on which we lumber, besides the export duty. It was very well to hear one side of the story, but he could tell them of men who had shipped lumber for the last four years, and had received half price for it, and he would ask whether it would be a dishonor for those men to take the export duty. The hon. member of the Government may speak of the ÂŁ1100 he has paid, but he stands in a different position from the lumber merchant. He is a broker, and does not give his eighteen months credit, as other men in the country do ; he receives an order from the other side of the Atlantic, and he fills it. That law ought to exempt logs cut on private lands. He would oppose this law on principle, for these ought to be no export duty. The Government should raise their revenue in some other way than by taxing an article, the property of poor men. The lumbermen toil hard, and use their energies from daylight until dark, and they should be protected in their employment.
MR. CONNELL said that it was very evident that a different law ought to exist, which would not only be a benefit to the revenue but to the country ; but it was no time just now to create difficulties in regard to the matter. A law to collect this export duty should be passed immediately, but more time should be given to this retrospective legislation. A like circumstance occurred, he thought, in 1827. when the Legislature was called together to remedy the defect, and called again five or six weeks after to transact the business of the Session. He then mentioned a case which had occurred some time ago, in which money had been paid by individuals who alleged they had no right to pay it. The controversy went on for some time, but after a calm review of the matter the principal and interest had to be repaid. If, after due consideration, we find we have the right to retain this money, we had better exercise that right ; but if it be wrong in principle to do so, then no money consideration should induce us to do it.
MR. CAIE said the important question was, whether the money which they had paid into the Treasury last year should be refunded or not. He was one of those who had paid into the Treasury $1200. and he considered he would be acting unfairly to withdraw that money, for it should be put on the roads and bridges. If they got their money back, he would consider it Provincial money, and should appropriate it to that purpose.
MR. FRASER said he differed from the hon. member from the County of York (Mr. Fisher) in regard to the law, in this matter. He would like to ask the hon. member for the County of Kent, at what time he became aware the law for collecting an export duty on lumber had expired.
MR. L. P. W. DESBRISAY said he was not aware of it until yesterday evening, when it was brought forward by Mr. Fisher.
MR. FRASER —Then at the time the hon. member was making his calculations regarding the men he supplied, and the men he purchased lumber from, the export duty entered into his calculations, and if they paid him the money back, it would not be his money, and if he does get it back, it ought to go on the Roads ( Mr. Desbrisay.—Let it go so then.)
He would now show that although the principle of retrospective legislation is in many cases injurious, yet that does not come in here at all, where men pay the money. It is only when a man refuses to pay it, or where it subjects the party to a penalty, that it becomes retrospective.
To furnish an analagous case, he quoted Dwarris on Statutes, 547 :
" An Act of Parliament made to correct an Error by omission in a former Statute of the same Session, relates back to the time when the first act passed, and the two must be taken together, as if they were one and the same act, and the first must be read as containing in itself, in words, the amendment supplied by the last ; therefore goods exported before the second act passed, but only shipped 16 DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. on board before the first passed, were held liable to duties subsequently imposed on the exportation of goods."
To shew that acts of this nature, although exceptional, are fully recognized in England, he quoted the law bearing on that question. Dwarris 548:
" By an Imperial Statute it is enacted that where any Bill shall be introduced into any Session of Parliament for the continuance of any act which would expire in such session, and if such so shall have expired before the bill for continuing the same shall have received the Royal Assent, such continuing act shall be deemed to have effect from the date of the expiration of the act intended to be continued—except it shall be otherwise provided in such continuing act—but nothing herein contained shall extend to effect any person with any punishment, penalty or forfeiture, by reason of anything done contrary to the provisions of the act continued, between the expiration of the same and the date at which the act continuing the same shall receive the Royal Assent."
MR. MCCLELAN said as this was an important matter, they should not hurry it on, for the passage of this expost facto act might lead to litigation instead of preventing it. The reason he asked for delay was that the legal gentleman might concur in pursuing some definite course. He was ready to unite with the Government in remedying the evil ; he did not impute improper motives to them, but thought it a matter of neglect, for which they were responsible.
MR. GILBERT said that connecting the two bills together might have the effect of preventing their receiving the Royal Assent.
HON. MR SMITH said it was a matter of internal concern in our own jurisdiction.
