Legislative Assembly, 15 March 1866, New Brunswick Confederation Debates



After the usual routine, the House went into Committee— Mr. Needham in the C?r—on a Local Bill : a Bill to provide more effectually for the repairing of the Roads, Bridges and Streets of the Parish of Newcastle, in the County of Northumberland. Passed.
MR. GILBERT moved that the Bill to provide for the better secresy of the Ballot, be referred to a Committee to report thereon.
MR. LINDSAY brought in a Bill to extend the jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace in civil suits.
MR. GILBERT moved that his Bill to simplify the practies of law and abolish special hail, be referred to a Committee.
MR. NEEDHAM brought in a Bill to amend the practice of the Supreme Court. Mr. N. said he intended to move the Bill just brought in inamendement to that of Mr. Gilbert. It was the Bill framed by the late Attorney General—the present Judge Allen.
MR. FISHER moved the House into Committee— Mr. Young in the Chair—on a Bill further to amend the law relating to Parish Schools.
The hon. mover explained the object of the Bill was to supply a want in the original School of Bill—to extend to Counties the same privileges as Parishes and Districts with regard to assessment for Schools. The Bill did not design to make any alteration in the School Law, but merely to make plain what was doubtful ; to carry out what he considered must have been the intention of the framers of the law.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL thought the Bill would require great consideration. It involved revenue, and he thought there would be great difficulty in carrying out practically the principle of assessment as regards Counties
A long discussion followed on the principle of assessment of Schools, and finally progress was reported. We do not report the discussion on this Bill, as the subject will come up again.
MR.CONNELL said he had understood the Attorney General to say that ample arrangements had been made with regard to defence of the Counts of Carlton. But from the information he had received, he was led to believe that nothing whatever had been done. There was very great alarm in the County, and a number of people were selling out their property.
He should like to know what the Government had done.
ATTORNEY GENERAL thought that the information he (Mr. Connell) had received was incorrect ; he had informed the members of Carleton that there were five hundred rifles and ten thousand rounds of bail ammunition in the County. The Government could not help people selling out their property ; they could not prevent that. It might be that some people go up an alarm designedly in order to make a speculation. The Government were doing every thing they could. They had directed a communication to the Commissioner to have night watchmen on the Railway, and directions had been given to have watchmen on the St. Andrew's Road. The Government were heartily co operating with the Lieutenant Governor, who was in communication with Col. Cole, and also in communication with the Volunteer Officers on the border.
MR. CONNELL —He did not rise for the purpose of giving alarm, but he did think he should have positive knowledge of what the Government were doing. In Woodstock there were only some thirty or forty volunteers. He could only say that a gentleman in the County had told him that no preparations had been made at all.
MR. FISHER could not agree with his hon. colleague that there was no alarm. He had recevied a telegram which informed him that all along the line of the Saint Andrews Railway there was great alarm.
MR. ANGLIN.—The Government had the best means of knowing. He would do his tumost to support any measure of defence they might adopt. He was prepared to give them the amplest powers to raise men and expend money.
MR. HATHEWAY said, two hours be- fore Mr. Connell had risen to ask that question, he had received a telegram from the press of Woodstock, and in it there was not a single word about alarm or about Fenianism.
MR. FISHER —There was no doubt that there was great alarm now, and he entirely agreed with the remark of the hon. member of York. If the Government wanted more power, he would give it them. He would give them all the resources of the Province, if necessary, but he would expect them to exercise a careful and prudent economy. The Attorney General had told them that there were five hundred rifles in Carleton ; it there were five hundred men in Carleton to handle them, what force could cross the border that that body of men could not resist ? A great body could not be moved for the purpose of attack without all the world knowing it, and people ought to remember that the Province could not be invaded suddenly by a large force. He did not believe that the movement would attain any importance, nor did he think the Province was much exposed to attack, for it had no direct line of communication with the States. Still, a show of attack might be made. But if a small body—and it could only be a small body, did come in, they would be met. As he said, he would give the Government, if they required it, more power. He would give them power to muster men and compel men to serve.
