Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, 11 February 1869, Newfoundland Debates over Confederation with Canada.

THURSDAY, Feb. 11.
The House met at 8 o'clock, pursuant to adjourment.
On motion of Mr. GODDEN, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, on the further consideration of the Address in reply to the speech of His Excellency, Mr. KNIGHT in the Chair.
On motion of Mr. GODDEN, the fifth section of the address was read as follows:—
"We fully concur with your Excellency that the time has now arrived for us to take action on the great question of Confederation; and we can assure your Excellency that we shall give our earnest attention to the consideration of our Union with the Dominion of Canada, on such fair and equitable terms as many be calculated to serve the interests of the Colony, be approved of by the Government of the Dominion, and which we trust may prove acceptable to all classes of the people, when submitted to the constituencies, and also recieve the fianl approval and ratification of Her Majesty."
Mr. TALBOT did not understand the section which had just been read, and thought it was involved in a good deal of mystery. It was very desierable that such a matter should not be misunderstood. He did not agree that the time had arrived, and did not think it was well to say so. If it be said that the time has arrived, it must have reference to something precedent to the fact that it was stated that action would be taken at some future time, which time had now arrived. But he (Mr. T.) was not aware that such had ever been said. If he understood the assurance of the hon. and learned Attorney General no time could arrive to this present House, for the matter was, in the first place, to be referred to the people, who were to be asked if they approved of this, Union. It had not been put before the people In that light, or in any way beyond that general view which was given by candidates, who in fact bound themselves to nothing, and led people to believe that it was a mere question spoken of and canvassed speculatively. If this section be adopted, it would, it appeared to him, assert that which was not true. The elections were approaching, and so it might be said that the time had come when the people should be asked if they approved of the principle. After that the House could meet and state certain conditions,and these conditions could be again referred to the people, he thought that would be the proper way to act, or at least that it would be in accordance with the general understanding of the hon. and learned Attorney Genereal's premise. If this paragraph be passed, it will be an agreement for the consideration of the conditions, which would be a strong presumption of a previous affirmation of the principle. The wording of the paragraph was not clear. and if it be intended that the House should affirm the principle, it ought to be so expected in clear and definite language. Two years ago, the Government attempted by a clause in the address to affirm the principle, but the House refused, and after some consideration and difficulty, amongst hon. gnetlemen opposite, the [?] was withdrawn, and one of a doubtless characters substituted. After that it was said the substituted clause affirmed the principle, and the present Judge Hayward, who then represented Harbor Grace made a great row about it, and said that he for one did not intend to affirm the principle at all. Was the House now asked to affirm that principle? If we look at this paragraph, and ask if such be the case, we are met by a conclusion of words which neither says yes nor no. It certainly implies an affirmation of the principle. That was an advance towards its affirmation. We agree it is time to take action. What was the first act? None hitherto, but now we concur that it is time to take action. The first step should be to affirm the principle, and until that be done, details and conditions cannot be considered. Why not say distinctly that the time had come for the affirmation of the principle and consideration of details? The section implied that affirmation, but in so deceitful a manner that it did not meet his (Mr. T's) approval, and he would be very sorry to vote for it. There is a loophole left here for the supporters of the Government, by which they may be caught by the neck, and bound as they pass through. They are now asked to wheel about like jim crows, and say to-day what they refused to say two years ago. That was not treating them properly. Their attention should be directed to the precise point, and they should not be asked to proceed with their eyes bandaged. For himself, he (Mr. T.) did not affirm the principle at all. From all he had reflected upon it and seen of it, he was decidedly opposed to the principle, and did not think Union would, under all its circumstances, prove beneficial, and they then knew what Union meant, and under what leading principles they must go in. If the Union had not taken place, if it were still in embryo, and they did not see it working, there might be a doubt as to whether the principle was good or not. But now that the Union was established, the question was—Is the principle of that Union such as they could approve of? He (Mr. T.) said it ws not. No matter what terms you propose, they cannot deviate from the essential ptinciples on which the Colonies are already united, and he (Mr. T.) did not approve of those principles, and do not see what advantage such a Union could be to the country. It would not make us better off, because from the nature of things, it was impossible it could. What was the meaning of this Confederation? Remove all the glare and glitter, and what was its naked meaning? Just this, that by our own act we give to Canada absolute power and control over our destinies, over our liberties, and properties and our lives. That is the exact meaning of Confederation. Throw what dust you like about it, put in it all the glittering colors you choose, but take it in its reality, and that is what it means. He said liberties, because after the Union was established, they would have no liberty to rule themselves, and could make no laws without the sec
tion of the Dominion; property, because the Dominion Parliament could tax them internally and externally, to any amount they pleased; lives because the same power could take our people when they pleased and use their lives for their own purposes. Such was Confederation. It would be a very nice thing to congratulate themselves on, but he (Mr. T.) did not think the people would be content with it. Was it wise or advisable to yield up their right to legislate for themselves, to place their property at the mercy of a foreign power to tax as they pleased, to submit their lives to them also, so that they might seize and take every man from 18 to 60 years of age, to repel any attempts made upon them by the great Republic? Of course, the dust will be raised and the picture painted, and they would be told that though what he had said might be Confederation, per ipse, yet we would derive advantages from it which would counter balance all this; that new channels of trade will be opened, and the country raised in the scale of civilization, that agriculture will be awakened, and bloom in all the luxuriance it exhibits in the other Provinces. He (Mr. T.) could not understand how Confederation was going to effect all this, and did not believe that the Confederates themselves really understood it either. Would Canada bind herself on your parchment agreement to promote our commerce, agriculture and manufactures? No, she could not do it, for remember the law is already passed; Confederation established, and she cannot give more than has been already arranged amongst themselves. All the arguments advanced to prove the advantages of confederation had reference to Commercial treaties and arrangements, and had nothing at all to do with the political aspect of the question. If trade were to be benefited by an equal tariff, it could be done by some Commercial arrangements. If our mines were to be worked, it would be done by capitalists and not by politicians; and they would work them; not because we were confederated, but because they would be profitabie. It will be raid that if we confederate we will have our bread flour, pork, &c., free of duty. That was a plausible argument. It certainly was strange that in all these arguments the political question was mixed up with commercial matters. The real question was blinked, so as to throw dust in the eyes of the people. These articles could be made duty free by commercial regulations, without Confederation. Such was the case before, and why should it not to be so again? He Mir. T.) wanted to show the knack by which the supporters of Confederation attempted to blindfold the people. They keep the political question in the back ground, and drag forward a very different matter, that is the question of commercial