MR. MCCLELAN asked if any protests had been entered against the payment of these debts.
HON MR. SMITH was not aware of any such case.
The resolution was then carried.


MR. WILMOT said he had had some experience in the Crown Land Office, having been in the office for a number of years, and he had no difficulty in collecting stumpage ; he had given collectors a certain per-centage upon all lumber cut upon unlicensed land. They brought no bills, and the revenue increased.
MR. FISHER said he had no faith in the whole timber system. It had the effect to encourage inordinate lumbering. Every square mile they kept for lumbering on, brought them in four or live dollars a year for stumpage ; but if they sold 300 acres, it brought them in a principal that pays ÂŁ4 10s. a year for ever, and if the man who buys it does not use it, he pays the wild land tax besides.
It has been said, In regard to this Bill, that it is unconstitutional, and again, that it is constitutional. Every alteration made in the law, of any kind, alters the Constitution in that respect ; for the moment a new law passes, it alters the Constitution to the extent of that law. We know, such is the power of Parliament, that it can pass any act it pleases, and that act becomes law ; and when it comes into operation it changes, so far, the laws that govern this country. The power of the Legislature is unlimited, and when it passes a law every one must obey it. My hon. friend spoke about the United States. There, the people reserve to themselves certain powers, and they communicate certain powers to the State Legislature, and certain other powers to the Federal Legislature. When an act infringes the rights of an individual he has a remedy. A gentleman in the United States undertook to run a steamboat on the Penobscot River ; the Courts of the State of Maine decided against it. He took the case to the higher Courts, and they determined that the passage up and down the Penobscot River was free to every citizen of the United States, and there was no power in the State to limit that right. It is not so with Great Britain, or with us. The moment a law passes the Three Estates and receives the sanction of the Queen, it limits, controls, and amends the Constitution. That is the difference between the two Constitutions. He did not know whether to support the Bill or not. It would take a great deal to induce him to give up ÂŁ15,000 of the public revenue ; he must be perfectly satisfied it was doing right to the country, and that it was fair in principle before doing so. But, if on consideration of the matter, he should feel that he was adopting a principle that would do a great public wrong, this money would be no object in the matter. All he asked for was a little time, so that whatever they did should be the result of deliberation, irrespective of party, or anything else. He was prepared to pass a Bill perpetuating this act ; but, as to the other, it appeared to him, they were going to pass it without common public decency, in regard to all the interests involved, and in regard to all who had paid money throughout the country. It might be, that, after due consideration of the matter, we might say, there was no sufficient reason to interfere to prevent this money being paid back. Common political decency demands us, before passing a law of this kind, to take time to consider and hear what every one has to say upon it. Why did not the Government call the Legislature together when they discovered this early in September ? It appeared to him passing strange that they did not mention it in the Speech, or brought it up for consideration. They knew about it, but they thought they would slide along, and it would not be known, until the middle of the Session. He would now repeat : pass the act to impose this duty, but give a little more time to consider the retrospective act.
HON. MR. SMITH said, that, in considering a measure of so much importance to the country, they should have risen above all party feeling. In bringing this forward, the Government had no view of exculpating themselves, and they would not shrink from any odium that might be attached to them in consequence of this neglect; but it was unkind and ungenerous for his hon. friend to bring in politics in considering this question. When he says we should allow this thing to stand until the Session is half through, he is evidently trying to make use of it politically. He was surprised to hear that hon. gentleman state to them three or four times, that he had not made up his mind upon this question, when he knew of it last January. ( Mr. Fisher —I did not say it—I said, a few weeks ago.) Well, a few weeks ago. Can you suppose that a man of his experience—when he sees that a great mistake has been made, involving the revenue to the extent of $60,000, and has not arrived at any conclusion as to what should be done—has done his duty to his country ? He saw that a large amount of revenue was involved, and he should have turned the thing in his mind and arrived at some conclusion about it. He (Mr. Smith) had no direct interest in this matter himself, but some persons connected with him had. His brother-in-law was interested to the extent of £600 or £700. The hon. member from the County of Kent (Mr. DesBrisay) had taken a different view of the matter, as his stumpage comes off private property. The principle is the same ; for if he buys logs, or private property, he has in view the export duty, and he takes it from the man who gets the lumber. Therefore, it does not belong to him. He (Mr. Smith) could not see how the hon. member, who had last addressed them, could hesitate, in justice to the matter.  He feared his mind was influenced by political considerations. This Bill, which is for the public interest, should pass speedily, and he trusted the House would support it.