At three o'clock, His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor, came down to the Council Chamber and gave his assent to the Export Duty Bill.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL (on resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the Address,) said that the Bill just assented to by His Excellency would remove the ground of complaint that had been preferred against the Government. Ever since the time that the error had been discovered, it had given the Government a great deal of trouble. The first time they had a knowledge of the neglect was in the month of September, but they did not think it would have been right to have summoned the Legislature at a time when the navigation was open, and when it would have been most inopportune for the business of the country. They thought that it would be better to wait until the opening of the Legislature, and remove the difficulty then. The House would agree that the then. The House would agree that the Government had acted prudently, and he did not think that any injury had been done to the country. He could not but repeat what he had said yesterday and the day before, that the present was not the time to shake the confidence of the country in the Government, to keep up a political agitation, and make changes in the Constitution. But from the information they had received, that boded no good to the Province, he thought the time had arrived when it behooved them to forget party and political differences, and look to the safetyand interests of the country, Within the last few days, telegrams had been received sufficient to excite fear in the country, and he thought the time had arrived when this Legislature should be united, and they should all be prepared to meet aggression. He did not think any observations he could make would have any influence in changing the minds of hon. members. The discussion must take its course. But he put it to the House, and to the country, it this was the time, when the country was agitated with fears of a hostile aggression, to press a vote of want of confidence. The hon. mover (Mr. Fisher) had been premature in moving his amendment. Before condemning the Government for the Railway contract, he should have waited for more information. He certainly had been premature in speaking about the Railway contract. The country, he (Attorney General) thought had heard of a grand scheme for gridironing the Province with Railways, without burdening the country, that the member of York had in his head. If that hon. member was sincere in his wish to advance the interests of the Province, if he thought he had a better way of building railways than the Government had, he should, if prepared with his scheme, have come down. With regard to the contract entered into, he would suppose that the testimony of the two Nova Scotian gentlemen—both of them afterwards would have some weight with the member of York—the testimony of these gentlemen would show what truth there was in the statement made that a delegation was unnecessary, that all the Government had done in the matter they might have accomplished by writing a letter at the expense of a shilling. The other statements—(Here Attorney General quoted from the Report of the Nova Scotia Delegates.) There was the testimony of the two Nova Scotian gentlemen who had gone to England with Mr. Allen and himself. It showed that the matter would not have been accomplished without a joint delegation. It proved the the Legislature had been reciprocal. The bargain that this Province had made with the Company was much better than that made by Nova Scotia. And he would say that but for the advantages offered by Nova Scotia, the mining privileges, the giving of fifty miles of wilderness land, we could not have treated with the Company at all. Nova Scotia had also agreed to allow certain articles needed for the construction of the Railway to come in free of duty, and had provided for the right of way. The Nova Scotia delegates said to Mr. Allen and himself : We give more than you did ; you ought to give something more. But we stated that the Government only authorized us to give $10,000 a mile. He (Attorney General) thought that a contract most highly advantageous to the country had been entered into.
MR. WETMORE — Who paid the right of way through this Province ?
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL —The Company ; but on representations from them of the privileges Nova Scotia had ceded, we agreed to pay the price of land in excess of £50 an acre. Everything else connected with regard to the contract had been done consistently with law and legislation, and yet it had been put solemnly forth when he was absent in the United States that no contract had been made at all ; that it was simply a pure fabrication to help me to run my election in my Country. Would anyone believe that these Nova Scotian gentlemen, whose testimony he had read, would have gone simply to enable me to be returned ! Yet a paper in St. John had said that the whole affair was a bogus transaction. It had been asked had any gentleman seen the contract ? And it had gone forth throughout the country that he had perpetrated a base, deliberate fraud.
( Mr. Wetmore.—What paper did the Attorney General allude to?)
