Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, 4 February 1869, Newfoundland Debates over Confederation with Canada.

1 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. St. John's, Wednesday, February 10, 1869.


THURSDAY, February 4.
The House met pursuant to adjournment.
Pursuant to the order of the day, and on motion of Mr. Godden, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole on the Address of Thanks in reply to His Excellency's speech. Mr. Knight in the chair.
Mr. RENOUF had much pleasure in rising to support the amendment which had been moved by his hon. friend, Mr. Parsons, to the second paragraph in the Address of Thanks. The paragraph says:—
"We fully approve of the course taken by the Executive Government in issuing the Proclamation in June last, that relief in future would be confined to destitute widows and orphans, and to the sick and infirm poor. We believe this act was well timed, and we cordially hope and trust that the Executive may be successful in its efforts to suppress the demoralizing system of able-bodiod relief."
This was a perfect echo of His Excellency's speech, while the amendment reads thus: "While we admit the necessity of the large outlay under the head of relief for the able-bodied poor, we cannot refrain from expressing our disappointment of the injudicious mode in which such outlay was effected, and our regret that no remedial measures had been adopted by the Government to relieve the evils accruing to the poor from its sudden stoppage." Now he (Mr. R.) approved and endorsed every word contained in that amendment. We had been accused of bringing all our influence upon the Government to induce them to issue meal and molasses to the poor. It was however, well known that the opposition had brought no such pressure, they had no interestin bringing it, and none of that meal and molasses stuck to their hands or contributed to line their pockets. He well recollected how the hon, member, Mr. Shea, in his last great speech upon the tariff, paraded a letter signed by him (Mr. R,) and his colleagues, and endeavoured to prove from it and to convince the country that we were the parties who had brought a pressure to bear upon the Government to induce and coerce them to issue this poor relief. But that letter should be placed side by side with the one which had been received by him (Mr. R.) from the Chairman of the Board of Works. In 1864, when this Amalgamated Government came into power, this Government that was the greatest curse to the country, was going to work wonders—it was going to improve the condition of the people, stimulate enterprise, and be a blessing to all. It was said that the hon. member Mr. Shea, and the hon. Receiver General left this side of the House purely to trample down all angry sectarian feelings. Well, we had a trail of them for four years and what had they done? When we look around can we see any evidence of progress or of administrative ability? No. Nothing but starvation among the people, as he had stated the other day, but which statement had been suppressed by the official reporters to this House. In 1864 then this unholy alliance was consummated, and before the session met we were summoned to attend a meeting in the office of the Colonial Secretary. We went there, and we were asked by the Premier, Mr. Carter, whether we would consent to an advance of £200, being made on account of our road grant to support the able-bodied poor in our district. He (Mr. R.) had said that he would not consent to sacrifice the industrious agriculturist for such a purpose. The hon, and learned Attorney General then said we sent for you to ask your permission, but if you do not give it we will do it without your sanction. We protested against such a proceeding, but it was of no avail. Last year when applications were made to us, we merely brought them under the notice of the Government, leaving the responsibility with them. He (Mr. R.) had addressed a communication to the hon. Colonial Secretary, relieving himself and his hon. colleagues from any responsibility, and placing that responsibility upon the shoulders of the Government, who were bound not to let any one starve. Here the hon. member read the communications he referred to, and commented upon them at considerable length. Was there any evidence that he, or any of the Opposition, had coerced the Government into the lavish and extravagant expenditure that had been made? We had no desire to force the Government, we merely placed before them the positicn of the people, and refrained from telling or asking them to do anything. The members of the Government had a direct interest in fostering this system, of pauper relief, and but for it, their household Gods would come to nothing. There were men who came to us and said the Government will give us relief if you sanction it, and if we do not get it, it will be your fault, What then could we do? We were driven into the necessity of sending to the Government the communication that we did— a communication which has been twisted and tortured to suit the ends of the Executive. Here the hon member commented on the speech of the hon. member Mr. Shea last year in reference to this matter, and said that the issue of poor relief was what the Government desired and connived at. He referred to the issue of meal and molasses in the Eastern districts, and said it was made use of for the purpose of filling the pockets of members of the Executive, and not for the relief of the people. He charged certain of the Executive with selling meal to the Government at a price far above its market worth, and being full of Purser's figs, rotten and lumpy. He then referred to the permanent poor grant, contended that it was made the means of the vilest abuses and corruption, and that half the money voted was not expended. The system, he said, was corrupt and rotten at the core. The Proclamation migut be a step in the right, direction, but it should not have been issued until the Government had in some way prepared the people for its reception, He would refer to the public accounts to show the robberies and jobberies that were contained therein. The Government had taxed, bread and other necessaries of life to such an extent as to leave the market without