MR. FISHER said, that, although he had discovered it some weeks ago, he could not make up his mind ; and it was only on Friday last he had looked over the acts to see if it was really so. Therefore, in all fairness, they should have more time to consider it.
MR MCMILLAN said the proposition now before them had two points : one was to continue the export duty, the other was to withhold money received as export duty. He was not disposed to deprive the country of $60,000 if it could be held constitutionally. He would vote for retaining this money in the Treasury, although it does not relieve the Government from the humiliating position they occupy before the country. This House, and the country would still hold them responsible for allowing a law to expire, which was one of the most important means of collecting the revenues of the country. As to the principle of collecting this export duty, he did not endorse it entirely, although the results were very satisfactory. If they exacted a stumpage duty, a large portion of the lumber cut on the Crown Lands would be cut upon private property, causing the revenue to suffer largely.
MR. L. P. W. DESBRISAY remarked that he did not intend to make any further opposition to the bill, as it seemed necessary for the interests of the country that this bill should pass, although he did think the rights and interests of the people ought to be provided for ; but there seemed to be a majority in the House wiling to ignore those rights to a certain extent in imposing this duty upon lumber cut upon private property.
MR. GILBERT did not rise for the purpose of opposing the bill, but he rose for the purpose of expressing his regret that they had to resort to ex post facto legislation. He also regretted that it had ever become necessary that a revenue should be raised by taxing the products of the people, for hardly any civilized country ever resorted to such a mode of raising a revenue. He was not aware that it was so in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions. If this tax does press severely upon any portion of the inhabitants of this Province, it does so, more especially upon the constituency which he had the honor to represent, as the lands in that   DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. 17 County were owned by private individuals, with the exception of about three square miles, and those owners of private property have to submit to the duty upon the lumber which they export. But as this duty was absolutely necessary, the Government having on other means of rasing a revenue, he would not make any opposition because this money was necessary for the roads of the country. There was another point he would refer to. A man who had paid £700 into the Treasury of the Province, without any law, may think that this money belongs to him, and as the Government have thought proper to pass an ex post facto law to take away what he thinks is his right, he may petition the Governor to withhold his consent and the bill go home with a suspending clause attached to it, and not become law at all. It was for this reason he had proposed dividing the bill into two parts, but the Government, having thought proper to unite them, he should vote for it.
MR. HILL would not take up the time of the House, if it were not that he should vote for this Bill, while he did not believe in the policy of an export duty. It was utterly wrong, and there was scarcely a civilized nation which had adopted the principle, not even the United States, although it is proposed to put an export duty on cotton and tobacco, because, they say, they are products in which other nations cannot compete with them. It is wrong in principle, and has been given up by every enlightened financier in the civillized world. He would rather see a stumpage collected, by which he thought the revenues of the Province would be largely increased. In regard to an expost facto law, it was common to pass such a law in the United States, and the principle was not unknown here. If ever there was an expost facto Bill that should be passed, it was this one. He should vote for the Bill, although he did not believe in the principle.
The House divided upon the Bill, upon which the Chairman reported the Bill as agreed to.