It need not signify what was the name of the paper. The Government had sustained abuse and vilification not only through the agency of the press, but lecturer had gone through the length and breadth of the country distilling poison in the ears of the people. The Government were prepared to take the consequences of the arrangement that they had made ; but he put it to the House, he put it to the country, if it was fair that they should be subject to those insiduous attacks, which could only be prompted by feelings of the deepest ma lignity. With regard to Western Extension, he hoped that the work would be constructed as speedily as possible ; but if the Company failed, he, for one, was willing to undertake it as a Government work, but he hoped that that would not be necessary. He thought, as far as Railway matters were concerned, the House would justify the course of the Government, and he could not but think that Mr.—now JudgeAllen and he himself had dont the country a substantial benefit by the Eastern Extension Railway contract. It was objected by the mover of the amendment that the Government had failed to fill up the office of Auditor General ; and he thought he had got the Government into a fix. He (Mr. F.) had spoken a great deal about the Auditor General—as a Crown officer, and of his powers under the Constitution—all very wide of the mark. In fact, he knew nothing about what he was talking. He would say that on the formation of the Administration, there was on member not now in the Government who DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. 21 was well qualified for the office, and that they had all felt then that he should have it. But Mr. Wilmot had retired from the Government without the office. If it had been necessary to fill up the office immediately, the Government could have done it. But if the Government could show that the duties of the office had been conducted as efficiently, without an Auditor General. as before, he believed the country, who did not care so much who filled the office as how its duties were performed. Instead of four clerks being employed, as when the late Mr. Partelow (who, as they all knew, for several years, had not been able to attend to the office) was Auditor General, there have been only two. For years before the death of that gentleman, Mr. Johnston, the chief clerk, had done all the duties of the office. He wished to do justice to Mr. Johnston, who had been most assiduous to his duty and had proved himself a faithful and efficient officer. He challenged the mover of the Amendment to point out one single case where the interest of the country had suffered by the non-appointment of an Auditor General. It was all very well to quote despatches, but let him point to one fact. Would the non-appointment of an Auditor General be sufficient in the eyes of this House to condemn the Government? He thought not.
The Attorney General proceeded to th charge against the Government, that they had not appointed a Solicitor General, and challenged the mover of the Amendment to show where the. public interests had suffered in consequence. During the absence of the then Attorney General (Mr. Allen) (and here he would remark that no appointment had given more entire satisfaction than that of Judge Allen) provision was made for the conducting of the Criminal and Crown business of the conntry, and he could assure the House that, neither in the case of the absence of Mr. Allen, or of his own, had that business suffered in the hands of the legal gentlemen to whom it was entrusted. He would state that no Government that had ever been formed in the Province—he did not ask, and he did not expect their sympathy, when he made the statement—had so many difficulties and embarrassments of all kinds to contend against as the present Government had at its first formation. It was said that they had proscribed every one who was not an Anti-Confederate. But was it not absolutely necessary that it should be formed on an Anti-Confederate basis? He would ask every man who had taken a bold stand on the question that agitated the country, who resisted the Quebec Scheme that aimed at the independence of the Province, if it was absolutely necessary to form the Government on that basis? Then a cry was raised against the Government when they did not ?ill up their numbers, when they did not appoint a Solicitor General, that they were afraid to open a constituency. But did any one doubt that if the Government had consented to have taken the hon. member of St. John, on his left, (Mr. Wetmore) into the Government, that he would have been returned? Did any one doubt, if the Solicitor Generalship had been offered to the hon. member of York, on his right, (Mr. Fraser) that he could have been returned? Or if it had been offered to the hon. member of King's (Mr. Otty) that he could have been returned? Or did any doubt that any one of these gentlemen would have done honor to the position? But at the time of the formation of the Government, it was felt that the North Shore was entitled to more representation and the office would have been filled by a representative of that district but for the basis on which the Government was formed. That was the fact, and all he could tell the House, and he thought the explanation sufficient, particularly when the member of York (Mr. Fisher) could not show where the interests of the country had suffered.
There was another thing. It was stated the Government were guilty of betraying the public trust and stealing the public property. When they heard the first account of the business, hon. members might have thought that it was a thousand times worse than the first great land stealing transaction. It had gone into the back settlements that the Government had been plundering the country ; that they had entered into a conspiracy with Mr. Gibson to rob the land. A more diabolical attempt to injure a Government had never taken place. The mover of the Amendment knew well that the vilest injustice had been done to the Government by the accusations preferred against them. He knew the truth of the matter. What the Government had done was simply to carry out the intention of the late Government. When they came into power they found that an order of survey had been made for which survey Mr. Gibson had paid $500 for a certain tract of land. It was said that Gibson got the Government to repeal the law in his favor, but the sale of the land was open and notorious. It was published in the Royal Gazette, and it was competent for every man who pleased to come in and compete. The hon. member of York knew all the truth about the transaction.
MR. FISHER. He knew nothing about it.
ATTORNEY GENERAL. Then more shame for him.