that active competition which was necessary to equalise prices, and this was done in order to raise a revenue to meet their extravagance. They went in debt to the Union Bank to the amount of £70,000, and cared not bow the revenue went while that held, and then when the Bank called for payment they had no means of responding, except by increased taxation. His side of the House had put forth their views, with regard to this taxation, but they were scouted, and they were told they were neither financiers nor politicians. What is the result of their Tariff, why that His Excellency is obliged to acknowledge that the Revenue falls short of the Estimate. The Government claims credit for playing a bold and an honest policy in the matter of this proclamation, and that it was issued solely with a view to suppress able-bodied pauper relief, but they would not have adopted that course had not the Union Bank fightened the purse "strings." They make a virtue of necessity, and parade their virtues before the country. It is said St. John's absorbs the lion's share of Poor Relief, but it was well known that the people from all parts of the country crowd into St. John's. It was not the poor of St. John's who absorbed this Poor Relief. There were last winter in St. John's West not less than 75 outport families, and they absorbed no less than £500 of the road grant of the district, which pronerly belonged to the industrious agriculturist. The proclamation may have been good up to this, but if hon. gentlemen would visit the poor in their hovels, they would see an amount of misery which would soon convince them that it cannot be carried out in its integrity. He (Mr. R.) was directly opposed to the giving of relief to those who did not require it, but to these who were in danger of starving, relief should be given, though it took the last farthing in the public Exchequer. It matters not how the people were brought to want, they must not be allowed to perish. The Government won't do anything, all their affection, all their attention is centred in the one thing, they have mismanaged the public affairs, they have misappropriated the public funds, and feeling that they stunk in the nostrils of the people, they look to only one avenue of escape—Confederation, that is a new Amalgamation—an Amalgamation with Canada, which is 1000 miles away, with a people who are ignorant of the resources of the country, and yet are, so we are told, to do for us more than we can do for ourselves. He (Mr. R.) need not tell the House nor pruclaim to the country, all the wiles and tricks which had been played off in order to effect a change in the views of the people on this question. The other evening when his hon. colleague, (Mr. Talbot.) lightly touched on the question of Confederation, the hon. member for Placentia and St. Mary's, (Mr. Shea,) took him to task and then spoke for two hours on the very same subject. Had they on that side of the House no right to speak on the subject. Oh no! They were not honest, so it was said, and only hon. Mr Shea and a few other disinterested parties were entitled to speak. His colleague had also spoken of the necessity for economy, and hinted that a saving to the extent of £25,000 might be effected. This he (Mr. R.) believed also, and so did the people, yet it was characterised as nonsense, balderdash, buncombe. We are told the public salaries amount to ouly £32,000 and asked how 25,000 can be saved out of that. The salaries may come to only £32,000, but the public expenditure amounted to 150,000. Will it be said that £25,000 cannot be saved out of that, and will not such a saving effect more benefit for the country than this wild scheme of Confederation. But we are not to touch the salaries of the fat officials. If the funds are not sufficient, the remedy is increased taxation. In their wild desire to maintain this position, they were like the man who killed the goose that laid the golden egg. They were in effect told that it was useless to save, that the country was going into Confederation, at least so they say. It was very evident that nothing could be expected from the Government, they were so absorbed by this one matter. They hope the matter will be discussed in a spirit of fair play, and that no clap-trap will be used. They are to have a monopoly of clap-trap, and no one was to interfere with them, or meet them with their own weapons. The question will come before the constituencies, and he (Mr. H.) hoped that all traitors will meet with traitors doom. The hon. member Mr. Shea had adduced the late election in Harbor Grace as a proof that the policy of the Government was sustained by the people and merchants of Conception Bay, and said that the hon member Mr. Godden had been sent to this House to support that policy. There were two candidates, but neither of them in the addresses made any mention of the question of Confederation though it had been before the country for over four years. The election took place, and Mr. Godden was returned by a bare majority of 40 though the Government used all possible exertion, and the merehants all their influence to secure his return, and this was the return which was so much boasted of. The hon. Mr Shea and the hon and learned Attorney General went to Quebec to hear what the other delegates had to say. They came back with what were called good terms, and every machinery was put in operation to accept them. The scheme came in for consideration, and was rejected by the House and people. A number of dodges were tried, dodge No. 1 was a dockyard which was to employ all the shipcarpenters, joiners &c. &c. Dodge No. 2 was a great nign road from St. John's to Placentia, which would absorb all the surplus labor of the Colony. No. 3 was a grand road from St. John's to Twillingate and Fogo, which would give employment to the Northern people. No. 4 was steam, we were to have coastal, intercolonial, and direct steam, yet have got none of them. Last session the necessity for a new dodge and a Railway to Cape Race was got up. He (Mr R.) could not but admire the honesty of the hon and learned Attorney General who said it might as well be called a railway to the moon.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL—I aid not. I firmly believe in it now.