arrangements. It appeared very strarge to aim, but perhaps it was because he was innocent and not up to the tricks, the labyrintial wisdom which sometimes mazes one. That House had in itself the power to admit bread, pork, flour, &c., free of duty, but it would be said the country was in debt, and could not afford it. He (Mr. T.) replied, let us, retrench, reduce the expenditure, and so be able to strike off these duties. Another argument was that without Confederation we cannot have reciprocity. Why not? What is reciprocity? It simply means the mutual exemption from duties of articles the peculiar produce of particular countries, on mutual terms. Was it not in our power to make such terms now? To be sure it was. Then what had Confederation to do with reciprocity? It was a separate matter, which should be treated on its own merits, and not mixed up with the question of Confederation. Politically, Confederation meant only that Canada should have the absolute control of the libery, the property and the lives of the people of this Colouy. He challenged a denial of thit. It that was not what Confederation meant, then he was ignorant of its meaning. He (Mr. T.) could see the truth though. We must, it seemed, have Confederation; without it we can't get on at all. We are in such a crippled state that unless some other country comes, and in mercy picks us up, we are gone for we canuot exist by ourselves. But that argament upsets the other argament, for it goes to show that the great good of Confederation will be to save us from ourselves. It if ever appears to occur to hon. gentlemen that any other mode of governing the country could be devised, but that which they themselves adopted, and have pursued for the past four years, which was to make a great many offices, and fill them with a great many people, and make large salaries for them, and then, in order to get these salaries, put on heavy taxes on bread, flour, pork, &c., and then, because tust does not succeed, we must Confederate, as the country cannot ue ruled by its own people. But these hon. gentlemen go on the wings of imagination and flash and thunder through the realms above. They can't walk upon terra firuma like common people. If we ourselves by a local system of Government cannot make the people comfortable, surely no Government on this side the Atlantic can do it. When the Imperial Government managed the affairs of the colony we well remember how they used to blunder. The general cry was they don't understand us. With self Government we thought we possessed everything necessary to make us prosperous. There are now some gentlemen who think we ought to have another kick up and place ourselves under some other Empire. What was the history of this Confederation! The two Canadas were fighting and squabbling among themselves, and in order to keep then quiet they were united. This then was the first of Confederation. There was a considerable Annexation party and they got up a big shindy, not to say a rebellion, which, however, was quickly quelled. In the United Parliament parties were equally divided and innumerable deadlocks occurred. That Confederation failed and four or five years ago the leading men of both parties hit upon the happy thought that if they could get the other Provinces to join them that they might tax them and make laws for them, they themselves would get on very well. But all this time they never dreamt that Newfoundland could be benefitted by the scheme. At last they united at Quebec, and the then Attorney General, the present Sir Hugh W. Hoyles, happened to be travelling in Canada at the time, and he said perhaps we would send up a couple of men to see what they were doing there. The Canadian gentlemen said they never thought of Newfoundland at all, but they would be very happy to meet our men. And so, without the appointment of this Assembly, the hon. Attorney General and the hon. A. Shea were sent up merely to watch the proceedings of the Convention. He (Mr. T.) would not go into the proceedings of that Convention, he would not count the champaign bottles, and the various fetes to which they were invited, but the conclusion of the matter was that his two hon, friends were so bamboozled by these clever Canadians and others that they signed the document which was the basis of Confederation. Well, these hon. gentlemen came back, conscious that they had done something of which they had no reason to be proud. There was no flourish of trumpets on their return, no guns fired, no triumphal car awaiting them to exhibit these two worthies to the admiring gaze of their countrymen. Well, they came to this house and they eadeavoured to bring over to their views every man of influence in the country! They represented the thing in glowing colours, they declined that it was the grandest thing for the country which could be accomplished, they felt the breath of fame already on their cheeks, saw in vision the statues to be erected to their memory 50 years hence, But alas! alas! for the bright visions of their world! No sooner did this House entered into the consideration of the scheme and condemned it, than these two hon. gentlemen said it would never do and they would never assent to it. They declared they would never accept Confederation on the terms which they had solemnly signed in conclave. They turned their backs upon their signatures and accounted for them by some obfuscation of the brain from which at the time they suffered. They want to persuade us now that they have in hand some other scheme, and if that were condemned by the country these hon. gentlemen would be ready to condemn it themselves. Will they never cease to bamboozle us with the concoction of new schemes? He (Mr. T.) supposed that they fancied that some of their many schemes must take, and, then the country might sink or swim. They would proceed to Canada, enthrone themselves in high places, and look down from their lofty emimences and say, "We are sorry for you but we couldn't do more for you." And doubtless the people would say so too. Confederation would not lighten the burdens of our people nor relieve their wants. Assist the people while they are in their transition state—while they are on the isthmus passing from the ocean of adversity to the ocean of prosperity—and then you will have done your duty to them, but till you shall have done that all the confederations you can go into will be unavailing. It had been circulated in the nowspapers that Nova Scotia had accepted the situation. She had found that she could not extricate herself from it except at the cannon's mouth and so she had determined to make the best of a bad bargain. And so because she can't get rid of it it has been concluded that she is well pleased with it. One might as well say that a man with an incurable sore who had given up all hope of its eradication, was well pleased with his malady. The Nova Scotian and Irish unions were both accomplished by the corruption of the representatives of the people who in common parlance sold their country. But in Ireland and in Nova Scotia too the peoples' hands were clean. The people never sanctioned the sales of their countries, our hon. members, however, if they can carry our their plans, will coerce the people themselves into selling their country. But the people see the plan and will not be tricked. Surely then hon. members should pause in their headlong career. Let them strike down the enormous expenditure and lighten the burdens of the people. Let them not follow that ignis futuus of Confederation—that fluttering thing which must prove illusive to them. He (Mr. T.) would ask them to lay aside their ambition and allow their bosoms to swell with fuelings of humanity, turning their attention to such legislation as would conduce to the benefit of the people of the country. If you do less or more, it you attempt to carry Confederation you will get yourselves into a turmoil from which you will find it difficult to escape. Beware of the damage of striking down the liberties of a people. You may trifle with the liberties and freedom of the people, but depend upon it they will not suffer such to be done. The people value liberty, and do not then sell it for a mess of potage. He feared that the already trespassed too long upon the House. His desire was to show that we should not adopt this section as it stood. Its language was too vague. If we adopt i,. we adopt the principle of Confederation. This the Government could not do without belieing their former pledges to the country; with this view, then he would put forward the following amendment:
" That the only terms upon which we have been asked to go into Confederation are those of the Quebec resolutions, which have been rejected by the House and the country. We therefore submit that in accordance with the pledge given by the Premier, no further action be taken until the principle of Confederation be submitted to the people."