MR. FISHER. All he had said in reference to the transaction the other day was, that the repeal of a regulation should be as notorious as the regulation itself
ATTORNEY GENERAL. But the hon. member must have known, residing as he did in Fredericton, and having access to the Crown Land Office, and he must have known when he heard the Government charged with collusion and fraud with Gibson, that they were charged falsely. Even if no repeal of the regulation had been made everybody must have seen in the Royal Gazette the advertisement of the sale of the land in 100 acre lots, and that was as public a notice as could be made. Was it necessary to make repeal ? He wanted to show that the order, of which so much had been said, "that pending negociations for the construction of the Inter-Colonial Railway, none of the Crown Lands of the Province shall be sold except with the condition of actual settlement attached," had repealed itself. Did not every one know that the law regarding the Inter-Colonial Railway had censed to be on the Statute Book—that it was the same as if it had never existed ? Did not every one know that it had repealed itself and fallen dead? The condition that rendered the regulation necessary had ceased to exist. The transaction was open and above board. The sale of lands was published in the Gazette, and every man must have known that it was the intention to sell these lands publicly. He would ask the House then if it was true that the Government had given Gibson lands secretly—if he had given him land without competition ?
MR. CONNELL. Did not Mr. Gibson hold a three years' license of these very lands?
ATTORNEY GENERAL. So much the worse for the late Government. You that supported the late Government would wish to fasten their sins on us.
MR. GILBERT. How many acres were sold to Mr. Gibson?
ATTORNEY GENERAL. Fifteen thousand in all. It it was necessary to argue this question, he would say while he would give every facility to the man who desired to settle in the country, they ought to look at the other side, and consider that Mr. Gibson had mills that cut twelve millions annually. The whole country was interested in that manufacture. Let them not look at this question with hasty prejudice, but let calm reason work, and let them foster and cherish the manufacturing interests of the country. He would ask if the people of the Nashwaak were not greatly interested in Mr. Gibson's operations? He had besides been told that the land was worthless for settlement and not much worth for lumber- in purposes, unless large sums are spent to open up streams. Mr. Gibson was a man that ought to be encouraged. He was informed his operations extended to Careleton and Victoria. The inhabitants of Carleton derived great benefit from those operations.
MR. LINDSAY —The people of Carleton found fault with it.
ATTORNEY GENERAL —It might be that the great lumberers found fault ; but would he (Mr. Lindsay) tell him that the farmers and back settlers complained who found sale for their oats and their hay, and their produce? He then proceeded to say that the Government were bound to carry out the acts of their predecessors, and as regarded this transaction they were in no way to blame. It had been no hole and corner business, and he did not think the House would say that the Government had forfeited the confidence of the country. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Fisher) had said that the Government had changed their mind upon the question of Confederation, and that the paragraph in the Address relating to Union involved the submittal by them of some scheme. But he would tell the hon. member that the Government would not submit a scheme of Confederation to the House. They were as strongly opposed as ever they were to the Quebec Scheme, and would maintain their attitude of opposition to it. He regretted that some of their friends who had fought the battle against that scheme had, for reasons best known to themselves, gone over to the other side. He hoped they would justify to their own minds the course they had taken. He could not see how any man could, when he saw all the influences at work, shut their eyes to the fact, that if this vote of confidence was carried, and the Government thrown out, that the  22 DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FOR 1866. Quebec Scheme, in all its original enormity would be forced upon the country. He believed, sure as the needle pointed to pole, that that would happen. Let hon. members consider the pressure that has been brought upon the Government to break them down. They have had the pressure of the Canadian politicians against them, and the Imperial influence of the British Government, and influence from Nova Scotia. They have had the influence against them of lecturers and trading politicians, who, through the length and breadth of the Province have been disseminating poisonous stories against the Government, and attesting that a dissolution was sure to take place ; and almost the entire Press of the Province had been against them, vilifying and denouncing them. He had no doubt that the member of York (Mr. Fisher) was in constant communication with Canadian statesmen in favor of the Quebec Scheme. He saw several gentlemen in the House who were in favor of Union—taking it as a broad question. But he would ask were there ten members in the House in favor of the Quebec Scheme ? Let these gentlemen who were in favor of the general principle consider well before they cast their influence against the Government. They were told that the Quebec Scheme could be altered. When that was said let them harken to the testimony of the Canadian statesmen who had given birth to the scheme. Not a single letter could be altered.
Let them listen in the testimony of the Hon. D'Arcy McGee :
" Everything we did was done in form and with propriety, and the result of our proceedings is the document that has been submitted to the Imperial Government, as well as to this House, and which we speak of now, as a treaty. And that there may be no doubt about our position in regard to that document, we say question if you may, but alter it, you may not. (Hear, hear.) It is beyond your power or our power to alter it. There is not a sentence, aye, or even a word, you can alter without desiring to throw out the document. Alter it, and we know at once what you mean—you thereby declare yourselves anti-Unionists. On this point I repeat after all my honorable friends who have already spoken for one party to alter a treaty, is of course to destroy it. Let us be frank with each other ; you who do not like our work, nor do you like us, who stand by it, clause by clause, line by line, and letter by letter."
