Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, 8 February 1869, Newfoundland Debates over Confederation with Canada.

1 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. St. John's, Friday, February 12, 1869.


MONDAY, Feb. 8.
The House met pursuant to adjournment.
The hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL gave notice that, on this day fortnight, he would move the House into Committee of the Whole, on the subject of the Union of this Island with the Dominion of Canada.
Mr. GLEN gave notice that, on to-morrow, he would ask the hon. Colonial Secretary for a return of the amount expended by the Commissioners for relief of the able bodied poor in the Ferrylaud District. viz.:—
Amount expended by— Leary in Renews,
" " by Wm. Carter, in Ferryland,
" " by M. Williams in Bay Bulls.
The following notices, given on the first day of the session, were accidentally omitted in the report of that day's proceedings.
Mr. TALBOT gave notice that, on to-morrow, he would move that the salary of the Serjeant-at­ Arms, shall not exceed the sum of £200.
Mr. TALBOT also gave notice that, on to-morrow, he would move that the reporting and publishing of the debates of the House, as at present provided for, be discontinued.
Mr. TALBOT also gave notice that, on to-morrow he will ask leave to bring in a Bill to abolish the present office of Surveyor General, and to provide for the Land Service, by combining it with the duties of the Chairman of the Board of Works.
Pursuant to Order of the day, the House resolved use into Committee of the Whole on the Address of thanks, Mr. KNIGHT in the chair.
The fourth section of the Address having been read, as follows:—
"We are pleased to learn that Your Excellency's personal exertions in endeavoring to settle the vexed question of the Franch Shore, have been so far successful that there is now a prospect of its being arranged in a manner advantageous to both parties interested in it; and that the Policy indicated in Lord Carnarvon's despatch, of the 7th Deesinber, 1865, has been so far modified that Your Excellency will now be enabled to issue Grants under certain restrictions for Mining and other purposes in that locality."
Hon. RECIEVER GENERAL.—This is a great crisis in one world's history, and not confined so any particular country. Sweep your eye over the orb which we inhabit, you there observe a succession of events that must alarm and surprise the dwellers thereon. The very crust that envelope the habitable gobe, seems to be worn out by the combustion of the central fires. Earthquakes tear asunder the solid trust and suddenly engulph not only the works of man but man himself. Volcanoes, the chimneys of these cultral fires, are loud with frenaial fury. Storms sweep the ocean and engulph the floating argocies that career upon its bosom, swallowing up the treasures and the men which they contain. Let us circumscribe our view and regard our own Island, what do we see? The stalwart inhabitants of the country fleeing from its shores, and those remaining are stricken with poverty and deprived of their very self-reliance. Widows weeping for their husbands who have been torn from their arms; mothers for their sons who have been untimely reft from them; children looking in vain for the parents who will never again return to caress them. He (hon.R.G.) did not speak of these things for the purpose of fostering despair. He still saw in this Island all the elements of wealth which it had ever possessed. Her fisheries were liable to be as productive as ever. New elements of wealth present themselves which capitalists are anxious to explore. In a crisis such as this we surely ought not to exhaust our strength and temper in improlibable and acrimonious debates. That was why he spoke of these things. He calmly stated these circumstances which were patent to every one acquainted with the history of the world. To those who feel with the greatest intensity the sufferings of the people, it must be apparent that we, as Representatives of the people, to whom is entrusted the serious care of searching out the causes of the mifortunes of the people, should come dispassionately to the considerations which would enable us to embody in Legislation the curative processes which will in some degree remove those overwhelming afflictions. Afer this exordium, which he hoped hon. gentlemen would not consider exaggerated, he would enter on a short review of the substantial matters contained in His Excellency's speech. The first important matter presenting itself is the circumstance that the Executive have taken upon themselves the responsibility of inducing His Excellsncy to issue a Proclamation restricting the issue of Poor Relief to the disabled and the infirm. He (hon. R.G.) had always dreaded the conseuuences of indiscriminate Relief to the ablebodied poor. He had foreseen that it would deprive the Population of self-reliance, chill the industry of the people, and drag down to one common level the industrious men of the Island. His views on this object had been repeatedly before the public, and their publication had subjected him to ridicule, and ultimately to the loss of official position; but he had the satisfaction of seeing that at the present time every one recognised the necessity of acting upon those principles which he had from time to time laid down. In 1868 this system of indiscriminate relief reached its culminating point, and when nearly a quarter of a million of dollars had been expended, it was high time for Government to stay its hand. It required great honesty on the part of supporters of the Government to sustain the Executive policy, and it was highly creditable to them [?] they had done so, and hon members opposite, with one or two exceptions, had very fairly responded to the necessity of the act. The next question to which attention is called is the subject of territorial rights on the French Shore. Last year he (hon. R. G.) had crossed the Atlantic, and had had two interviews with the Duke of Buckingham, who had made promises which he had faithfully fulfilled. At
his own expense he had remained for a considerable time in London, and while there, unauthorized by the Executive. he had presented to his Grace the following memorial.
"May it please your Grace.—The memorial of John Kent, member of the Executive Council of Newfoundland, and member of the House of Assembly for St. John's.
"Humbly showeth,
That memorialist was appointed in 1859 joint British Comissioner in connection with Commodore Dunlop, on the part of Great Britain, and the Marquis De Montaignac and the Count De Gobincau on the part of France, to take evidance on the causes of dispute arising between the fishermen of both nations on that part of the coast commonly called the French Shore.