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL—The gentlemen on the other side of the House, known as Her Majesty's Opposition, had just put their best leg foremost, and had selected their man to nake a speech upon this occasion. That hon gentleman was certainly not a bad actor. He was able to take his part in a play with most men. He had a good deal of the [?] element in his nature. He (hon. A G) was led to believe that the speech which had just been delivered had been recently recited before the whole party, and unanimously approved of by them. That special notice had been given that he was selected to play this part; there had been a full attendance, and the recitation had been deemed excellent. It was received with wonder and admiration, that any man could express all these pretty things which the hon. member undertook to do. Their advice to him had been, whatever you do, don't indulge in argument, because you know we hon metmbers of the West end have already committed ourselves to an opinion upon the matter. Draw off their attention from that. Be as illogical as you can, and if you only succeed in drawing off the attention of the Government from that, we may be able yet to outwit them and possibly leap into their seats. But he (A G) would inform them that they would find their mistake. The Government thoroughly understood and was prepared for them, but hardly appreciated soundly of their tactics. His observations were too transparent to succeed in influencing the mind of any man, or to carry any weight with them. He (hon A G) found a difficuly in meeting the observations of the hon member, because he felt that in doing so he was only buffetting with the wind. If the hon member had put forth any facts or given us any data, he (hon A G) could easily meet him. The hon member however, had failed to do that, and had merely indulged in a lot of clap-trap and in some old Irish songs, and thinks that such a serious and important matter of this kind should be turned off by a proceeding ouly worthy of men sitting down over a glass of grog. He (hon A G) had been a little surprised because he had not before been aware of the versatility of the hon member. If the object of the hom member was merely to excite mirth, his success had been very indifferent. But more that one old song was required in the discussion of so important a subject as the present. One could imagine that the hon member had entertained a hatred tor Confederation during his whole life, that he had never expressed an opinion favorable to it, and that what he now says must carry conviction to every unwilling mind. He was playing his part so that be might it possible get into power and enjoy some of the sweets and emoluments of other. He was trying a popularity dodge. He says "will you give up your liberty, your lives, and property to Canada?" Why one would fancy from such expressions that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada, had no liberty, no property, and no lives? The hon member must recollect that long before we had Responsible Government, that boom had been conferred upon Canada, that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had also received it before us, and yet one would fancy from the argument of the hon member that they had given up everything that Britons valued, and when these Colonies had Confederated and were impressed that it was for their interest and good, could we have any doubt upon our minds that we would enjoy with them the same benefits and advantages which they of present possess? Why, what was the object of Confederation? Was it not the consolidation and strengthening of British interests? Was it not the consolidation of liberty itself? Here when disunited, each separate Parliament was making laws adverse to the interests of each other. We had different tariffs, a different currency, different laws, yet all expressing to be governed by the constitution of Great Britain. This then was seen and with one desire we met together in full liberty and freedom to prepare a measure which had been commended by British statesmen on all sides and as having emanated from enlightened men and statesmen. When that measure went before the British Parliament, was it advocated only by one side? All–whatever you might call them, Radicals, Conservatives, or Whigs, praised and sustained it as a measure which they believed was calculated to alvance the prosperity of all the colonies together. Newfoundland has hitherto been isolated from the outer world, and according to the hon member, it was to remain so. Were we to be cut off from all civilized countries? Were we to stand still or retrograde that we should, never enjoy the advantages and progress of civilization? But the hon member would find that the people would be no longer cajoled by his absurdities uttered here merely for the purpose of being tuned to political purposes on the hustings. Would they prevent the people from having more extended employment, from earning a fair days wages and keep then within the present narrow, area of employment? That may please hon members opposite, who might chuckle to see the people in the streets unemployed, wretched and starving. Oh! says the hon member, will the Canadians erect manufactories for us,—who were erecting manufactories now? Who was giving remunerative labor to the people? Was the hon member doing it? Would talk do it? Did he believe that we possessed any means to alleviate their distresse, or to remove burdensome taxation? Relieve it? No? and be never did believe it, and there were no man now in this House more in favour of Confederation, than the hon. member Mr. Talbot and his colleague, Mr. Renouf, and they had recorded their opinions upon the question. These two gifted minds is they styled theirs to be, were four years ago in favour of Confederation, and in a celebrated address which they published, they had stated their opinions upon the subject. Had they changed since then? Have they had to recant? Have they been converted by the hon. member Mr. Glen? Have they by the hon. member Mr. Hogsett, who all along was in favor of Confederation, and who now says we shall know his opinion at the proner time? What however, did these two gifted minds say? Here was their celebrated letter addressed to the electors of St. John's on the 6th of November 1865, in which they state. "It is true that the principle of Amalgamation like that of Confederation, cannot be a subject of controversy. The highest, the most gifted minds acknowledge it." It is in the details, that is to say in the application of the principle all the danger lies." These highest and most gifted minds ackknowledge then that there can be no controversy upon the principle of Confederation. But now we find the hon. member Mr. Talbot getting up and moving a resolution repudiating the doctrine which he paraded in 1865 as the emanation of one of the most enlightened minds, either aluong us, or any where else. Now what is the question before the chair. That this House will at a proper time take into consideration the details—thus perfectly coinciding with the views of the hon member. Here in their address they insisted on what should be done, and what we are about to do, and yet now they repudiate their own words. They say "you rejected the question of Confederation." He (A. G.) would ask, when? He denied that such had over been done by this House, and when the amendinent of the Solicitor General had been put forward, the hon member himself