Let him call up the Hon. J. A. McDonald, a man who stands very high in Canada, and let them listen to what he said:
" We present it not in the precise shape we in Canada would desire it, but as in the best shape the five Colonies to be united could agree upon it. We present it in the form in whichthe five Governments have severally adopted it—in the form the Imperial Government has endorsed it—and in the form in which we believe all the Legislatures of the Provinces will accept it. We ask the House to pass it in the EXACT form in which we have presented, for we know not how alterations may affect its safety in other places, and the process of alteration once commenced in four different Legislatures, who can tell where that would end "
From the mouth of these witnesses let them judge what truth there was in the statement that the scheme could be altered. If the Government were defeated be would tell them again—and another Government formed with the hon. member of York at its head—the Quebec Scheme would be carried letter by letter, line by line. There were gentlemen here in favor of Union, and he would say that if they could get a Union on a fair and equitable basis, such as would advance the interests of the country, it might be a question whether it would not be prudent to adopt it. He would say that the Government were prepared to renew negotiations with Canada and the other Provinces at any conference that might be called together ; but not in any event to agree to the Quebec scheme. The member of York had spoken of British statesmen, and of their being listened to as superiors speaking to inferiors. He did not like the spirit of the remark of the hon. gentleman. It was not doing justice to themselves or to their country. He had great respect for their ability, their acquirements and their superior culture. When they said that this Confederation Scheme would advance the interests of this country—while he had much respect for their opinion—still he thought on a question affecting their own interests, men with practical judgment and common sense were the best judges ; and on this question of Confederation they respectfully differed.
The Attorney General then proceeded to speak of the stories repeated by the member of York, (Mr. F.) that the present Chief Justice Ritchie had ?ed with him ( Atty Gen.) If there was any one thing, he proceeded to say, that it was necessary to maintain, it was the purity of the Bench. The ermine should be kept spotless. The people should look up
with respect to those who files high positions, especially those who had the guardianship of their lives and properties. Up to the present time politics had never entered into a court of justice. He put it to the House if they were prepared to justify the member of York in dragging in the name of Judge Ritchie, and repeating the stories set afloat that he had ca- balled with him (Att'y Gen.) a year ago upon the position of Chief Justice. A year ago he was not in the Government. When the present Government did come into power, and the resignation of the Chief Justice was spoken of, was it not understood that it Sir James Carter did resign that position should be given to Judge Robert Parker. Would the country have justified any other appointment than that of that justly revered Judge, of whome he would repeat, what he had said before, that take him for all and all he was the best man he ever knew. When the member of York knew that, how could he justify himself when he said that Judge Ritchie had caballed with him (Att'y Gen.). He was not going to deprecate Judge Wilmot ; he was not going to say that he was not a great and distinguished priest ; but he would say, when Judge Wilmotwhen a great question was agitating the country from its centre to its circumference—upon the Bench determined against and denounced men who opposed the Quebec Scheme, and lauded to the skies those who frame it, he laid himself open to remark ; he forgot the duty imposed upon him by his position ; he dragged the ermine in the mire. He heard it was said that Judge Wilmot delivered, from the Bench, a speech on Confederation in Sunbury, and the people in the Court applauded him. ( Mr. Glasier—they did not). He heard it so stated, and he must believe it. They let Judge Wilmot speak on any subject, and he grained the irresistable applause of his audience. Now, if the people cheered him when he spoke from the Bench, must they not come to the conclusion, if people have a right to applaud him they have an equal right to hiss him. They could not deny that. Then what became of the respect and dignity of the Bench ? He would like to see one of the Judges in England act in that manner. He would like to see an English Judge throw himself into the discussion on the Reform Bill, and even that would be more excusable than the ease of Judge Wilmot. He would ask the House if it was ever known here that a Judge took part in polities. Had the member of York hown an instance when a Judge went to the hustings. He would ask him to point to a case when a Judge had ever voted ? The fact that Judges had never voted was conclusive in his mind against Judge Wilmot. While a Judge (he went on to say) might speak on political subjects, and express his views in conversation at the social table, he has no right to declaim from the Bench. The Government had been charged with doing a great wrong for not appointing Judge Wilmot Chief Justice. But he thought Judge Wilmot had acted imprudently, and not in a manner that met the approbation of the country. He thought that no man would deny that the late Chief Justice Robert Parker's judgment on the Judge best qualified to be successor was entitled to respect. Chief Justice Parker would not have taken the office if he had not known that Judge Ritchie should succeed him. He did not ask the House to believe him at his word, for he had the written record in proof that what he said was true. It was stated that in the appointment seniority prevailed. But it was not true that the oldest Judges were always appointed. In the majority of cases in this Province the junior Judge had been appointed over the senior, and if seniority prevailed Judge Neville Parker had the right. He would not draw invidious distinctions between Judge Ritchie and Judge Wilmot, but he would say that public opinion would justify the appointment of Judge Ritche, and the country had the testimony of the late. Robert Parker that he was the right man in the right place ; would not that testimony satisfy the murmurs of dissatisfaction.