Mr. RENOUF.—Then you have changed your opinions. He (Mr. R.) agreed, that it such a Railway were undertaken, it would be of benefit for the building of the Grand Trunk Railway and spend a great deal money on Canada. A notice of resolution was placed on the paper, and there it remained until the rule of the House were suspended towards the close of the session, and then they wouid have pushed it through without fair discussion of it were it not for him (Mr R.) The resolutions were passed and sent to Canada, aud nothing had ever been heard of them since. Does any man believe in the construction of this Railway? The capital was to come from Canada, yet the Canadians were not able to build their own public works, but had to go to the United States for money. Of course they had the report of a Canadian Engineer, Mr Fleming, who made the best of the matter, but it was well known how these reports were got up, especially when a Government wished for them. A new dodge is wanted this session, and he (Mr. R) would not be surprised if the hon member would produce a telegraph, authorising him to engage 800 or 1000 men for employment in Canada on some Railway or other. He (Mr. R) had enquired from a friend in Ottawa, for he too had friends there, what were the chances of our people getting employment there. (Here the hon gentleman read an extract from a letter alleged to be from Ottawa.) He asserted that the labor market of Canada was already overstocked, and if there was a demand for labor, that demand could very readily be supplied from the United States. From the very first this Confederation scheme had been supported by trickery and dodges and these dodges had been all so transparent as to render their exposure unnecessary. The hon. gentleman then commented at great length on the course which the Government had pursued with regard to Confederation. He denied that the time had come for disposing of the question. He denied that this House had power to entertain it. Let Canada propose to us some well defined terms as a basis for our consideration and then it will be high time for us to enter upon the discussion of the matter; we had no trade with Canada, Canada was now as tree to us and all British subjects as under Confederation it could possibly be. If Canadians fonnd it for their interest they could as well come here now with their capita as if the Union were an accomplished fact. A mere parchment Confederation would never be sufficient to induce capitalists to embark their money in enterprises which would result to the advantage of this colony. On the other hand Canada could offer no advantages to our labouring population. The labour market was already overstocked and were it not so, the facilities of communication with the United States, would effectually debar us from this benefit. The hon. member concluded a very lengthy speech by strong animad versions upon the policy of the Government in witholding seed potatoes from the poor of the Island.
Mr. LITTLE fully concurred with the ameadment of his hon friend. Mr. Parsons, that is the Amendment moved in answer to that part of the Speech referring to the Proclamation of June last. Now, what was that proclamation? * * That owing to the gross imposition practised by undeserving applicants for relief, the insufficiency of the only means available to the Government for confining relief within legitimate bonnds, the inadequacy of the revenue the extraordinary expenditure thus accasioned, &c, &c. It goes on to state that "hereafter relief will be confined to sick and infirm and to destitute widows and orphans," we find in the very wording of the Proclamation an admission by the Government of its own incapacity. They had made that incapacity a law, they had placarded it over the city, and out of their own mouths they stood condemned. The Government do not dare to assert that there exists no necessity for this relief, they do not assert that members are not justifled in soliciting this relief, out the assertion is simply that Government had not sufficient machinery to carry out the details of the distribution in such a manner as to protect themselves from fraud and imposition. Was not the horest but unfortunate fisherman, the really deserving and who had lost his all by shipwreck, were not these entitled to the consideration of the Government? Do such cases really exist? Has that Proclamation been a panacea for all our evils? Has not pauperisn been as rife in many localities as when that distribution was taking place? Did Government put an addendum to to the Proclamation as to the subsituion of any means by which the unfortunate poor of the country might be relieved? Not at all. Last year some £32,000 was expended and suddenly, without forewarning, without the substitution of any remedial measure, they throw broadcast this Proclanation, proclaiming to the country that thro' the tarpitude ef their own officials, they are obliged to dose the Government chest, and rather than that fraud should be continued it is desirable that the people should die. The other day the hon. Attorney general had stated that it would have been unwise to purchase seed potatoes because of the high price and the shortness of the supply, and those who had not means to purchase would be constrained to do without then, And this was prudence, this was wisdom. He must certainly condemn the mistaken policy of the Government in this respect. The Government were now feeling the effects of it and unless they were like a corporation without a soul to be damned or a body to be kicked, they must feel for the destitution which everywhere exists. Attempts had been made to afford relief through temporary establishments. Though he respected the motives which had induced benevolent men to enterprise these establishments,he could not see that any permanent good could posibly result from them. He agreed that it was the duty of every hon. member to use his best endeavours to extricate the country from its difficulties and it waa the intention of this party to place belore the House their ideas on this subject— ideas which would be endorsed throughout the length and breadth of the country. Government business should be conducted ou the same principles of economy which regulate the private affairs of men. He (Mr. L.) had much pleasure in expressing his support of the amendment of the hon. member, Mr. Parsons. He did not find fault with an honest endeavour on the part of the Government to suppress this fearful evil which is eating into the very, vitals of the country, but he censured their mode and manner of carrying into effect their intentions.
