Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, 30 January 1865, Newfoundland Debates over Confederation with Canada.

THE NEWFOUNDLANDER St. John's, Thursday, February 9, 1865 1


Monday, Jan. 30.
The House met at three o'clock.
Mr. WYATT, from the select Committee to prepare an address in reply to his Excelleney's speech, resented the draft of an address, which was read a first time. Second reading to-morrow.
Mr. WYATT gave notice that, on to-morrow, he would move the suspension of the Rules of the House with reference to that address.
The hon. RECEIVER GENERAL gave notice that, on tomorrow, he would move the appointment of a select committee on the Contingencies of the House.
Mr. RENOUF pursuant to notice, asked the Acting Colonial Secretary tÂş lay on the table copies of correspondence with the Government of Canada, and other documents relative to the Federal Union of the Provinces.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL-The documents were in the course of being printed, and would be laid on the table as soon as they could be got ready.
Mr. RENOUF, pursuant to notice, asked the hon. Acting Colonial Secretary to lay on the table of the House a copy of the letter of Dr. Stabb, Superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum, complaining of the visit of inspection by the members for the division of St. John's West to that Institution.
The Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL was sorry that the government could not comply with the request of the hon. member, for a copy of the le ter referred to in his notice, in which he assumed that some reference was made to himself and the other members for St. John's West. It must be obvious that if the confidential communications of the officers of the Government were to be made public, much detriment to the public service would be the inevitable result.
Mr. RENOUF.—Was the letter marked confidential?
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL-It was a , matter of no importance whether it was marked confidential or not. It was from an officer of the government.
Mr. RENOUF.-That officer, it appeared, could do as he pleased. He had the sole control of an institution, four miles from the town, in which there were over 100 pauper inmates, and which cost the colony ÂŁ4,000 a year; and when the members for the Western Ĺżivision of St. John's, in the discharge of their duty to their constituents, made a visit of inspection to that institution, it appeared that this official complained to the Executive of their having done so, and now when they applied for a copy of his letter, they were refused. The reason was obvious. Dr. Stabb had a brother in the Executive Council, who supported him in all his proceedings.
The hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL was very sorry to see a feeling manifested towards, a gentleman who was not present in that House to defend himself. If the hon member were amenable to the government, and if any charges were made against him by the Physician of the Lunatic Asylum, it would be the duty of the government to communicate a copy of such charges to him, to give him an opportunity of meeting them. But it was obviously improper to furnish a gentleman entirely unconnected with the government with a confidential communication from an officer of that government, even if he was mentioned in it. He (hon. A. Gen.) did not say whether such was the case in this instance or not. He might inform the hon, member, that it was no part of his public duty as member for St. John's West, to visit the Lunatic Asylum. If he went there, it was in private capacity, as any other citizen might go. He (hon. A. Gen.) did not say that it was not proper for him to do so, and to inform himself respecting the management of that institution and every other public institution in the colony; and if he, or any other member had any charges to make respecting the management of this Asylum, or any other institution under the control of the government, they would be prepared at once to institute an inquiry.
Mr. RENOUF-Was certainly surprised that any document should be thus refused to be laid before this House. He would ask the hon. Attorney General whether that document had been marked confidential or not He (Mr. R) considered that he had a perfect right to ask for that document in his official capacity as a member of this House. He (Mr. R.) would briefly explain the circumstances of this case. He understood, with his hon colleague Mr. Talbot, that a letter had been written to the Executive by the Superintendent of, the Lunatic Asylum, complaining of the conduct of three hon members of that house, who, in discharge of their duty as custodians of the public, had visited that institution twelve months previously. On that occassion they had met the Superintendant who complained of illness, and was unable to accompany them through the building. —He (Mr. Renouf) must say that as far as the eye could discover, every thing was in the most perfect order­ they had been well satisfied with the result of their visit, and regarded the state of the institution as a credit to the Superintendent. What then was this letter written for, and especially twelve months after this visit was made? Had we no right to go there? That letter reflected on his (Mr. Renouf's) character, and, he had a right to get it. He had applied to the hon Colonial Secretary, to ascertain whether it was really in existence or not. That gentleman did not deny it, and said that the hon. Attorney General would give him (Mr. Renouf) a copy of the letter.—Did not hon. gentlemen remember that some years back grave complaints had been made against Dr. Stabb, and that the Governor had said that if he were guity of the charges alleged against him, he was not fit to be any longer the Superintendent of that institution? The result was that Dctors Carson and Rochford were appointed to supervise the working of that institution. And now, because the West End members, took a deep interest in the unfortunate inmates of the Asylum, were they to be made the subject of complaint to the government, and his twelve months after their visit? And when he, no doubt, was anticipating anothor visit, he applies to the government for liberty to exclude members from visiting the Asylum. What was the cause of this? —Was there any great party going on there at that time? Any extensive decorations to be put up?–Last session great fault was found with the extravagance of that insitution. But Doctor Stabb had a brother in the Executive, and they were mesmerised by his influence. That letter did not deter the members for St. Jonn's West from making their visit, when they were received by Dr. Stabb in a most cringing manner. He took them through the whole building, and actually asked them into his private apartments. There was no institution that required more supervision than that one.- And had the representatives of the people, who voted the supplies for its support, no right to visit it ?
After some further discussion, in which Mr. Renouf, the hons. Attorney and Receiver General, and Mr. Talbot took part, the matter was dropped.
The house then adjourned until Tuesday at three o'clock.


The Newfoundlander, 1864-1869. Digitized by Google Books



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