conceived it to be in favour of Confederation, and said that it could be viewed in no other light than as an admission of the principe, if so, the question was not rejected, but confirined, and this the hon. member admitted at the time. Agin he says, we, the delegates, were not authorised to go to Canada to take any part, but merely to speak. The delegates had been fully authorised to enter into the discussion of the question, but not to bind this colony, and that they never, had professed to do. We had resereved to the local legislature the final determination of the matter, and on their arrival had declared what he (A. G) had always declared and now repeated, that nothing could or would be definitely settled until the question went before the various constituencies at a general election, for them to pronounce upon it. But he had never said that he would not take any action upon it. Hon. gentlemen would have been called upon to discuss this question long ago before this House, but for the position which one of the other colonies had assumed. Nova Scotia was turbulent. The great anti-confederate leader Howe, had stirred up the country, in one of the phrases peculiar to this House, from its centre to its circumference. He had told the people that Confederation had been carried unconstitutionally, because it had not been submitted to them—and he opposed then what he had been supporting his, whole life. Since then he had gone to Canada, and was now a Cabinet Minister of the New Dominion. Now what did this prove, not merely that he was in favour of Confederation as a principle, but that he believed it would be of immense advantage to his native country. Now, however, it might be alleged against Dr. Tupper, that he acted imprudently in not submitting the question to the constituencies, yet no one can doubt that he was actuated by the purest patriotism, and that justice will yet be done him and his memory by his fellow citizens. whose material interests he had so admirably promoted. Mr. Howe was now reaping the faits of Dr. Tupper's planting and nursing. But oh! says the hon. member Mr. Talbot, the people are being bribed from Canada, as they were bribed in Ireland. Where was the evidence of bribery here? If the hon member has made use of the expression as a hint or suggestion, he (hon. A G) would say that they had no money to give him or any body else. But after all, on whose side was secret service money used? Did not Nova Scotia in its Anti-Parliament votes $50,000 secret service money for the purpose of repealing the Union if possible. And woould any man doubt that the opposition would follow the example of Mr. Howe at any moment that they thought it was their advantage to do so. And if, when we go to the people at the next election would the opposition not be the first to carry the question of Confederation it they got the majority? Then it is again atteged that we are to be taxed. Unfortunately we were able to tax ourselves. He did not think that the people of Canada were more in love with taxation than we were and whatever attempt would be made to tax them heavily they would no doubt raise their voice against it. Look at their tariff and compare it with our own and see how much more favourable it was than our present one is or likely to be. Under the Canadian tariff there was scarcely an article used in the prosecuting of the fisher as that was not excepted from taxation, besides food of all kinds. Then with regard to internal taxation the hon. member had evidently not read the Union Act or he woull not hare exhibited the ignorance he did. Internal-taxation he would find could only be imposed by the local legislatures of each colony. The only power the Dominion had was over the import tax and this brought him to the question of taxing our exports. This was hardly possible; they could not impose an export tax on one particular colony—they would make it general if they did so, and in that view we would be no worse off than our neighbours; but apart from this, an export tax was a doctrine that had long singe bean exploded and was opposed by every sound political economist, and was not likely to occur under British rule. This question of Confederation then had never bean submitted to this House and was never rejected by it. The question would be snbmitted to the people at the polls, but in the mean time we have a perfect right to express our opinion upon it. Surely when we went before the people with certain terms, that was the time for them to examine them. Without terms being agreed to, in order to submit them to the people, we could do nothing, Why the hon. member Mr. Glen, the leader of the opposition has truly declared that the question was one purely of terms. Then what is it we now propose? Why the very course which the hon. members Messrs Talbot and Renouf advocated and which is also approved of by their venerable leader Mr. Glen. But there was one remedy besides Confederation,—Put us, say Her Majesty's opposition, into power, let us get into the saddle and ride the house and all will then be right and fair, there will then be no pauperism, no more depression, all will go on straight, prosperous, and smoothed. We however think that we are just as well able to manage the affairs of this country as the gentlemen composing Her Majesty's opposition. We say that in all humility. We have heard no grand scheme from them for the benefit of the country altho' they had been talking here for the past three or four years to the extent of their long powers. But he (A G) understood now there was something hatching, an egg was being laid that would contain everything that was necessary tor the happiness and prosperity of the people. What was this great secret that they would not unbosom? Who had concocted it? Who had the credit of its paternity? Why was he not pointed out? and why did he not stand up and declare I am the man.
MR. GLEN—Ecce homo.
1 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. St. John's, Friday, February 19, 1869.


Thursday, Feb. 11.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL.–No new offices had been created by his Government, but many hundreds of pounds of the civil expenditure had been saved Compare the civil list now with what it had been at the commencement of Responsible government, and it would be found to be lower, in the number and amount of official incomes. Hon. members, say why don't the Government do this, though in all parts of the world employment was given to the people without any demand being made on the Government? In Spain, where a revolution had just taken place, the first act of the patriots who led it was to decree that the corrupt system pursued by former Spanish Governments, of giving employment to the people on public works, instead of inciting private enterprise, should cease. He (hon A G) said that when this country united with the Dominion, and had the benefit of free trade, and a uniform tariff and currency, it must tend to increase that commercial prospersity on which so much of the future of this country depends. Was a small country like this, with such a restricted trade as it has, likely to create large commercial relations with any other country? Was it likely to have they advantages of reciprocity? Did hon. gentlemen suppose that Great Britain would enter into a treaty for Newfoundland alone, or that Canada would do it for her, when she did not form part of the Dominion? If then, Newfoundland stays out, and the Dominion enters