"That since that period all causes of complaint have ceased, owing to the British fishermen having discontinued to resort to that part of the coast for the purposes of the fishery. That now a new question was arisen, growing out of a knowledge that British Residents possess, that valuable deposits of minerals exist on that part of the Island. That the Governor of Newfoundland has been prohibited, as your Grace is aware, to issue licences of search for said minerals.
"That your memorialist humbly submits that ho' a question of this nature was never contemplated by the framers of the treaty of Utrecht, still the terms of that treaty are sufficiently comprehensive to embrace every necessary condition to enable Her Majesty's Government to issue licenses of search for minerals, or for any other purpose unconnection with the fisheries.
"A [?] of article 13 of the above mentioned treaty will clearly show the limited rights of the French; and that the [?] of the soil for agricultural or mineral or any other purpose outside at those limited rights, and not interfering with their fishing previlege, belongs to the prerogative of the Queen.
The terms of the treaty carefully exclude the French from the excrcise of any Dominion over the soul.—The treaty does not acknowledge the right on the part of the Freach to remove fixed settlements belonging to British subjects. That right, by the declaration of His Britannite Majesty attached to the treaty of Versailles in 1783, is reserved to the Sovereign of Great Britain.
"The French are prohibited from remaining on the Island after the termination of the fishing season.
" Memoralist humbly submits that at the present time there are many reasons to induce Her Majesty's Ministers to view this question in a favorable point of view. As the population of the Islald encrease, the fisheries are not sufficient to support the inhabitants. Poverty in consequence is wide spread. The large bounties given by the Government of France for the encouragemeat of their fisheries, and the exclusion of British fish from the markets of France, by imposing on its importation a prohibtory duty, tend to increase the difficulties of our fishermen. The Newfoundland Government are most anxious to open up new resources for the employment of the people. The mineral wealth of the Colony is beginning to attract the attention of capitilists. Under these circumstances the denial of the right of search for minerals on the part of H. M. Government, is considered by the Colonists as a very strained interpretation of the treaties; and that denial is felt the more, as it emanated altogether from H. M. Government, the French authorities never having objected to any occupation of the soil on the part of British settlers who did not interrupt by their competition the fishermen of France; and further, when the Government of Newfoundland appointed a Stipendiary Magistrate in George's Bay, within the limits of the Franch rights of fishery, the French authorities made no remonstrance, as it was considered no violation of the treaty rights of the nation.
"Memorialist further begs to inform your Grace that in Paris, a few days ago, he had a conversation with Admiral the Marquis de Montaignac, the former Commissioner, who expressed an opinion that he considered it a great hardship that British subjects were denied the right of exploration on the French Suore, and he also stated that he was satisfied that if a negociation was entered into with the Government of France, an arrangement satisfactory to all parties would be concluded.
"In submitting the foregoing statement for your Grace's consideration, memoralist declares that the parties who take a leading interest in this question are those most attached to the parent state. They see Nova Scotia, perhaps without cause, distracted and divided, and they do not wish that the just discontent of Newfoundland should swell the chorus of disunion.
"They wish to see the Dominion of Canada composed of a series of coutented Colonies, indebted to the mother Country for the charter of their rights, and in the hour of danger her support, and not her weakness.
"All which your memorialist humbly submits for your Grace's consideration.
After presenting this memorial he received a communication to the effect that the Governor had been requested to come home to take the whole matter into consideration. With regard to the mad service, he believed that general satis faction had been given. At present a moiety of the subsidy was paid by the Imperial Government, and the remainder by the Colony; but at the expiration of three years we will have to bear the whole amount of that subsidy, £9,000 Sterling. The next question referred to is the great question of Confederation, which embraces every phase of our present state, social, political and financial. It concerns our relations in regard to our own internal Government, our brother colonists, the mother country, and foreign countries. We have to ask ourselves the simple question—Is the present state of things satisfactory? If every hon. member ask himself that question, in the silent solitude of the night, when the outer world and all its considerations are excluded, when the conscience works most powerfully, he must declare that the present condition of affairs is not as we would have it? The next question, then, is whether the preseat constitution of the country is capable of redressing and removing the evils that afflict us. If the majority of this Assembly should determine that the present constitution is powerless for good, we have to determine what remedial measure is necessary to restore confidence to the people, and produce that state of things which was the object of Henry the Fourth's desire, that every peasant in his dominions should have a fowl in his pot. The next question is whether or not our fellow colonists are anxious to associate with us. If that be so, ought we to shut out the bare consideration of the question, or ought we not to see whether it would be advisable to secure a form of Government which would rescue us from our Slough of Despond? Are the terms fair and equitable which the Dominion Government offer us? They offer to relieve us of a great portion of our official expenditure, which, presuming Mr. Pinsent's figures to be correct,—
Mr. GLEN.—Nabocklish.