The House then took up the order of the day, viz :-


HON. MR. SMITH resumed—The House listened to me yesterday about an hour on this "Bill of Indictment." I hope the indulgence of the House will be extended to me for a short time, for I will be as brief as the consideration of what is due to myself and the Government of which I am a member, will allow. The House, in passing the Bill which has just been passed, do nothing to justify the Government. They did not introduce that Bill in this hurried way to attempt to relieve themselves of that responsibility, that censure, if they were entitled to censure, that odium, if it ought to fall upon them for this unfortunate occurrence. We are prepared to take all the responsibility of our conduct. After we have offered an explanation to the House, we stand prepared to receive their decision. I hope I shall not fall into the same error which the hon. mover of the amendment did yesterday; that is, he simply gave a re-hash of what he said the day before. It is well known that the election which took place last winter was one of the most anxious active conflicts which has ever taken place in this country. The issue was of more importance than any other issue that has ever been brought before the people. I complain that the dissolution of the House upon the question of Confederation, last winter, was an act of tyranny perpetrated by the advisers of His Excellency. That question had never been brought forward for the consideration of the people—never been discussed before Parliament, and according to the Constitution thee people are here by their representatives. The whole country was convulsed by this election, which took place in midwinter, and involved in its results the independence, the rights and liberties of the people, which were to be surrendered up by the Government to the rule of men of Canada. The dissolution was an act of base injustice to the people, as many of them were engaged during the winter session in lumbering operations. In the County of Charlotte a considerable portion of the population were far away in the wilderness engaged in that employment, and it was impossible for these people to be at the polls. If the day had happened to have been stormy, the aged people won, by their industry, have made this country what it is, would have had no opportunity of going to the polls, as many of them had to travel twenty or thirty miles, and giving their vote upon this great question. At the election the people told the Government in a voice that could not be misunderstood, that they had forfeited the confidence of the people, and they had to tender their resignation to His Excellency, and a new Government was formed the 1st day of April, and then some of the members had to return to their constituents for re-election. Some of them were returned only one or two days before the House met, and they had scarcely met forty-eight hours before complaint were made that we had submitted no measures. I appealed to the justice of this House, and the reply was that we could not be expected to have measures prepared at so short a notice. We all know that the Provincial Secretary, though he had been for some time in political life, was experienced, and had no time to prepare to meet the Legislature, as he was only here two days before the House me,; which gave him a very short time to prepare the estimates. We were compelled to call the House together at a time when it was inconvenient for the members to leave their homes, and were anxious to return. Those are the circumstances under which the Government was formed, and I think they justify us in calling for an indulgent consideration and sympathy in view of those circumstances. It was the duty of the Attorney General, now Judge Aller, to see what laws were expiring, but he was pressed very much by the duties which devolved upon him, and this Act escaped his notice. We have no desire to shrink from the responsibility, for we are all liable for whatever act is committed by any one member. We all know that it is human to err, but " it is divine to forgive." I was surprised to see the malicious joy, the delight, which seemed to beam from the countenance of the learned mover of the amendment, when he stated this oversight. I do not imagine he embraces all the learning and policy in the country. I do not intend to use the language which he did, which I consider to be insulting. Was it right for him to evince a satisfaction yesterday when he thought this country would be thrown into confusion ? He pretended he could not make up his mind regarding this law, retrospective in its operation, when he has known the circumstance for weeks. How different the conduct of the hon. member for Kent, (Mr. Caie.) He rose and said he had paid $1200 into the revenue, and he made up his mind at once in favor of the Bill, although the first he knew of it was last night. He was ready to render assistance that would preclude him from getting that money back. It is the privilege of any member to move a want of confidence in the Government ; but I think it is the duty of every hon. member here to watch narrowly and look closely into the motives of the men who seek to oust the Government, and see whether they are animated by a spirit of patriotism or not ; whether it is the good of the country they are seeking, or their own aggrandizement. When the hon. member boasts of the way in which he was returned to this House, without ever leaving his office, for the people rose omnipotent in their power to place him here, we know something of the agencies employed to bring him here. An attack was made upon me ; it was represented to the people of the County of York that I was their enemy, that I was anxious to remove the seat of Government. In corroboration of that it was said, he has taken the Post Office away, and that is the first step towards removing the seat of Government. It was told them at the last general election, that by going for Confederation they would forever secure the seat of Government at Fredericton. I will ask whether, in debating a question of so much importance to the people, it was proper and right to bring forward this argument : "If you do not go into Confederation, the seat of