Mr. HOGSETT stood up to give his support to the amendment before the Chair, and not to enter at length upon the many subjects in the Address. Had this rule been followed this debate ought to have been finished last evening. The hon. member, Mr. Pinsent, last evening had not merely attacked the resolution,but had gone into a debate upon his Excellency's Speech and the various matters therein referred to, and which he very well knew would be subject to discussion as they came upsingly before the House. When the question of Confederation came formally before the House would be the proper time to express opinions upon it, and look at it in all its bearings. But the hon. member Mr. Pinsent is not content to wait—he must flash at once into everything, and must throw down the gauntlet to this side of the House. He says the Opposition have a right to point out a a remedy for existing evils. Well, he did so last spring when we asked for a grant for seed potatoes, but because that issue could not be turned to profitable account by members of the Government, because they could not make money out of it, it was refused. There had been thousands of acres prepared in anticipation that seed would be given, and the owners of them were now shivering with the cold, starving and dying, but you give them his Excellency's Proclamation, as much as to say to them, digest that if you can. One Executive Councillor had sold meal to his (Mr. H.'s) district, and forty barrels of it were so bad that the pigs would not eat them,and that was charged for at 33s.6d. per barrel, and was taken out of our road bill. Was it not time indeed to put an end to a fraud like that? You ask for a remedy. Why do you not send your is Surveyor General to open up the fine land about Torbay and Bay Bulls, and employ the people in clearing it? You could thus make a profit out of your lands and pay at the same time cash to the poor labourer. Look at, how the road money was misapplied. Go to St. Mary's and Placentia and see the vast sums that have been expended, and do you see any improvement? There was not an acre of land opened up. Go and see all the districts except his (Mr. H's), and the same state of things would be found. You talk of your resources. If a man goes into the wilderness of Canada he is helped by the Government either with implements or seed, and thus Canada has been raised to what she is now. Look at California, and see how her resources were developed. They were developed by the Government of the day and hence she flourished and is what she is.
Hon. ATToRNEY GENMENT—I suppose the Government made the gold?
Mr. HOGSETT—The Government made the country before the gold was discovered. What gold has your celebrated Geologist discovered? We have been paying here for four or five years £700 a year while the people were starving, and what good had resulted? The hon. member contended that the Geological Survey was a waste of public money and only added to the burdens of the country, and that if the seed potatoes had been furnished to the people last spring there would be an absence now of the starvation which was to be seen on every side.
MR. RENDELL—The House had listened to a very long speech from the hon. member Mr. Renouf, and he (Mr. R.) had no doubt that the Government were well able to meet and refute the charges which had been made against them. There was a unanimous feeling throughout the country that poor relief to the able-bodied must be put down, and it was reasonable that when a man was in good bodily health and able to do work, he had no right to claim support from the Government for six months out of the year. If such a system as that which has heretofore existed were to be continued, the country must financially be ruined. We see the terrible effects that it has produced up to the present time, and no matter what the [?] believed that it was utterly impossible for the financial condition of this colony to sustain the heavy burdens that was placed upon it. Last year we had a new tariff, a tariff which could not be defended but by the peculiar circumstances of this Colony, these circumstances being purely exceptional, rendering it imperative that the liabilities of the Colony should be met; looking at the present tariff, from any other point of view, it was indefensible, and although he (Mr R) might have had something to do in fixing the rates upon certain articles, yet it had not his support as a whole. He thought that this Government would be fully sustained by the public in the proclamation issued by them, that no relief would be furnished to the able bodied poor. He was aware that much suffering did exist, and all must feel it deeply, and deeply deplore it. There was not a season passed when poor relief was distributed, but we found it subject to the grossest abuse and corruption. He would say that in his own district, he had been disgusted at the way in which it had been abused. He knew one place where the test of an oath had been required, and it had been ascertained that the party had actually removed a barrel of flour from his house to that of a neighbour, so that he might be in a position, as he erroneously supposed to satisfy his conscience by swearing that he had nothing in his House. Here there was a striking example of the terribly demoralizing effects of this system. The sick and infirm should of course be provided for, and he trusted that the spirit of chris tain charity was not yet extinct, but that all were ready as far as their means would permit to relieve such cases. But relief to the able-bodied should be put down. At present great want was no doubt felt, but he believed that the people would be able to struggle through. In cases of course where such utter want existed that loss of life was to be feared, it was the duty of the Government as well as of every individual to prevent such a calamity. It was indeed difficult sometimes to understand the views and opinion of the opposition. At one time they support the action of the Government, and at another they turn round and denounce it. One thing, however, appeared to him (Mr R) to be perfectly clear. A Proclamation haſ been issued, and the people must abide by it. If the Government do not now carry out the Proclamation what will the people think? They will in the future regard all Proclamations of a like character and object as mere moonshine. With reference to seed potatoes he (Mr R) could speak of the reeult in his own district of the refusal of the Government to furnish any. The fishery there had been by no means an abundant one, the people were not prosperous, and yet a greater breadth of land had been sown under potatoes this year than for many years past. He believed that all the really industrious succeeded in getting potatoes, and they who mostly claimad poor relief, he believed, had no gardens to plant potatoes even if given to them. After all, what was the extent of land that was cultivated in this colony? It was a mere nothing. He thought that in some way the people had lost the art as well as the habit of cultivating the soil. The present generation instead of, being habituated to it as their forefathers had been, neglected it altogether and trusted too much to the fisheries. It was idle now to tell the people that the cod fisheries alone could support them. He (Mr R.) did not believe it and no one intimately acquainted with the trade and circumstances of the colony would credit it. Some families where there are five or six men manage to do, as do also some who have large craft and means for prosecuting the fishery, and it is