Hon. RECIEVER GENERAL,—Presuming those to be correct, this expenditure amounts to $229,000, and they offer to subsidize us to the amount of $416,500. They offer us a tariff by which all the articles of primary consumption are duty free. He held in his hand an enumerated list of the articias admitted free under that tariff, which were as follows:–
Extract from Canadian Tariff, assented to in May, 1868, showing Sundry Gools admitted free under said Act, imported from Ports not within the Dominion, all articles grown, produced or manufactured therein, being free:—
Bark used in dyeing; Whiting, or whittening; Anchors; Ashes, Pot, Petrl and Soda; Bread and Biscuit from Great Britain; Candle Wick, Cotton; Cocoa Paste from Great Britain, Cotton Netting for India Rubber Shoes; Cotton Waste; Cotton Wool; Farming Implements and Utensils, when imported by Agricultural Societies for the encouragement of Agriculture; Felt for Hats and Boots; Fire Brick; Fish Hooks, Nets and Seines, Lines and Twines; Flax Waste; Junk; Luumber, plank and sawed of Mahogany, Rosewood, Walnut, Cherry, and Chestnut, and Fitch Pine; Machinery when used in the original construction of Mills, &c.; Nails, Composition; Nails, Sheathing; [?]; Oil Cake; Philosophical Instruments and Aparatus, including Globes, when imported by, and for the use of Colleges and Schools, Scientifice or Literary Societies, Printing, Ink; Printing Presses, except portable hand Printing Presses. Ships' Binnacle Lamps; Blocks and Patent Bushes for Blocks; Bunting, Cables, Iron Chain, over half an inch, shackled or swivelled, or not, Compasses, Dead Eyes, Dead Lights, Deck Plugs, Iron, Rudder's, Masts or parts of, Iron, Pumps and Pump-Gear, Rudder Irons, Shackles, Sheaves, Signal Lamps, Steering Apparatus, Travelling Trucks, Wedges, Wire Rigging, Cables, hemp and grass, when used for ships or vessels only, Cordage, when used for ships or vessels only, Sail Cloth or Canvas from No. 1 to 6, when used for ships or vessels only, Varnish, Black and Bright, when used for ships or vessels only, Spikes, Composition, Twists, Silk for Hats Boots and Shoes, Veneering of Wood or Ivory, Wire Cloth of Brass and Copper, Brass[?]Bar, Rod, Sheet and Scrap, cranks for Steam Boats, forged in the rough, Cranks for Mills, Copper in Pig, Bars, Rods, Bolts, and Sheets, and Sheathing Iron of the descriptions following:[?]Strap, Galvanized or Pig. Puddled in Bars, Blooms and Billets, Bolts and Spikes galvanized, Lead in Sheet or Pig, Rail Road Bars, Steel, wrought or cast, in Bars or Rods, Steel Plate, cut to any form, but not moulded, Tin in Bar, Blocks, Pig or granulated, Type Metal, in Blocks or Pigs, Wire of Brass and Copper, round or flat, Yellow Metal in bolts, bars and for sheathing, Zinc in sheets, blocks and pigs, Coal and Coke, Cocoa, Bean and Shell, Corkwood, Corkwood Bark. Eggs, Flour, Wheat and Rye, Flax, undressed, Fire Clay, Firewood, Fish, Fresh, not to include Oysters or Lobsters in tins or Kegs, Fish Bait, Furs, undressed, Grain of all kinds, Hay, Hemp, undressed. Hides, Hops, Horns, Indian Corn, Indian Meal, Indian Rubber, unmanufactured, Manilla Grass, Manures, Moss for upholstery purposes, Ores of Metals, of all kinds, Pelts, Pitch, Plants, Roots, Rosin, Salt, Seeds for Agricultural, Horticultural or Manufacturing purposes, Schrubs, Skins, undressed, Tails, undressed, Tanners' Bark, Tar Tobacco, unmanufactured, Tow undressed. Turpentine, other than sprits of. Vegetables, culinary, Whale Oil, in the casks ruin on ship board, and in the condition in which it was first landed, Wood of all kinds, whooly unmanufactured, Wool.
NOTE.—About 150 articles of Raw material necessary for domestic manufactures admitted free, in addition to the enumerated articles already described.
Ships' Gear, &c.—Under the head of "Ships" it will be observed that four articles, viz., " Cables of Hemp and Grass" "Cordage." Sail Cloth or canvass from No. 1 to 6, and Varnish, black or bright, are free only, when used for Ships vessels.