into a new Reciprocity Treaty, will not Nova Scotia have all the advantages which will flow from the fish trade? If Canada should impose a duty on our articles of export, would it not place us in a worse position? And, if we do not join her she, must treat as she would any foreign power. With every possible encouragement given to the cultivation of the soil, it was found that the people were, but very little better off than before. Under the Act for the encouragement of Agriculture, some $2000 had been paid, aud within three or four years free grants for close on 9000 acres had been sued, and yet notwithstanding all this cultivation, the people did not appear any better off. There was a gentleman who took a great deal of interest in the affairs of the colony, who had lately written a great deal in the papers, and was well known as one of the strongest anti-confederate in the country. He (hon A G) had a high regard for that gentleman, and would be sorry to say anything disrespectful of him, when he asked that gentleman what it was that would be of benefit to the country, he replied that it lay with the Government, and on being asked in what respect, replied "to propose an arrangement or the prosecution of the fisheries, that there was no aw to regulate it, and that without such a law the country could not prosper. He was then asked "what regulation he would propose," and replied, that "codnets, codseines and bultows should be abolished and the people made to go on with the hook and line Now he (hon A G) would ask if it was at all likely the people would agree to such a proposal? Those who had seines and nets would be opposed by those who had not, and vice versa, in fact no unamnity would be found to exist. The journals of the House were loaded with evidences, taken upon that very subject, yet it would be found that scarcely two paties were agreed in their views on it. Under such circumstances, how was it possible for the Government to propose any measure on the subject? One would imagine that the use of these articles, was confined to this country, but such was not the case, for they were also used in England, Norway and other countries; and further, it was found that where laws for the regulation of the fisheries had been framed, they were since repealed. He (hon A G) put that forward as the course of action suggested to the Government by that gentleman, but it was evident to all that such a course could not be pursued, with any hope of success. If cheap Government be what is wished for, there was no more likely way of obtaining it than by joining the Confederacy. If we do, then instead of our Legislature costing as it does some $24,000 a year, it need not cost more than $6000, and then in that one item alone $18,000 a year might be saved. Further, instead of having our present expenses and diliculties in raising a revenue, we would have one more certain than tuat which was now raised, and our labors need not extend beyond its appropriation. This might be considered as going into the terms. but he merely mentioned it incideutally, so that hon members who spoke of reduction of expenditure mght see that all they could effect now would not equal what could easily be doue under the new system. He feared he was taking the matter up too seriously, and speaking on it in a way which hon gentlemen opposite did not expect. Their desire evidently was that it should be taken up in a serio-comic way, as had been done by the hon member, Mr. Talbot, who sung a good song and endeavoured to laugh it all out. The (hon A G) had not heard any; thing advanced by the other side which one could well lay hold of to answer. All that was said, was about as substantial as the wind that whistles by a man's ears. The hon member had played round and about the matter, but had carefully avoided touching it just, as if he desired to lead people off the tru: scent. He was uncommonly adroit, and had played his part well, and if he did make a hit now and then, did it in a most inoffensive way. The hon gentleman had however made some mistaken statements. For instance; he said the Quebec Resolutions had been rejected. Now such was not the case. For in 1865 the present Chief Justice, then the leader of the Government, carstully avoided introducing the Quebec Resulutions, and said that as they were not agreed among themselves in the other provinces, and moreover, us the general elections were near at hand, it would be recipitate to submit the matter to the House then, and that it ought to be left to the people. That was what was now proposed to be done. They had the advantage of the Quebec Resolutions, and from the changes which had since then taken place, and from lapse of time and more mature consideration, their minds were now more prepared for a review of their position respecting this matter. He (hon. A.G.) knew that when the hon. member, Mr. Talbot, was returned to the House, he was about as favourable to union as any other man. The hon. gentleman might have changed his mind since then, but he could not change the expressions used in his celebrated letter. He (hon. A. G.) would (and he considered he was quite in order in so doing) refer to a letter lately published in one of the local papers by the hon. member for Ferryland, Mr. Glen, the leader of the opposition. There is what he says, "It is fortunate for the country that there are men in the Legislature of some practical sense—men who have fought the battle of confederation faithfully for the past four years, and who will continue to fight it faithfully as they heretofore have done, having the true interests of their country solely in view." "Fought the battle of Confederation," not its opponents, and that from the leader of the opposition. The same practical men are still fighting the battle of Confederation. Surely no man would deuy that so clear- headed a man as the hon. member for Ferryland could not be so obfuscated as to suppose people would believe he meant the anti-confederates by these words. He did not. He was a Confederate on the 11th of January last.
Mr. GLEN.—No, Never was.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—And four days after, being brought to task by an authority to which he was willing to submit, he recanted and ate his own words.
Mr. GLEN.—It was those blackguard printers left out the anti.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—To show that such was not the case, that there could be no doubt but he intended to give all the praise to the Confederates, he says "the fact is, and there can be no doubt about the matter, that Mr. Bennett is afraid it we join the Union that the Dominion Government will make him 'disgorge' the ten hundred thousand acres of land so shamefully given him by an Irresponsible Government, to the injury of the people of Newfoundland. That is the sole reason of Mr. Bennett's opposition to Confederation—nothing more or less." That was the only reason why the hon. member was, so opposed to Mr Bennett. If he agreed with him, why should he condemn Mr. Bennett in the way be did. He (hon. A. G.) had road enough to show what the hon. member's views on the subject then were, and of course, unless he had changed his mind, like as others did, be must be a Confederate still. He (hon. A. G.) had been accused of signing he Quebec Resolutions. He did sign them, and both he and his hon. friend, Mr. Shea felt that they had doue that which would greatly tend to the advancement of the material interests of the country.