hard work for three men to make both end meet. It was therefore idle and useless and wrong to lead the people to suppose that the cod fishery alone was sufficient for their support. Now whatever may have been the opposition given by his commercial asspciates and whatever may have been their vasicllation or whatever suppression of opinion on the part of others in deference to the views of persons on the other side of the Atlantic upon the great question of Confederation, he (Mr R) for one now stood out boldly, fair, and square for it. He believed that there were many who like himself did not much like Confederation at first. They thought it would produce greater taxation, and hence so far as the majority of the commercial body was concerned, they were opposed to it. But as we came to look more closely into the matter—to view it in all its aspects—and reflect upon the circumstances of this colony, a charge came over the spirit of our dream, and many who were at first strongly opposed to it are now at all events quiet and think that it is best to "accept the situation," make the best terms we can, and get instead of our present expensive local Government, something cheaper, less cumbersome and more suited to the condition of the Colony. This he believed was the general idea that was entertained by those connected with the commerce of this country. We had heard observations made upon the public men of Canada who had been stigmatised as polotical schemers. He thought, that looking at the intelligent status of these men they would surely bear comparison with our own. Looking at Canada we must all admit that she was fair in advance of us in wealth, in resources and general material prosperity. The public men may have anticipated too much, but they are not like us drooping in spirit and having no faith in the progress of their country. You never hear a Canadian that does not speak confidently and hopefully of his country. He Mr R. wished that we could do the same. Their money may have been invested too early and too heavily in great public works, but they are now turning it to good account and the new Dominion is now beginning to reap the benefits. Reference had been made by the hon. member Mr Glen to the financial condition of Canada and as he was somewhat an authority in matters of finance, his opinion might have some effect. He told us yesterday that Canada was so bankrupt that if she had not been able to avail herself of the issue of Treasury notes, she would have been brought up by the round turn. It was simply in his (M. R's) opinion a sufficient answer to refer to the value of Canadian stock in the London market which was thus quoted in the "Times" of December last:
Canada.6 per cent. Jan. and July, 1877 107 1/2 to 108 1/2
Do 6 per cent. Feb and Aug, 105 to 107
Do 6 per cent. March and Sept. 105 to 107
Do 5 per cent. Jan. and July 95 to 96
Do 5 per cent. inscribed stock 94 to 96
He thought that the gentlemen of the English Stock Exchange knew what they were about in money matters, and the value of the Stock thus quoted should be a sufficient auswer to all the gloomy forebodings which hon. members opposite indulged in. In our present position we were now perfectly helpless and could do nothing of ourselves. Whatever might be said to the contrary, he thought that connection with the New Dominion would obtain for us benefits which could not get of ourselves if we remained out in the cold. He begged therefore to support the paragraph before the House.
Mr. KEARNEY was glad to hear that the question of the French Shore was drawing towards a settlement, which woull be favorable to the interests of the people of this country, and that his Excellency was prepared to issue licenses of search on that part of the island. He (Mr. K.) could not deny that the potatoe crop of last summer was a good one, but of what use was that to the thousands of poor people who had no seed, and were now perishing for the want of potatoes or other food? He did not want the Government to break through the Proclamation which they had issued, but he would he glad to see the people furnished with some employment which would enable them to earn their bread. If a ship, with a large number of people on board, was known to be in distress, would there not be a great cry against any one who would refuse to render her all the assistance in his power? To allow them to perish for want of assistance would be a disgrace to the country; and could it not be as disgraceful, if not much more so to permit our own people to perish for want of timely aid? The people might have employment in preparing for the repairs of the roads, when the time comes. They might now be employed in the hauling of sand over the snow to such places as it will be required when the season opens. That is work which can be done now much better than in the summer. The people of St. John's might be employed in hauling building stone and ballast, which would always be valuable, and which is in plenty on the South Side Hill. The people of Portugal Cove might be employed in repairing their breakwater and so giving them a place of refuge, and enabling them to give up their present miserable punt fishery. Witless Bay is a wild place, but there is a Fond on the east side of it and by cutting through a few yards of beach, it could be made available as a splendid harbor. To repair Toad's Cove Breakwater and finish the Stone Bridge at Brigus South, build a wooden bridge at Riverhead, Cape Broyle, and at Riverhead, Caplin Bay, would furnish employment, to a good many people in these localites. Again, the main beach at Ferryland might be staked and walled, so as to prevent the sand from entirely choking up the Pool. The Bar at Renews, of which he (Mr. K.) had so often spoken, might also be attended to. A great deal of property had been lost there for want of his recommendation being attended to. All these matters would give employment to the people; and he begged the Government to give employment to those who so sorely needed it, and not bring disgrace on the country by permitting any of its people to die of want.