Entry of these goods must be accompanied with a declaration of oath, that they are to be used for vessels only. When duty paid, a drawback will be allowed when evideuce is furnished satisfactory to the Collector at whose Port the duty thereon was paid, that such articles have been actually used in the building, repairing or rigging or outfit of a ship or vessel. This tariff, then, is proposed to be substituted for our present local tariff, under which every article, from a cambric needle to a sheet anchor, is subject to taxation. Under our present tariff the gross Revenue does not amount to the official expenditure proposed to be defrayed by the Dominion, with the further sums required to liquidate our local expenditure. Supposing, then, that we should accept this offer, what would be the result? Should we reduce our present constitution, so as to square with its lessened responsibility? Such reduction might readily be effected, without any [?] of efficiency, and the total expenditure might be as follows:—
Colonial Secretary............. $4,000
Board of Works................. 4,000
Court Houses and Goals......... 8,000
Judicial Department............ 14,000
Repairs of Buildings........... 2,000
Police......................... 35,000
Poor Relief.................... 90,000
Education...................... 65,000
Interest on debt............... 60,000
Pensions....................... 9,000
Fog Guns....................... 629
Ferries........................ 1,723
Legislative Contingencies...... 16,000
Miscellaneous.................. 5,000
Total $314,357
This provides on a scale equal to the present for every species of official expenditure, with the exception of Legislative contingencies, which, under a new constitution, might easily be reduced. This expenditure amounts in all to $315,000. The grant from the Dominion amounts to $446,000, so that every year a sum of $100,000 would be left us for roads—an amount which no local government can hope to have at its disposal for years to come. Vessels too will be admitted without the imposition of light dues, which would at present be to us a saving of $22,000 per annum. Another item we shall have to bear if we continue as we are, is the subsidy to the mail Steamers, amounting in all to $43,200, one half of which is now paid by the Imperial Government. The Dominion Government undertakes the responsibility of bearing our debt amounting to $1,500,000. Our debentures having the stamp of the Dominion, would be equal in value to their own, so that in the London markets our 5 per cents. now unsaleable, would be worth 95, and our 6 per cents from 106 to 108. But how are we to pay the public debt if we remain as we are? Tuere is a grave responsibility of maintaining the credit of the colony incumbent upon all future ministries, as will appear from the following statement:—
Our Public Debt is as follows:
Amount Consolidated and payable at the option of the Government $311,820 22
Amount unpaid of Debentures issued for compensation for losses sustained by election riots, and payable out of future Road Grants 1,585 88
Amount repayable from year 1868 4,816 20
" 69 8,846 43
" 70 4,169 84
" 71 3,732 16
" 72 6,603 40
" 73 317,733 70
" 74 20,540 16
" 75 208,616 49
" 76 309 26
" 77 670 90
" 78 25,100 00
" 83 24,900 00
" 88 38,910 00
" 80 23,076 93
" 90 23,076 00
" 91 19,652 00
" 92 3,426,00
$1,047,669 60
Amount of Floating Debt 258,569 73
$1,306,239 33
How shall we pay the public debt if we remain as we are? Here is a responcibility which we must face if we refuse the offer of the Dominion. To whom does this money, represented by the public debt belong? To the bone and sinew of the country, who, with a longing desire for the future independence of their children have denied themselves comforts and worked late and early in the accumulation of this money. Did not this present to hon. members a serious subject of consideration? Prudent men regarding these things will be constrained to say, "let us associate ourselves with the neighbouring Colonies who are possessed of inexhaustible resources, who will tax us lightly and who, when they regard our geographical position as the bulwark of the St. Lawrence, will not haggle at slight pecuniary considerations." How will the matter affect us in regard to our foreign relations? We see the manner in which our own territory is dealt with, and can we for a moment fancy that our small country with its sparse population could produce the same inpression in determining the correct construction of these treaties as if we were united to four millions of men and formed an aggregate Dominion of all the Colonies. Then with regard to the question of Reciprocal free trade with America, suppose that the Americans would agree to change us no duty, it would be impossible for us to remit the duties which we impose so as to give full effect to the arrangement. If such a thing were attempted at present, it would result in colonial insolvency. Then, how were we in position to open up new sources of Commerce upon the basis of free trade with the vast countries of Brazil, Mexico, &c., and when we find from the report lately published in Canada, that there are twelve milions of men daily consuming the same produce which we export. If then we had any means of opening up proper negotiations with these markets, so as to establish some fiscal arrangement, it would be of large advantage to the people of this country. Now he (Hon Rec. Gen.) had stated his opinion. He had been charged with self-interested motives. He did not see how Confederation could possibly benefit him. He was satisfied that the hon members opposite, who indulged in these charges did not really believe them themselves, and only wished to show that they were skilled in the art of ingeniously tormentory. But what was the position which the Executive took on this question? Did it force the subject upon an unwilling 2 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. country? Does it take advantage of its large masjority to pass the resolution? Does it take the country by surprise? All we ask is that the resolutions be fairly and quietly considered, arrive at what the terms should be, and then contrast them with the existing state of things; and say if the country would be ameliorated by the change. Then they would be submitted to the Dominion Parliament if accepted the House would be dissolved, and the whole country would be called upon to ratify or reject them. We are hardly so intolerant as to say that the people do not understand the question or know what they would be called upon to determine. If we quietly entered into a discussion and examination of its details, what need we be afraid of? Were we afraid of our own positical positions being extinguished.—our Parliamentary consequence being abated? Surely the interest of the colony should be paramount to all other considerations. He had now expressed his opinions, and they were the opinions of all upon this side of the House—gentlemen who represented every phase in the commerce of the country. In conclusion he would say in the ancient warning of the Church —sursum corda—and so consider this great question fraught with such vital consequences to the future welfare of this country, free from all party tactics, and with a single and sincere desire to promote the best interests of our native or adopted land.
Mr. GLEN only intended to say a very few words. All the hon. members who had spoken upon the Government side of the House seemed to anticipate the question of Confederation, and the hon. Receiver General now asks the House to calmly deliberate upon a question which is not yet formally before it. Now, he would ask could this House enter into consideration of the question of Confederation, when at present the details were not before them, and when they knew nothing about them. He (Mr. G.) was indeed glad to hear that this question was to be left entirely for the country to decide upon. He, however, did not believe such would be the case, from the first, and further, he did not believe it now. The hon. the Receiver General says we are to agree to certain terms which will be sent to the Canadian Parliament for its approval. and then referred to the constituencies for theft ratification or rejection. Now that course was certainly not shadowed forth in the speech of his Excelleney the Governor. That speech calls upon us to affirm the principle of union, and yet the hon. Receiver General never said a word about that. If this House now were going to affirm the principle of Confederation, it would be a betrayal of the agreement which the hon. Attorney General made, and which was that the matter should first be submitted to the constituencies. Do you intend this House to affirm the principle of union?