Mr. HOGSETT.—When the seventh clause of this reply was moved, it was only natural to expect that the mover of is would, on so important a question as that of Confederation, have explained his views and told the House what his constituents thought of it. The more so as the election whcih placed that hon. gentleman in the House was pointed to by the Government as a triumph of the principles of Confederation. But no, the hon. member had not the pluck to say what the opinions of Harbor Grace were; it was left for the opposition to combat this paragraph as they pleased without one, word of explanation from the other side, until the hon and learned Attorney General spoke. Wny was it that the supporters of the Government, that even the great Confederate gun to which the hon. member? Mr. Shea, so triumphantly pointed, did not come forward and support, those principies which the opposition and the country were asked to adopt. Did the hon. and learned Attorney General canvas the principle while the House is asked to adopt? Did he bring forward any argument in support of it? Not one. He invites them to meet the mater on fair, equitable, and logical grounds, and yet he styles the speech of the hon. member, Mr. Talbot, an old song, and instead of bottling for the principle, seeks to throw ridicule on the man who fights against it and endeavours to show that it is inapplicable to Newioundland. Such is the course of conduct pursued by one of the Ministry towards one of the most important questious that ever came before the country, a question, which involved the destinies of the country for centuries to come. Was that the way in which such an all absorbing question should be treated? His Excellency says that the time has arrived when we should take the matter into our serious consideration. We are not here to consider that question, because the public never delegated us to do so. He could appeal to the records, and to the speech ot the hon. member, Mr. Shea, who took a leading part on this question. In 1865, when the late Premier brought the matter before the House of that day, that hon. members found fault with the way in which it was put, because it was not made a question to come fairly and broadly before the people. (Here the hon. and learned gentlemen read extracts from the speech of hon. Mr. Shea, delivered in 1865, when the Resolution of the hon. and learned leader of the Government was before the House.) It had been said just now that the Quebec resolutions were never rejected, if they were not so in terms, they were at all events impliedly rejected by the course which the hon. gentleman then took. In 1865 they were a raid to adopt the principle and the hon. member, Mr. Shea, charged them with being so. The Government did not adopt the principle and no hon. member went to the country on it, by none was it made a falling point at the hustings. What is Confederation? It means the giving up of that control over our own affairs which we now enjoy. Can we say that the people of the country have come to the determination of doing that. Could he (Mr. H.) or any other hon. member say that their constituents had come to the conclusion that they were willing to give up the constitution which they now had and band their rights over to any other power? Can they possibly come to that conclusion before the matter is put fairly before them? Is it because the country was in a condition of temporary misery, and things were not as they used to be, that we should sell that for which we had so long fought? Was it because some difficulties were on us we should "fly from the ills we have to those we know not of." They had fought for responsible Government, which meant self-government, and is it because they found a little difficulty in working it out and looked more after their own interests than after those of the country? Hence that iustitution which was the boast of every British subject, and which made the British people what they are, was to be given up and handed over to the Cauadians. It may be that the country had not derived such great advantages from Responsible Government as was expected, but would any intelligent man be coatent to give it up and go back to the days of that Government which was only responsible to the Imperial authorities. There was no nation nor no race of men without its difficulties,but were they on that account to take their hats in their hands and go and beg of any other country to take theia under their protection? If when the people of the country thoroughly understood the question, they would say they were content to yield up their rights, then he (Mr. H.) would deal with the terms. He was not afraid to say that his mind had undergone various changes on this subject. Every mind which viewed it calmly must have these changes, for it was a grave question, one which involved the rights and liberties of the country. He as well as others might have been caught with the glare and glitter of the statement that they were about to become part of a great nation. But were they to form part of a great nation. He (Mr. H.) was inclined to think so once, but when he found that the Imperial Government interfered with the action of the Parliament of the Dominion, he concluded that the Imperial Government had its paw on them as well as on the smallest of its colonies. Even with our own modicum of liberty, could we not if uncontrolled raise a revenue which the people would not feel. There was money every day leaving our shores which was not taxed, and which was received by persons who did not contribute one cent towards the improvement of the town. No, all these taxes were left to fall on the unfortunate tenant, who had to pay the taxes from the sweat of his labour. We tried to tax those absentees but were prevented and told we could not, because they paid taxes at the other side. We were told the Dominion Government would help us in this respect.— Don't they know that the important question of the French Shore was pending, and have they shown any desire to assist us? They are a mere Colony, subject to the veto of the Colonial office and to all that official blundering which has done so much to retard Colonial progress, to the ignorance of men who apply audiquated principles to the circumstances of the present day. Though we were told thus, the Dominion would be ruled over by a Prince of the blood, and that it would have the coutrol of its own affairs, it is to-day as much in leading strings as it was twenty years ago. If Newfoundland then, were to become a part of the Dominion, it would be doubly subservient, not only to the Imperial interests, but also to the veto of the Dominion itself. Why should our poverty be assigued as a reason for driving us into Confederation? Had the Canadians ever made us an offer? Was it in the power of Canada to relieve the Colony? Supposing the Dominion to be a success; would they undertake to feed our starving people? No, but they point us to the glories of the future, to that day when they will be a great nation, and able to meet the world in arms. Can our people afford to live on that glorious vista? Will not the hon. Attorney General admit that the nationality of Dominion is a purely speculative question? Why did the United States purchase Russian America? Simply because she is drawing her lines closely around British interests, on this side the Atlantic. What guarantee could be given that the Dominion would exist, with the power of the American Republic on the other side? Great Britain is reducing her war estimates by a million pounds. She will constrain the Colonies to defend themselves What possible chance could these Colonies have of defending themselves against the formidable power of the United States? The hon. Attorney General had said that the tariff of the Dominion would be equalised. Surely the hon. gentleman was aware that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are fully two centuries ahead of us, and a tariff which would be suitable for them would press very heavily on us Thus they might be able to contribute to the expense of an army and Navy, Newfoundland would be powerless to do so. It is true, that in relation to our means, we have contributed more wealth to Britain than any Colony ou this side the Atlautic; and yet we cannot outain our [?] territorial right, through the ignorant [?] of British officials. And could it be doubled that if we should join the Dominion they would be as powerless to secure us our rights as we oursleves are to-day? The hon. member, Mr.Shea, said, in a former speech of his, "but a pregnant question now presents itself" Have we the unqualified power to decide our own destinies? It would be idle to suppose that the meeting at Quebec was not inspired by the Imperial Government." He [Mr. H.) contended that the Imperial Government would never drive us into the Dominion. While Great Britain could keep her power on these seas, Newfoundland would be protected, and we should not be constrained to submit to an oppressive tariff, imposed, not for local but for national purposes. What possible effect could the representation of eight men have in a Parliament of 194? Dr. Tupper, in Halifax, had expressed in conversation with him, (Mr. H.) the very same ideas as hon. gentlemen opposite seem to have, that the people of Nova Scotia were too ignorant to be consulted on this question. Let the hon. member Mr. Shea, or any other hon. gentleman go before his constituents and explain to them that by their assent to Confederation they are giving up their control over their Revenues, and there was not a constituency in the Island which would return them. Often questions of vital importance must necessarily arise, as to the manner of local Goverminent, and the distribution of districts. Like harlequins in a pantomime, are we going to jump through a hoop before we know where we are? This house was never assembled to decide upon this question. The late Attorney General knew the responsibility, and he shirked it. By the Resolutions brought in by him, it was solemnly declared that it is desirable, before a vote be taken upon this question that it should be submitted to the people. The question, then, had never been submitted to the people, and he (Mr. H.) contended that that submission must be a condition precedent to any action upon the matter. We don't know what effect our affirmation of the principle might have upon the Imperial Government. Where you undertake to settle the destinies of a people without submitting the question to them, it will be found that they have sufficient resistance to expel the men who commit so unconstitutional an act. He (Mr. H.) heartily supported the Resolution before the chair. He would never assent to a radical change of our Constitution until the whole question were fairly and honestly put before the people, to be received or rejected by them.