Mr. PROWSE must say that the hon. member, Mr. Hogsett, was the most consistent member of the opposition on this question of the necessity for the Proclamation. On the first day of the session he and the gallant Major claimed all the credit of having forced the Government into issuing the Proclmation. The whole thing was thier work and they were justly proud of the [?] of party discipline are strong [?] of the opposition as death [?] is a persistent of claiment of pauper relief for his District, and he has made all his party follow his views and bow their necks to his yoke. He, Mr. Prowse, gave the hon. member, Mr. Glen, credit for "educating his party;" his skill in party discipline must be great indeed, when, in the course of three short days, he can so manipulate his followers as to make them ignominously eat their words. No man could oppose pauperism more vohemently or sustain the Proclamtion more ardently than did the hon. member, Mr. Little, and the gallant Major, the Secretary of the Mendicity Work House. Why, his position there was a living testimony against pauperism, and yet the Major foregoes that proud position here, to become a mere pauper agent. If ever there was an honest act done by any Government, or by any party in this Colony, surely it was the issuing of this Proclamation. No popularity could be gained by it, and every harsh feeling amongst a starving population could easily excited by unscrupulous demagogues, against a Government attempting it. He, Mr. Prowse, considered it was the duty of every right thinking man in the community to aid the Government in their honest and sincere endeavours to suppress so demoralizing a system. The Government deserve credir for resisting the pressure put upon them in this matter, and they get credit for it. Every good and generous citizen will aid the Government by his private charity, and cheer them on in their whole work. This question is now of the most vital importance to the Colony. Our financial integrity, our social morality, almost our very existence as a civilized community, depend upon the issue of this trial. Pauperism with us is not an epidemic; it is a chronic disease; it ruins our credit, demoralizes our people, saps the energy of every man who once receives the pauper's dole, and utterly destroys those manly independent, feelings and those habits of selfreliance without which no people can prosper. This demoralizing system has dried up the fountains of private charity in the outports. Everywhere government, meal has more or less choked up the springs of individual benevolence. He (Mr. P.) believed that no industrious, thrifty man need be a pauper in this country. Last fall he had been in the District of Ferryland. He travelled pver the worst road he had ever seen in Newfoundland, from Ferryland to Broad Cove, near Cape Bollard; and in Broad Cove he saw an example of what industry and thrift could, do. He stayed in Broad Cove with a man who had brought up a family of nine daughters and three sons, in plenty and comfort. He fad acquired, by his own hard industry 25 cows and 32 sheep. The had cleared land enough to support his stock. He had them ashore 148 qtlst fish, and during the month of November, he caught 40 qis. more. He bought everything, at cash prices, and got the highest price for his fish. For 30 years he had never owed a merchant a shilling. Now, how was it this man throve, whilst his neighbours in the same little harbor, with the wealth of the land around them, were miserable paupers? Of a laward day they lay in bed, whilst he worked at his land. When bait could not be got, they idled away their time ashore. He kept a stock of clam bait in the little stream that ran through his land, always ready for such an emergency. His daughters cured all his fish, made his bay and worked at everything on his farm. None in his house eat the bread of idleness. Consequently they were prosperous and contented, whilst in any of his neighbours were beggars. Everywhere in Newfoundland the same results can be seen. The independent man always makes a voyage. The dependent one is always behind. He (Mr.P.) never heard a good man in this country who did not denounce paper relief, and he regretted very much to see the present position of the hon. member, Mr. Renouf, on this question. Was it the duty of the opposition simply to denounce, abuse, and revile individual members of the Government? He (Mr. P.) had heard pretty much the same speech from the hon member, Mr. Renouf, for the last four years, as to one delivered to dry. He could tell beforehand where the hon. member, Mr. Shea, would come in, where the Reciever General would be denounced, and where the late member for St. John's West, Mr. John Casey, would be flagellated. He knew the address and the prophesies of the members for St. John's West by heart. They were a couple of political Jeremians. They always prophesied evil things and they rejoiced now that evil days had come upon us. He (Mr. P.) considered it was the duty of every hon. mnember to this house to assist in every plan for whe regeneration on the country. He considered that the addres was a most reasonable address, and he was astonished at the opposition's finding fault with it.
Mr. HOGSETT.—Why did you not mention Reciprocity in the address?
Mr. PROWSE.—Because Confederation embraced it. Reciprocity was a necessary appendix to Confederation. The only possible question that could arise on the address was as regards the first part of the paragraph on Confederation. If we agreed that the time was now arrived for us to consider terms, all the rest followed as a logical sequence, He (Mr. P.) regretted the position in which hon. members opposite wereplacing themselves on this question of union. In their hearts they were favourable to it, but out of deference to the prejudices of ignorance they were going to use it as a party question. Confederation, in this country, never ought to be a party question. It involves the interests of the whole eountry too deeply and too seriously to be treated in that way. The whole House should join in this address, should agree on the terms, and should be represented on the Delegation. Of course, it cannot be so if the paragraph is opposed, and the terms are only agreed to on one side. Confederation had not been fairly treated by its opponents in this country. Every prejudice had been unscrupulously stirred up against it. Fortunately the bleaching bones and ther oppressive taxation cry had been killed out by the incontrovertible logic of facts—but the Union of Ireland still remained, though there was not one point of similarity between the Union of Ireland and Confederation. The sore that rankled most in the breast of an Irishman, as regards that Union, was the unfairness with which Roman Catholics had been treated. The land tenure never raised his indignation half so much as the Irish Church Establishment and the Catholic disabilities. Now, thanks to poor D'Arcy McGee, even the prejudices of the Roman Catholics as regards sectarian education have been repected. Not one of the evils complained of under the Union of Ireland exists under the Dominion of Canada. He (Mr. P.) wished the Opposition would [?]the course he had mentioned, for Confederation must [?]. The country were [?] of Union, when they saw men like the hon. members, Mr. Rorke and Mr. Rendell, large mercantile houses like Ridley's and Munn's, Baine, Johnston & Co., and Tessier's, supporting the measure. What interests had these men except in the welfare of the country. The prosperity of the Colony would be beneficial to them, its depression thier loss. The conduct of the Government toom, on the question, tended to inspire public confidence in their honesty and sincerity. They had not forced Confederation in any way. There had been no undue haste or precipitancy. Such a question should be calmly and carefully considered. The course of procedure under the British North American Act will give us all these safeguards. There must be an arrangement of terms first; then an address from the new House elected to accept terms, another address from the Dominion Parliament, and, finally, the approval of the Queen in Council.