Hon. ATTOREY GENERAL—We are not bound by it until it receives the sanction of the people, to whom it mast be submitted.
Mr. GLEN.—Are you going to affirm the principle of union in this General Assembly? That is the question, and that is the question you are shirking.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—I am not shirking any question. What I do will be done openly.
Mr. GLEN.—Why, then, does the hon. Receiver General tell us that the Government programme is, it it is not to be carried out? What that hon. gentleman said was fair and right, and he (Mr. G.) would endorse every word of it. But he would warn the Government that this side of the House were not to be entrapped without a fight. All they wanted was fair play for the country. This House had nothing to do with the principle of union. Let the Government bring down their resolutions, and let us see what the details are, and then we can go to the country upon them. We are told every day to keep calm, and yet we don't know what we are to keep calm about. Would the hon. Receiver Geueral tell us whether we would be called upon to affirm the plinciple of union? No; his speech on the point resembled the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet left out. With regard to be question of Reciprocity, and the way in which the hon. member had viewed it, he (Mr. G.) would say that it was absurd. If we want anything for Revenue purposes, we can tell the United States so, and say to them we will put on 5 per cent. and do you do the same, and then we would have reciprocity. Did not the British Government exact duties? Reciprocity did not exclusively mean a total abrogation of duties, but an assimilation of tariffs also. This claptrap, then, about reciprocity, was merely to show the people that we could not got anything except we were confederated. Now could wo not have a commercial treaty with Canada, instead of this union? He would tell the Government that they would not carry the principle of Confederation without a hard struggle.
THE HON. THE SPEAKER.—It appears that many hon. gentlemen in this House have been rather premature in their discussion of the question of Confederation. A few cursory remarks might not certainly have been out of place, but that full and ample discussion which it had received from some hon. members was uncalled for, especially when, in a short time, the question will come formally before the House for dipassionate deliberation. The hon. and venerable Receiver General has this day told us that the present period is a crisis in the world's history; and in tile history of Newfoundland. He (hon. the Speaker) leared that the crisis had not yet arrived. We were still suffering from the fever, but the disease had not yet reached its crisis. Now this House had already spent nine or ten days in discussing the Address of thanks in reply to his Excellency's speech at the opening of this session. Of course it was to be expected that that speech would be attacked by the opposition, and that it would be defended by the Government side. As usual, it had been designated a barren, ball and and naked speech. He, however, must say that he never heard a speech delivered from the throne containing so many matters of vital importance, and fraught with so deep an interest to every individual in this Island. In it reference is made to the absence of any calamity during the past year, to a successful fishery, to the abundant yield of the potato crop. He (Hon. the Speaker) could not recollect when labour was so amply rewarded as it had been during the past year. But was there any improved condition of the people corresponding to that success? On the contrary, is there not more depression, starvation and misery than heretofore? His believed nothing had occurred in the past history of this country that could compare with the present existing state of things. When we saw, then, all this, when we saw those engaged in administering the Government of the country with so great a burden upon them, with such an impending crisis over us all, it behoved every man to lend his aid and assistance and influence in meeting the difficulties of our position. This was no time for the exercise of a factious opposition, the indulgence of an obstructive policy. But those hon. members on the opposition benches should land their assistance to the Government, to help them through the difficulties by which they were surrounded. Accusations had been made from time to time, that the Government were the cause of all these misfortunes. But they were mere empty allegations, which were without the slightest foundation, and to support which not a title of proof could be given. What were the causes of these difficulties? The causes were many, and had not occurred yesterday. They had been growing for years. We all know that the population of this country has been rapidly increasing, but with no commensurate increase in the industrial occupations of the people. Our forefathers had but one resource, the fisheries, and unfortunately we were in the same position. That resource was now failing. Look for one moment at our Salmon fishery, which heretofore had yielded such a rich produce, a fishery which if it were fostered and protected, would be sufficient alone to yield a competency to the whole labouring population. That fishery is now comparatively nothing, compared to what it was in former years. We find, therefore, that our fishery had not merely failed to keep pace with our growing population, but that it had actually decreased. Even in Agriculture, very little progress had been made. The few patches of land that had been cleared, had faded to yield even a fair return for the labour which had been bestowed upon them. Then we had the potato disease, and yet with all the scientific means that had been used, we had not yet succeeded in eradicting it, or in discovering any means that would arrest its progress. He must say that he was astonished when he heard hon. gentlemen of the opposition attack the Government for not having expended some £3,000 for seed potatoes, when they well knew that the failure of the potato crops had been one of the causes of reducing the country to the state in which it is at present. What, expend £8,000 in distributing seed potatoes, which after all the labour that would be bestowed upon them, might result in nothing. Although the past year, under the mercy of providence, we had been favoured with abundant crops, yet go now and ask the people who had saved these crops what had become of them. They would tell you that they wers becoming rapidly diseased in their cellars, and were wasting away. The unfortunate course which had been adopted in this country for a great number of years, had trained the people into the habit of looking to the public revenue for support, and as that to which they had a right. Very shortly after representative institutions were introduced into this country, pauper relief was initiated, and up to the present it had been fostered and sustained by representatives the people in this House. Who