Mr. PINSENT could not conceive anything clearer or more explicit than the language of the address. Here it was unmistakeably declared that whatever action might be taken by hon. members would not necessarily bind their constituencies. Hon. members appeared as representatives, to stand or fall by the views which they might now express. If rejected by their constituents, no harm can possibly be done to the people,for this action is altogether preliminary; and by no means binding upon the country. What then was the amendment which hon. members opposite opposed to this reply? [Here the hon. member read the amendment.]
Why, on the very face of it, there appeared a fatal inconsistency. Hon. members assert that the Quebec Resolutions have been rejected by the people, and in the next breath they tell us that the people have never had the matter submitted to them. Now either the question has been submitted to the people or it has not. If it have been submitted to then, the best proof of its acceptance is the overwhelming majority which here support it. If it had not been submitted to the people, then the statement that they have rejected the principle must necessarily be false. We had been told that the Quebec Resolutions have been condemned. As a matter of fact, exception has been taken to them, but there are many who would accept Confederation on these terms, rather than not have it at all. He (Mr. P.) did not, however, go so far as that. He had frequently taken exception to some of the terms. The hon. member, Mr.Talbot, says "Let us ask, the people if under certain circumstances they will accept this change." That was the very course which by this address the House was asked to pursue. How can we otherwise arrive at the conditions of Confederation upon which we are to go to the people? No two members have precisely the same views upon the subject; and it is evident that we must have some broad and unmistakeable platform upou which to take our stand. We had been told that the Canadians would have complete control over our properties, our liberties and our lives. Now hon. members must recollect that Confederation once accomplished, we shall all become Canadians, and Canada cannot injure us, without an equal, nay a larger amount of injury to herself. What have we to dread with regard to our property? A law to affect us must necessarily affect the other provinces, and was it to be supposed that they would enterprise any suicidal policy, that they would legislate to the injury of their property, which is so infinitely superior to ours? How were our liberties, then, to be affected? Let us see first what we understand by the expression. The culmination of our liberties appeared to be the power of returning a certain number of representatives to this Assembly. This consummation of liberty was certainly not a subject for any great congratulation; and when hon. gentlemen opposite considered that the people had returned to office men so unworthy as the present Ministry, they surely must consider the liberty as of very small account. How, then, were our liberties to be affected? We should still continue to return representatives and though they would be fewer in number, if they had within them any sentiments of pride, they would rejoice in having a voice in the large and extensive affairs of the Dominion. Our liberties would, in fact, be vastly extended, and wa should move in a grander, wider and nobler sphere. But how were our lives to be effected? Were hon. gentlemen going to resurrectionise the bugbear of the bleaching bones? We should live under equal laws, and no man would be decapitated in Newfoundland for a crime which was not so punishable in other parts of the Dominion. But we were threatened that if war with America should arise, our people would be carried away to fight. The prospect of such a war was very remote. He believed it would never be. But it is should take place, or any similar catastrophe, were we not in as much peril as if we were a part of the Dominion, while less capable of defence? And if the time of danger should come, was there any man to unpatriotic as to say that he would leave to others the defence of his house, his family and his household gods? The day has gone by when the public placed faith in such spurious alarms, or were to be frightened by them, and when they hear this and such like arguments addressed to then, and when they bear questions of the highest gravity made the opportunity for attack and recrimination, he believed they suspected the lot of them, and regarded the executive and the opposition as engaged in nothing but a fight for office; but any intellident man who listened to then from the 2 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. gallery knew that it mattered very little to him and to the country whether the prosent five or six office- holders or the same number of gentlemen from the other side were in the enjoyment of place and enolument, but such a man was quite capable of understanding, and hon members might depend upon it the public were intelligent enough to distinguish between what were earnest solid arguments and the tactics of politics. The hon. and learned member, Mr. Hogsett, supports this amendment of Mr. Talbot's and reproaches the hon, member for Harbor Grace with not speaking to the motion, and not giving expression to his views. He (Mr. P.) could quite understand that a young member but a few days in this House, and who had never entered the Building before, might be indisposed to deliver himself of frequent speeches; but he was at a loss to concieve how the charge of suppression of his opinions could be made against the hon member, who had expressed himself so clearly and decisively on the first day of the session, and about whose views upon this address there could be no mistake, as it bore his, (Mr. Godden's) name at the foot of it, as Chairman of the Committee that drew it up. Hon. mambers say, with an asumption of grave sincerity, let us educate and inform the people on this question. This was the very course the Government side proposed to take, and was engaged in urging; and this was the tenor of its resolution, while the terms of the amendment are calculated, and, as he believed, designed to prevent the very education aud information they professed to be so anxious about, The opposition will not allow us if, they can help it, to inform the people. The hon member for St. John's West, Mr. Talbot, contends that we are in a position to help ourselves, to develop our own resources and industries. He asserts this and uttery fails to prove it. But, he adds, does Canada say she will help us, that she will come down with a sum of money for the improvemennt of this country? Now he (Mr. P.) took up the hon. member on his own ground, and replied that is just one of the things we want to find out, by adopting course proposed in the addess. That hon. member again says, how are we get out of our isolation, an into the current of civilization by confederating? We shall be, and remain an Island, says he, unless some convulsion of nature throws us into the mainland of Canada. He (Mr. P.) thought and believed, with every man who had common sense to understand what they were talking about, that the very fact of our being an Island and remote from our neighbours, was the very reason for desiring efficient and speedy means of trade and intercourse, and by such means and their consequences, we should get into the more ample current of civilization. As it was, he doubted if we had the means to continue local steam itself. We had already begun to feel the first traits of Confederation, by the fact that an opportunity would be afforded to 800 heads of families, if employment could not be got here, to obtain Railway work in Canada the coming summer, steamers taking them and bringing them back, it they chose to return. That was a small example of what union would do. The union of the two Canadas was cited as an unfortunate one. True, there had been some political disaffection, but the material progress of those fine countries had not been interrupted, in population, public works, railways, &c. It showed how little our people need care about the political changes, if the substautial blessings of life were to flow from the proposed union. The hon. and learned member then proceeued to show that so far from its being the fact, as Mr. Talbot had said, that Sir Hugh Hoyles had not been favourable to Confederation, he, Sir Hugh, had been the