Mr. HOGSETT was not a little astonished at the course taken by the Government with reference to this question of Confederation. To the clause in the address which was under consideration the opposition had proposed an amendment, and he (Mr. H.) defied the Government to show that it contained anything which ignored the necessity for this Proclamation. It only went to say that the Proclamation would be a good course if it had been followed by that which was suggested, not only by the opposition, but by the whole House, that is, if the people had been unabled to cultivate the potatoe crop, which He (Mr. H.) contented was every thing to the poor man. The hon. member for Ferry land. Mr. Glen, had given a barrel of seed potatoes to a man in his District. That man had seven children. He planted the barrel of potatoes. He had to sell his fish green, and in September commenced digging them for the support of himself, and his family.— They lived on them until October, when after all, they dug 15 barrels out of the ground. He (Mr. H.) did not attack the Proclamation. He was always for putting the people of the country on their own mettle. They, would then be independent and clear of all influence. It was the system he attacked, for it was made use of for party purposes, and not for the poor. On his side of the House they were willing to aid and assist in a strict superision of the relief. The poor should be relieved, which not at the expense of the industrious. He felt sure that no man in the House would permit a poor man to starve, no matter by what means starvation had been brought on him. He (Mr. H.) was not a pauper agent, and never would be one. He had sought to teach his people that the surest way to independence was to rely on themselves, and could now point to his district as the most independent in the island. This question of pauper relief was not a party question. It was one which they should deal with like men. He (Mr. H.) disagreed with the system as it is. The hon. and learaed Attorney General knew that he disagreed to the giving of the Road great to the able-bodied poor. The people didn't care where the relief comes from, so as they get it. It may have been well intended as a cheek, but it had been productive of more evil than any other scheme. It had stopped all public improvement; and were those who tried to be industrious to lose all the benefit of their exertions because others chose to be idle? For himself he hoped that while the Government would cheek all imposition, they would allow no man to die. If there were a proper serveillance, the really poor would get relief, whilst the indolent, and those who did not require it, would not. He would not then travel into the question of Confederation. There will be a debate ween the clause referring to it comes up before them. When the terms were brought down he would be prepared to debate them, not in a factious spirit; but broadly, fairly,and squarely on their merits. He would commit himself to no position until he had seen the Government programme.
Mr. PROWSE explained that the necessity for Poor Relief in his district was occasioned by the sudden withdrawal of a Mercantile Establishment to which the people had been in the habit of looking for their winter's subsistence. The outlay was almost entirely confined to the locality where this establishment was situated. The hon. member commented at considerable length on the demoralizing effects of the issue of seed potatoes, which he characterized as an aggravation of chronic pauperism, and the very worst form of the pauper grant.