can deny it, that he was considered the best man who could obtain the greatest amount of poor relief? That was the case, and no one coull deny it. It commenced in St. John's, and had extended to all the other districts. What, then, was the result? We found now a generation of men bred up in pauper relief, and trained to look to the revenues of the country as to that to which they had a right, and not to depend apon their own industry or labour for their support. He would say that at such a time as this, with the greater portion of the people in a starving condition, he was indeed sorry to hear any men appeal to the passions of a hungry starving and ignorant, people. He regretted such a course exceedingly, and hon. members might yet find that they were not the first who sowed the wind and reaped the whirewind. We had then only one resource (except one mine) which engaged the labour of the people, and only sufficient capital was retained in the country to carry on the one branch of industry. What power had the Government over capital, which had been drawn out of the country? Could they arrest the progress of the potato disease, or make the fisheries more productive? Were they to blame for the pauper relief system, a system which had grown up before we had Responsible Government at all? But it we cannot coerce capital to remain, we may place the country in such a position as to attract it. We may woo it to our shores, and it there be a means of doing so, should we not adopt it? Our isolation placed us in that position, that alone we could do nothing. When we made appeals to the Imperial Government, how had they been responded to? Had we not been knocking and kicking at Downing street, and what did we get by it? When, then, there was an opportunity offered to us of uniting ourselves to the adjacent colonies, and thus obtaining a power which as we are we could not possess, was it not a matter which should be discussed seriously and calmly, not in that factions or party feeling? We are told that no Canadian capital would flow into this country. Now what capital was working the mines of Nova Scotia, and sustaining the manufactories of New Brunswick? Compare the labouring classes in Canada with our own operative population. There every man had employment and fair pay, and could lift up his head in independence. We knew very well that, from the precarious nature of the avocations of the people, there would be times of depression and times of prosperity. Would it not then be well if we were united to so prosperous a country as the new Dominion. At all events Nova Scotia, a short time ago, thought that it was well to be confederated. If she had not been, where could she bave got those thousands which were sent to her relief? (Here the hon. and learned gentlemen referred to the misrepresentation which were being made by those opposed to union, and alluded to an instance which had lately come under his own notice , that men could not cut wood without a licensé or go to the fishery without a license, which they would have to pay for when this colony was united with the New Dominion.) This, then, is the style of things which has been said by the great head centre of the Anti Confederate cause in this country. Many ask what are the great benefits to be derived from Confederation? But he would say, what are we to do without it? The only panacea that was offered was the reduction of the public expenditure. He (hon. the Speaker) could only judge of the future from the past. Since 1832 we had had many Government, and and all without exception had increased the public debt and the public expenditure.—That speech, barren, ball and uninteresting. There was one subject to which it alluded, which was of the deepest importance, and on which they might well congratulate themselves, and that was the settlement of the French Shore question. He believed that that would result in the employment of a large amount of capital in mining operations on that shore. The time would come when every matter mentioned in this speech. would come before the House. They would then have an opportunity of expressing themselves in detail on each subject. At the present time he would, as he always did, confine himself to making a few remarks on the general purport of the speech.
Mr. RENOUF could find no fault with the speech of the hon Receiver General, who had set forth his views fairly reasonably and temperately but the speech of the hon. and learned Speaker reminded him of the lamentations of Jeremiah. No matter how he might differ from the views of both these hon. gentlemen, he could assure them that on his (Mr. R's) side of the House they required no admonitions from the Government side on the question of Confederation. When it comes before the House it shall receive that cool dispassionate consideration which a question of its great importance demands. The hon. Receiver General says that Confederation will give the people employment. A greater fallacy was never uttered, and the country would not believe it. Let, however, the advdcates of Confederation show the truth of this assertion and then all would accept their [?]. Free Trade. The hon. member for Ferryland had shown how they could have reciprocity. What was there to prevent us from having Commercial Reciprocity with Canada now, which would accomplish as much for us as any Confederation? They had heard a good deal of having flour and pork and other such articles free of duty, ald also of their present state of isolation. What made that isolation so complete? Would Confederation remove the barrier of ice which surrounds those shores? It was the duty of the House to economise, and before the session closed hon. gentlemen at his (Mr. R's) side of the House would show the country that such reductions can be made as would, it carried ont, enable the Government to reduce the taxation. Suppose we had Confederation, and that to-morrow we required a supply of Canadian flour, by what means could it bee brought here? At this time our vessels, on their return from the Brazils and West Indies, call nt New York, &c., and thus supply our wants; and was it to be supposed that they would be diverted to diverge so far from their course as to go up the St. Lawrence, and incur all the additional risk and expense of such a course? No doubt we would be told that the necessity for such a course would be obviated by the Railway. Halifax would be the Atlantic terminus of that Railway, and what would be the cost of transit to Halifax? If these things could be got cheaper from Canada, how is it that our people do not trade there? Our trade with the United Staics is to the extent of about ÂŁ459,000 a year, while with Canada it is only ÂŁ40,000 or ÂŁ50,000. The hon. Receiver General says he can show by carefully prepared returns what Canada will give us and what she will take from us, and that we would have $100,000 a year for Road Expenditure. How hon. gentlemen differ. When the hon. and learned Attorney General and the hon. Mr. Shea returned from Quebec, in 1861, they stated this