Government is in peril." This great question should be discussed on broad principles, and reasons given why a charge in our condition would be for our good. We find the advocates of the Quebec scheme saying, it is a beautiful scheme, there is no darkness upon it all, and there are no reasons in the world why you should not go into Confederation. We were told by the hon. mover of the Amendment that he made certain objections to this scheme of Confederation in Quebec—that there were exceptions to it which he thought was not right. Did they tell the people that there were exceptions to the scheme and they wanted to submit those exceptions to them ? Did they say, do not go into this Union until you have fully considered it ? No. Everything was said in favor of it. It seemed they entered upon this contest as paid lawyers advocating the interests of their clients all on one side without looking at the other at all. If the hon. mover of the Amendment was seeking the benefit of the country, he would give us fair play ; that is all we ask. Give the Secretary an opportunity of presenting his accounts to the House and I do not hesitate to say they will be presented in a way that will give satisfaction to the House, for he has made an improvement in the way in which the public accounts are kept. He can now show that the revenues are in a prosperous condition, and in consideration of his having been in the Legislature twelve years, and never held a seat in the Government, it would be no more than right that he should come before the House and show his account of what he 18 DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. has done. A majority of the Press, for some reasons, are against us, and abusing us. We have men of character going about the country as lecturers prejudicing the minds of the people against us. The Press is stating that this Government has been guilty of fraud, and is carrying abuse and slander to every hamlet. We challenge them to prove it ; and we challenge this House to put their finger upon an act of fraud, or an act of mal-administration, if they dare. Let us bring in our accounts before this House. We shrink from no responsibility, and we are glad to acknowledge our accountability to this House. We are told by my hon. friend that the Surveyor General has been here but a few days. The reason is, that affection for an indisposed daughter has called him to his home. It may be well for my learned friend, who resides at Fredericton upon the uncertain tenure of an office in the Government. My hon. friend had better wait and see whether my colleague has done his duty in that office, and not condemn him before you know what he has done. It is an attribute of a just Judge, that he does not condemn a man before he is heard. The hon. mover stands in that position, and he professes to be entirely unselfish, but I charge him with wishing to prejudge the Government. The Commissioner of the Board of Works has occupied that position for many years and is ready, at any time, to resign the office up to the people, and has done it ; and he is prepared to show that he has discharged his duty too. I think we have been treated unfairly. My hon. friend has said many offensive things to us, which I will not to him. When he talks about mean, low, and decency, I do not wish to set that gentleman up as a standard of decency, propriety, and honesty. His conduct and my conduct are before the people of the country, and let them judge, for it is not for us to sound our own trumpets. A great part of his speech is made up in setting forth that our Government had made a tremendous attack upon Her Majesty, the Queen. I cannot tell whether a tear dropped from his eye or not. Something had been said by the Government. insulting to Her Majesty. He spoke of Her Majesty's Ministers as if they were superior to the men of this country. I respect a man occupying a high position ; but we must not forget, in our admiration for a great name and high sounding titles, that the holders of those titles are but men. I have, by the kindness of the people, been in communication with these men, and, while I paid them every respect, I never forgot that I was a man myself. A man is not a man who forgets himself, and will fall down and worship any man. In regard to this Minute of Council which, he says, is insulting to the Queen. When a man stands up in his place and charges the Government with deliberately insulting the Queen, we throw it back upon him. I can speak more freely about this, because I was no party to it. The Attorney General and myself were in England, where we first saw it, and we approved of every line in it, and told, at the office of the Colonial Secretary, that it met our entire appropation. I am prepared to take the responsibility of it. Mr. Smith then read the document, which was an answer to a despatch received from England, and which he said he did not see until it was answered.
In regard to the charge made against us of not having published the despatch. We were commanded to communicate it to the Legislature at their next meeting. We did not wait for the next meeting of the Legislature before communicating it to the public. I was surprised to hear the hon. gentleman charge this Government will not having given information. I should like to have him point out to me how many despatches had been given to the public when he was a member of the Government before the Legislature assembled. Despatch after despatch was was never communicated to the people at all. This despatch was written on the 24th of June, and published in July. This despatch was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government upon the Union of the Colonies, and it was our duty to respectfully consider any opinion or suggestion emanating from so high a source, but at the same time we must not forget that we have a country here whose interests are not identical with those of England. I told Mr. Cardwell that the people of this country felt they were better able to judge this question than the people of England ; we felt, with all the deference we had for their opinion, that we ourselves were more competent to judge in regard to this matter, for our people had grown up with the country, and