The hon. member of York had called the Government a Government of hypocrisy ; he had characterized its members as political thimble-riggers ; but if there was any man in the Province remarkable for his expertness in that art he sat in the seat of the hon. member. He had done. He was now willing to leave the question in the hands of the House.
MR. DESBRISAY said, it might appear strange that he should rise to answer a gentleman of the ability and talents of the Attorney General. He would give his reason. He was obliged to go home, as the Supreme Court, in Kent, was then sitting, and he had some very heavy suits pending. That was his only reason for rising to speak now.
In the first place he begged leave to trouble the House with some remarks concerning himself. He had been ten years in the House and had always voted consistently. During that time he had not said a great deal about himself ; but now he begged leave to say a few words. The Attorney General said that he (Mr. D.) had gone over to the other side. He would like to ask what side that is, and he would like to ask on what side the Attorney General was?
ATTORNEY GENERAL. — Against the Quebec Scheme.
MR. DESBRISAY —He also was opposed to the Quebec Scheme ; but the question of Confederation had no right to absorb all the other interests of the Province. He had come out as Conservative and he had always voted consistently. When the Quebec Scheme was first agitated in the Province he was the first man of any prominence in his own County who opposed it, and he was opposed to it still ; as he said, he was a consistent Conservative, he had been born a Conservative, he had lived a Conservative, and a Conservative he intended to remain. When the Attorney General said that he (Mr. D.) had gone over to the other side he would like to be told what was that other side. He would like to know what was the Attorney General's side of politics? He thought he ought to get an answer.
ATTORNEY GENERAL —When he said the hon. member of Kent had gone over to the other side, it was because he had seconded the amendment to the Address.
MR. DESBRISAY then proceeded to say that when he read the Speech, and the paragraph on union, he felt that he was absolved from anytie to the Government, and he appealed to the conservative members if the course the Government had taken on that question, in not even consulting them, entitled them to their support. He would take the opportunity to say the he had not changed his views as a Confederate, and, therefore, he was not to be told that he had gone over to the other side. What claim, he would ask, had the Government now upon the conservative interests of the country. He wanted to ask on what side of politics the Attorney General was? Could he tell? He wanted to put forth to the country that he (Mr. D.) was a conservative, and had not acted inconsistently. He came to the House an anti-Confederate, and he intended to ? as an anti-Confederate. But there were other interests that hon. gentlemen had a right to advocate. On what side, he would ask, was the Attorney General ? That gentleman had in his time opposed Railway construction ; he had opposed the Militia, he had opposed King's College, he had opposed other interests. Where was he now in regard to them? He did not think it lay in his (Attorney General's) mouth to taunt him (Mr. D.) with having gone over to the other side. The Attorney General had read a division the other day upon the Post Office Bill, on which thirty names were recorded as supporters of the Government. Had the Government done their duty they would have retained that majority ; they would still have had that division to support them. Had they acted as they ought to have done? Had they filled up the political offices? Had they appointed a Solicitor General and an Auditor General? But they vascillated, afraid to move or do anything, and offering, it is said half-a- dozen men the same office. He looked through the names on that division ; where were they now ? Where now, he would ask, were the conservatives? they were in the mud, and Mr. Speaker was one of them. They were nowhere at all, and never would be anywhere. He was in earnest, for he felt deeply upon this matter. The Conservatives had the position in their hands, and could have
kept the reigns of power in their hands
for twenty years, had they only acted like men of common judgment.