country would have a perpetual road grant of ÂŁ12,000. He (Mr. R.) recollected that when he first heard their statements he made some calculatiens and found that there could be no such result, and that to get ÂŁ12,000 for roads they should starve grants for other purposes. This idea was another fallacy. The hon. Receiver General asks how we could have a road grant if we remain as we are? It could be had by severe economy applied to expenditure, and public Institutions. He (Mr. R.) agreed with the hon. and learned Speaker that a crisis is at hand, but that crisis was different from that alluded to by the hon and learned gentleman. The crisis was one which would pare down expenditure both inside and outside of this House. The expenditure was far beyond the requirements of the country, and while, session after session, taxes were laid on taxes, no attempt was made to reduce official salaries. The hon. and learned Speaker had said that all classes of laborers were fairly recompensed during the past year. How many thousands of fishermen had been without the means of prosecuting the fishery, and were compelled to sell their fish green to meet their daily wants? Then was if not nonsense to tell such people that their labor had been fairly rewarded? The hon. and learned gentleman also called on the Opposition to help the Government out of their difficuities. They were not of our creation. We had pointed out many remedies to the Government, but had always got the deaf ear, and now the prophesied result had come, and the only remedy proposed was Confederation. It was not true that Poor Relief had its origin in St. John's. It had its rise when under the old irresponsible Government 1000 barrels of flour were sent to Trinity. It was easy to make these charges against the capital, when it was the refuge for the poor of all the Outports, whom it had to support, in addition to its own. Reference had been made to the capitalists of Canada building up the manufactures of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; why the fact was that these two Colonies had manufactures when they stood alone, but Coutederation had crushed them out. The hon. and learned Speaker spoke of the various forums of Government which had been it, this Colony, and said that each had piled on taxes, and referred to the present Government as beset with more difficulties than any other. He (Mr. R.) would ask what Government had been so lavish in their expenditure, or so increased the burdens of the people? It, instead of taxation they had practised economy, and applied the pruning klnife to the official salaries and the expenditure of the Public Institutions, they could have effected a reduction sufficient to meet all their wants. But no, their policy was tax, tax, tax, and they had taxed, taxed, taxed, and still the people were starving. Why not appropriate these taxes for the benefit of the public? What good hed they ever done for the operative population? Was it a fair or legitimate argument that because former Governments had made no improvements, the present one should not do so either. It was a remarkable fact that all those who supported the Government policy decried all attempts on the part of his (Mr. R's) side of the House to reduce the public expenditure. They profess to have no faith in it, but it would be found that the country would have faith in it. The hon. Mr. Shea made reference the other evening to his (Mr. R.) receiving ÂŁ50 a year. He (Mr. R.) did not ask for it, it was sent to him. And when he found he could accept it without at all interfering with his public duties, he did so, and he did not think the service lost by his connection with that office. It would appear that the hon. gentlemen did not like his (Mr. R's.) method of speaking in that House, and considered all his speeches to be merely rehashes of the former ones. Of this he (Mr. R.) was satisfied to let the public be the judges. Where was there anything new in the speeches of hon. gentlemen opposite? Then why should the Opposition be taunted with not advancing anything novel in the way of argument. They were there to enunciate their views fully, clearly and fairly, and let the public be the arbiters as to who was right and who was wrong. WHen the hon. member was speaking of his (Mr. R's.) handsome pay of ÂŁ50 a year, why did he not say something of the amount received by his own family. He (Mr. R.) could tell the public that the hon. member of Placentia and St. Mary's and his family received ÂŁ2000 a year out of the public chest.
Hon. A. SHEA.–Give us the particulars.
Mr. RENOUF had them in his hand, and would take his own time for making then public. The hon. member spoke of the Opposition as being factious, contemptible and weak, and yet he spent 3 1/2 hours the other evening in abuse of them. If they were so factious, contemptible and weak, why should the hon. gentlemen take so much trouble about them? As for the Government boasting of their triumph in Harbor Grace, the less they said of that affair the better, and he (Mr. R ) thought it woull be better to let the hon. member speak for himself. The Harbor Grace election was no test at all. The Candidates did not go to the people on the question of Confederation at all. There were in the district about 1880 voters, of those only 840 voted, and though the Government used every effort even to threatening those who were employed on the public works. Mr. Godden was returned only by a bare majority of 40. This was the great triumph of which so much was made. If the question of Confederation had been fairly submitted, was it to be supposed the people would be so inert? He (Mr.R.) took to himself much credit as a prophet. He had the other evening prophesied that the hon. Mr. Shea would be in want of a dodge for this session, and that that dodge would be a telegram for laborers. Well, was not it true; was not the proposal made to export our people to work in the wild woods of Canada on a Railway, the contracts for which are not yet signed? The hon member now manifests great sympathy with the laboring population, but in 1837, when the Telegraph Company applied for power to extend their capital to enable them to add to their land lines, and thus give employment to the people, the only member of the Committee who opposed the permission asked for was the hon. Mr. Shea. He yielded at least, but only when he found that the rest of the Commitee were unanimous in their desire to give the desired permission. The hon. member, Mr. Shea, has no faith in seed potatoes, because he deals in meal and molasses, and not in potatoes. If the hon. gentlemen dealt in potatoes, he would doubless profess a very different creed. It was rather a singular fact that though several hon. members have spoken on the Government side since the hon. member, Mr. Shea, had propounded his transportation scheme, not one of these hon. gentlemen had uttered a word about it; but, on the contrary, they had appeared to avoid it very carefully. Other countries endeavoured to woo emigration to their shores, but we seem to be