we knew best what would promote our welfare. There is not a member of the Cabinet of England that has ever been to this country, and it is no disrespect for the people here to say they understand their own interests beat. Mr. Cardwell said the people of England favored the Scheme ; we replied we had only found two persons outside the Government that had ever read the Scheme; and we attribute a great deal of the feeling of the people of England to the fact that they assume that after Confederation is carried they will be relieved from some of their taxes ; but Mr. Cardwell was not prepared to admit that was the only reason for their opinion. Intelligent men out of the Government supposed that a Legislative Union, pure and simple, was contemplated, and they expressed astonishment that men could agree to such a Scheme as the one proposed. Mr. Cardwell himself acknowledged that there were many objections to the scheme ; but said it was the best scheme which could be got now. We said we did not think it right to accept a thing we did not want, because it is the best thing that could be got ; we wanted to be let alone. No man denied that it originated in the necessities of Canada. The people of this country have no right to be made subservient to the political necessities of Canada. If we could get a scheme of union upon such terms as are fair, end equitable, such terms as would be promotive of the welfare land prosperity of this country., I would be in favor of it, but I will not consent to ignore the prosperity of my country for the sake of relieving the political necessities of Canada. Mr. Card- well said the scheme emanated from us. We said no. A delegation went to Canada, but we gave them no authority ; and the people hurled them from power and repudiated the act. They rejected the scheme, therefore, it could not be said that it emanated from them. My hon friend has a great opinion of the Canadian politicians ; but I can recollect the time when I tried to defend and vindicate the honor of Canadian statesmen when the were assailed by him, and were charged with being guilty of a violation of public faith. The Government had no more right to go to Canada and agree upon a scheme to change the Constitution than the Government of Great Britain has to go to France and barter away their Government. The people decided that they had proved recreant to their trust, and hurled them from power. The hon. gentleman talks about silent grumbling. I thought grumbling was a noise and not silent. He says silent grumbling was going on, and increasing in power, and would hurl this Government to the ground. When he says this House could not be dissolved if the Government were ousted. I do not say it will be, but I think the Governor has a right to appeal to the people under the Constitution. We are prepared to go before the people of this country and let them decide whether our administration has not been in accordance with their interests : and if they decide against us we will resume our occupations. We will not circle this country and hold meetings in every school-house. We are not professional politicians, and if I may be allowed to give my opinion my judgment is that the less professional politicians we have in this country the better for its welfare. It is put forth in the Times that not only the Cabinet are in favor of the scheme, but the whole united body of England ; and thus this eroneous information is disseminated to the people of England. They suppose that the two Canadas are now about to be united for the first time, forgetting that they had formerly been under one Legislature. We are charged with being a Government of traitors, with no spirit of loyalty, that we are willing to submit ourselves to a man who is a notorious traitor ; these are the sentiments put forward in the Times, and I ask whether these sentiments receive your approbation.
We wish to draw closer the ties which bind us to the Mother Country, although we are charged with being disloyal by those who take a different view of things to what we do. That is one of the agencies employed against us throughout the country ; but I trust the intelligence of the people will resist any such delusion as that we are disloyal and want to weaken the ties that bind us to the Mother Country. We are not sympathizers with the Fenians, we are ready ready to defend our country firesides and homes. We are assailed for not adopting sufficient precautionary measures for our defence. We are prepared to lay down every available dollar for the defence of this country, for we expect to live and die here. Why should this loyalty and love of country be peculiar to the gentlemen who occupy the other bunches. We are as ready and willing to defend our country as they are ; and I ask, why is it that this hon. mover of the amendment—in view of the circumstances existing now when we are in hourly expectation of dangerseeks to throw the country into utter confusion by leaving it without a Parliament at all. One of the charges made against us was, that the Legislature was called together too late, and there was a DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. 19 great sympathy expressed for the members of the rural districts. I have not heard a single gentleman complain that the House was not called together soon enough. In Canada it is not called until the 10th of April. In Prince Edward's Island the 9th of April ; in Nova Scotia ten days or a fortnigh ago. He said he thought one man had stopped the whole Legislative power of the country. I was sent to Washington by my colleagues. Mr. Cudlip was invited to meet the delagates, who expected to meet at New York, but he could not go. I went to St. John. Mr. Wilmot was not there, and the Government agreed that I should go to Washington to meet the other delegates. We did not expect to how to go into an eleborate discussion of the Reciprocity Treaty at all. We went with a view of obtaining from the United States an extension of the Treaty for one year. When we got there we found a Treaty could not be made at all, for all Treaties made between the United States and other Governments requires the affirmation of the Senate, and does not require to be sent to the House of