Mr. DesBrisay then proceeded to say that on account of the vascillating course the Government had pursued, the conservative party had had to submit to the most humiliating and degrading position before the country. It was well known when the present Government came into power that changes should be made. But what had they done ? Nothing at all, beyond making a few changes in the Railway Department. And when the Government allowed a member in the Upper House, who was a salaried officer under them, to vote against a Government measure, he felt that the Conservatives had been placed into a most humiliating position ; a position that had allowed them to be pointed at with the finger of scorn. The Government should have taken a bold stand when they had thirty men at their back. When should they ever see such a day again ? Had the Government done their duty they would have made the changes that they were expected to make ; they would have filled up their offices at once. He spoke what he felt. He did not want anything from the Government, but he did feel he had feelings beyond ÂŁ500 a year. He felt a pride as a member of the Conservative party, and a determination that that pride should not be broken down. If any man attempted to do that with him he would take the course with that man which he ought to do. But when he saw the Government vascillating and trimming before the country, every man who was a Conservative must have felt humiliated.
MR. DesBrisay went on to say, he had asked the other day if the Government were prepared to submit any scheme of Confederation to the House, and it was said by the Attorney General that the Government did not intend to submit a scheme. He wished to understand the position of the Government, and he would ask them, were they prepared to go for any scheme brought in by any of their supporters?
ATTORNEY GENERAL The Government had never heard of any scheme.
MR. DESBRISAY. That was evading the question. What he wished to know was—did the Government intend to support any scheme brought in by any one of their supporters?
ATTORNEY GENERAL. The Government had never heard of any scheme —the Government were opposed to the Quebec Scheme, and would not submit any scheme to the House.
MR. DESBRISAY. He supposed he would be obliged to let that answer go. It was impossible to draw out a direct answer to a plain question from a lawyer. On this question of Confederation he felt that the Conservatives had been deceived by the Government. He had never been able to see why this question of Confederation should have been carried so farwhy it should have absorbed all the other interests of the Province—why the Conservative feeling should have been sacrificed to it. The Government had carried the Confederation feeling to the Bench of the country, where it never ought to have been carried. Viewing the course the Government had taken, he thought when the vote came to be taken that they would fail to secure a majority of members on their side, and he thought that they ought to fail. Where, he would like to know, were the Government? he did not believe they knew themselves. They were in this position—that in any constituency in the country they could not carry an election. Mr. D. then proceeded to speak of the non-appointment of Auditor General, and the great importance of the office to the country, as a dereliction of duty on the part of the Government, and went on to animadvert on the course the Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works had taken with the construction of the bridge over the main river of the Richibucto. Before the construction was commenced he thought it but reasonable that plans should be made and shown in the country, and he had written to the Commissioner to postpone the building of the bridge until the plans were seen ; to which the Commissioner had answered tht it could not be done. After the contract was taken, the whole thing was thrown up. [The Chief Commissioner here explained why the contract for building the new bridge was not carried out the present bridge was perfectly safe, and he did not intend to renew the contract this year.] The question was not—Mr. D. said—whether the bridge was safe or not, but why the Chief Commissioner should have refused to submit a plan of the bridge, and why, after entering into a contract for building it, they had thrown the m?r up? Nor could he see what could have induced the Government to give the contract to the party they did, when they knew he had made a botch of the lighthouse he had contracted to build.
MR. DESBRISAY, in concluding, said, that when he left, at dinner time, he did not expect that he would rise to speak that afternoon. He had given his reason why he had done so. He thought he had explained his position satisfactorily, and he was sure no man of spirit could have felt in any other way than he had ; and his constituence felt as he did. Before sitting down, he had a proposition to put to the House. He felt that they were in a time of trouble. The Province was threatened with invasion, and he did not think it a time when party spirit should prevail. He proposed that the House should not press the question of want of confidence further. Much as he condemned the Government for this vascillation—for their want of pluck, for the trimming course of policy they had pursued—he, for one, was perfectly willing to pass the supplies through the House at once. Let the House pass an act giving them authority to raise men and ample service—give any amount of credit and then let the House be proroguedand let the members go to their homes, where, at this time, they were most needed. He might be wrong, but he thought that would be the wisest course to pursue in this emergency ; it would be the easiest way to get over the present difficulty. If the House were prorogued, it would be best for the interests of the country. 
A. A.


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.



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

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