anxious to reverse this policy, and to denude the country of its strength and its pride. You might send away 10,000 men, but how would that better the condition of those remaining? The idea of shipping 800 men to Canada, before a single contractor has entered into a contract, was simply preposterous. He (Mr. R.) could not see how hon. members could place any confidence in it, resting, as it did, on the bare unsupported testimony of the hon. member for Placenia and St. Mary's. How beneficient had the Canadian Government become. Not a word, last year, about relieving the poverty of the people, but, at this peculiar moment, when these hon. gentlemen are trying to force us into Cofederation, the people are to be bribed to sell the country. Hon. gentlemen opposite were afraid to bear the responsibility of selling the country, but they endeavour to in make a catspaw of the unfotunate fishermen to accomplish that which they dread to do thenselves. He (Mr. R.) would like to ask what had become of the Caps Ray Railroad? Many person believed in the probability of that project being accomplished, and what authority was brought up to support it? Mr. Sandford Fleming. The project, however, feel to the ground, and a new dodge was enterprised. And whose authority does the new scheme rely upon? Strange coincidence, upon Mr. Sandford Fleming. Let the hon. member, if he were honest, come out with some broad, comprehensive [?], and he would, at least, be appreciated. But it was not by such dodges and suits and empty [?] that the people were to be inposed upon. The hon. meanber says that there can be no great economy practised in our expauditure. Why, one institution supporting a hundred paupers had in 1887, 940 hogsheads of coals at 8s. per [?] and 735 loads of wood, at 4s. a load. Surely there must be something rotten in such a state of things. Year after year, amendment was promised, but year after year the same complaiats had to be made. Bad as the opposition might be, could they do much worse than this? Are Hon. members to be dictated to by such hon. gentlemen as the learued member for Brigus, who comes down here with 3 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. a grand scheme showing what Canada is going to do for us? But owing to the hon. gentleman's imperfect knowledge of figures he make a trifling blunder of $37,000 against the Colony. How can the hon. member tell us what terms the Dominion would give? If these really were the terms offered to us, it was rather strange that we should not hear of them through some member of the Executive, and not through a mere supporter of the party. Something had been said about Tilt Cove, and occasion, had been taken to revile Mr. C. F. Bennett, who was one of the greatest benefactors the country ever had. [Here the hon. member read and commented in a letter of Mr. Smith McKay in the "Chronicle," defending Mr. Bennett from certain charges made against him.] It had been said that Mr. Bennett had left some money behind him to work up the anti-confederate cause. If he had done so, he had not put his hand into any other man's pocket. He did not, like soune Executive gentlemen, who, after giving a dollar to a poor man, go down to Dr.Shea and get reimbursed. And hon gentlemen say "the only remely for our present condition is Confederation, which will give us honours and offices and titles. We have mismanaged everything, taxed the people and after this let us escape to the union." The traitors of Nova Scotia, who rivited the shackles upon the people, are raised to positions of eminence and honour, and of course it is only reasonable to expect that those hon. gentlemen who here assist in carrying the measure will be similarly honoured. Ww were advised to go into Confederation, and for for what object? Because we want a change. He (Mr. R.) said in all sincerity, let hon. members shew us the benefits that will flow from Confederation, positive benefits, not chimerical and speculative ones, and no man would be more favourable than himself. But he would be recreant to his duty were he to close his eyes to the schemes and dodges that had been going on for the past few years to thrust us into Confederation, for the benefit of a few family compacts. Oh, they say that it is claptrap if we speak of the Irish union. There were men then who sold the liberties of Ireland for gold. Every man who voted for it received gold for riveting the chains upon his country. And had Ireland since been benefited or contented with the change? It was indeed a sad thing to refer to the union of Ireland, with all its disastrous consequences. We must keep that strongly before the public. The opposition desired the welfare of the people as well as tho Government. It was not such a dodge as the Cape Ray Railway from which we were to believe that any good would be the results—He was a native of the country, and it was equally as dear to him as it was to those members of the Government who were revelling in the luxury and emoluments of office. Every man who went before the various constituences next election would see how public opinion ran. We knew that there were many who would not dare to face the electors, and thus it was that they desired to transfer the rights and liberties of this country to another province. Thery were indeed playing a deep game, and then they woull meet fitting reward. Where can we gather from his Excellency's speech that this question was to be submitted to the people? There was no allusion to such a course in it. The Government then simply say, we all carry it whether you approve of it or not. The constituencies would be bribed as they had been in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In the former Province nineteen members had been bribed, as in the days of the Irish union. Look at Nova Scotia to-day. There was not a village that had not its repeal club, like those which O'Connell established in Ireland, to use all their influence to abrogate a union to which the people had never assented. (Here the hon. member referred to the proceedings connected with the delegation to Quebec, and pointed out that only one man Mr. Palmer, of Prince Edward Island, had repudiated the articles that had been agreed to there. He then read a letter which he said came from a leading lawyer in Montreal, and in which Newfoundland was advised to keep out of the union. The hon. member concluded by saying that he expected by the next mail to blow to the winds the dodge of sending men from this island for the public works in the New Dominion.
Alter some remarks from Mr. Hogsett, the motion for the adoption of the paragraph was put and carried.
The Committee than rose and the Chairman reported progress. To sit again to-morrow.
On motion of Mr. PINSENT, pursuant to notice, Messrs. Pinsent, Bennett, Parsons, Little and the Surveyor General were appointed a Select Committee on the Geological Survey.
The House then adjourned till to-morrow, at 3 o'clock.


The Newfoundlander, 1864-1869. Digitized by Google Books



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