very strongest advocate of it, and would have adopted the Quebec scheme without hesitation, but for the less bold policy of his associates and tile members of the House in general. Here Mr. Pinsent cited at considerable length from the speech of Attorney General Hoyles in 1865, a speech which he designated us out of the most powerful ever uttured here upon the subject. That speech was in connection with the only Resolution ever passed by this House in the matter of Confederation, and the closing language of that Resulution, proposed by Mr. Hoyles, seconded by the present Receiver General, Mr. Kent, then in opposition, and carried unanimously, was "that a final determination upon this importunt subject be deferred until the next session of the Legislature." The session there reterred to was the first session of this very present Parlialuent, so that if that resulution had been acted upon, as it might, in all consistency have been, the question now before us, for consideration only, might have been finally determined three years ago, without any further appeal. But on account of the desire generally expressed, that it should not be so ficted upon, but that better terms should it possible, be secured, and the conditious ascertained for the information of the people, and a promise of the premier that there should be no final determination until the improved terms had been first submitted to the people, for these reasons a course, the one now being pursued, was taken. Here Mr. Pinsent read a long extract from, as he said, the finest speech, and that was say great deal, ever delivered by Mr. Reuouf in the Assembly, in which, in 1865, he supported Mr. Hoyles's resolution, and pointed out in forcible terms the propriety of taking the course now proposed by the government, before sending the question to the people, also extracts from Mr. Glen's speeches of that time to the same effect, and part of an editorial from the Patriot printed by the hon. memer, Mr. Parsons, in Roman letters, which could almost be read from the gallery, to the effect that no sane man could for a moment think of rejecting the consideration of equitable terms. He (Mr. P.) never could bring himself to believe in the sincerity of Mr. Parsons's subsequent opposition. It must have been from fear of a loss of that popularity of which he was so fond, and which he so deservedly enjoyed; but that hon. member would do wisely now in turning with the tide, which had evidently set the other way. The hon. member (Mr. Pinsent) then showed that there was no fall comparison to be made with the Irish union, some of the terms of which every liberlly minded man now condemned and endeavoured to remove. There were no objections of that kind to Confederation, which contemplated perfect equality, and civil and religious liberty in its highest development. Would intelligent men be deluded by the proposed to take off all duties on the stable necessities of life this session, as a partial alleviation of the burthens of the people, when the financial condition of the government and the state of the people were such as they now are, and with a debt considerably exceeding half a million of dollars to be redeemed in four or five years? Hon. members who suggested such measures must be aware of their impossibility, and the bankruptcy and ruin which must be consequent on their adoption as we now are, while be an alliance with the Dominionthose objects they so much desire to accomplish will be effected. As to the probability of the future absorption by the United States of the Canadian Dominion, there was no such present probability, and if such were to be its ultimate fate, those who hold Annexation tendencies are much more likely to further their designs by promoting that, the first step to further American unity. This consummation would never be until the Dominion had been either natured into strength and power, and declared its will so to be, or until Great Britain had elected to throw off the burthen of Colonial dependencies. At present an alliance with the United States could only be faught with enormous public debt and taxation amounting to an annual burthen of $30 per head. The hon and learned member then proceedded to argue that if the policy of the Statesmen of Great Britain to annex this Island and the sister Provinces, was Confederation, this was a strong additional reason for submitting to it, and he pointed out several modes in which an indirect pressure might be brought to bear upon us, even if the parent state did not directly force it. He deprecated the inconsistency of hon. members who, in the same speech, spoke of Britain as a cruel stepmother, and then landed alliance with it as so much preferable to closer connection with the sister Colonies. He argued that our voice in the Dominion Councils would be fairly potent. It was not to be supposed that all the rest were to be banded against us. Was not the voice of the hon and learned member for Harbor Main of considerable weight and inportance in this House? And it bore the same relation to its numbers as our number of Representatives would to the Central Parliament. The hon. member proceeded to take up other objections and positions put from the other side, argued that the amendment was unfounded in fact, inconsistent in itself, and opposed to the principles hon. gentlemen opposite contended for. He urged that the course proposed by the address, far from being any interference with the rights of the people, was what the country was anxiously looking for, that it might know on what to decide. Members on this side of the House proposed to take the proper preparatory measures before submitting the question to the people. They were prepared to stand or fall by their policy. He felt that they were candidly and honestly discharging their duty to their constituents. If they were rejected, when the basis of terms was submitted, then the consequences lay with the people; and their present Representatives would have acquitted themselves of the grave responsibility of rejecting or dangerously delaying this measnre. He gathered from the course proposed by the other side, from the very language of their amendment, that their policy was to go again before the country upon indefinite speculation, to be in a position to asail the government as having offered nothing preferable to the Quebec Convention, and then to be in a position to deal with the matter themselves, without submitting their own future plans to the country. He concluded by again summing up the advantages to be derived from union, and describing the nobler character of that new political and cominercial life into which we shall have entered under Confederation.
Mr. RENOUF.—Notwithstanding the bitter scolding which the Opposition had just received, he would not be deterred from supporting the amendment of the hon. member, Mr. Talbot. The hon. member who had just spoken and taxed this side of the House with inconsistencies, should have recollected the old adage relative to the peculiar liability of those who lived in glass houses. In 1865 the hon. member was in the Legislative Council, and had there given notice that he would move the following resolutions:—
First,—That for Newfoundland to enter into a Confederation of the British North American Colonies upon the terms, proposed in the Report of the Quebec Couference, would be detrimental to the best interests of this Colony, and ought to be resisted.
Second,—That a humble Address be transmitted to Her Majesty, embodying the views of the Legislative Council upon this subject, with their reasons for the adoption of those views.
Third,—That a Select Committee of this House be appointed to draft the said Address.
But as no further record was to be found of this resolution, all must conclule what was known to be the case, that the hon. member thought better to abandon it. In 1866, he give another notice, which he also dropped like a hot potatoe. Then this is the man who talks to us of inconsistencies. He says we have done nothing to raise the country. But what has he done? Last year we had his great bill for the reduction of the public expenditure, which never even went to a second reading. Then there was his pamphlet upon Confederation.
The Committee then rose, and the Chairman reported progres. To sit again to-morrow.
The House then adjourned until 3 o'clock, to-morrow.


The Newfoundlander, 1864-1869. Digitized by Google Books



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