Representatives, for if they have power to make a commercial treaty they ignore the functions of that body. In the interchange of commodities it was desirable to have some arrangement made of a permanent character. They said whatever arrangements were made should be carried out by future legislation in all good faith. We. entered into negociations with them ; the proposition made by us and their answer, hove been published . We felt we could not agree to their terms, in justice to our own people, and we therefore closed our negotiations . I shall not say anything further upon this point, as I may have an oportunity of explaining exactly what took place while I was there. It has been said that the interests of the people of this Province are not safe in calling the Legislature together at so late a period. It is very desirable to call the House together rather, later, for we know when the House breaks up before the River opens it makes it difficult for some of us to get home. Was it ever said by a member of a deliberative assembly before, that a Government should be ousted from power because they called the Legislature three weeks later than usual. There is a good substantial reason why this Legislature should not be called earlier. It was known that Canada was anxious that our Session should be called. Why did they not call their own ; they have not had a Session for the last fifteen months, except a short Session, which was called last Spring to authorise a loan and impose an additional tax. When treaty with the United States had to be made by Legislation, was it not sufficient to justify the House in not meeting at the usual period, because, if we had made an arrangement with the United States Government it would require to be legislated upon by this Legislature. It has been brought against us that we brought forward no measure s last Session except the Military Bill. Where is the Treasury Note Bill, or the Post Office Bill ? which has been put forward as a first step towards the removal of the seat of Government, but which was not thought of at all, it being merely to abolish the head of a department. It was not expected under the circumstances, that measures would be brought forward last Session, when it was the desire at the Government and every member of the House, to shorten the Session and get home as soon as possible.
My hon. friend says, we are entitled to condemnation because we brought in a Bill to abolish the office of Postmaster General, but the hon. members, fresh from their constituents, supported it thirty to nine. There is a feeling throughout the country that the office might be abolished without detriment to the public service, and in connection with this, he would state that Mr. Odell had discharged the duties of the office as efficiently as any gentleman had, since its creation. When the hon. gentleman had told the people of York that they were to be destroyed, did he tell them that when Mr. Wilmot and myself formed the Government they had not forgotten the interests of York? In the formation of the Government, they had selected one-third of the members from that County, viz : the hon. Commissioner Board of Works, the Attorney General, and the Postmaster General, who, being a member of the Upper House, filled one of the most important offices in the country, and being interested in the prosperity of the County of York. How dare they say to the people of this country that this Government were not going to give York fair play ? How could they expect the seat of Government could be removed with one-third of the entire Government from the Country of York ? I believe it was the fear of this, together with the agitation about Fenianism, that had an influence in the election ; for I believe the people of this country are as much against the Quebec Scheme as ever. If you get a scheme that will provide for the interests of the people, I will go for it ; but it is not in the four corners of that scheme to do it. My hon. friend says, the Quebec Scheme is in the Speech. It is there because the Governor is commanded by the despatch to submit it to Parliament ; but we are not bound by this. What does the Governor say in his Speech last Session ? He says :—
"At the request of the Governor General of Canada, and with the approbation of the Queen, I also appointed Delegates to a Conference of Representatives of the British North American Colonies, held in Quebec in the month of October last, with a view of arranging the terms of a Federal Union of British North America. The resolutions agreed to by this Conference appeared to me to be so important in their character, and their adoption fraught with consequences so materially affecting the future condition and well-being of British America, that, in order to enable the people of New Brunswick to give expression to their wishes on the subject, I determined to dissolve the then existing House of Assembly. I now submit these Resolutions to your judgment."
Did he then tell us that because he was going to submit those Resolutions and recommend them—an expression not used in this Speech—that we are committed to a scheme? I will relieve that hon. gentleman's mind. I will inform this House that the Government are not prepared to submit any scheme to the House. These papers will be submitted to the House, as we said in the Speech, and we will consider them with that respect which is due to anything emanating from so high a source, at the same time not forgetting that it is our duty to consent to no scheme that does not contain within itself the elements of security for our people. If a scheme could be devised that would promote the interests of our people, I, for one, would go for it, and I think my colleagues in the Government, every member of the House, and every man in the country, would go for it too. Whether such a scheme is attainable, is a question for deliberation. 
" MR. NEEDHAM moved that the debate be adjourned until 2 P. M.
Home adjourned until 10 A. M.
T. P. D.


New Brunswick. Reports of the Debates of the House of Assembly. St. John: G.W. Day, 1865-1867. Microfilm copies provided by the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.



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