Mr. O'REILLY did not deny that the Government were entitled to great credit for having, thus far refrained from the issue of Poor Relief. He (Mr. O'R.) was member for an Outport district, where poverty and misery were peculiarly rife, and consequently he was intimately concerned in this matter. In his own district no less than six deaths from downright starvation had taken place; not from any epidemic disorder, not from the diseases incident to an inclement season, but from sheer hunger, and all these had occurred within a circuit of ten miles from Isle Valen. And these, he was assured, were not the only cases, for he was convinced that they must have since multiplied six fold. So far the Government had vindicated their own credit. By the contumacious imposition which had been practised they were goaded into the issue of this Proclamation, but having gone so far, he did not think that they should go any further. He could not shut his heart against the pitiful appeals of those whom he knew to be dying in his own district. The people had with difficulty tided over the inclemency of last winter. In the spring they were but scantily provided for, they were alive, but they were naked and utterly unable to prosecute the fishery, with that energy which would secure them a subsistence for the winter. Under these circumstances poverty and hunger were necessary results, and he now appealed to the Government, and added his voice to the numerous supplications for the issue of a little relief. He felt the awkwardness of his position. Hitherto he had been a consistent supporter of the Government, but he felt that he would be recreant to his duty if he did not make this appeal to the Government, and express his dissent from the wording of the paragraph before the chair.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL could not forbear to [?] the remarks of the hon. [?] He was surprised to hear that destination prevailed in the locality referred to by the hon. member. A large amount of relief was last year conveyed thither and no return had never been made. There was a supplying merchant resident there and surely he, when he recieved the benefit of these poor men's services, should in some substantial manner display his sympathy with their distress. There is really no part of this island so capable of sustaining a population as the district of Placentia and St. Mary's. There exists the most fertile land in the country. There the industrious man can find fish almost at his door. And yet that fertile land has been lying untilled and almost calling aloud for cultivation. It stands in cold contrast to the sterile land of the Northern districts, where the people are now sustaining themselves. But the people of Placentia would risk their lives upon the chance of what little sustainment they could get from the Government rather than exert themselves to their own permanent independence. Only last session there were three thousand barrels of flour distributed among the people of that district through the wreck of the Summer, and hardly a man of locality but got a barrel. There should not have been a single man but must have been in a position to commence the fishery infinitely superior to the men of other districts. The same pressure was last year attempted to be brought to bear upon the Government, although in addition to the flour so obatined, some ÂŁ3000 worth of Pauper Relief was distributed in the district. He (hon. A.G.) had as much sympathy for the suffering poor as any man. He would go to any legitimate extent to assist them. He hoped that the Road money of the people might be preserved for them, for a purpose which he had in view. He He wished to provide against, the necessity which compelled the poor to sell their greenfish at an enormous sacrifice, leaving then nothing for the sustainment of their families, and it was with a view to the prevention of this state of things that he hoped to get the sustainment of hon. members in the course which he had marked out. From Twillingate every possible pressure was brought to bear upon the Executive. Petition after petition was sent in, and a grave responsibility devolved upon the Ministry. In a very short time all communication with this district would be cut off by ice. Nevertheless the Government felt it to be their duty to resist these appeals, and the consequence was, that not only in this district, but in Bona vista and even in Trinity Bay, where it was found that the Government were resolute in their intentions, persons were found to come forward to the relief of the destitute. In his own district two Vigilance Committees had been appointed, and the people had taken upon themselves the task of assisting he distressed. Hon members would find that if there were a proper resistance to all appeals, for a suffi cient length of time, the people of the country would be for the first time in a long series of years in a position of comparative independence. He (hon. A.G.) was well aware that individuals, for interested motives, attempted to get up an outcry as to the prevailing destitution, in order to force the Government into the issue of relief, that these agitators might profit by the large sales on meal and molasses which would necessasily follow. The people themselves were well disposed and well conducted, and it any emente should take place, it would be found, upon enquiry, that these interested parties were at the bottom of it. It would be very desirable that the really destitute should be relieved; but there can be no check against imposture, and the moment you begin the infernal system it becomes general, and you cannot distinguish between the impostor and the deserving poor. But there war, besides these difficulties, another and a paramount obstacle. The Colony has not the funds at its disposal sufficient to meet this demand. There had been the greatest care manifested to keep the expenditure within the Legislative grants; but still the drain upon the Revenue had been so enormous as to put it beyond the power of the Government, even if they had the desire, to renew the issue of relief. He (hon. A.G.) gave the hon, member, Mr. O'Rielly, credit for sincerity; but he could not help thinking that sufficient care had not been taken to impress upon the people the nature of this Proclamation. If that bad been effectually done, he did not believe that this pressure would have been brought to bear upon the hon member.
Mr. O'REILLY explained that though it was true that the people of the district obtained some 3000 barrels of flour from the wreck to which the hon. Attorney General alluded, yet this flour was scattered over some 5,000 people. A very small portion could be the share of any individual. It was wrong too to suppose that Placentia had received the whole of it. A large number of the people were at the time absent at St. Peter's, and thus received no benefit whatsoever from this distribution.
Mr. RORKE.—Although he had listened with great attention to the speeches of hon. gentelemen opposite, he had been unable to come to any other conclusion than that they were a mere rehash of the same speechs which, for three or four sessions, we had been in the habit of hearing. The paragraph before the chair says that the proclamation has been well timed. It might be well timed, but he thought it would have been better timed had it been adopted 25 years ago. Had that been so, he believed that the distress now so universal would not have been the hundredth part of what is. He remembered the introduction of this system. He was personally aware of the imposture which was then attempted, imposture which had continued ever since, and he was firmly convinced that were it not for that proclamation the thing would never have come to an end. It might be asked how the poor were to be relieved.— As far as he could, he had assisted the destitute. God forbid that he should see the people starve, without extending to then a helping hand. But he could not forget the lesson which the Cotton Famine in England had taught wealthy people came forward and organised a fund by which the operatives of Lancashire were sustained against a pressure far worse than any we have ever experienced. He (Mr. R.) had looked to hon members opposite for a display of sympathy for the poor struggling men. Were hon members going to drag down such men? The Government has been taunted on account of the immense taxation which they have been considered to impose. For his part he (Mr. R.) had been one who had assisted in imposing this taxation. To him and many others who acknowledged the necessary for it, it had proved a better pill;


The Newfoundlander, 1864-1869. Digitized by Google Books



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